We revisit the turn-of-the-millennium dance pop anthem.
Rewind is a review series, published in partnership with Discogs, that dips into electronic music's archives to dust off music from decades past.
There are certain years or musical eras we look back on with a particular fondness, intrigue or, occasionally, a curious kind of bemusement. The turn of the millennium, and in particular the year 2000, is an apt example. It was a peculiar period when novelty tunes topped the music charts in Britain alongside a number of career-defining releases for artists like Britney Spears ("Oops...I Did It Again!") or Craig David ("7 Days"). That's alongside "Stan" from Eminem and Dido, "Spinning Around" from Kylie Minogue and, well, "Can We Fix It?" from Bob The Builder, which scooped up the coveted Christmas #1 and was about as guaranteed to make an appearance at primary school discos as those little plastic drinks that require you to poke through them with a straw.
A number of dance tracks and acts would find success in the charts that year. "Toca's Miracle" from Fragma, say, or "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" from Modjo, signalled an appetite for electronic earworms and exhilarating dance-pop material that worked on the radio, in clubs and on Top Of The Pops. But one track soared even higher, becoming an unofficial song of the summer for three weeks in 2000 and eventually going on to become the third-best selling single that year in the UK. That track was "It Feels So Good" from singer, songwriter and DJ, Sonique. That same year she also broke into the Top 10 with tracks "Sky" and "I Put A Spell On You," while her debut album, Hear My Cry, made it into the album charts. Which was intriguing on reflection, as both "It Feels So Good'' and "I Put A Spell On You" were first released two years earlier, and were simply reissued in 2000.
Sonique, AKA Sonia Clarke, was born in London in 1968 and raised on a feel-good fusion of disco and soul. In 1985 she released her first single, "Let Me Hold You," on Cooltempo. Fast forward a few years and Clarke had started working with DJ Mark Moore as part of influential dance-pop act S'Express. Clarke would co-write and sing on hits like "Nothing to Lose" and "Find 'Em, Fool 'Em, Forget 'Em."
Clarke learned to DJ shortly after, inspired by watching Moore behind the decks. In fact, it was Moore who gave Clarke her first turntables and mixer. "It was about taking control of my life," she explains in an artist biography. "A lot [of] people wanted me to sing for them but I wanted to do my own thing and when I saw Mark DJing, I thought it looked so cool and decided, 'I want some of that.'" She'd go onto build an admirable reputation as a DJ, and dedicated herself to residencies, gigs and touring for some time.
Of course, she'd return to the studio later in the '90s, first to record and release her cover of "I Put A Spell On You" in June 1998 and later "It Feels So Good" in December of that year. "It Feels So Good" was released to moderate success in 1998, reaching number 24 in the UK. But it would take two more years, a Tampa, Florida-based DJ repping it in the States and a re-release for the emotionally-affecting tune to take on a life of its own and transfix audiences worldwide.
20 years later, "It Feels So Good" is every bit as moreish as it was during that summer high. It remains the kind of evergreen, dopamine-releasing tune capable of bringing together listeners of all tastes to revel in Sonique's commanding voice, and to harmonise (or try, at least) to its catchy chorus. It's a dance track at its core, but more pop-like in its structure, which is partly why it translated so well to the masses, straddling both realms in a way that wasn't as common then as it is in today's genre-blurred landscape.
Personally, my affinity for "It Feels So Good" arrived long before any comprehensive knowledge or vested interest in dance music or club culture. I can recall drives home from school with "It Feels So Good" blasting out of the car stereo long after its release. My dad would gear himself up as the intro kicked in by tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to the beat while doing a kind of shoulder movement that sat somewhere between a sway, a shuffle and a loosening, as if he himself was getting ready to go on stage to perform.
Back then, it was this very move that highlighted just how enchanting this track was, in my eyes anyway. If you're after a more legitimate analysis (apologies, dad) of its power throughout the early '00s, its chart placements should offer some idea, along with Clarke's award show success, particularly in 2001, when she won British Female Solo Act at the BRIT Awards and International Hit of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards. Her Novello win is something she cherished just that bit more, as it was awarded in recognition of her talents as a songwriter. Clarke had always dreamed of writing a really great song. "It Feels So Good" made that dream a reality, as corny as that sounds. There are other belters and bangers nestled within Sonique's back catalogue, but this one it remains her brightest star to date, and an era-defining anthem to boot.
TracklistA1 It Feels So Good (Sonique Breakbeat Edit)
B1 It Feels So Good
B2 It Feels So Good (Serious Remix)