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May 15

STEPS – “Stomp”

Popular41 comments • 2,817 views

#878, 28th October 2000

Stepsstomp A visit to budget supermarket Aldi is a pop semiotician’s delight. The shelves are lined with Aldi’s own versions of name brands, all designed to trick – or reassure – the mind that what you’re buying is almost the authentic one, or at least so close in look as to be close in quality. The game is always to create packs that feel as near to the model brand as possible without actually drawing down any lawyerly wrath.

At Asda, for instance – where name brands sit alongside the store ones – the own-label version of Coco Pops is called Choco Snaps and features a bemused bear, not a cheeky monkey, and a large black banner with the supermarket logo. Aldi has no such modesty: its Choco Rice comes in the bright yellow livery of Kelloggs’ and has a monkey of its own. Working as Aldi’s designers must be an entertaining job, with a measure of critical analysis required to negotiate the gap between the identifiable parts of a brand and the legally defensible ones.

And here we are at Steps’ “Stomp”, a song whose guts and foundation is Chic’s “Everybody Dance”, whose chorus is about everybody dancing, whose CD single – according to Discogs – carries the note “A Tribute To Nile Rodgers And Bernard Edwards”… and yet it isn’t “Everybody Dance”. And the “tribute” is of the kind that doesn’t involve writing credits. “Stomp” is the Aldi Choco Rice of pop, a song that is trying as hard as possible to be another song while making certain it doesn’t get there. “Would my honourable friend please acknowledge that clapping is a movement of the hands, whereas to stomp is a motion of the feet? The songs are clearly quite different.”

If you sit down to a bowl of Choco Rice, you’re still going to get a faceful of sugary cereal with doubtful nutritional value. And “Stomp”, while it’s playing, carries off its Chic impression with good-natured gusto. Steps were often cheap and often cheerful, and if those weren’t their very best qualities it’s fair enough that they landed the group at Number One twice. Even so “Stomp” is a strange record, very easy to ignore, its careful tinkering with a familiar classic somehow ending up as even more unnecessary than one of the era’s rash of cover versions. Other hits of 2000 explored disco as a space for drama and possibility: “Stomp” is closer to the majority experience of disco as it likely was – colourful, happy, tacky and forgettable.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Inanimate Carbon God on 3 Jun 2015 #

    #25 Overexposure indeed. I fear for Get Bunny when we get there. As radio overexposure goes it’s verging on becoming a funkier Hotel California :-/

    Though when we do eventually get there we’ll all be flying around in spacehoppers and nobody in restaurants will be eating from external hygienic surfaces, never mind twitter.com/wewantplates

  2. 27
    sbahnhof on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Aldi was far from the first shop to ape more popular brands. For example, Morrison’s Weetabix rip-off used to be so similar, right down to the font, that as a kid I didn’t realize it was different. “Wheatbiscuit”!

    Was there an upsurge in imitation-brand groups off the back of Steps and S Club? The only one I remember is Word On The Street who came to our school. I never heard of them again, but they stuck it out for a while http://www.kirstynicole.com/pages/main/wots.php

  3. 28
    Inanimate Carbon God on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Perhaps All*Stars and future Eurovision disaster Scooch? This thread is getting scary.

  4. 29
    Tom on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Not an imitation brand band, but I was just reminded of this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t65NQg6iXDw – which does a similar I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Chic move to “Stomp” but 10 times better, especially as it turns out to be a feint for a far more unexpected steal.

  5. 30
    Inanimate Carbon God on 4 Jun 2015 #

    Ha! Tom, you won’t believe how gutted I was to find out Sunshine After The Rain by Berri was a (2-in-1) cover, after spending a childhood thinking “Wow! How did she/they do that synth part at the beginning?”

  6. 31
    Kinitawowi on 5 Jun 2015 #

    Clock and their stream of… interpretations (although I maintain a soft spot for their That’s The Way (I Like It)…).

  7. 32
    Inanimate Carbon God on 5 Jun 2015 #

    I remember in January 2000 some garage gimp remixed (the marvellous) Rescue Me and got it to #8 when all they seemed to do was pad it out with a few cries of “Did it like that and now we do it like this.”

    I tells ye, it was no “GET DOWN WITH THE FEVER ON THE DANCE FLOOR!”

  8. 33
    Andrew on 5 Jun 2015 #

    #29 at least Alcazar credit (and pay) Rodgers and Edwards!

    #30 I LOVE Berri’s version of SAtR. Reminds me of primary school discos

  9. 34
    Steve Williams on 5 Jun 2015 #

    #21 Of course we’d have been talking about The Way You Make Me Feel because it was deliberately released on New Year’s Day when no other records were, presumably as a cynical attempt to get another number one. Unfortunately some record shops couldn’t be bothered with sorting out their racks on New Year’s Day and put it on sale the week before, so it entered the chart at number 72 and then the following week climbed to number two, losing out presumably thanks to those stray sales the previous week.

    It is a bloody great pop song, though. I remember they performed it at the end of the final episode of Live and Kicking later that year and, bloody awful show that was at the end, it was all rather nice.

  10. 35
    Andrew on 5 Jun 2015 #

    It’s a nice excuse for fans to latch onto, but I’d be surprised if the sales required to get to no.72 would be enough to bridge a typical no.1-no.2 gap? (even in 2001 when the singles sales market was fairly decent)

  11. 36
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jun 2015 #

    #32 I believe it’s ‘get raw with the fever on the dancefloor’, no?

  12. 37
    Steve Williams on 8 Jun 2015 #

    #35 Hmm, maybe in a normal week, but perhaps in the first week of January?

  13. 38
    cryptopian on 13 Feb 2016 #

    Here’s a song I’ve completely forgotten I used to like. As kids’ pop, it certainly did its job for me but listening with fresh ears doesn’t do it any favours. The production is fine enough and (leaving aside Chic for the moment) I still like the chorus, but the whole thing just feels awkwardly constructed. I particularly found the melody line stumbling around trying to find a sequence or rhythm to hold on to, but failing. I can’t feel like Steps themselves add much to the track either. 6 for nostalgia, 4 for being a good song, so I’ll compromise in the middle

  14. 39
    Mostro on 17 May 2016 #

    Cryptopian @38; If the melody line sounds like it’s not quite “holding on”, that’s probably a result of it having to intentionally contrive a difference between itself and the song it’s so obviously modelled after.

  15. 40
    Izzy on 17 May 2016 #

    I’ve been listening to this one quite a lot lately. Even though each element probably isn’t quite as good as the Chic ones – other perhaps than the vocals – they’re fairly close. The guitar’s decent, the bass does a job, the whole thing moves fine. The drums are I assume programmed, though I actually find it difficult to be sure of that – the record isn’t lacking all of the fluidity one gets from a good drummer like Tony Thompson.

    My conclusion is that it doesn’t much matter, this is an excellent record in its own right. I think I gave it a 7 before, but I’d be moving up to an 8 now.

    EDIT: wikipedia reckons that Stomp actually samples strings from Everybody Dance “with minor alterations in key and modulation” (how does that work?) – it seems unlikely they’d be so bold tbh, why not continue the subterfuge. Weirdly it also reckons that Manic Street Preachers have sampled it too.

  16. 41

    It’s quite easy to pitch-shift a digital sample — speed it up or down for higher or lower, then compress or stretch it to make it the same length as the original. Recall the Art of Noise tracks built round samples allowed to jump up and down in pitch (AoN was kind of a manual on how the Fairlight could be deployed). If you pitch-shift up a whole tone, you can keyshift (from C to D, say); extrapolating for the rest of the notes of the scale this allows you to modulate.

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