Over the course of six weeks thousands of hopeful popstars attended open television auduitions, for the show, which was based on the Australian version of the same name, to be judged by Nigel Lythgoe, Paul Adam (director of A&R at Polydor Records, who had rights to the finished group), and Nicki Chapman, who had previously worked with the Spice Girls. The judges whittled down the contestants to a final ten singers, visiting each of them at their homes to tell them if they were in the band or not. The five who were not chosen later formed the band Liberty (later changed to Liberty X after a legal dispute).
Hear'Say's first single, "Pure and Simple", a cover of a Girl Thing track that was only released in Japan, went straight to number 1 in the UK singles chart on March 18th 2001, selling over one million copies and becoming the fastest selling non-charity single in the UK, a record which was beaten a few years later by Pop Idol winner Will Young. This was followed by their equally successful debut album, also called Popstars. The album featured cover versions of "Monday Monday" by The Mamas & the Papas and "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, alongside original tracks purchased for the group, and also reached number one, three weeks after the single, making Hear'Say the only British band to ever have had a debut single and album at number one at the same time. After another number 1 single, a remix of album track "The Way To Your Love", the public and press turned against them as a symbol of manufactured pop music, using their private and pre-Hear'Say lives to generate hate against them.
During 2001, the group toured, to middling reviews, and released a live DVD of one of their shows. Whilst on tour, the group were also recording a second, follow-up album, entitled Everybody. In November 2001, just a few months after their debut, Everybody was released, preceeded by a single of the same name. The bubble had burst for Hear'Say, and "Everybody" debuted at #4 in the singles chart, despite heavy promotion. The album fared even worse, creeping in at #24, and going onto sell just 1/5 of the amount Popstars achieved. Despite this, plans were made for an arena tour in 2002. At the time, group member, Kym Marsh was hitting the headlines for her relationship with former Eastenders star Jack Ryder. Ryder was younger than her, and she already had children from former relationships, which caused controversy in some parts of the media, and speculation was mounting that she was unhappy in the group.
In February 2002, Kym Marsh announced that she was leaving the band, and auditions were held to replace her, to be aired on television, mirroring the procedure through which the original 4 members of Hear'Say were chosen. One of the band's former dancers, Johnny Shentall (husband of Steps singer Lisa Scott Lee) won these auditions, but, in yet more negative publicity, the results were claimed to have been rigged. These claims were falsified as it came to light that many people who had previously worked with the band had auditioned, most not even making it past the first round. With a new line-up, they began recording a new album, cancelling the planned 2002 arena tour, to give Shentall time to adjust to the group. During the summer of 2002, and showing just how much public hatred there was towards the group, the band's vehicle was threatened by a seemingly armed man on the M1 motorway in Northamptonshire, whilst they were touring the UK radio roadshows circuit (where they were constantly booed and abused by members of the public). The man was later arrested, claiming to be playing a prank on the band.
In August 2002, Hear'Say released their first single with Shentall, with a new sophisticated feel, not dissimilar to the sound Liberty X had carved out for themselves, entitled "Lovin' Is Easy" to re-generate interest in their music. The track charted at number 6 in the chart, but the group were disheartened and took some time out to re-evaluate their careers. Hear'Say officially split up on 1st October 2002, citing the negative reaction from the public as the main reason. Post-Hear'Say, Myleene Klass went on to record a classical album for Polydor Records' classical division, which was a minor success, before she became a presenter on CD:UK. Kym Marsh, opting for an adult contemporary sound, released 2 successful singles and an album, on a smaller record label, before she was dropped for low sales. She later went onto be a guest presenter of Loose Women, and entered Making Your Mind Up 2006, the UK show to pick a singer and song for the Eurovision Song Contest, but did not win. Suzanne Shaw is a tabloid staple, thanks to her high profile relationship with Darren Day, whilst Johnny Shentall starred in MTV's Totally Scott Lee alongside his wife. Noel Sullivan has starred in West End musical Love Shack with former Steps star Faye Tozer and former S Club 7 singer Jon Lee. Danny Foster has kept a relatively low profile since the band split, although he has been in the Channel 4 show The Games, replacing actor Jonathon Morris.