S Club 7 – You

Released: 11th February 2002

Writers: Eliot Kennedy / Mike Percy / Tim Lever / Tim Woodcock

Peak position: #2

Chart run: 2-6-9-20-28-34-39-46-50-38-49-62-62-69

For the first two years of their career, S Club 7’s marketing strategy across music and television was flawless. Each season of their TV show heralded in a new album – and before that a new single, the chorus of which would serve as the show’s theme tune.

There was no reason to think the pattern wouldn’t repeat again in 2001. But somewhere between LA and Hollywood, S Club 7 started to grow up and play the pop game on their own merit. They found a new sound, a new audience and new levels of success with Don’t Stop Movin’ – all without a synergistic TV spin-off to help things along.  

So, by the time Hollywood 7 rolled around, it felt almost like a hindrance to S Club 7 as a chart act – and nowhere was that more apparent than You. For whilst the song is cut from the same retro-pastiche cloth as tracks like Reach and You’re My Number One, contextually it sounded distinctly more dated and reductive than either of those tracks had. It doesn’t help that in places it’s a rather blatant retread of those earlier hits, i.e. the “‘cos I need you and you need me…” hook.

To further complicate matters, You was shunted from its scheduled late-2001 release date after S Club 7 were invited to record a second consecutive official Children In Need charity single following the success of Never Had A Dream Come True in 2000.

You‘s timing as a single was undeniably awry and by February 2002, even the most ardent S Club fan would struggle to muster enthusiasm for the Hollywood 7 theme tune months after the series had concluded its run. There was only one thing for it: remix the song. Suddenly, with a rocket shoved up its arse, You found a new lease of life and was elevated from a fairly unremarkable album track into one of S Club 7’s most brilliant (and underrated) singles.   

The first necessity was to get someone other than Rachel Stevens onto lead vocals because the album version of You is a bit flat. Adding Jon and Bradley prominently into the second verse and middle-eight respectively adds some much-needed variety – Jon’s theatrical performance is notably entertaining as he very much finds his own melody within the song.

I thought I knew what love was
I always ended up in tears
It’s just the way my world was
Until you walked into my life
It’s something that I just can’t hide

Having embraced his unexpected new role as a lead vocalist within the group, it’s Bradley’s ad-libs (“I fell for YOU now GIRL”) over the final chorus that give the song a sense of purpose in its closing moments. Where previously the track fizzled out, it now explodes with delirious glee – the only shame is that You still ends on a fade when there’s quite a lot going as the song drops. It’s a testament to the success of the single remix that it leaves the listener wanting more, when the starting point was one of such nonchalance.  

If we’re being brutally honest about You as a single, it’s one that should be heard and not seen. It might just be us, but the music video feels a little off. It looks to be the very definition of forced fun and something that S Club 7 had proved very competently that they had moved beyond.

Nevertheless, the concept is consistent with the sound of the song and impressively depicts an S Club version of the “home of tomorrow” (someone clearly rode Disney’s Carousel of Progress before storyboarding this one). But portraying Rachel as a dutiful housewife to Paul, Jon and Bradley, who watches helplessly as each is tempted away by alluring vixen Jo O’Meara was such a bizarre storyline. Not just because it’s Rachel Stevens (consistently ranked one of the sexiest women in the world) but because it imbues the group dynamic with a weird sexualised undertone that really doesn’t fit. That said, Bradley’s turn as a mechanic is undoubtedly his finest moment – and Rachel Stevens’ face as he emerges from under the car was basically all of us suddenly feeling very thirsty!

Despite its troubled path to release, You continued S Club 7’s consistent run of chart success, becoming their ninth consecutive release to debut in the top three. Indeed, it would become the last single released under the S Club 7 moniker because a few weeks after it charted, Paul announced he was leaving the group.

Perhaps it is only with hindsight we can say that it didn’t come as much of a surprise. But certainly, You – joyous bop as it is – felt like a musical route that S Club 7 no longer had the need or propensity to pursue.

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Post Author: cantstopthepop