October 5, 2002
Eurodance enjoyed a serious moment with me in the early 2000s. It was starting to break through overall in the United States a few years earlier, and Madonna, always one to be ahead of the curve, brought it to the forefront with her amazing 1998 album Ray of Light. And even though my tastes were starting to lean heavily toward alternative rock in 2002, when I discovered new wave bands like Depeche Mode and New Order, it made perfect sense to me. Disco may have been murdered in the United States by the time the 80s came around, but it never really died in the UK; it just kept evolving.
Regularly listening to New York radio stations Z100 and WKTU brought quite a few songs to my attention I might not have been exposed to otherwise. A few of them did pretty well on my top 40 in those early days. But only one true Eurodance song got all the way to the top of my chart at that time. And like most of those artists, he had his moment with me, and then I pretty much moved on.
Daniel Bedingfield was born in 1979 in Auckland, New Zealand. He went to Lynfield College in New Zealand, and eventually made his way to England, where he began recording songs in his bedroom. (Wikipedia is pretty light on biographical details prior to his fame as an artist.)
Bedingfield came up with "Gotta Get Thru This" while he was living in London in 2001. He was in a long-distance relationship with an American woman named Gina who lived in Leeds. Lamenting how the physical distance in the relationship was keeping them apart, he went home and began writing the song.
Bedingfield's narrator in the song isn't explicit about what he's gotta get through. He just keeps saying he's gotta get through this over and over as if he's trying to convince himself. As the lyrics progress, he seems to realize how time is dragging on. "Give me just a second and I'll be all right/Surely one more moment couldn't break my heart/Give me 'til tomorrow then I'll be okay/Just another day and then I'll hold you tight."
Like most well-written songs, the opaqueness of the lyrics works to its advantage. It could be about a tough situation in a relationship, a long day or week in a miserable job, or a family event that gets increasingly uncomfortable. It's the sort of feeling everyone goes through at some point in their lives. But the beats Bedingfield produces add an urgency and dynamism to the song, as if to feel that not being able to get through this would be irrevocably devastating. He also increased the pitch in his voice, which lends an additional feeling of exasperation to the song.
Bedingfield recorded the entire song on his home computer, and made copies to distribute to various DJs in the UK. One of them, DJ EZ, included the song on a popular compilation series called Pure Garage. That provided Bedingfield the springboard he needed to gain attention in his adopted home country.
I'm not very well educated on the innumerable variants of dance music. Before I began writing this post, I didn't know what UK garage music was. To be honest, I don't really want to get too much into the weeds in the technical aspects of the subgenre. I just know the song fucking slaps. There were other dance songs I was into around then, and a couple reached the top 10 on my top 40. Finnish DJ Darude came out with the blistering instrumental club-banger "Sandstorm" and it got to #8 on my chart in 2001, while New York City's iiO got to #7 earlier in 2002 with the sublime "Rapture". But neither of those songs had the lyrical depth that Bedingfield came up with on "Gotta Get Thru This". That really wound up making the difference.
The UK version of the video shows Bedingfield singing the song while it cuts to a woman who's presumably Bedingfield's love interest. He does a good job looking pensive and contemplative before he eventually meets up with her. The North American version of the video begins with him performing an acoustic version of the song on a stark white set. When the song begins in earnest, it follows a similar set-up to the UK version, albeit with breakdancers performing behind the wall where Bedingfield was earlier. This is one of those things where I don't quite understand the logic of record labels. I guess the acoustic guitar piece was done to get him over with the VH1 crowd, but what do I know.
Regardless, the song was a smash on both sides of the Atlantic. It became the first UK #1 hit for Bedingfield, and eventually reached #10 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as #1 on Billboard's dance chart. His debut album, also titled Gotta Get Thru This, did big business in the UK and Europe, and got to a respectable #41 on Billboard's album chart.
After "Gotta Get Thru This", Bedingfield didn't really have more success in the United States. The follow-up, "James Dean (I Wanna Know)", was basically a non-entity in the US, despite peaking at #4 on the UK Singles chart. His only other US pop hit was the third single from his debut, "If You're Not the One". It's a treacly ballad that Bedingfield says was inspired by the Irish boy band Westlife. That would explain why the song did absolutely nothing for me when it was out. It still managed to reach #15 on the Hot 100, and became his second UK #1 hit. He got one more #1 hit in the UK with "Never Gonna Leave Your Side", but that one didn't see a US release.
Bedingfield nearly died in a car crash in New Zealand in 2004, and suffered head and neck injuries as a result. He eventually followed up his debut album that year with Second First Impression, but it only sold a fraction of the copies of his debut. The lead single, "Nothing Hurts Like Love", got to #3 in the UK, but was his last top 10 hit in that country. He hasn't really released much music since then, but it wouldn't be the last time a Bedingfield family member found success in either the UK or the US.
In 2004, Bedingfield's younger sister Natasha released her debut album Unwritten. She, too, got a UK #1 hit with the song "These Words", and the album went on to make an impact in the US. Over here, the big hit from the album was the title track, which got to #5 on the Hot 100 in 2006. She followed it up a couple years later with N.B., and got another top 10 Hot 100 hit with "Pocketful of Sunshine". That song easily made the biggest impression with me from her career, and it got all the way to #3 on my top 40 in the summer of 2008.
As for Daniel, his most notable appearances in the last decade or so came as a judge on the New Zealand version of The X Factor, and a brief appearance in a West End musical in 2016. He won't be appearing in this column again. I can't find anything on the fate of his relationship with Gina, but I hope it worked out okay, especially as a person who wound up marrying someone named Gina. If he did manage to get through that, it seems he made out pretty well for himself.
Here's Kelly Clarkson covering "Gotta Get Thru This" on her talk show in March 2023.
(Kelly Clarkson's only appearance on my top 40 was 2013's "Catch My Breath", which peaked at #40.)