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Jan 16

HEAR’SAY – “The Way To Your Love”

Popular22 comments • 1,712 views

#901, 7th July 2001

HearsayWay After the story, the appendix. Back in March, 550,000 people put a full stop on Popstars by making “Pure And Simple” number one. Around 1 in 7 of them showed up for the inevitable, pointless follow-up: “The Way To Your Love” makes it here by simple momentum. It exposes the problem with reality TV acts – the way the end of their story isn’t naturally a beginning of anything else.

Still, you might imagine that was enough interest for Hear’Say to eke out a career. But they were never more than the sum of their parts – recall how the viewing figures for Popstars plunged once the band was actually formed. And those parts – Kym and Myleene especially – were canny enough to realise they’d won themselves a future that would vanish again if they spend too much time flogging this nag.

Behind all that, a song. One which helps prove why the group had no future. The disjoint of five voices had been a potential selling point of “Pure And Simple”, at least – seeing how they might work together was a hook, of sorts. Here’s where it became obvious that the answer was “they don’t”. “The Way To Your Love” is built by producers Stargate along Backstreet Boys lines – individual voices rising together into a unity of yearning. As such, it’s serviceable, but it doesn’t fit a mixed-gender group and Hear’Say can’t give it the lift it needs. “We’ll be stronger together / Than we would be apart”, this record pleads. It’s a lie, and they know it.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Utter Dreck on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Those mid-calf skirts though. They belong in a museum.

  2. 2
    flahr on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Wow, I’m struggling with this one. I couldn’t remember it before listening and now that I have I barely can – I must, must have heard it at the time (surely) but it’s so utterly generic it could well be a false memory, I can’t tell if I remember this or if I’ve just been told I once got lost in a supermarket and accept it as likely true. There is a Top of the Pops live performance of it on YouTube which is honkingly dire; the record itself is mostly just moribund. [3]

  3. 3
    Tommy Mack on 17 Jan 2016 #

    July 2001: I am in New York having a torrid love affair with a 36-year old Cuban fashion photographer. Yes, this is a naked humblebrag way of saying I never knew Hear*Say had a second #1 but since I’ve spent the last few popular years admitting I was a high-school loser, never made it with a lady, I hope you’ll permit me my moment in the sun.

    SPOILERS: My American holiday did not end well…

  4. 4
    JLucas on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Hard to argue with Tom’s analysis, but on a purely musical level I find this to be the stronger of Hear’say’s #1s, and their strongest release overall – though I’m aware I’m damning with faint praise.

    It’s a very Scandinavian sounding record, and reminds me of the Swedish group Friends, who were formed in similar circumstances around this time. They ended up at the 2001 Eurovision Song Contest, which – had Popstars not been an ITV production and had the UK not held Eurovision in such naked contempt by this time – could have been a good path for Hear’say too.

    Speaking of contempt, what strikes me when I look back on Hear’say is not so much the rapidity of their fall from grace but the sheer savageness of it. I remember a tearful Mylene Klass on the Frank Skinner show claiming she’d been spat on and abused in the street for the simple crime of being in a not-very-good pop group. Nowadays she’d probably be getting death threats on Twitter instead I suppose, which is hardly better. But I never understood why they brought out the worst in the British public in such a way.

    6 for this, it’s as good a song as the inevitable second Hear’Say single was ever likely to be. They released two more singles after this, both pretty feeble.

  5. 5
    AMZ1981 on 17 Jan 2016 #

    There was a small point that got overlooked when we discussed Pure & Simple, namely that a whole album of material was rush released just two weeks after the single. They actually held the top spot on both charts for a solitary week as a result. That album contained The Way To Your Love as well as the next non bunnied single.

    With hindsight that was the commercial calculation. Obviously the people behind the Popstars concept wanted to milk their cash cow while they could but the relative success of TWTYL showed that the public interest didn’t wane as quickly as they expected. Without the album there would have been more anticipation around the second single and maybe more care taken.

    They learnt quickly. Within a couple of years we’ll have the pattern of the cash in single followed by a break to focus on how the artist could be branded and marketed. For a time it worked. But it was too late for Hearsay.

  6. 6
    Ben on 17 Jan 2016 #

    I always thought it was a bit harsh that they were considered over because their second single didn’t sell in the quantities of the first. How could it have done? Besides anything else, all their fans already had the track on the album. Really, it’s impressive that they managed to get a second #1 at all.

  7. 7
    MikeMCSG on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Off topic but RIP Then Play Long. I know he’s threatened to jack it in before but I get the impression he means it this time. Anyone going to volunteer to keep it going ?

  8. 8
    Ronnie on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Most of what I know about British pop is from following this blog, so I really, really did not expect to come across Hear’say again.

  9. 9
    Tom on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Whether or not anyone would like to, it’s such a personal project that I doubt MC and Lena would be keen – but they can speak for themselves, of course!

    The points he makes in the final entry are ones I feel very sympathetic to – why spend the limited time you have to write, writing about mediocrity? Reading that entry before writing about a song as feeble, and feebly feeble, as “The Way To Your Love”, made the sympathy even more acute.

    I don’t know that there’s a good answer to that question. For all that there are lots of songs I want to write about in the remainder of Popular, there are lots I really couldn’t give a shit about. At the moment I feel bloody-minded enough to want to see it through, but I’m a decade younger than Marcello and with a different set of life experiences.

    For now, I think the several hundred pieces of Then Play Long – many of them spectacular in their rigour and depth – are a fantastic achievement by the two of them. And, of course, extremely generous. With Pushing Ahead… shuttered (understandably) and TPL finished (for now or for good, also understandably), this kind of music blogging is a lonelier place at the moment. But that doesn’t detract from the bodies of work as they stand.

  10. 10
    thefatgit on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Unsurprisingly, I needed to remind myself how TWTYL went. All that it has going for it is that borrowed hook from this:

    https://youtu.be/sJsXrYO9znQ

    And it’s not even a contest. (2)

  11. 11
    Chelovek na lune on 17 Jan 2016 #

    Forgettable dross, but still a better song (gratuitous key change – near the start too – notwithstanding) than “Pure And Simple”. Still, (3) is generous.

  12. 12
    Kinitawowi on 18 Jan 2016 #

    #9: For me, it’s the mediocrity that makes these sorts of projects work. I mean, everybody’s written about The Classics™ already (how many more times do we need to be told that OK Computer is a pretty good album?) – it’s finding the available virtue (or mockery value) in the less auspicious works that gives the best writers an opportunity to flex their muscles.

  13. 13
    Ronnie on 18 Jan 2016 #

    Mediocre is not the same as boring or unstimulating — I can think of things which only evoked an emotional response of “meh” but an intellectual response worth volumes.

    But in any case, yes, I absolutely totally agree that the mediocre is what makes this project great. Everything deserves its day in court, even a three-minute work of a medium that is notoriously difficult to talk about. In a way I feel like restricting yourself to reviewing the things you want to review is laziness.

  14. 14
    Phil on 18 Jan 2016 #

    #13 – Mark Kermode said something similar about film reviewing (I think it was in the context of the Moshi Monsters movie). Anyone can have a view on Spectre or the Hateful Eight; anyone with a bit about them can have an interesting view and write it up. That’s not what makes you a critic. What makes you a critic is seeing everything – including the Moshi Monsters movie, the Pudsey movie, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie… – and having views on everything.

    It’s a worthwhile thing you’re doing here, Tom. Long may you run.

  15. 15
    Tom on 18 Jan 2016 #

    Certainly the Moshi Monsters film sounds like the kind of thing that could break a person.

    I think film reviewing is slightly different – there’s an unavoidable selection process in music or comics or books, you can’t hear ‘everything’. In music there’s the exhaustion of ‘keeping up’ but exercises like this one – where artificial discipline means encountering a lot more dreck than usual – aren’t common.

    But of course I agree – for the regulars, the mediocrity is part of the fun – the “wet Wednesday night in February” entries, as I think of them. And I am very thankful to you all for that! In terms of traffic (which doesn’t matter per se) it’s the big production numbers like the “Stan” or “Baby One More Time” entry that bring in the hits.

  16. 16
    James BC on 18 Jan 2016 #

    I’m fairly sure I’ve never heard this.

    What surprises me is how the more successful members of the group post-Hearsay have gone on to non-singing careers. I can understand people in the present day going on talent shows as a route to celebrity rather than the music business in particular, but you would think that the first series of the first of the new generation of talent shows would have attracted people who were focused on pop.

  17. 17

    Kermode totally spoilered the scariest bit of Ringu when he introduced it on TV, which was the first time I’d seen it. So I’m GLAD he’s broken >:(

    My old boss at Sight & Sound used make a distinction between critics and reviewers — and if I understood him correctly, seeing everything is what makes a reviewer. Not all reviewers are also critics, and vice versa (more on that distinction here…)

    (That said, two of my favourite critics — viz punctum and the late Richard Cook — are/were pretty good at having heard not far from everything, all pop, all jazz, all the weirdy avant-garde… but two others, Tom and Frank Kogan, have always been pretty upfront about the limits to what they know, and that doesn’t make them lesser critics at all.)

  18. 18
    Tom on 18 Jan 2016 #

    #16 I think there are two things in play. First, the format of Popstars meant people who were camera-genic and likeable, maybe even a bit charismatic, got through – i.e. people well suited to do other stuff as well. They could sing a bit too, but so could the ones who didn’t make the final band (as we’ll see). Second, I suspect having been in Hear’Say gave them enough of a taste of the highs, the lows and the grind of the pop biz to make them realise it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

  19. 19
    JLucas on 18 Jan 2016 #

    We’ll get to them later, but it’s interesting that Liberty X by comparison were far more slick and convincing as pop stars, but aside from Michelle Heaton the individual members all quickly faded into anonymity when the hits dried up.

  20. 20
    lonepilgrim on 18 Jan 2016 #

    this song is utterly forgettable and generic – like something knocked up for a school talent show. that’s as much as I can manage to say about it.
    the two most nakedly ambitious members (Mylene and Kim) have been the ones who have leveraged their 15 minutes of fame into C list celebrity

  21. 21
    MikeMCSG on 18 Jan 2016 #

    #15 I sort of saw “Moshi Monsters” in that I took my son to see it but after two minutes of what I’d compare to looking into a giant kaleidoscope decided I’d be much better off catching up on some sleep and tuned out. Maybe it got better but I doubt it.

  22. 22
    Erithian on 18 Jan 2016 #

    There must be plenty of contenders to be the Baby Jump of the 00s, but this is the strongest one yet. I barely remember it although I recall the ones around it. Scouting through YouTube clips, there’s one really ropey TOTP appearance where it looks like someone’s dragged five kids in from the street and given them five minutes to learn a song and a dance routine then pushed them onstage, surrounded by the audience, without going through costume or makeup. Another routine on CD-UK is rather better, at least you can hear some of what people might have derived from a half-decent (just) song.

    But the follow-up must have been a relief to the people I saw that August Bank Holiday in a marquee in Dartford. They went by the name “Near’Say”. Yes, Hear’Say had a tribute band…

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