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Nov 14

S CLUB 7 – “Bring It All Back”

Popular77 comments • 4,342 views

#827, 19th June 1999

s club biab Simon Fuller claims that the idea for S Club 7 came to him the day after the Spice Girls fired him. It’s a typical bit of entrepreneurial storytelling – the darkest moment is always another opportunity, don’tcha know? But it’s a useful comparison – if you want to know what the Spice Girls brought to their music, contrast them with S Club. Out with distinct personalities, in with colour coding. Down with the modern, up with pastiches. Away with girl power and the pop of everyday life, bring on pop as everyday life: a meta-pop TV show, Miami 7, starring S Club as a pop group trying to make it in the US.

S Club was a kids’ TV project beyond anything else – a popular teatime show which happened to leave a profitable vapour trail of records. Consulting those parts of the Freaky Trigger cabal (thanks Hazel and Kat!) who saw Miami 7, it was either great, or a bit less crapulous than the stuff broadcast next to it: a success either way. But the songs from it are doing the job the songs in kids’ shows always do – breezy, catchy opportunities for a montage or a happy ending. And snipped from that context, S Club records were enjoyable without ever risking being good.

“Bring It All Back” is a case in point. It’s the theme from Miami 7 – a sensible choice of debut, since it’s the tune most likely to be lodged in viewers’ minds – and it’s a take-off of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5, the youthful members of S Club pitching their voices even younger and more eager, trying to catch some of Motown’s joyous lightning. On the one hand, “I Want You Back” is a great song to steal from, because it’s amazing. On the other, stealing from it this faithfully is as good as saying, “we have no ambitions here whatsoever beyond imitation”. So this is what the Spice Girls themselves gave to a Simon Fuller project: risk. Without them, he plays it mechanically safe.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    (“Bring It All Back” is also, by a rum coincidence, the second pure advice lyric in a row at #1 – this one aimed at 11 year olds as exactly as “Sunscreen” was aimed at 21 year olds. The two songs take opposite tacks, which – at the risk of flogging this topic to death – shed a bit of light on the failings I found in Luhrmann’s record. My objection to “Sunscreen” wasn’t exactly insincerity – it’s that it took sincere sentiments and applied techniques to them that emphasised their glibness and make them feel phoney to me: the combination of advert voiceover and continued rhetorical doubling-back. “Bring It All Back” does the opposite – it takes shopworn ideas which you suspect none of the writers have given two thoughts to, and expresses them with unwavering, wholesome positivity and brightness. I’m not won over by this approach either, and I think the two sets of advice are roughly equally sound. But “Bring It All Back” wins because it’s shorter and has a tune.)

  2. 2
    flahr on 2 Nov 2014 #

    B-b-but Tom this isn’t pastiche this is the sound of the MODERN SHINY COOL FUTURE and nooooo my childhood :(

  3. 3
    weej on 2 Nov 2014 #

    If I remember correctly Miami 7 was in the weekday afternoons at 5.10 spot rather than Saturday mornings, but I may be wrong.

  4. 4
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Ah! If someone can confirm or otherwise I’ll change the entry. It doesn’t make much difference to the point of it :)

  5. 5
    AMZ1981 on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Credit where credit is due Bring It All Back held at bay Beautiful Stranger, one of Madonna’s best singles of the nineties and the only one of a run of three standalone singles for her (two soundtrack tracks and the lead single from a new album) to miss the top. It’s also worth noting that while Bring It All Back itself was relatively quickly forgotten other S Club 7 songs (some bunnied although Reach is not) have proved more enduring.

  6. 6
    mapman132 on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Ironically for a show about a group trying to make it in the US, there was only one S Club 7 hit in the US that I’m aware of and this wasn’t it. Did Miami 7 ever appear on US TV? I have no idea, but then I wasn’t exactly their demographic target. I find BIAB quite dull – almost makes me want to reach for the sunscreen again: 3/10.

  7. 7
    iconoclast on 2 Nov 2014 #

    What a great idea for a new way to sell more records: put a bunch of stage school kids in their own TV show about “being in a band”*, pitch it at an undiscriminating audience, make the songs available for commercial purchase, and watch the hits flood in. I bet nobody ever thought of that before!

    BIAB is exactly the kind of thing you might expect from such an enterprise: melodically clunky, lyrically inane and banal, produced cheaply’n’cheerfully, and finished off with a gratuitous key change. It all feels completely superfluous, and the best that can be said for it is that at least it’s also completely (well, almost) inoffensive. FOUR.

    *Never mind the awkward question about whether they deserved to be called a “band” or not. The correct answer is, of course, “Get back to your rocking-chair, Grandad, nobody cares about that any more”.

  8. 8
    MikeMCSG on 2 Nov 2014 #

    # 5 Agreed ; I think they are due some reappraisal although this is their “Ring Ring” rather than “Winner Takes It All”.
    OK Simon Fuller did have these on a tighter rein after his Spice Girls experience and even VB is a better singer than Tina or Hannah. But on the other hand Jo is much better than any of the Spicers and it’s a shame that personal demons and the lack of regard the UK has for genuine vocal talent ( see also Colin Blunstone , Julianne Regan ) have prevented her from capitalising on it.

  9. 9
    enitharmon on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Iconoclast @ 7, have you been commenting in the Grauniad lately?

  10. 10
    will on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Never minded S Club really. A Millennial multi-gender version of the Monkees was my take on them – all good clean fun. I absolutely adored the follow up, S Club Party (even if it was virtually a rewrite of Say You’ll Be There). This? Less so. 4 is about right.

  11. 11
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    I’m kicking myself for not remembering “Reach” only got to #2 – one of the reasons this entry is skimpy is that I was holding some commentary over for “Reach”! There will be other places it can go though.

  12. 12
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    And yes, “S Club Party” is as good as they got – I love the background “Ho! Hey!” stuff.

  13. 13
    Izzy on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Yes, S Club Party is their best – on the 911 thread I mentioned Party People as another antecedent. Would love to know if there are others in this particular late 90s dayglo party lineage. It would make an outstanding mixtape!

    I was surprised to find S Club 7 only issued eleven singles. A later bunny approaches the S Club Party peak, but overall it makes for a really strong collection I reckon.

    There’s an interesting discussion to have around S Club and pastiche, which is – does it matter at this remove? I can see how it might annoy in 1999, pop aspiring only to ape thirty-year-old pop – but now that one single’s 15 years old while the other’s 45, I couldn’t care less.

  14. 14
    JLucas on 2 Nov 2014 #

    There’s a subtle but important distinction to be made between pop music that can be marketed towards children (i.e. almost all of it) and pop music written specifically and exclusively for children. S Club fall very much into the latter camp for me, which is why in the battle for post-Spice Girls hearts and minds, I always had much more time for Steps.

    Whatever else you might say about Steps, their original material (post-5,6,7,8), was clearly a sincere attempt at reaching ABBA-esque heights. They couldn’t possibly achieve it (and lets face it, the credit goes entirely to their writing team, the group themselves were no more creatively involved or – I suspect – invested than the S Club alumni were), but I can listen to One For Sorrow, Deeper Shade of Blue and After The Love Has Gone now and have an emotional response. They’re good songs, written about grown-up emotions. That they were presented with easy-to-mimic dance routines by a group of perma-smiling entertainers doesn’t take away from that, it just gives younger listeners a way in.

    S Club songs on the other hand I can pretty much only enjoy on a nostalgic level. You can really tell that they were written primarily to soundtrack a TV show. The production is a lot cheaper for the most part. They’re simple, children’s party music. There’s nothing at all wrong with that. But I think it explains why there’s far less residual affection for them. The difference between S Club and The Tweenies was only flesh and blood. (Number One by The Tweenies would actually have been a perfectly convincing S Club hit).

    Bring It All Back is a decent song. But it sounds like what it is, a TV series theme tune transformed into a buyable product. Hey Hey We’re The Monkees for the CITV generation.

    6

  15. 15
    Lazarus on 2 Nov 2014 #

    #10, 12 ‘S Club Party’ = ‘White Lines’ I always thought.

    Five number twos in addition to their four chart-toppers, so a group that clearly found a good deal of favour with the GBP, and yet didn’t outstay their welcome – three years or so and they were off. Although a reunion of sorts has been attempted recently. And discussion of the ‘Juniors’ can wait for another day I suppose.

  16. 16
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    I think the point re. pastiche isn’t “this isn’t original” – as you say, you get to a certain point and think, so what? – but “this limits its capacity for surprise”. If a record is trying to be like another record, that doesn’t completely render it incapable of doing something interesting, but it lessens the likelihood. And the further away and more canonical the template is, the easier it will become to get the impression right, think “job done”, and leave it at that.

    (Which is the difference between pastiche and, er, ‘scenius’ – when it’s a bunch of people working to do something their peers are doing, the formula won’t quite be locked down yet – there’s more room to get things intriguingly wrong.)

  17. 17
    Chelovek na lune on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Hmm, admin call – in a strange turn of events (I write as someone who has time for “Thou Shalt Always Kill”…) I am being offered the chance to edit Tom’s last comment (#16). The temptation, the thrill, the abuse of power…… I am not logged in, so possibly we share a ISP, talktalk (tho surely not an IP address…)

    It’s kids music, obviously, mega-blatantly manufactured but it is kind of good quality as far as it goes – no emotional depths to plunder here, and a fairly shameless key change too. In the spirit of Disney, Grease, etc, (…Rebecca Black….) wholesome, too wholesome, uncomplicated but still fun. I found it profoundly irritating at the time (I distinctly remember it blaring out at full volume at the end of Brighton Pier that summer) – but it has really grown on me. I disagree about “S Club Party” being as good as they got – I’d make the case for another #2 of theirs, “You”, being a lost gem of a song.
    6, or maybe even 7. (I’m afraid this will not be the last piece of ultra-cheesy pop from this summer of which I will speak in support, the next will be along soon…)

  18. 18
    lonepilgrim on 2 Nov 2014 #

    musical haribo – artificial as hell and as saccharin as ‘Sugar Sugar’ yet the video only confirms my feeling that the singers seem to be on a joyless treadmill, running to stand still

  19. 19
    katstevens on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Yes, it was definitely broadcast in the Grange Hill slot.

  20. 20
    thefatgit on 2 Nov 2014 #

    “The Monkees were my S Club” might yet be the Great Unwritten Pop Tome, but S Club 7 have a long way to go to achieve the level of awesome that The Monkees did.

    “Bring It All Back” is a perfectly serviceable example of tweenpop, but it’s no “I’m A Believer”. I’m deliberately being unfair. Of course the S Club model and the Monkees model only share a thin veneer of familiarity. I find myself siding with Iconoclast to an extent: cheap & cheerful, banal, clunky…well yes, absolutely. But then there’s something about this pre-millennium positivity that’s counter to the burgeoning Y2K paranoia of the time. I remember our IT department beavering away on contingency plans and examining lines and lines of code to see if our company systems were exposed to this phantom bug. The threat might be 6 months away, but for all that time, those guys and girls were living in another reality, but then so were S Club 7. For that, I will give it a 5.

  21. 21
    Ricardo on 2 Nov 2014 #

    Does anyone here think a phenomenon like S Club 7 would actually be possible these days, what with children themselves increasingly turning their backs on TV and adopting the Internet earlier and earlier into their lives?

  22. 22
    flahr on 2 Nov 2014 #

    I think S Club 7 were the first band I ever saw live (obviously this was my older sister’s doing, as I scowled at the idea of music in general until I was about 15, pigeonholing it – music in toto, to remind you – as something Other People Liked). It might have been Steps, it might have been Forthcoming’Bunny. But I think it was S Club 7.

    I feel slightly annoyed at myself for not being able to remember their names – watching the video I think it’s Hannah, Jo, Rachel-From-Friends, Other Woman, and then (possibly showing that Westlife were the pop wallpaper of the day) Brian, Brian and Brian.

    My girlfriend offers “I thought they were called S Club 7 because there were seven S Clubs.” A bit like Stargate teams (although obviously neither of us watched Stargate at the time).

    Anyway. Assembly pop*, bright ‘n’ breezy, nice enough nowadays even without the obvious nostalgia value though I can’t say I’ve listened to it or missed it in the intervening decade and a half (!). S Club [5].

    *not a typo for “assembly line pop”, I mean the sort of pop that they played in the much-dreaded (though not particularly by me) Singing Assembly in primary school; my primary memory of Singing Assemblies concerns an upcoming bunny so I will spill all then, but “Reach” was a perennial favourite and I suspect all of SC-7’s oeuvre enjoyed outings at some point.

  23. 23
    Tom on 2 Nov 2014 #

    #20 Every team in our company had to give someone the responsibility for Millennium Bug preparedness. Our Y2K rep was an affable Icelandic guy who approached the job with what turned out to be the absolutely appropriate level of effort. 17 songs to go!

  24. 24
    Chris on 3 Nov 2014 #

    I played this again the other day, and approached it with an open mind – at 25 in the summer of ’99, S Club 7 weren’t aimed at me so it wasn’t really on my radar at the time… it still sounds a bit too twee & by-numbers to my ears but I can’t dislike it much either.
    The follow-up single was equally derivative but much better IMO.
    I scoffed at the “retro” S Club reunion tours of 2008 across the nation’s universities but six years on I suppose they must seem a real snapshot of a more innocent age to those in their original audience demograph.
    4

  25. 25
    swanstep on 3 Nov 2014 #

    Sounds like a sound-a-like concocted for an ad with a bunch of session players when the customer was too cheap to spring for the expensive rights to the blissful original (I Want You Back, Satisfaction, Look of Love, London Belongs To Me,…). But, sigh, the kids will never know the difference. Note that BIAB got to #1 in NZ, and S Club would have 2 more #1s in the next six months there. Not sure about TV status there, but I’m guessing that the established Spice marketing channels made that unnecessary.

    I recently saw Lucy (2014), whose primitiveness (dialogue-wise, visuals-wise, plot-wise, and the ‘science’ loudly appealed to in the film is beyond idiotic) BIAB reminds me of. Anyhow, it’s absurd to complain about Lucy as I do here: no one who made it was under any illusion that they were making anything good. ‘Good enough to lighten the pockets of consumers worldwide and fatten those in Paris and Hollywood and Seoul’ just is the presiding spirit of the thing. S Club 7, then, is the sort of stuff that triggers in me comparable cynicism about the music business. But BIAB isn’t my childhood:
    3

  26. 26
    The Riverboat Captain on 3 Nov 2014 #

    Crapulous? No way.

  27. 27
    Andrew Farrell on 3 Nov 2014 #

    I’m reasonably certain that Luc Besson thought he was making something good when he filmed Lucy – I’m also reasonably certain he was right, a tight flashy high-paced film that takes itself as seriously as it needs to to keep escalating – more Injected with a Poison perhaps than this track.

  28. 28
    Andrew Farrell on 3 Nov 2014 #

    (That’s not a great comparison but I can’t think of a dance track that starts well and keeps improving – possibly due to the fact that you’ll have buggered the next track on – and I can’t bring myself to compare Lucy to something non-dance such as, say, Bohemian Rhapsody)

  29. 29
    weej on 3 Nov 2014 #

    I found Miami 7 a huge disappointment at the time – I was into plenty of pop music that seemed to be superficially aimed at the pre-teen market, but Aqua/B*witched this was not. I attempted to watch a few episodes, but it was just dull, and the theme tune was worse, a half-arsed sketch of a pop song which wouldn’t have stood a chance of getting on a Spice Girls album. Of course they would redeem themselves a bit later by virtue of bringing some decent songs in – S-Club Party we’ll get to, Reach is one of those instantly memorable songs that would’ve been massive anytime from the thirties to the present day, whoever performed it.

  30. 30
    James BC on 3 Nov 2014 #

    Miami 7 made no sense because (from seeing a few episodes) the plot was always “We need to write a song before the big performance.” Well (1) you clearly don’t write your songs and (2) no one wants to hear a new song at a big gig – just do your old stuff.

    “Bring it all back to you” is also terrible advice – so self-centred. 90s-00s nu-morality.

  31. 31
    iconoclast on 3 Nov 2014 #

    @9: no; why?

    @20: Which reminds me that a sentence mysteriously disappeared from my earlier post: “Bubblegum pop for the New Millennium, certainly, but completely lacking the wit and craftsmanship of thirty years previously.”

  32. 32
    Mark M on 3 Nov 2014 #

    Re 25/27: I’m with Andrew – there are plenty of things you could accuse Luc Besson of, but I don’t think abject cynicism is one of them. On the contrary, I think he makes exactly the films he wants to make, and in his head they are the best possible films he could imagine (and occasionally, he’s not totally wrong about that). The science is, of course, beyond ridiculous, something emphasised by just how much of the screen time is taken up by those bloody lectures. But I thought it looked good. The plot is simply there to serve the film’s central conceit, which is to take an action movie set up and then tip into something trippy/a mystical situation where violence becomes impossible (of course, you could argue that’s a standard Star Trek trope). I’m not convinced that it worked in the end, but I didn’t find it painful, and it made the correct use of Scarlett Johansson. Poor Morgan Freeman, though, he really needs to stop taking those parts.

  33. 33
    Andrew Farrell on 3 Nov 2014 #

    It may help to compare it to Transcendence, linked by Mr Freeman’s velvety tones :)

  34. 34
    Tom on 3 Nov 2014 #

    “I can’t think of a dance track that starts well and keeps improving”

    If you’re willing to stretch your definition of ‘dance track’ there’s one coming up relatively soon!

  35. 35
    swanstep on 4 Nov 2014 #

    @andrew f./mark m.. I’m at a slight disadvantage here because once a movie hits a critical mass of badness in my view, I just purge it from my memory – it’s simply not worth retaining what was wrong about it.

    That said, and let’s for arguments sake set aside the preposterous science and its sorry exposition by Freeman, Lucy felt desperately underwritten to me, not a single natural or memorable line of dialogue (cynicism alert: dialogue unimportance seemed obviously tied to Lucy‘s international distribution aims), not a single real character to speak of apart from SacrJo’s (incredibly Besson manages to do absolutely *nothing* with S Korean revenge-film icon Choi Min Sik – how is that even possible without imputing a combination of incredible cynicism and laziness to Besson?), the plot barely exists – there’s no real development after ScarJo gets beaten up after she has the drugs implanted (and, amazingly, even that rudimentary plot point was garbled: please, without looking anything up, tell me who the people are who beat ScarJo, and what was their point in doing so?) – editing and visuals were painful/primitive (clip-art-like) for the most part I thought. Truly, the only redeeming feature of the film is ScarJo herself kinda, sorta extending her Black Widow persona fused with a little bit of Under The Skin‘s alien. Lucy was made for just $40 million but has made over $400 million worldwide, and without ScarJo on board I doubt whether L. would have got much of a release. I hope and assume that ScarJo has ended up with a big piece of that gross – she deserves it, she *is* everything that’s good about the film.

    Anyhow, ‘mind-expansion’ films have been all over the place the last few years, but Lucy is easily the worst I’ve seen. Limitless, Inception, Her, Transcendence all seem to me to be qualitatively different from and better than Lucy, which, no bones about it, reads like a scam. Lucy is only just over 80 minutes long but one still feels it vamping, padding for time with its vapid cut-aways to early primates . etc.. The movie is *so* slight that you can *feel* (or at least I thought I could feel) Besson trying to get out of Dodge as quickly as possible with customers’ monies.

    p.s.. Pete Baran’s columns used to be a good venue for this sort of discussion. Miss them.

  36. 36
    Mark M on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Re35: ‘The plot barely exists’ – that’s certainly true. Could the film have done with more Choi Min Sik and less Morgan F? Undoubtedly. And so on. My issue was mostly with your assessment of LB’s motives. And now with your crediting of Johansson for the film’s box office success – Besson has a long history of internationally successful movies, whereas Johansson’s previous biggest hit in which she was the headline act is Lost In Translation, all those years ago. I think it would be pushing it to claim that many people saw those Marvel movies because of her…

    But more importantly, yes, a gentle campaign to persuade Pete to at some point start writing film reviews here would obviously have my complete backing. But people do have lives to get on with, though…

  37. 37
    Alan on 4 Nov 2014 #

    That’s a terrible low-res scan of the cover, but an object lesson in ensuring you scan 2x the dpi

  38. 38
    wichitalineman on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Late to the S Club party…

    The first time I heard this was on Newsround, or a similar children’s programme, which interviewed the 7 on set. So the single’s doing well, said the bouncy reporter. “Yeah, we’ll be number one on Sunday” said Rachel, Tina or Jo, with absolutely no enthusiasm. I was horrified.

    That really set up my (non) relationship with S Club 7*. You don’t care about number ones? You don’t really deserve them.

    BIAB sounds perfectly OK to me now: dry, straight forward, does it’s job like plenty of ’69-era bubblegum, and the Jackson 5-ishness is fine. It’s an earworm too. I can stretch to a 5.

    When do we get to talk about Rachel Stevens’ solo records?

    *excepting a “thing” for Tina. Was that just me?

  39. 39
    Steve Mannion on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Love the idea that the first act to not care about being #1 (for the first time) was a teenpop act but maybe they were just really really tired?

  40. 40
    Alan on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Did Rachel get any higher than #2 in 2004? edit: sweet dreams got to 2 as well (in 2003)

  41. 41
    Tom on 4 Nov 2014 #

    #38 I can’t think of an obvious place! Whatever kept them at Number 2? There’s bound to be an entry that talks about ‘Popjustice Pop’ in some depth, which for better or worse I file RS’ records under.

  42. 43
    James BC on 4 Nov 2014 #

    I always thought Tina was the least stand-out of the girls. Once Channel 4 Teletext were interviewing her and asked for “questions to ask Tina from S Club 7”. My brother suggested “Which one are you?”

  43. 44
    wichitalineman on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Ha! Thanks Alan… I really try to avoid finding out what’s imminent on Popular, so that was very thoughtful. Though I’d have thought a future S Club 7 entry might need a bit of Some Girls/LAX discussion to spice it up (are there two more?).

    So I’m guessing it was just me, with my thing for Tina I mean. Jo “stood out” for unsavoury reasons a few years later, of course. Rachel Stevens’s FHM ubiquity has always baffled me.

  44. 45
    StringBeanJohn82 on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Looking forward at their next two singles (neither got to no. 1, but sorry if I’m breaking any rules here):

    Bring it all Back – Say Hi to the gang as we all get to sing/here’s our manifesto
    S Club Party – Hip-Hop/R&B one
    2 in a Million – Slushy ballad/has a number in the title/ tilt at Christmas No. 1

    Seem familiar?

    Wannabe
    Say You’ll be there
    2 become 1

    S Club were a great manufactured band. All top 5 hits, 3 years of ubiquitous chart dominance, and then out, every single record memorable. This is the worst of their singles by some distance but it was their manifesto (put it to the test-o) – that manifesto being we are 7 seven young people who are wholesome and sexless that your kids can look up to without threat. Compare the raunch of ‘2 become 1’ to ‘2 in a Million’ for a good example.

    Being BBC sponsored, I guess they had to be. I remember when the Spice Girls came out they were interviewed in mags like Select and Vox, and even footy mags aimed at adults like 90 Minutes (much missed) where they were frequently off topic and veering into areas perhaps not suitable for their core demographic. Licence fee funded S Club had no such ability and remained trapped in primary colour. primary school purgatory.

    On topic, this is the worst of their singles but it was the obvious debut single. It’s catchy as hell and has the message of positivity and protestant work ethic that will stand their fans in good stead for their imminent entry to adolescence and the turmoil that brings. As Tom said, enjoyable without being good. [4]

  45. 46
    Tom on 4 Nov 2014 #

    So anonymous are S Club that I just looked ahead to their other bunnies, saw one I really liked, and realised that I’d reattributed it to a completely different band, obviously in my shock at SC7 having a memorable track.

  46. 47
    wichitalineman on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Well, I can remember the Christmas one to come.

    I was blanking on S Club Party on Reach, so I just listened and didn’t remember either (the first – pretty good; the second – it’s their Stop, isn’t it, with bloody awful lyrics).

  47. 48
    thefatgit on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Weird isn’t it? This and “Reach” are the only S Club 7 songs I can call to mind, and by some margin, might be their “worst” offerings. I’ll stave off my curiosity re: the bunnies until the time is right.

  48. 49
    James BC on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Reach is massively memorable to people my age because it quickly became a student cheese night staple. It would generally be played between Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and, say, Brown Eyed Girl. I would glance nervously towards the exit, curmudgeon that I was.

    Yes, the lyrics are awful. You can’t “climb every mountain higher.” If you climb a mountain, the height you climb is dictated by the height of the mountain.

  49. 50
    Tom on 4 Nov 2014 #

    The students I knew found ways to do pretty much anything higher.

  50. 51
    Mark G on 4 Nov 2014 #

    #45 and now you have me searching for my Jumper..

    I’m truly surprised at the fact that Steps is/are ahead critically here, and also that no-one can seemingly remember (bunnied), or is that part of the rules? If so, fair enough.

    I guess all the tracks mentioned so far (apart from that 2 become christmas or whatever) are instantly memorable to me, but then I had two girls who enjoyed the songs and the show enough, and I never got too sick of the S Club.

    Yes, the thrall of the number one gets fairly unexciting when it’s presented as a done deal, but that could be down to 1) they’re all actors who can sing, historically anyway, and they didn’t grow up with TOTP in their childhood sights. Probably watched “Knightrider” boooo booooo (like my friends in the school band who would always watch 6 million dollar man, thursdays, 7 to 8 oclock also booo booo)

    .. or 2) no number one, they’re working out their notice kids.

  51. 52
    StringBeanJohn82 on 4 Nov 2014 #

    #49. Good grief yes. ‘Reach for the bloody stars’, followed by ‘Put Your f***ing Hands on’ by Reef, even I could dance to them. You could just put your hands in the air. Thinking back I’m old enough now to say I had a pre-smoking ban fag in one hand and a bottle of hooch in the other. And I walked home alone (sans jumper).

  52. 54
    Cumbrian on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Assorted comments:

    Lino: You weren’t alone on Tina. And agree on Rachel’s FHM ubiquity. Is it right that The Streets’ Fit But You Know It is (obliquely) about her?

    Rachel Stevens solo: if not on S Club entries, surely some scope for discussion when we get to Richard X’s contributions to the top of the charts.

    S Club: for me, better than Steps: substantially so, in fact. This is not a good example of why (a little too bland – but at least I can remember the chorus – not sure that it warrants the same mark as, say, Boyzone’s A Different Beat – but that could be because ADB deserves marking down rather than this up), but I would say one of their bunnies is the best thing that they ever did (rather than S Club Party – as I mentioned at Wannabe, instant points off for introducing the band sections) and is one of the few songs that prominently features one of the boys. We’ll get there in time. Plus points for S Club over Steps were that I thought they were much less irritating in their public presentation (a little of Ian “H” Watkins goes a long way – is the other bloke Ben Affleck in “Good Will Hunting”?) and had catchier, or at least more memorable, songs. I can mentally recall several S Club hits – the only Steps hits I can remember are novelty line dance number 5-6-7-8 and Tragedy even after JLucas’s naming of several of their other hits – Tragedy obviously isn’t theirs either, so I’m really struggling to hear Steps’ originals in my mind’s ear.

    #21 asked whether you can do this stuff in the modern age, given the way kids consume TV now is much different from the point at which they were going to all be sat around watching Miami 7. I don’t know is the answer – but Hannah Montana suggests that the model was still good for a few years after this – and Disney keep trying to capture the same lightning in a bottle (with some success if you follow stuff in European countries – a telenovella called Violetta is incredibly popular in Italy and has spawned merchandise and music/concert ticket sales all over the place – it was tried in the UK but kids here couldn’t get with the dubbing so it got pulled fairly quickly; the stuff I know about due to my job). I reckon it could work, potentially, but it will be a lot harder work to get off the ground and would likely require a good strategy for Youtube and the more fragmented nature of kids’ entertainment habits nowadays, so as to get kids to bite on it.

    Disappointed Beautiful Stranger didn’t get to #1. Never mind.

  53. 55
    Mark M on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Re21/54: The answer is surely that up to this point both Nickelodeon and Disney are still cranking out sitcoms for kids, as well as Disney’s made-for-TV musical movies, the stars of many of which have had pop careers, and when Tom gets to talking about 2014, we’ll be talking about them. Maybe one day the internet will have vanquished TV in kids’ hearts, but we don’t seem to be there yet.

  54. 56
    Cumbrian on 4 Nov 2014 #

    It’s true that they are still cranking out those sitcoms. They are operating to diminishing returns though, certainly at the moment – we can tell this by looking at the data that comes through on sales and comparing to the historic sales data that we have, comparing the data that we’ve collected over time on popularity of these properties as stated by the kids and seeing that the newer “stars” are not as popular as those from the middle/end of the 00s and various other softer measures that are collected by a variety of research agencies across the industry. The stuff that has replaced this for popularity in absolute terms at the moment is not teenage popstars – it’s Frozen, it’s Minecraft, it’s a variety of Youtube stars creating their own content and kids watching that. If anything, the fact that these new teenage popstars might still be featuring near the top of the charts is probably more to do with shrinkage in the music industry, rather than evidence of massive love from the children of the UK.

    Edited to add: Teen Beach Movie was a moderate success on TV in the UK, having quickly checked the ratings data, but did next to nothing at retail. High School Musical on the other hand was a genuine phenom. If anything, TBM is supporting my point that they are trying to do the same things and getting lower returns from them, as they’ve not really adapted to the changing marketplace for children’s entertainment.

  55. 57
    Mark M on 4 Nov 2014 #

    Re56: Ah, interesting stuff. I take your point on the business of the business.But as for the level of performer that’s been produced via this route in recent(ish) times, apart from the headline-grabbing Miley, I would say that the former Nickelodeon star who has two hits in the Top 40 and a (bunnied) summer monster still lurking at 48, looks like the real thing to me, or as much as anyone does in this day and age.

  56. 58
    Cumbrian on 4 Nov 2014 #

    AG is an interesting case actually. In terms of the UK, she got big off her involvement in Victorious (starting in 2009) which is probably the last kids sitcom with a music star in it to really hit in the UK (there have been others which have produced higher viewing figures since but not spawning anyone off that). She could actually be the last of this breed for a while – looking at affinity measures for her, the audience that grew up with her from 2009 is still really into her but the ones who are coming in at the bottom end of the age range now and seeing her in Sam and Cat, which doesn’t perform as well as Victorious did, are not as interested in her as you might think. She does have an undeniably committed audience, but it’s probably not as childcentric as you might think – more teenagers now than kids.

    Flirting with the bunny there but I think pertinent to the original point – can you make music stars through kids sitcoms? In the UK, I’m not so convinced anymore – though it might make a comeback; looking ultra-long term, there do seem to be cycles in the types of content that succeed in general. The current obvious avenue for kids’ favoured music stars in the UK is X Factor – which is watched by more kids than any of the sitcoms that we’re talking about here. I suspect that one of the limiting factors to sitcom based success is that they don’t have a wide enough audience – whereas Miami 7 would have been on when there was still limited choice for kids’ TV content, so large numbers would have been exposed to it, due to its placement on BBC1.

  57. 59
    Mark M on 5 Nov 2014 #

    Re58: Much appreciating your inside track on this.

    The relationship between shows and music has never necessarily been a ‘like the TV programme, like the band’ one. The Monkees had a record out before the show went on air. With S Club 7, BIAB came out after the series had been on for a couple of months, so in that case, presumably there had been a built up of familiarity and good will. But group soon felt much bigger than the show.

    With the Disney/Nic kids, yes, they aren’t always on the mainstream channels (although they can be – HM was ITV, The Wizards Of Waverly Place on C5), but I always presumed it was more about creating a seed audience – enough to get you on the radio back in the day – than the TV audience and the audience for the music being exactly the same. AG and Miley have moved a long way from that initial base, surely?

    This seems as good a place as any to mention something that struck me this week when I was subbing a feature about this week’s X Factor, which is at the least one of the groups hadn’t gone down the Spice route of careful differentiation at all – there was a bucketload of them and they all have the exactly the same haircut. Makes captions a nightmare (will no one think of the poor journalists?). Of course, if they do turn out to do well, the true fans will know which one is which, but for the rest of us, they may be doomed to be a Westlife blur rather than individuals.

  58. 60
    Jonathan on 5 Nov 2014 #

    So strange to hear this song talked about with such lukewarm disaffection! I’d never even really thought of it as kids’ music (I was sixteen when it came out, which puts me out of the apparent tween target market); just really amazingly enjoyable pop constructed to be as amazingly enjoyable as possible. I am wondering now why I was never cynical about its entirely unwavering positivity; I sort of suspect that it’s because it seems appropriate that late ’90s pop should brim with late ’90s optimism. At the time, it seemed like pop music was just supposed to be this uncomplicatedly cheery, just like B*Witched was, or “Steal My Sunshine” or “Semi-Charmed Life” or etc. etc.

    If I had to defend it as being anything more than a “I Want You Back” Of My Very Own, I guess I might say that there’s a rather satisfying circularity to the chorus that echoes the recursive suggestion of the title. It’s a hook constructed as an argument, only one that is all structure without semantic coherence. It is a recipe for how one can bring it all back to oneself, which is the apparently logical result of not stopping, never giving up, and holding your head high.

    I dunno, it’s just really neat y’know?

  59. 61
    ace inhibitor on 5 Nov 2014 #

    is its positivity so unwavering though? Someone sent me a postcard with the slogan RELENTLESS OPTIMISM: BIAB more than hints at a similar ambiguity (the need for relentlessness undercuts the optimism it is meant to intensify): “when the world is on your shoulders… if people try to put you down… love, it aint easy… when the world seems to get too tough… try not to worry… you should never be lonely… keep it all inside (but also) gotta let the feeling show (huh?)… don’t you stop trying, don’t stop, don’t stop, never give up, never, give up, NEVER give up, NEVER GIVE UP, na na na na na na na….’

    ahem. Anyway, if its pop music for kids, its for kids who’ve got to the point of realising that this business of being happy is more complicated than it seems

  60. 62
    Tom on 5 Nov 2014 #

    Kids realise that pretty quick, though, since they’re spiteful little buggers to one another. It’s not dissimilar to conversations we’ve had with our 7 year old when other kids are mean.

  61. 63
    Steve Mannion on 5 Nov 2014 #

    re #54 I think ‘When You Wasn’t Famous’ is obliquely about Rachel, ‘Fit But You Know It’ is just inspired by someone he met on holiday.

  62. 64
    Billy Hicks on 6 Nov 2014 #

    There are a couple of moments I would put up there as contenders for “best of my life”, all occurring around the end of the 2000s and start of the 2010s in my hedonistic uni years, after the glum of noughties teenagehood and before the exhausting, working and bill-paying 2010s twenties I’m currently in. Not to say there are better on the horizon but it’s been a bloody long time since the last.

    One that may well clinch it, looking at my blog, would be in the early hours of Friday the 13th (how ironic) of August 2010. I was midway into my introductory course at the National Youth Theatre. The student halls were blasting with your standard top 40 fare for the time – O.M.Bunny, We Don’t Speak Bunny, Bunny Out, etc – and then someone puts S Club 7 on.

    Not this one, though, the follow-up to this which only reached #2, ‘S Club Party’. Play it in a building full of 18-21 year olds a few years earlier and you’d get everyone feeling a bit embarrassed and leaving the dancefloor. Play it in a building full of 18-21 year olds a few years later (which we’re now approaching) and half of them wouldn’t even know or remember it. Play it in a building full of 18-21 year olds in 2010, and utter, singalong hands-in-the-air euphoria surrounds the place.

    It seems odd to think that a moment as simple as flinging my hands collectively up in the air with several dozen others and shouting “S! CLUBBBBBBBB!! WANNA SHOW YOU HOWWWWWW!!!” should count as significant enough to be up their with my best, but it was a combination of the way I was feeling, the point I was in my life and the place and people I was with, along with the perfect link to a decade earlier and those last few pre-teen years before moodiness overtook me at the age of 13. What had seemed like a circle dating back to what was previously my happiest two summers ever – 1999 and 2000 – had returned with 2009 and 2010, something that had already felt like it had been building up for a long time but at that, one, glorious moment I could have stayed there, in that room, with those people, singing that song forever. Everything was perfect.

    Bring It All Back, while not quite the song mentioned above, is still strong enough in my heart to desperately want to give it a 10. But I’m going to stick to a very high 9 due to the equally melancholic feelings it now brings of a time long gone.

  63. 65
    Tom on 6 Nov 2014 #

    I love those kind of stories. My friend and I played an 80s revival DJ set in 1994 to a student audience where we ended up having to play “Come On Eileen” three times because of the frenzy it sent people into. (And I gave that a 10, of course.)

    This would suggest that peak student ecstasy right now is being reached by the hits of 2002-3. Not a bad crop to be honest.

  64. 66
    Billy Hicks on 6 Nov 2014 #

    Tom – That’s actually true! A club night I went to in Central London a few months back seemed obsessed with 2003 tracks – In Da Club, Like Glue, Turn Me On (Kevin Lyttle) etc, plus the likes of Seven Nation Army and Be Faithful but I think those two have been constants since the moment they arrived.

  65. 67
    Billy Hicks on 6 Nov 2014 #

    Actually, best one – a club last year ended the night with the theme tune to the first series of Pokemon, which got the best reaction of the entire evening.

  66. 68
    Alina on 8 Nov 2014 #

    The first time I heard this was a girl at school singing it defiantly to some bullies/mean kids. She was the fat one. As a grandiose ten year old I thought it was vaguely pathetic but she found some power in it. This was in an Australian country town btw. It’s recycled pap but it’s joyful and even recycled pap can find a home especially for kids who can’t find the sentiment elsewhere. And pop music in someways can be an extension of the neighbourhood, a way to grow through exposure to things outside of ‘home’.

  67. 69
    Steve Williams on 14 Nov 2014 #

    #7 What’s not been mentioned so far is that there had actually been a virtually identical series for the previous two years – No Sweat, the series that brought us the long-forgotten boy band North and South.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Sweat_%28TV_series%29

    Miami 7 was from the same producers and was shown in exactly the same slot. Seemingly the most important thing about S Club 7 was that there were girls in them and they all kept their real names, hence the difference between one number 7 hit and multiple number ones.

    #41 You call it Popjustice Pop, I always referred to it as Observer Pop because a hallmark of that genre was that it would always be featured in the Observer Music Monthly and Paul Morley would talk warmly about it, while the kids themselves often didn’t care. I might mention this again but there was a real attempt to market solo Rachel as a popstar for adults, hence her first album was called Funky Dory and the title track featured a Bowie sample – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funky_Dory

    Unfortunately for all the kudos that got in the broadsheets, the kids were resolutely unimpressed and the album was re-released quite soon after with a load of disco covers, and they skewed rather younger in their marketing after that.

  68. 70
    Steve Mannion on 14 Nov 2014 #

    I always wondered if North & South’s ‘Tarantino’s New Star’ was the first reference to him in a song let alone its chorus and title. Quite the move for a pop song that sounds as far removed from his work as possible. I’m sure he was mentioned in a few rap tracks (“raw to the floor like Reservoir DAWGS”).

    More Director cuts please! There’s Mogwai’s ‘Stanley Kubrick’….what’s that? No you cannot have ‘George Lucas With The Lid Off’.

  69. 71
    Cumbrian on 14 Nov 2014 #

    70: Fun Lovin’ Criminals sampled dialogue from Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in Scooby Snacks? Am sure someone else will have beaten even them to the punch.

  70. 72
    swanstep on 15 Nov 2014 #

    ’90s college-radio semi-darlings King Missiles were repeatedly goofed on by Beavis and Butthead, including with their manic track ‘Martin Scorsese’ .

    So few directors end up with their names known to the public at large let alone with true celebrity-style public profiles that director name-drops therefore seem likely to remain rare and principally the province of the geeky and non-commercial. QT in the mid-90s was, in my view, easily the biggest director-star since Hitchcock, hence his appearance close to the Pop Center Of Things with North&South makes sense.

    That said, I suspect the world might eat up a Chris Nolan-themed e.p. from somebody (I could just see St. Ets in a b/w Following-style vid.).

  71. 73
    Kinitawowi on 15 Nov 2014 #

    *bunny* – Clint Eastwood

    (hey, he directed stuff too!)

  72. 74
    Mark M on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Re70 etc: OK, definitely not chart pop, but with a quote from a UK no1:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI87_X52wmk

  73. 75
    swanstep on 15 Nov 2014 #

    @Mark M, 74. Thanks for that link. Brilliant stuff, but what’s the quote from a UK #1?

  74. 76
    Mark M on 15 Nov 2014 #

    It’s a paraphrase rather than a quote, now that I check, of a bit of the spoken word bit at the start of Never Ever.

  75. 77
    ciaran on 5 Dec 2014 #

    I was a lot more excited about the return of Suede with Shes in Fashion at the time of BIAB as I thought the next phase of Britpop was on its way.How wrong I was. More on that when we get to Bunny form early 2000.

    I might be going against the majority of opinions here as I didnt rate S Club Party at all but preferred this.Bit of joy in it even if its not too far off a self help manual.The video and its goofing around the states suits the brand well.6

    Billys story (#64) about it having a new lease of life a decade later is something that doesnt surprise me.

    It’s not my favourite of theirs. Two In A Million is a guilty pleasure of mine and later Bunny edges it aswell. Shame Rachel’s solo career aint bunnied. Would have been high marks for a few of those.

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