Released: 10th April 2000
Writers: Andrew Tumi / Brett Adams / David Holmes / David Oliver / Danielle Barnett / Johnathan Newman / Kenny Barry
Peak position: #13
Chart run: 13-28-34-43-67-72
By the turn of the century, the charts were standing room only when it came to boybands. With the A-list full, most new acts would end up on the waiting list to get in – some did hang around long enough to gain entry, but most gave up and went home long before.
Point Break were launched as something of an antithesis to their slick, polished peers with a brand of pop that was a rockier, more raucous affair. At best though, the trio’s image was muddled and any credentials they had as actual musicians (oh look, a guitar!) was largely glossed over in favour of more typical-of-the-time choreographed dance routines and accidentally-on-purpose shirtlessness. Having scored their first top ten single a few months earlier, the time came for Point Break’s rite of passage. The make or break for any boyband, guitars or not: a ballad.
We don’t think we can overstate this point enough – Freakytime is insanely good. It makes a definitive point of not being cut from the same cloth as most other pop ballads of the time; it ditches innocent and impossibly idealistic virtues in favour of something that feels more heightened, a bit scruffier and very sexual.
The most immediately striking aspect of Freakytime is the production; the first 25 seconds is almost ethereal, with the chorus gently recited over some looped guitar chords and swirling electronica. It’s latterly joined by a thumping bass and also marks its turn-of-the-century territory with some obligatory slowed down record scratches. Only then does the song open out into a dramatic – almost ghostly – orchestrated instrumental. There’s immediately a sense of heightened drama present within the track; it’s a stirring introduction that feels epic in scale, as though Freakytime should be soundtracking a major motion picture. There are moments where the track transcends to another era altogether – the euphoric stadium-esque electric guitar instrumental in the middle of the song is more akin to ‘80s hair-rock Van Halen than the bubblegum pop of the ‘00s.
One could easily get completely lost in the production, but lest we forget that Freakytime is a song about the sex – and for that it wants your attention. To achieve that, the vocals during the verses ignore any sense of personal space – it’s as if the band are actually stood next you and singing the song, somewhat claustrophobically, straight into your ears. As a sexy slow jam, it feels at times a little awkward and hazy, like a drunken hook-up at the end of a party rather than a sweeping romantic gesture. Lines such as: “Come on and pull my body close, I wanna lie you on the floor, come on and lay your lips on mine and let our bodies work for more” feel largely void of any the romanticism usually seen within pop ballads, particularly against a production that feels hard and cold. Freakytime also has an amazing pre-chorus, albeit one that feels completely gratuitous – we’re not sure if there an affectionate way of asking someone to ‘bump and grind’ against you but spelling it out before you ask is certainly not it. Nonetheless, whilst “B-U-M-and-P…G-R-I-N-D…bump and grind just be mine tonight” lacks tact, it makes for a brilliant hook and is arguably the standout moment of the song.
So baby bring your aah over here just for a second
You’re looking at me, I reckon you’re checkin’
Not respecting just what my intentions are
You want me all the way up, I want you half way down
The chorus itself is a little less involved than you’d expect from the build-up. It’s wonderfully rousing and more in keeping with the grander scale of the production. But it lacks the intimacy that the verses appeared to be chasing, giving Freakytime a somewhat jarring quality. It’s as if Point Break couldn’t quite decide whether they wanted to whisper sensual nothings into your ear or make a bold, public declaration about their feelings. Maybe that’s an inevitable by-product of the song being written by a cast of thousands (well, seven).
That identity conflict continues into the music video. At this point, we should sound the warning klaxon because the visual treatment for Freakytime contains our least favourite ingredient within pop music: black and white behind-the-scenes / tour footage. As a memento for the act itself, it’s probably a nice gesture – but for everyone else, it immediately screams ‘can’t be bothered to make a proper video’ and we’ve yet to come across a single one that was interesting. Now, in the case of Freakytime we’ll cut it a bit of slack because there was at least a bit of effort to construct narrative and identity (oh look, there’s a guitar again!). It mostly consists of Point Break staring into the camera and mouthing the lyrics with a slightly sinister look upon their faces – evidently, there’s a fine line between intensity and menacing.
The video also concludes with a slightly awkward shot of the trio singing while a female extra (who was earlier pawing at one of them) sits gawping like an infatuated groupie – which, given the tone of the song, is not entirely out of the question. One part of the video that does work quite well is the wintry cutaway shots, which fit most comfortably with the cool sound of Freakytime. The video – and song – may have been best served by utilising the stunning landscapes to create a visual that matched the vast scope of the production. Ultimately, the single has always felt a bit mistimed as everything about it would better suit a midwinter release, rather than spring.
It goes without saying that Freakytime should have been #1 for weeks and weeks. But back in the real world, the most frustrating thing about the single is that it fell just short of the chart success that might have seen it endure as a minor ‘00s boyband staple. Peaking at #13 wasn’t a complete disaster, but it didn’t move Point Break any closer to the big league; indeed, more than anything it cemented their position as also-rans. And that’s a real shame because the band did have something a bit different to offer – and nowhere is that more evident than Freakytime.