The Square Table: 1 / Rachel Stevens – “Some Girls”
Pop Rating: 723 Controversy Score: 205 Length: 213

He almost botches it. This is Richard X’s big shot at writing a Pop Classic and when Rachel’s vocals glide dispassionately in, answered with a limp “Hey!”, I’m thinking – Richard, no, too arch by half. For another ten seconds – a long, dangerous, time – I’m not sure it’s working, and then the chorus hits and everything is absolutely wonderful.

Sometimes I think choruses don’t matter so much these days: a beat or a hook, that’s enough. Richard X doesn’t agree and he pours everything into making the catchiest, cleverest chorus since “Ignition (Remix)”, and once you’ve let the chorus in you start noticing all the tiny little bits of craft in the rest of the record, flecks of gold in amongst the retro buzz and clank that we can already and enjoyably call “typical X”. (Richard’s schtick: he’s the loving keeper of the very machines that made the pop he grew up in, oiling and coaxing them into their final wheezing performances.)

Bits like? The zip-up boots. The Tight-Fit “ah-oohs”s tucked away behind the hit/miss/kiss bit. “and away we go!”. Rachel’s last dreamy sigh of “better”. All of them supporting the two stabs of true inspiration – the word-doubling on the chorus (“other other”: absolute inexplicable rightness) and “HEY! STOP!”. 9 (Tom)

Rachel Stevens + Richard X = glam-racket no-man’s land. Such a strange way of having fun. 10 (Alext)

Rachel probably thinks it’s her ‘Toxic’, Richard probably sees it as another piece in his own little puzzle. They part ways, probably never to meet again. They have served each other’s purposes. And so the story continues… 10 (William B Swygart)

Does she really use the line “I don a pair of zipper boots”? That’s fantastic. I presume ‘my baby’ is Pop Music; he calls me when he wants, he likes to tell me the things he’s done. It’s a little machinelike, that T-Rex-T-Raumschmiere stomp complete with hydraulic squeaks and thuddering tomtom, Stevens’ voice a carillion of bells over the top. 9 (cis)

safe to say richard x is still stuck somewhere in the 80s. will he ever escape? it treads the same pleasuredomes as miss goldfrapp but this track is much more palpable. goldfrapp is much too smug to grasp the real nature of SM Pop, it’s an art project she needs to master. the kinkiness is much cheekier in “some girls.” even though i can’t see this reaching number one, it’s glorious pop music. rachel realizes it too – she’s going to be stuck with nr two and the never dying dream of the top. in a sense pop should be like this – three minutes in which you already sense you’ll be forever trying to grasp the
eargasm again. 9 (stevie nixed)

The design and construction of a radio-certified, utterly disposable Ear-Grabber:

1. Start with a declaration about one’s baby and what it is they do (take the morning train, drive a car, etc).

2. Throw in a ‘!!’ to give the listeners something to pump their fist to. (“Hey!” always works).

3. You need a chorus. Make it big, swaggering, dumb and instantly memorable.

4. Lyrically, explore seduced/abandoned territory. Promise to make the singer a star.

Richard X stands a pretty good chance of becoming ‘our’ Phil Spector. “Some Girls” rolls off the assembly line filled with the stuff of great pop singles. Plus, it fairly glistens (and who doesn’t love a tune that glistens?) 8 (Henry Scollard)

Glam rock never did sexy or seductive, just unapologetic randyness – short skirts or tight trousers hastily borrowed from an older, wiser mate. The thrill of Rachel’s new one is to hear her sweet, demure vocals roughly manhandled by by a pumping, libidious neo-glam production, and coupled with the shout outs from the girl-crew (“hey!”- perhaps glam invented the possee cut?!), “Some Girls” gives the vibe that Rachel is being peer-pressured into a drunken and probably lewd night out on the tiles. I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

The verse sounds like she’s busking it a bit, searching for words, but the fluid poetry of the chorus- “this won’t last for long not forever and the champagne makes it taste so much better”- provide a personal touch. A track like this about living for the moment is enough, for now, to make her pop queen. 8 (Derek Walmsley)

Richard X makes very expensive fan-fiction. What if Barry Blue had offered a discarded glam-pop song to Bananarama instead of writing “Hey Young London” with them? What if Martin Rushent produced it? What if they used it to follow up “Sweet Dreams My LA Ex”, which was a stronger composition but ended being half as fun as “Some Girls”?” 8 (Diego Valladolid)

I like popband independence moves a lot (at least in theory) because they encourage singers to distinguish themselves from their former lives as drastically as the mainstream will allow. That often entails another movement in the great dialectic between pop music’s mainstreams and its outlier sections that makes pop music so much more interesting nowadays than contemporary movies, televison or literature.

So here you have a participant in the S Club diaspora singing about thwarted-but-resilient ambition and desire (“you said you’d make me a star”) to the ricochet echoes of Kompakt at its stompiest or maybe Add N to X’s “Monster Bobby,” both of which in turn stole anything worth stealing from “Rock & Roll Part 2,” – which was just about everything. Or maybe its sonic godfather is the Sugababes’ version of “Freak Like Me,” bootlegs, sample aesthetic, you read Wire Magazine so you know the drill. Or maybe what it really sounds like is Amii Stewart’s “Knock on Wood,” which was disco, which means avant-garde except not except really actually yes. 7.6 (Michael Daddino)

It comes in like Doctorin’ The Tardis. Sadly the girl with the dullest name in pop is no Dalek in her zip-up boots and her boyfriends car – despite the sleek engineering of this pop chassis. Both great and uninspiring at the same time, probably because it seems churlish for FHM’s most attractive woman in the world moaning that she doesn’t get what she wants. Especially when she keeps trapping on about wanting a number one. How many number ones do you want. If that’s what it’s all about rejoin S Club Bleeding 7. (Pete)

Sounds like somebody marched Amii Stewart’s cover of “Knock on Wood” out of Disco High School’s detention hall, glue-gunned a Gary Glitter tape into a draggy-batteried Walkman and duct-taped it over the poor thing’s ears, handcuffed it to an arcade game called Dance Dance Adolescence and spent three and a half minutes making it hop around on the platform as the lights flickered and flashed beneath it. For doing so they deserve a goddamned medal. 7 (George Kelly)

Initial thoughts on first listening suggest that this might be some sort of unholy Mix of “Morning Train” and “Rock and Roll Pt. 2”. Whattayaknow: it kinda IS.

The lyrics are a glorious mishmash of nonsense. What am I to make of: “Some girls always get what they wanna wanna; all I seem to get is the other other.” Dylan it ain’t, but the kidboppin’ splashy liquid elastic hooks inspire double dutch head bobbin and buttock wagglin’.

Right where this gets a little flimsy we get a halftime save with a returning seven dwarves chant, an overdone trick that works here mostly due to its utter incongruousness. We’ve been playing up in the falsetto stratosphere till now; suddenly finding a bass grounding inspires a fake crescendo – a multitrack layer of echovocals and whispered cmons is a windup and the decrescendo to the vanilla syrup
final chorus is the pitch.

This makes me want to put on bunny ears and hop around Grand Central Station while wiggling my nose. Six listens later I can’t imagine playing this more often than once a month; my jaw hurts from chewing bubblegum already. It’s a helluva shiny soapbubble tho.

I REALLY liked “LA Ex” and that and this are my sole exposure to Stevens. She’s pretty much unknown in America; when’s the invasion start? 7 (Forksclovetofu)

Her message seems irrelevant to the bigger plan: the continued takeover of pop by Mr X. Of course he knocks up a great bounce n’ stomp number that’s almost enough to carry the whole thing along by itself. This appears to be enough to satisfy me THIS TIME… 7 (Steve M.)

Sheena Easton. “Call Me.” Adam Ant? And all that Botoxed regret and pathos and “make me a star” preening makes me imagine a blown up and watered down “Dancing Queen”. And would someone PLEASE hire a real choreographer to spice up her video? Swerving like a duck-dancing Betty Boop in a poofy mini-skirt is not the new hottness. American analogue: Jessica Simpson covering Jewel’s “Intuition”. 7 (David Raposa)

I was disappointed it’s not a Racey cover! It has the same kind of cantering beat as LA Ex (good thing) but the singing seems weaker, more lifeless and bored, with less conviction – perhaps because the rather dreary, whiny lyrics can hardly be sung with belief by a glamorous megastar, and perhaps because lines like “All I seem to get is the other other” are pretty lame whoever is singing. There are some strong manly ‘whoas’ in the back of some sections and a bit of double-tracking to try to beef it up, but its hooks lay flat for me, despite the perky beats. I like the production, but it isn’t enough. 6 (Martin Skidmore)

I’ve tried, I listened to it for 8 or 9 times straight, each time hoping there was a reason why i was listening, some kind of musical key that would emerge, some kind of hook that would open the rest of the tune. Or I was hoping to hate it enough to bury it in vitriol and bile. But I’m just bored – and so you get a little over 100 words on how the dance beats are all the same, and the voice is girly with out being really sexy and i think the lyrics are about fame but they arent sufficently clear enough to be about anything. So I shrug. 5 (Anthony Easton)

Thematically coherent, if nothing else. Richard X’s abandoned spaceship production and Stevens’ various vocal tricks do give the impression of a singer with a threatened career pulling out every hook, every gimmick that she can think of. As a musical persona, a desperate diva is still more interesting than a successful one, but there lies the biggest problem: if this single does become a smash, it’ll have defeated its purpose, because Stevens will be successful again. And since the only interesting part of her new image is that she’s commenting on not being exactly that, she’ll be rendered useless once again. The best way out of this of course would be to forget about the whole rockist maturing as an artist bollocks and just go back to the silly, assumedly dorky image of her S Club 7 days; but alas, that moment has probably passed. 5 (Daniel Reifferschied)

It starts off sounding like an Adam and the Ants song, or is it Vindaloo by Fat Les? I dunno, it tries, it really tries. “Dreams of number one last forever, it’s the only way to make you feel better” – such a poignant lyric, considering the chances of Rachel getting to number one have all but disappeared. A few years of FHM and Maxim and maybe a guest spot in Hollyoaks are all that would seem to be on the horizon :( – you promised to make me a star. If only S-Club Proper could sort out their differences and get back together! 4 (jel)

I played this for about 15 minutes, trying to figure out whether I liked it or not. Then my little sister comes along and says ‘Turn that shit off.’ The end. 2 (Bushra)