Entertainment

Bardot respond to reunion rumours; celebrate 20th anniversary with ‘Greatest Hits’ vinyl release

It’s been 20 years since Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas, Katie Underwood and Tiffani Wood formed Bardot and released the #1 hit Poison.

Before Australian Idol, The X Factor, The Voice and Australia’s Got Talent, the talent show Popstars launched a huge nationwide search for performers to form a pop group.

Listen to the full interview below

The show launched in 1999, with Bardot’s first release in 2000.

“A lot happens in 20 years,” former Bardot member Belinda Chapple told 7NEWS.com.au.

“It is such a long time ago, but the memories are pretty strong. It was such an incredible time and the fans were just amazing and we had a lot of them,” she said.

The band only lasted two years, spawning two albums and six top-10 hits.

Bardot at a Virgin Megastore in London in 2001. Credit: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

But their legacy continues 20 years on, with a new generation of fans discovering Bardot’s music as it was made available for streaming.

“The surprising thing for me was actually the new Bardot fans, and I’ll call them neo-Bardot fans,” Katie Underwood told 7NEWS.com.au.

“It seems that this group of people in their 20s have rediscovered both Popstars and Bardot, sort of decades after the fact, and are just as excited now about it because, actually, it’s fresh for them,” she said.

Popstars

Back in 1999, Popstars became the first large-scale talent show to document the evolution of a vocal group, from first auditions to debut single.

The judges back then were radio host Jackie O, Warner Music boss Chris Moss and talent manager Michael Napthali.

There was no glossy set, no celebrity mentors and no audience voting – it was just three judges whittling down thousands of wannabe popstars to the most talented to form a girl group.

“I’d never auditioned for anything before, so the entire process was totally alien, but, I think that served me well,” Underwood said.

Radio host Jackie O was one of the judges on Popstars.
Radio host Jackie O was one of the judges on Popstars. Credit: Seven Network

“I just kind of went into it and thought, ‘well I’ve got nothing to lose’.

“It was just kind of strange and interesting, and I guess I’m always inclined to give anything a go at least once.”

Chapple had previously auditioned for another Australian girl group.

“I did audition for Girlfriend, which was signed to BMG (Records), and that was even more of a grueling audition, but it wasn’t filmed,” Chapple said.

“But the process was just surreal because of the cameras and the sheer number of girls who turned up to audition around the country.”

Katie Underwood learns she made the cut from Jackie O.
Katie Underwood learns she made the cut from Jackie O. Credit: Seven Network

The final band members selected were Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas, Katie Underwood and Chantelle Barry.

But accusations of theft saw Barry replaced with Tiffani Wood just weeks into recording their debut album.

Poison soon went to #1 on the ARIA charts, and the five members of Bardot were officially thrust into the spotlight.

“I think I definitely suffered a little bit, especially afterwards with, a little bit of a delayed anxiety – it was just all a lot,” Chapple said.

“Every now and then I would get sad,” Underwood said.

Belinda Chapple learns she's in the band from Michael Napthali.
Belinda Chapple learns she’s in the band from Michael Napthali. Credit: Seven Network

“I remember missing my family and friends quite a lot, not being from Sydney and suddenly moving there with no possibility of seeing, or even having the time to speak to anyone that I knew,” she said.

“I think that was probably the thing that I found the hardest – I think that’s part of the reason I was happy to step out of the fame game for quite some time, because there are lots of parts of that game – and it is a game – that I just didn’t enjoy.”

Early departure

In 2001, Underwood shocked fans by walking away from the band.

“I think anybody will say that we can only ever make the best decision that we think at the time,” she said.

“To go back and say, ‘could I have done differently?’ ‘Had I stayed for the second album, would it have been better?’ ‘Would I have been happier?’ ‘Would Bardot have been more or less successful? It’s all just speculation, so I don’t regret the move that I made, because I thought I was doing the best thing for me at that time.

Katie Underwood performing live with Disco Montego in 2003.
Katie Underwood performing live with Disco Montego in 2003. Credit: DEAN LEWINS/AAP

“Beyond that, I don’t know, there’s managers, I probably wouldn’t have hired again, there’s record labels I might not have signed with again, you know, there’s lots of things…

“Any musician will tell you that they’ve all made mistakes along the way, but we learn from them, so I don’t regret any of it.

She didn’t completely walk away from music though, working with Disco Montego on the hit singles Beautiful and Magic, and releasing her solo single Danger.

Bardot continued with four members.
Bardot continued with four members. Credit: Supplied

But the four remaining band members pressed on with their second album, Play It Like That.

“Even though, obviously when she (Katie) left it was sad, we were just so busy,” Chapple said.

“Obviously I always adored Katie, so there was a missing part of the band, but there’s still four girls, sort of going on, doing what we did.”

Just a year later, the rest of the band parted ways and Bardot was no more.

Where are they now?

While Underwood isn’t in the pop charts, she has been keeping herself extremely busy.

“I had children, so that took me like off every radar known to man for at least five years,” she said.

“I re-trained as a massage therapist and then moved into meditation teaching. And now, I’ve now become prolific in a totally new musical genre, which is making meditation music and mantra music.

“So I’m currently sitting in the studio, recording my fifth independent, full-length album of mantra, meditation music.”

Chapple has spent the last few years in Singapore working as an interior designer.

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