Northern Line – All Around The World

Released: 5th June 2000

Writers: Lasse Andersson / Nicci Notini-Wallin / Peter Hallström

Peak position: #27

Chart run: 27-54-54

After two top 20 singles, Northern Line embarked on a tour supporting Steps during the summer of 2000. For their third release, the band were no doubt hoping to consolidate their growing fanbase and score a more considerable hit. Unfortunately, they didn’t get the memo that in the early ‘00s, pop acts should never, ever release a song with All Around The World in its title.

Although Northern Line’s back-catalogue is small, this is easily the most interesting single they released. A pseudo-disco pop effort that pays homage to Earth, Wind & Fire more successfully than anyone would care to admit, All Around The World was a significant step up in aural and visual quality terms for the group. At the same time, it also muddied the waters somewhat, because now with three singles that sounded quite markedly different within the pop spectrum, it was beginning to feel like Northern Line were experiencing something of an identity crisis. 

Taken on its own merit, however, All Around The World is a sublime homage to disco and funk, with a spiky horn accompaniment and some choppy, filtered synths just before the second verse. Indeed, you could say that at times, the song almost runs perilously close to awarding a writing credit to the composers of September by Earth, Wind & Fire. The pre-chorus in particular, with its: “oh, Oh, OH” is almost identikit. We can only imagine that had All Around The World been a bigger hit then such similarities would have drawn a little more attention. However, just to make sure that the track doesn’t completely lose itself and become a pastiche, there is the addition of a very of-its-time distorted robotic: “All around the world” vocal during the chorus. Ironically, it’s the one aspect of the song that doesn’t come across so polished, as the effect ends up sounding more like a deranged Furby.

Elsewhere, having already used their self-referential trump card in Love On The Northern Line and with their horizons now set much wider than the London Underground, you would forgive the group for not being able to name drop again. But undeterred, they make a bold attempt, which just happens to coincide with arguably the best couplet in the song: “I see the northern lights they shine in September, but you’re the summer sun that shines in June”. If ever there was a moment that All Around The World truly echoes its disco forefathers then this is it. It’s something of a shame that the production and vocal layering obscures some of the lyrics during the second verse because it’s smartly written, but that’s not immediately evident without adequately scrutinising the track.  

I’m not superstitious
But I hope I’m lucky finding you
I pray every night, this illusion
Is a fantasy that will come true

For All Around The World’s music video, Northern Line literally went around the world – well, at least as far as Cuba. If you didn’t know otherwise, then the visuals do an excellent job of presenting the group as a big deal. From the first performance shots to the street choreography, Northern Line are surrounded by a fairly sizeable crowd of a hundred or so extras. Elsewhere, it seems the group had a jolly good time as we see them traversing the roads and waterways – although perhaps the most striking set-piece is the sequence where Northern Line dance around a water tower. It’s beautifully shot against the Cuban sunset, and although you have to wonder whether it was just a chance discovery around which to construct the choreography, it’s delivered with aplomb. The Magic Mike-esque yellow filter applied to the whole video won’t be to everyone’s taste, but while it does make the locations look beautifully sun-drenched, it also means the group appear a tad jaundiced at points.

As a composition, All Around The World is quite a distinctive graduate from the pop class of 2000 – although that may not necessarily have been a good thing. Fundamentally, we can’t help but think that while the Earth, Wind & Fire comparisons were a credible achievement, they were ill-suited to Northern Line’s target market. Not many young pop fans were likely to have a working knowledge of the group, much less be appreciative of the subtle melody references to September. In hindsight, All Around The World is much easier to appraise, but at the time its achievements were easily overlooked, which may have contributed to its #27 peak. In the single’s defence, it was a busy week on the chart with a total of 14 new entries – but none from acts that would necessarily have diverted sales from Northern Line. With the group still on the search for a breakthrough hit, this was the final nail for them, and a split subsequently followed soon afterwards.

But maybe there was something more sinister afoot. Within 16 months, three songs with titles containing the words Around The World underperformed in the UK and wound up being the last chart appearance for their respective acts. Coincidence? We think not. Let the conspiracy theories commence…

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Post Author: cantstopthepop