The first album that I bought was S Club, the debut of the late '90s early '00s group, S Club 7, consisting of band members Jo, Bradley, Paul, Hannah, Jon, Rachel and Tina. At the height of their popularity, I was obsessed. I had deluxe versions of all their albums, religiously kept up with their four different TV shows that originally catapulted them to fame, and had an array of their live recordings on DVD.
Then, something happened. As all childhood band love stories come to an end, so did mine. I'm not sure how exactly everything played out in my ageing process - maybe it was when Paul left, or slightly before that. Honestly, it's a mystery to me. All I know is I'll have great memories of those times. Seeing S Club 7 performing on Top of the Pops or getting excited when one of their small budgeted videos aired on TV always reminds me of a fun time growing up.
Looking back on the musical quality of the singles S Club 7 pumped out, mostly only dealing with two key themes, is a trip down memory lane. I'm not going to deny the fact that I don't sing the ever-so poppy chorus of Reach once in a while, usually baked out of my mind, but when I think of obsessions I had as a kid, S Club 7 aren't the first ones I remember, far from that.
So, to celebrate my forever (yet sometimes sadly forgotten) adoration of the group, I have ranked their single releases, when they were under the S Club 7 moniker, from the worst to the best of their work.
While most S Club 7 songs, and their accompanying lyrics, are fixated in my brain - much like a cancerous growth of some description - Natural is forgettable. And, when I say forgettable, I really do mean I forgot the song. In order to compile this list, I had to go back to the track and give it another listen to remind myself of the reason why I don't remember it.
Based on an arguably better and catchier French version, the problem with the song rests in the vocal range of of Rachel Stevens carrying the group. Show Me Your Colours, another Rachel focused song, was a far better depiction of her as a decent part of the seven - though she never sounded like that ever again - and, despite the fact that she has been the only sort-of successful member, musically, after they disbanded, Rachel was never memorable, fitting into the Jon and Tina level of S Club 7 fame - they were there, but if replaced, no one would particularly remember who they were and/or care about their departure.
You're My Number One is a different story. You are the number one person, in the world. As best described by S Club 7, "You're like a drug, I'm always wanting more." Maybe not the most U-rated lyric from their hey day, but it's still better than being classed as someone you'll stick with out of a small selection of the population.
Unlike Natural, Never Had a Dream Come True had one thing going for it that made it memorable to me - the video. There's just something about over-sized parkers, fur coats, denim skirts and baggy white trousers that I can't shake - mentally scarring images, probably. Pair that with the group aimlessly twirling around in fake snow, cooing in the background to Jo's husky tones again, and this is your standard S Club 7 soppy ballad. It's so good, though. In the way that it isn't really that great, but it is, all at the same time. And Christ, that coat Jo is wearing is honestly something else.
Friends are often ignored when pop music writing is concerned. Love, in the form of romantic and sexual relationships, is a lot more focused on, as is clubbing, fucking around, etc. Then S Club 7 come along with their first TV show, Miami 7, that is all about friendship (among other things, like them trying to break into the music industry). So, it's not a surprise that they would bring out a song solely based on being there for friends and sticking by their dreams when no one else will. Another feel-good move on their part about rainbows and happiness and all that other shit you deny liking but you love it really because we're all human and we can all connect to the rainbows and happiness and fluffy bunnies and okay I'll stop now.
Bring It All Back is not only the the first track off S Club 7's debut album but was their first official single, too, after the song was featured on one of their TV specials.
Fourteen years since the initial release, the song still has those good cheesy feels about it and it's kind of overwhelming. Chart music of today is a far different beast. It'd be hard, pretty much impossible, to come across a tune so sickeningly happy and sweet you want to grab a bucket and make yourself puke.
Bring It All Back is a breed of pop that has been long dead - it's an anthem for doing your own thing, being true to yourself, without having to shove down some partying bullshit or any kind of unwelcome sexual undertone. Jo's first line about keeping hold of your individuality is a lovely sentiment, we don't get a straight forward view of being who you are in pop music anymore, and S Club 7 were advocating that from day one.
When the world seems to get to tough, I'll remember my time is coming.
S Club 7 said it best - there ain't a party like an S Club party. A PG version of Don't Stop Movin' (I'll get to that track later) that is still a classic tune. I'll always be miffed by the lyric the boys sing, "Hoochie mamas, show your nanas!" Not as clean cut as it first comes across, hey?
Jo belts out in the chorus that, "I loved and lost the day I let you go" but it sounds like she, with her S Club 7 cohorts, are reminiscing about a deceased lover rather than an ex partner who is still alive and kicking, and that makes it all the worse. For fucks sake, even the single cover looks like they're prepared to go to a funeral. A sexy noughties fashion kind of funeral, sure, but the mourning of a departed loved one nonetheless.
Bradley kicked this song off, too, and my love for Bradley (still, shamefully) will always rise over the rest of the group, above and beyond. I thought he was the coolest dude. Check out his threads in the single cover, and everyone's style for that matter. Rocking that Adidas.
Mentioning the single cover, it does show a change in the band and what we had to come but never saw at its full height. Goodbye to the days of skipping along in the colourful meadow, these guys don't give a fuck here. The distance gaze that Jo has got going on, completely uninterested because she's too cool for school, and Tina's 'I know you want this, but you're never gonna get it' head tilt. It's an honest shame we never saw this attitude fully come to fruition. A whole new S Club 7 would have been born.
All I can do now is keep on dancing to that S Club beat.