Nov 14

S CLUB 7 – “Bring It All Back”

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#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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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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’.

  9. 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.

    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.

  10. 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’.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.).

  13. 73
    Kinitawowi on 15 Nov 2014 #

    *bunny* – Clint Eastwood

    (hey, he directed stuff too!)

  14. 74
    Mark M on 15 Nov 2014 #

    Re70 etc: OK, definitely not chart pop, but with a quote from a UK no1:

  15. 75
    swanstep on 15 Nov 2014 #

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 78
    Gareth Parker on 28 May 2021 #

    2/10 for me, I just find it a tad cheesy, to be fair.

  19. 79
    TheGerkuman on 19 Oct 2021 #

    Miami 7 was fine. I remember watching it when I had nothing else to do. Which isn’t a ringing endorsement for the S Club, but it’s not nothing. I have some nostalgic memories for the song, but it’s not the best.

    And for some reason my mind mondegreens the line ‘when the world seems to get too tough’ with the French Comics character and homophone ‘Titeuf’

  20. 80
    Mr Tinkertrain on 10 Jun 2022 #

    Was it ever clarified exactly what the ‘S’ in S Club 7 stood for? I remember a joke at the time that it stood for ‘Steps’ as they were doing a similar thing but with 7 rather 5.

    I was slightly too old for this lot when they came on the scene, although I’ll confess to mildly enjoying this song in a cheesy kind of way. As mentioned above, S Club Party is better and I’m surprised that wasn’t their debut single as it introduces the band members a la Wannabe. 5/10.

    I have some vague memories of seeing Bradley making a brief appearance at my student union night out in about 2006 or so; it was not a dignified spectacle.

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