Released: 10th January 2000
Writers: Steve Crosby / Mike Stock / Matt Aitken
Peak position: #5
Chart run: 5-14-30-43-62
Up until 2007, if Scooch were remembered at all, then it was as little more than the poor-mans Steps. Since then, you’d probably struggle to forget them parading around the Helsinki Eurovision stage, delivering a performance that, even to this day, defies explanation and yet remains utterly engrossing.
Either way, Scooch’s success was, at best, fleeting. That’s not to say they didn’t have a decent crack at it at in the late ’90s / early ’00s, though. For EMI Records, the premise was simple: if Pete Waterman could enjoy huge success with Steps, then surely his former SAW collaborators Mike Stock and Matt Aitken could emulate it if given the same ingredients to create their own boy-girl pop group.
It was probably the credentials behind Scooch that saved them after their debut single, When My Baby, promptly crashed into the chart at #29. While many acts would immediately have wound up in pop’s perilous U-bend, come January 2000, Scooch instead released their second single. More Than I Needed To Know was less a follow-up and more an attempt to start Scooch over again in the days before you could simply re-label a flop as a buzz single. Armed with a new logo (“the Scoodle™”) and a music video containing snazzy pre-Minority Report computer sequences, all they needed was a killer song. And boy, did they have one.
If ever there was a moment where clear parallels could be drawn between the disbanded-SAW trio and their respective groups, this was it. Adopting the same “ABBA on speed” approach that had templated Steps’ early success, More Than I Needed To Know is an absolute bop. There’s a classic disco-tease during the first verse: “You can tell me I won’t fall apart, so just be honest and straight from the start, and it’s so plain to me, although the world may not see…”, before the beat kicks in (“….Your smile’s a disguise for the truth that’s written in your heart”) with a flourish of maracas.
While the lyrics are dancefloor heartbreak at its most brutal (“I know that look so well, and I can’t wait for the story you’ll tell, with a hint of a grin, you’ll just deny it again”), the production, on the other hand, is gloriously uplifting and packed with buoyant melodies. More Than I Needed To Know makes no pretence of Natalie Powers being the lead singer in Scooch. However, the track utilises the rest of the group effectively on backing vocals during the chorus: “You don’t let your feelings show (whoa, whoa), but your eyes told me (told me), more than I needed to know; take those lies and let them go (whoa, whoa), ‘cos your eyes told me (told me), more than I needed to know”, creating harmonies that are more ABBA-esque than many critics would care to admit.
Like many ‘90s pop videos, there’s little – if anything – about the narrative that is related to the lyrics of the song. Though the group should, in theory, be standing on a dancefloor with tear-stained faces, they instead run around a (vaguely) futuristic set, dodging traps in a quest to collect fragments of the Scoodle™, which are eventually pieced together. And, of course, interspered throughout is an easy-to-copy dance routine performed in a chamber decorated with eyes. It’s simple enough, but most crucially, a vast improvement on When My Baby. The issue with Scooch‘s first single is that it unintentionally made them look like a cartoony version of Steps, when – as it turns out – they were actually targeting a very similar audience demographic. Aside from the international single cover, which is a bit of a Photoshop disaster (look at David Ducasse‘s leg), More Than I Needed To Know very much looks and sounds like a single that could be taken seriously.
Pleasingly, this is one of the rare occasions where a group’s best song became their biggest hit…at the time, anyway. More Than I Needed To Know peaked at #5 in the UK, and, until Flying The Flag (For You) in 2007, was Scooch‘s only top ten hit. It probably remains the pinnacle of their brief career as subsequent singles failed to build on the impact this one made. Indeed, Stock and Aitken’s protégés never quite managed to overcome comparisons to their immediate rivals. But they can, at least, lay claim to the best song Steps never recorded. And – whisper it – one which is better than many that they did.