Bardot was an Australian girl group which formed in 1999 on the Australian reality television series Popstars. Aired in early 2000, the program was a fresh concept to audiences, attracting high ratings and much attention in the media. This exposure resulted in the instant success of their debut single "Poison" and debut album Bardot, which both entering the Australian and New Zealand charts at number 1 and highly in parts of Asia. In 2001, Bardot released their second album Play it Like That, featuring the Top 5 ARIA singles "ASAP" and "I Need Somebody", with greater creative control and this resulted in many strong reviews.
Despite making the decision to part ways in 2002, Bardot remains the most successful act of all four Australian Popstars seasons. In addition their clothing label remains a commercial and retail success. However band members have stated that they no longer receive royalties since the band dissolved. The clothing label was a joint venture with the Just Jeans group run by Solomon Lew.
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The members of Bardot were selected on the Seven Network's first series of Popstars, a talent show which set about producing a five-piece girl group. The series was only second to the New Zealand version which produced the group True Bliss. The act would be sponsored by the Austereo radio network, New Idea magazine and signed to Warner Music.
In 1999, over 2,500 hopefuls turned up to auditions around the country which required both singing and dancing experience. The judges consisted of radio broadcaster Jackie O, Warner Music executive Chris Moss, and Grant Thomas Management manager Michael Napthali (who would manage the group's career).
After numerous elimination rounds, Chantelle Barry, Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas and Katie Underwood were chosen and given tickets to fly to Sydney to record their debut single, and the girls moved in together.
Controversy occurred when Barry suddenly departed the group with no public explanation on the program. Rumours in magazines and newspapers suggested she had been caught stealing items from other members. Six years later in 2006, Barry appeared on the program Where Are They Now, to speak for the first time over the incident. She stated that she accidentally kept Monk's money allowance with the intention of giving it back to her, but forgot to do this and was therefore removed from the group.
As a result of that departure, judges selected Newcastle singer, Tiffany Wood (now spelled Tiffani Wood) as the fifth member. The name "Bardot" was chosen after the French actress Brigitte Bardot. The program followed the group during its recording sessions, photo and music video shoots and other promotional commitments such as showcases and instores.
Airing prior to the first season of Australian Idol, the show was considered a unique and fresh format at the time, and attracted on average, more than 2.6Â million viewers per episode, making it one of the most successful, highest-rating programs of 2000. The series was nominated for "Most Popular Reality Program" at the 2001 Logie Awards.
Early commercial success
The success of Popstars led to national media coverage with reports on the girls daily and the band's instore signings attracted thousands of fans. This overwhelming exposure translated into major record sales.
The debut single "Poison" entered the ARIA singles chart at number 1, selling over 60,000 copies in its first week. It gained double platinum status, remaining in top spot for two consecutive weeks. The self-titled debut album also entered the charts at number 1. Bardot set a new sales record by becoming the "first Australian act to debut at the number 1 position with both its debut single and debut album". The album would go on to sell over double platinum copies and was the 20th highest selling album in Australia for 2000.
Bardot repeated the same results with its debut single and album in New Zealand, where "Poison" spent three consecutive weeks at number 1.
Second single, "I Should've Never Let You Go", accompanied by a music video which saw the girls transform into animated superheroes, made its television debut at the end of the final episode of Popstars and peaked at number 14 on the ARIA singles chart.
Bardot made a promotional trip to Singapore and other parts of Asia, where the group had attracted a large fanbase. The album reached number 2 in Singapore while "I Should've Never Let You Go" reached number 1.
A fan favourite, "These Days", was chosen as the third and final single, peaking at number 19 in Australia.
At the 2000 ARIA Awards they were nominated in three separate categories: "Highest Selling Single", "Highest Selling Album" and "Best Video". The group performed "These Days" at the ceremony.
In August 2000, Bardot embarked on its first national concert tour of Australia where one Melbourne critic wrote, "it was when they covered the Jackson's "Can You Feel It" and DeBarge's "Rhythm of the Night" that you could see how good they might be with great songs. Bardot have come along way..." A tour of New Zealand was cancelled due to poor ticket sales.
In March 2001, Bardot moved to the UK to release "Poison" and appeared on a number of shows including SMTV Live, Top of the Pops and Pepsi Chart. The single was only a limited success, peaking at number 45 on the UK singles chart.
Tiffani Wood put the result down to bad timing, stating in an interview that, "Hear'Say were huge, and any other similar band had little chance, especially us because we weren't as known."
Five become four: a change in direction
Whilst in the UK, Bardot began work on their second album, recording songs with Swedish production team Murlyn. This collaboration resulted in three released tracks including the first single, "ASAP".
Prior to the single's release, Katie Underwood decided to leave Bardot in pursuit of a role in the musical Hair, which subsequently failed to commence due to lack of finances. Bardot also parted ways with Grant Thomas Management, signing with David Caplice Management to "better our career and...(be) in a good position, creatively as owners of Bardot", according to Sally Polihronas.
"ASAP", released in July 2001, was marked a "comeback" for the group and presented the record-buying public with an edgier, more sophisticated and confident Bardot. Belinda Chapple stated, "We've grown from girls to women in the past year and a half". The new direction was successful, "ASAP" providing the group with its second Top 5 ARIA single and fourth gold single.
In August 2001, Bardot performed a cover of the Village People song "Go West" at the opening ceremony of the 2001 Goodwill Games in Brisbane and the following month, performed "ASAP" on the grand final edition of the AFL Footy Show at Rod Laver Arena. The album's second single, "I Need Somebody", gained a positive reception from critics with comparisons to the dance-pop music of Kylie Minogue being made. It confirmed the group's staying power, peaking Top 5 and becoming Bardot's biggest hit in Australia since "Poison".
In November 2001, Bardot released their second album, Play It Like That, which featured co-writes by all members and received critical acclaim from many critics who believed Bardot would not last past their first album. The album debuted at number 16 on the ARIA album charts and was certified gold status, but continued to drop in the weeks following, only spending seven weeks in the Top 100.
Bardot performed to their biggest crowd of 90,000 music lovers at the Sydney and Melbourne Rumba music festivals and on Christmas Eve, performed in front of 30,000 people at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl for the annual Carols by Candlelight.
In February 2002, the group released its final single, "Love Will Find a Way", which completed Bardot's string of consecutive Top 20 singles by peaking at number 18. In March, the girls embarked on their second national tour with Australian boy band Human Nature, playing sell-out shows in theatres across the country. In early April, the group travelled to Malaysia where they performed at the International Indian Film Academy Awards, followed by a tour of India.
In April 2002, after much media speculation, Bardot announced its decision to split. An official statement read:
"Bardot confirm their mutual decision to end the group's career. Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas and Tiffany Wood have cited the need for a well earned break following what has been a phenomenal 2.5 year explosion on the Australian music scene. The pace at which the group's career continued from its inception at the first Australian Popstars TV show auditions to the completion of a 3rd single from their second album Play It Like That has taken its toll."
Bardot performed a farewell show at Channel V â" their last public performance â" in front of dozens of screaming fans and it proved to be highly emotional for both fans and the band members. While trying to introduce their final song for the night, Wood broke into tears, unable to sing her verses, and handed her microphone to the audience. The group made its final appearance together for a charity event on 2 May in Sydney.
The decision to break up came as a surprise to many in the industry who believed Bardot was in the process of establishing a strong and credible reputation. Rumours circulated that the split was a result of Monk's desire to begin a solo career, though she denied this. In 2004, during an interview with FHM magazine, Polihronas revealed,
"I think when Sophie went solo, everyone assumed that it was she who broke up the band, which wasn't right. I don't know whether I should say this, but I wanted out for a long time. Sophie and I both knew that we were going to fulfil the last album and then move on, but Sophie stayed with the management, and continued on. I took a whole year off without even thinking about it."
Soon after Bardot's split, Wood confirmed that at the time, both she and Chapple were the two members keen to continue as Bardot. All members, apart from Polihronas, have launched into solo music careers with varying levels of success (see Solo releases), as well as other fields such as acting and fashion.
In April 2004, Bardot's original management team Grant Thomas Management sued the Popstars producer Screentime and its joint venture company Five Divas, for up to $750,000 for breach of contract and loss of earnings. In November 2000, Bardot sacked Grant Thomas Management midway through a three-year contract because according to Screentime, Bardot had "lost all confidence" in the ability of Grant Thomas Management to effectively manage their careers. Grant Thomas believed they were unfairly dumped and was successfully awarded $129,561.
- National Tour
- 13â"26 August 2000
- Here and Now â" The Bardot / Human Nature Tour
- 1â"15 March 2002
Awards and recognition
- Warner Music Australia: Bardot â" Features music samples of album tracks
- Belinda Chapple â" Official Website
- Sally Polihronas â" Official Website
- Official POPrepublic.tv Group for Sally Polihronas â" Social Media Group