Released: 25th June 2001
Writers: Hallgeir Rustan / Mikkel SE / Tor Erik Hermansen
Peak position: #1
Chart run: 1-5-13-18-23-29-38-45-45-48-56-65-68-X-75-75-71-60
With a #1 single and album under their belt, Hear’Say had successfully made the transition from TV talent show to bona fide chart stars. But a few months down the line, how would their second single fare without the aid of a hit ITV show?
As it happens, The Way To Your Love is in many respects a more accurate representation of Hear’Say as a pop act than Pure and Simple had been. Produced by Stargate, the track featured a sound more consistent with that of their peers, most notably S Club 7, who had also worked with the same production team for their debut album. While this was always the “obvious” second single, in hindsight we may have picked something like I Didn’t Want You Anyway or Not The Kind, just to avoid the remarkably short Popstars campaign having been quite so predictable. It’s not that The Way To Your Love is a bad choice, it’s just one you could see coming a mile off.
The track was remixed slightly for its release as a single; it was a somewhat unconventional move so early into an album campaign – but then Hear’Say’s launch had been anything but conventional. Being completely honest we prefer the album version over the Jiant Radio Edit, which sounds almost a little anaemic by comparison. It adds some slightly cooler sound effects and electro riffs into the composition, but in exchange noticeably strips out the bass, leaving the track sounding somewhat cold and aloof. Comparing both versions, we would say that The Way To Your Love has the sort of melody that sounds much better as a fuller production. So, while the changes aren’t by any means a deal-breaker, you do feel there’s probably a middle ground somewhere between the two versions of the song that would sound perfect.
Even before the radio edit, it was true to say that many of the rough edges evident within Pure and Simple had been smoothed out by the second single. Most noticeably, The Way To Your Love no longer sounds like five solo singers performing on the same song. For while each member of Hear’Say still gets a turn in the spotlight, Kym Marsh had been installed more visibly as the lead singer and when she’s not delivering her own vocals, she’s to be found providing back-up to her colleagues. Noel and Danny are also heavily featured, which works well here; although their tones are markedly different, both have strong pop voices that lift the track. And certainly, from a wider perspective, this was not something that many of their immediate chart rivals could boast.
The “Every day, every night, fill my shadows with light, when I feel all alone, your heart is my home” hook in The Way To Your Love’s chorus is incredibly satisfying. It’s much catchier than it’s given credit for; probably because few people would actively seek out the track these days. Indeed, while it contains some great pop hooks, you do sense that The Way To Your Love’s primary appeal as a second single was due to its rather deliberate lyrics, such as the pre-chorus: “We could sink to the bottom, we could climb to the top, ‘cos together we’ll never give up”. It might not have been crafted as a statement to the naysayers, but undoubtedly both the record label and the group had a point to make.
And nowhere was that more evident than in the music video. It’s a cute concept, opting for a Hear’Say x Little House On The Prairie concept. But the main focus seems to be on really pushing the group as a cohesive unit. Inevitably after their formation, there were rumours of in-fighting and rivalries, so naturally, the video takes every opportunity to portray Hear’Say as the best of friends, cosying up to one another and playfighting. By the end of the video, that point has well and truly been hammered home – arguably at the expense of the choreography shots – which suggest fundamental improvements had been made in that respect, but which ultimately don’t ever really become a focal point.
We’ll be stronger together
Than we would be apart
I can feel you inside my heart
It’s a shame that The Way To Your Love was always set up to fail by the success of Pure and Simple and the unrealistic expectations subsequently demanded of Hear’Say. Common sense to anyone with any knowledge of the chart would dictate that with the Popstars album having sold over half a million copies and without an accompanying TV show, The Way To Your Love was never going to replicate the sales figures of its predecessor. So, while the single did debut atop the chart shifting a respectable 75,000 copies to do so, it ultimately wound up as the second-lowest selling #1 single of the year. A fact that did not go unnoticed.
The reality is that no song on the Popstars album would have fared any better than The Way To Your Love. Indeed, the fact that it made #1 at all should have been applauded because it certainly wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Many other major hits from the ‘00s did not automatically earn their artist a subsequent chart-topper. But, when it came to Hear’Say, the usual rules did not apply, and thus this single was instead regarded as a major slump for the group, resulting in the Popstars album campaign being rapidly curtailed. Unfortunately for Hear’Say, this was merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the tumultuous relationship they would have with the press and the public for the foreseeable future…