“Saturday Night” has two big things going for it. The main thing is that it’s one of those iconically simple pop hits, like a “Louie Louie” for the Thomas Cook set. How can you tell when something is iconically simple and not just, er, simple? I’d say when it never actually ends up irritating you. Obviously that’s entirely subjective and I expect to be swamped with annoyed Whigophobes in the comments, but for me this record has lucked onto something sweet and primal. Not, though, irresistible – I’ve generally been pleased to hear “Saturday Night” and am content that it has made the world a happier place in some small fashion, but I wouldn’t own it, or put it on for fun, or even learn the dance. If anything, I like this most for its influence – the enduring post-Whigfield school of plinky-plonk smilecore Eurodance which produced feelgood gems (Ang Lee’s “2 Times”, ATC’s “Around The World”) through the rest of the decade.
But actually “Saturday Night”‘s resistibility is its second fine quality. It is that rare holiday smash which doesn’t hustle its listener. Most of them – from Conga to Macarena – carry a strong tang of coercion amidst the Piz Buin and Pina Colada, a vampiric need to co-opt their audience into the Fun. Not so “Saturday Night”, which is charmingly unassuming, thanks mainly to Whigfield’s matter-of-fact performance. If you do stick around, your reward is a lovely bit of house piano heading for the fade. But this song is never pushy. It’s Saturday night. Whigfield is having a great time. Maybe you are too. You don’t have to be. It won’t spoil anything. Have fun if you like. It’s up to you.