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. Whilst 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 Scooch Squiggle™”) 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 the classic disco-tease during the restrained first few lines, but once the beat kicks in with a flourish of maracas (just because), this is a relentless Natalie Powers tour-de-force that surrenders any opportunity to take a breath for just short of three minutes and 30 seconds.
And it’s so plain to me, although the world may not see
Your smile’s a disguise for the truth that’s written in your heart
Whilst the lyrics are dancefloor heartbreak at its most brutal, the production, on the other hand, is shamelessly uplifting, with effortless melodies. It’s about midway through the second verse, during the: “With a HINT of a GRIN, you’ll just DENY IT AGAIN” refrain that More Than I Needed To Know hits the sweet spot – if you aren’t shimmying your shoulders with glee by the time the final chorus smashes into your psyche, then you should definitely start the song over and try again.
Like all good ‘90s pop videos, absolutely nothing in it is related to the lyrics of the song. Whilst the group should, in theory, be standing on a dancefloor with tear-stained faces, they instead spend their time running around collecting fragments of the Scooch Squiggle™ and dancing in the middle of what looks like a secondary school conceptual art project. Possibly by the same person who was responsible for the Photoshop disaster on the international artwork for this single.
Pleasingly, More Than I Needed To Know was one of the rare occasions when a group’s best song became their biggest hit – at the time anyway. Until Eurovision, this was Scooch‘s only top ten single and remains the pinnacle of their brief career. And whilst Stock and Aitken’s protégés never managed to overcome comparisons to their rivals, they can at least lay claim to the best song that Steps never recorded, and – whisper it – one that would sneak ahead of most that they did.