Mel C took her first steps in establishing a solo identity in late 1998 by duetting with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams on the massively successful song "When You're Gone". Though it never topped the charts (UK #3), it went on to become the eighty-second best-selling single of the 1990s, and the biggest selling solo Spice single. She followed the duet with the critically acclaimed album Northern Star in 1999. Eager to distance herself from her "Sporty" image, the rocky "Goin' Down" (UK #4) was chosen as the first single from the album. Though it failed to make a huge impact in the charts or do much for album sales which at this point debuted at #10 on the UK album charts, the single and its video showed the world a different side to Melanie Chisholm.
The album's title track was chosen as the follow up single and was a surprise hit (UK #4). With its simple, yet beautiful video the single sold in excess of 195,000 copies, but did little for album sales. In March 2000, Melanie had her first break as a solo artist. A slightly remixed version of "Never Be The Same Again" featuring a rap from Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes was chosen as the album's third single and became Mel C's first solo UK #1. The song, co-written and produced by Rhett Lawrence, went on to sell over 400,000 copies and helped bring Northern Star back into the album chart Top 10.
Capitalising on her new found success, Mel C released a fourth single from Northern Star, a dance remix of "I Turn to You", and earned herself a second UK #1 single. "I Turn to You" eventually climbed to the top of the Billboard Dance Charts in America, and went on in 2002 to be featured in a club scene in the film Bend It Like Beckham (the film also featured a new version of "Independence Day", a song particularly popular with fans from the Northern Star days, but never before released). Northern Star was re-released with the single versions of "Never Be the Same Again" and "I Turn to You", and eventually peaked at #4 on the UK album charts.
"If That Were Me" was chosen as the fifth and final single from Northern Star, but made little impact on the charts (UK #18), having received poor promotion for the highly competitive Christmas market. The song suffered as a result of recent Spice over-exposure (the release of Melanie B's solo album Hot and the Spice Girls' Forever, both with accompanying singles). It should also be noted that it was the first of Melanie's singles to be released on just one CD format in the UK. Sadly, little was made of the charity status of the record. Northern Star is certified triple platinum in the UK selling, to date, over 900,000 copies (998,000 to be exact) and platinum in Europe. Worldwide sales exceed three million copies, making it the biggest selling solo album from a "former" Spice Girl.