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Sep 14

911 – “A Little Bit More”

Popular60 comments • 2,897 views

#812, 23 January 1999

911b The formation of minor boyband 911 is a telling vignette of how pop in the late 90s was working. The general boyband narrative is one where a managerial Svengali recruits rosy-cheeked poppets who emerge three or four years later, a little wiser, hopefully richer, and generally sporting unfortunate facial hair as a sign that they are now their Own Man. They celebrate cutting their ties with the pop machine by falling into complete obscurity, and then it’s all over bar the reality show reunions. It’s a career.

What’s – mildly – interesting about 911 is that the motive force for their existence wasn’t a dollar-eyed manager or a talented singer – it’s two backing dancers who saw how well other former backing dancers were doing and decided, quite sensibly, that they wanted a bit of it. So they found a willing manager and then cast about for someone to sing the songs. It’s an origin story that doesn’t really fit the familiar pop storyline of rampant exploitation: instead, you could make an inspiring business case study out of it. And I suspect that’s because British pop was increasingly working like a business – staffed by young people who might not have had formal qualifications but who were more canny about the value of their labour and the structures they were working in. In the stage school era, pop is a job and is advertised, interviewed for and treated (if you’re sensible) with the same clear-eyed unsentimentality as any other desirable but precarious employment. One of the interesting things about reality TV pop is that it made a spectacle of the “wide-eyed kid gets their dream ticket” storyline at exactly the point it was becoming archaic in the biz as a whole.

Perhaps it was 911’s entrepreneurial viguour that made record labels initially slightly wary of them. Or it could have been that, if “A Little Bit More” is any evidence, they were shit. That search for a vocalist had ended up with Lee Brennan, and listening to “A Little Bit More” I wish they’d hunted harder. “A Little Bit More”, like any bedroom jam, requires a mix of conviction and fantasy from its lead singer. “Oily” and “desperate” aren’t really the adjectives you want to be reaching for. Brennan’s pinched, wheedling voice might be the least charismatic boyband performance we’ve met in the 90s – he makes Peter Andre sound like Isaac Hayes. The saving grace, perhaps, is that Brennan is so weedy that he can’t make the lyrics of this hoary old song – “When your body’s had enough of me…” – sound as skeevy as they might sung by someone less callow. But when you factor in the preset twinkles of the production this is one of the most negligible Number Ones yet.

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Comments

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  1. 51
    Steve Mannion on 9 Sep 2014 #

    More bussy vids: Princess ‘Say I’m Your Number One’, Galliano ‘Long Time Coming’, Roisin Murphy ‘Overpowered’.

  2. 52
    Auntie Beryl on 9 Sep 2014 #

    Damon Albarn hangs out the back of a Routemaster in parts of the “For Tomorrow” vid.

  3. 53
    Chelovek na lune on 9 Sep 2014 #

    Erm, it has been pointed out to me: “One Thing” by One Direction.

    Always Routemasters though, innit.

  4. 54
    Auntie Beryl on 9 Sep 2014 #

    Easy votewinner for cunt-in-twat’s-clothing Boris Johnson to bring them back, then. He’s not an idiot.

  5. 55
    Tommy Mack on 9 Sep 2014 #

    The best and most succinct description of Boris I’ve ever heard.

  6. 56
    weej on 14 Sep 2014 #

    According to this wiki page this is the lowest selling #1 single of 1999 – only 75,400 copies were enough to get it to the top, compared to 140,000 for The Offspring a week later (and 463,722 for the first week of Bunnied Singer a month after that)

  7. 57
    ciaran on 20 Oct 2014 #
  8. 58
    ciaran on 20 Oct 2014 #

    A fairly weak cover of a song that was nothing to write home about in the first place. 911 weren’t much cop and this is one of the worst things they did.Even the video gives an impression of mininum effort. This I could recall as it made the top spot but the rest I would struggle with apart from maybe Bodyshakin.

    Anyways a generous 3 for this.

  9. 59
    Steve Williams on 1 Mar 2016 #

    #33 I was just about to post the Boyz Unlimited thing here because Richard Osman mentioned it on Pointless today! But I see it’s already common knowledge.

    The category was “911, Five and S Club 7 Top 40 hits”. This was pointless, so was Party People Friday Night. Bodyshakin’ wasn’t, hooray.

  10. 60
    MUSICALITY on 24 Apr 2017 #

    Truly awful third rate band who were inexplicably just as popular as Backstreet Boys… in Asia!

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