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Popstars, theft and hush money: Inside the rapid rise and fall of Bardot.

People power has prevailed. After all the articles, hashtagging and just good ol’ fashioned whingeing on social media, Bardot‘s back catalogue is now available to stream on Spotify.

Fans can transport themselves back to the time of low-rise jeans and halter tops, and relish in the early 2000s girl-band brilliance of songs like ‘Poison’ and… OK let’s be honest, we’re pretty much here for ‘Poison’.

So whack on the playlist, and let’s look back at the group that dominated turn-of-the-century Aussie pop.

Bardot star Sophie Monk talks to Mamamia about dealing with rejection.

Video by Mamamia

The stolen cash and a bundle-full of hush money.

The five members of Bardot were handpicked from a reality TV series called Popstars; a show so wonderfully low-rent (we’re talking pre-Australian Idol remember) that Jackie O was paid an allowance of $67 to be a judge.

But the original lineup of Bardot wasn’t the one most would know. Yes, there was Sophie Monk, Belinda Chapple, Sally Polihronas and Katie Underwood, but there was also Chantelle Barry, who mysteriously vanished from the group in 2000. There was no explanation for her departure, just a vague allusion to ‘family reasons’.

The tabloids had an alternate explanation: that she’d been “sacked for stealing” from her bandmates.

Years later, Chantelle confirmed that there was an element of truth behind the glossies’ gossip. Speaking to Woman’s Day in 2017, she revealed that she had spent Sophie Monk’s $100 weekly allowance, after the fellow singer accidentally left it in her room.

“In a moment of stupidity, being a teenager and thinking that a pair of shoes was more important than the friendship I had with Sophie, I decided to keep her money for myself,” she said.

She told the publication that management paid her $1000 to leave the group and stay silent on the matter. She took it: “I was young, naive and saw it as a way out,” she said.

After the public confession, Sophie alleged via The Kyle and Jackie O Show that Chantelle had also taken items from other members of the group: “She had stolen hairdryers and Chanel stuff… But the funniest thing is, I was the only one who wanted to keep her in the band. I really liked her and people go through things and I thought she was so talented. We all do stupid things.”

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She was replaced by the judges’ next choice, Newcastle singer Tiffani Wood.

And then there were four. Again.

The lineup-change did little to dampen Bardot’s success.

The debut single, ‘Poison’, entered the ARIA singles chart at number 1, and sold more than 60,000 copies in its first week. ‘I Should’ve Never Let You Go’ followed, peaking at 14. Meanwhile, fans queued in their thousands at performances and record signings around Australia.

Bardot in their prime. Image: Getty.

But in 2001, Katie Underwood decided to leave in favour of a role in the stage musical, Hair. Unfortunately, the production never got off the ground.

Still, the (smaller) band pushed on with its second album, Play it Like That, and once again cracked the top-five in the ARIA singles charts with 'ASAP'.

It was sold as a 'comeback'. After just a year in the business.

The breakup.

In April 2002, it happened.

"Bardot confirm their mutual decision to end the group's career," the official statement read. "Belinda Chapple, Sophie Monk, Sally Polihronas and Tiffany [as she spelled it then] 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."

The group exited the industry in a beautifully noughties way: with a live farewell concert on Channel V. There were tears from both the singers and the screaming audience, and hosts Osher Gunsberg (then Andrew G, and long-haired) and James Mathison even suited up for the occasion. Seriously, there were bow ties involved.

It was widely assumed that the band had crumbled over Sophie Monk's solo ambitions, but the members later revealed that Sally wasn't keen to continue, either.

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As Sally told FHM in 2004, "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."

Bardot: Where are they now?

With the exception of Sally, the band members all launched solo careers, to varying success.

Those born after 1995 are likely to know Sophie Monk for almost anything other than her Popstar beginnings.

That's because, in the years post Bardot, she's had a cracking career, including a brief stint as a Hollywood actress (Date Movie and Entourage), a hosting gig on KIIS radio, and on TV dating show Love Island. Oh, and of course, as The Bachelorette. Sophie appeared on the show in 2017, and ultimately chose millionaire publican Stu Laundy for her final rose. The pair split in January 2018.

LISTEN: Sophie Monk opens up to Mia Freedman about her time with Bardot, and why she always felt like an outcast.

Sophie isn't fond of reflecting on her Bardot days. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph in 2015, she said she wouldn't be surprised if the overnight fame left her with PTSD. She also spoke of constant competition between her bandmates.

“It was worse than high school because the girls were smarter. They were a bit older then me too. I’m sure they were messing around, but I was so innocent back then. I don’t speak to the girls anymore, it’s like school, we grew apart. We were in a competition with that band, you know how it is with young girls," she said.

Tiffani Wood launched a solo career, first with record label Warner Music, then via her own independent Mudhoney Records, peaking at Number 5 with a 2006 cover of 'I Touch Myself'. Since then she's become a mum to four children and is now a private vocal coach, offering lessons through Tiffani Wood Singing Studios in the Gold Coast, Queensland.

Belinda Chapple, too, went on to a solo career. She then moved on to stage production and was the creator and creative director of stage show, Sydney After Dark. She now markets herself as an actor, model, musician and stylist and lives in London.

Katie Underwood ended up having success in the dance music genre, including a 2002 Top 10 single with Aussie duo Disco Montego called 'Beautiful'. She released a debut studio album in 2009 and joined Tiffani Wood in the cast of the musical Valentino the same year. She's now a meditation teacher and mum of twin daughters, to whom she gave birth in 2011.

Sally Polihronas turned to the commercial side of the entertainment industry, working as a live event producer and marketing director. She's currently the director and co-founder of television chat software company.

As for Chantelle Barry, in 2001, she relocated to LA and later played a small part in the remake of 90210, starred in a TV show called Miss 2059 and had some other roles voice acting.

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