Don’t Call It a Comeback: the Pop Resurrections that Rivalled that of Christ Himself


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Don’t Call It a Comeback: the Pop Resurrections that Rivalled that of Christ Himself

It's Easter, you see.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB

Easter, baby! If you're living in a country where Christianity is the dominant religion, chances are you've made the first pilgrimage home of the year. In the UK you're likely looking forward to a long weekend of eating chocolate products marketed at children until you potentially vomit. Maybe a go on Cool Runnings on BBC1 at quarter past two on Sunday, probably a good old-fashioned row with a family member in the middle of a supermarket at some point. Traditions, really. But please, I beg, amid the Mini Eggs and passive aggression, do not forget the meaning of this special holiday in the Christian calendar. Easter marks the resurrection of Christ, which is when Jesus came back from the actual dead to launch the ultimate emma_roberts_surprise.gif at everyone who doubted he was the Son of God.


At risk of sounding like a youth pastor called Paul who wears festival wristbands and plays acoustic guitar, Easter makes me feel like Jesus was the original pop star. This is because he did something that very few can pull off: he finessed the hell out of a comeback. Think about it – and with my Catholic upbringing, I already have. Jesus' comeback had everything: suspense (three whole days of drama), public spectacle (enormous stone rolled away from the mouth of the tomb), shock factor (reanimated corpse). What more could you ask for? You may well say that Jesus set something of a precedent.

Therefore, to celebrate this comeback of comebacks, I've collated some of the best pop resurrections from recent years. For some, returning to new glories meant shedding the dead weight of surplus band members. For others it was reinventing their image, and for Steps it was just releasing arguably the biggest banger of their career and getting a bit worse at dancing. Onwards, and Happy Easter:

Kylie Minogue – "Spinning Around"

This is how you do a comeback. "Spinning Around" is an outrageously good pop song with an earworm of a chorus, which is exactly what Kylie needed after her previous album Impossible Angel had flopped critically and commercially three years before. Peep the music video, which not only sees her rocking Those Famous Gold Hotpants, but also rubbing her glorious self on an average man who has dared to wear gold chain and an "Otsego Lake" T-shirt in her presence. This could well be described as a live action premonition of the dynamic between men and women on Tinder. "Spinning Around" wasn't just a pop resurrection – it was a warning.


Mariah Carey – "Honey"

Mimi is known and loved for both her ceaseless and indiscriminate capacity for putdowns and her silky smooth R&B, but it hasn't always been that way. Her early career saw her as a cutesy, poppy girl-next-door, albeit one with the range by the boatload. Then a divorce from Sony record exec Tommy Mottola, several years her senior, re-energised her. She changed direction for 1998's Butterfly, arguably her career-best album, and "Honey," its first single, saw her adopt a cooler, smoother sound as she gleefully showed some skin in the music video, birthing the Elusive Chanteuse we have today.

Steps – "Scared of the Dark"

Much discussed on Noisey dot vice dot com, yes, but for good reason. British groups don't really ever do comebacks all that well – pouring one out for everyone who took part in The Big Reunion so now that someone has finally managed it, it feels worth shouting about. "Scared of the Dark" is amazing because Steps understand who they are, and will always be: unlike all the other comebacks here, which could also be thought of as reinventions, Steps stuck to the exact same timeless pop formula as in their early career, made a music video that looks like a sexy heartburn medicine advert, and struck total gold.

Cher – "Believe"

Like Kylie, Cher's crowning moment (or at least one of them) came out of the need for a new sound after a failed album, 1995's It's a Man's World. But, never one to stay down for long, in 1998 Cher was back to completely truly murder everyone with "Believe," the song that, without doubt, plays in gay heaven on a constant loop. Also, interesting tidbit: "Believe" was one of the first tracks to ever use AutoTune, so as well as giving the world music that makes you want to stand on the nearest surface and scream whenever you hear it, she also basically made Travis Scott, Future et al happen. Add to that the fact that this could technically be considered her fourth coming. Bow down.


Britney Spears – "I'm a Slave 4 U"

Dark eye make-up? Check. Mussed-up hair? Check. A gallon of baby oil and, inexplicably, a snake? Check, and bloody well check. All the markers of adulthood are here! "'I'm a Slave 4 U" had the sole purpose of re-launching the previously kid-friendly, candy-coloured, sterile sexuality of Britney Spears as the grown-up kind with, you know, actual agency. This comeback announced a pop star who *whisper it* wanted to have sex, and this is largely communicated via her outfit of pink thong peeking over some flared leather trousers in the video. If that doesn't scream "I'm an adult!!" then, well, my friend, symbolism is lost on you.

Christina Aguilera – "Dirrty"

There's a reason why Britney and Christina are pretty much always mentioned in the same breath – it's because their early careers took such similar trajectories that in many people's minds, they're inseparable from one another. "Dirrty" is Christina's "I'm a Slave 4 U" moment (rebranded as Xtina, lest we forget), only more full-throated: sweatier, sexier, downright dirrtier. That she chose to experience her resurrection as a grown woman on the pop landscape clad in the pair of assless chaps that I am quite sure were responsible for some of my earliest sexual feelings is only the icing on the already exquisite cake.

Beyoncé – "Crazy in Love"

As soon as the trumpets start blaring, you know it's going to be special. "Crazy in Love," as everyone in the entire universe knows, was Beyoncé's post-Destiny's Child comeback, though everything from the song choice to the way she handles that fur stole in the music video would have you assuming she'd been at the solo game for years. "Crazy in Love" provided the benchmark for a career that, almost 14 years later, is the stuff of legend: it promised greatness, and greatness we got. For that reason, it's still one of the most enduring items in the Beyoncé catalogue.


Robbie Williams – "Angels"

For better or worse, Robbie Williams is one of the greatest male solo pop stars this horrible little island has ever squeezed out – we were too busy making incredibly important rock stars, OK – and as such he's a national treasure. And though "Angels" was technically the fourth single from Life Thru a Lens, the first album he released after leaving Take That, it was the track that declared him a real prospect on the UK pop landscape. Over the years, "Angels" has retained just as much staying power as Robbie himself, and you have it to thank for every pissed-up singalong you've ever led outside a closed club at 3AM. Oh, just me? Of course.

You can find Lauren firmly on holiday til Tuesday on Twitter.

(Image via Pixabay)