True Steppers and Dane Bowers Feat. Victoria Beckham – Out Of Your Mind

Released: 14th August 2000

Writers: Victoria Beckham / Dane Bowers / Andy Lysandrou / Lisners

Peak position: #2

Chart run: 2-3-5-12-19-31-39-31-44-54-53-67-75-71-62-69-X-X-X-69-58-68-69

On the whole, the Spice Girls’ distinct personalities gave a reasonably clear indication as to where their interest would lie as solo artists. Certainly, there were no real surprises. At least, initially. But Victoria Beckham was a bit of an unknown in that respect; it wasn’t even apparent whether she liked being a pop star at all, much less whether she had any interest in forging a solo career. However, by 2000, with all of her bandmates having successfully struck out on their own, a sense of binding obligation meant it was time for Victoria Beckham to join them.

She had a lot more to lose from a solo venture than the other Spice Girls, though. Her command of the media and the rapid growth of the Beckham brand meant that any damage sustained through a disastrous chart debut could extend beyond merely holding onto a record deal. In some respects, Out Of Your Mind was thus an exercise in damage-limitation. Appearing on a True Steppers track as the featured artist alongside Dane Bowers undoubtedly eased the pressure on her shoulders a little (or else it was a reassurance that if she went down, at least she wasn’t going alone). Yet, while that serves a purpose for official chart records, let’s be honest: there is little pretence that this is anything other than a platform for Victoria Beckham. And if it seems like the True Steppers got the short end of the stick here – on their own song, no less – they’d have been crazy to do anything else. Out Of Your Mind was guaranteed exposure for the production duo; knowing precisely that people would come flocking to get a peek at Victoria Beckham away from the Spice Girls, they put her front and centre.

Opting for a 2-step garage track for her debut single was something of a double-edged sword. It does mean that Out Of Your Mind hasn’t necessarily aged that well; it’s still a highly listenable track, but it belongs to a specific moment in pop music. That said, there was never really any doubt that Victoria Beckham – more than any of her bandmates – would choose a genre that was on-trend. For this single was as much (if not more) about building the Beckham brand, as it was a genuine expression of her musicality. Indeed, it was rather damning that Out Of Your Mind was omitted from her debut album, released just over a year later. Perhaps it didn’t fit into the vision Victoria Beckham had for the project. Or, perhaps more likely, it was because this single (quite unjustly) cast a dark cloud over her solo career. It was a cloud that never really lifted, and which ultimately had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the song itself.

Opening with a combination of shimmering and jabbing synths, Out Of Your Mind certainly doesn’t shy away from making a statement. And as a retort to Buggin’, that’s precisely what it has to do; but just in case that track had passed you by, there’s a nice little throwback to it early in the first verse: “Telling your friends I was buggin’ you”. Having given everyone the backstory (that’s all you need to know), Victoria Beckham proceeds to tear strips off of Dane Bowers: “Keep thinking you were someone special, time has shown and now I know, how wrong I have been”. He responds with a rebuttal that at best delivered with a sense of resignation. Which is fair, given he’s left with absolutely no room for compromise. It’s possible that Out Of Your Mind could have been a little more dynamic – and cutting – by properly pitting the pair against each other. There’s a cheeky reference from Dane Bowers (“I like the Spice”) but at the same time, there’s only so far the happily married Victoria Beckham was going to be able to sell the narrative of a woman scorned by Dane Bowers. Her slightly aloof delivery is, therefore, the best of both worlds; she expresses enough contempt to make her point, but never enough emotion to suggest she’s all that bothered.

So, how do Victoria Beckham’s vocals stack up as the Spice Girl who got the least solo lines? Well, it’s challenging to make a conclusive judgement because, within that context, it was very much quality over quantity. And here it is arguably the production that calls the shots, which results in a light autotune varnish being applied to the whole song. Inevitably it generated accusations that Out Of Your Mind merely exposes Victoria Beckham’s limitations. But that’s not entirely fair, for this isn’t exactly a singer’s song, and stylistically the rather apical tone to the vocals feels appropriate. During the verses notably, it contrasts nicely with the sample of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, adding a touch of ice-cool drama to the track. Nonetheless, even amid such a stylised production, Victoria Beckham still manages to serve some moments. The spoken: “They say that I’m chasing you” muttered in the background of the chorus while Dane sings: “I’m not wasting your time” is great, if subtle. Then, of course, there’s the iconic coda to the song:

True Steppers, you’re outta your mind
Ice cream, you’re outta your mind
Ten below, you’re outta of your mind
Dane, you’re out of your mind
This tune’s gonna punish you

Truly a mic-drop moment. To give some context: Ice Cream Records was the True Steppers’ label, while 10° Below provided mixes of the track, so there is some logic to what might initially appear as mostly nonsensical ramblings. Albeit requiring the listener to do some research to make sense of the lyrics is not necessarily one of the song’s better attributes.

The music video for Out Of Your Mind is a bit of a weird one. It’s certainly consistent with the production of the song and is essentially a retelling of The Matrix, albeit on about a hundredth of the budget. It kicks off promisingly; there’s a lovely scenic shot of Victoria Beckham watching over a landscape before the camera pans back to reveal that it’s the True Steppers watching her through a computer screen and manipulating her surroundings. Much like The Matrix itself, that’s where the narrative stops making any real sense and instead becomes a series of scenarios vaguely lifted from the movie. It all leads up to Victoria Beckham and Dane Bowers performing the song in a futuristic-looking bunker. Victoria Beckham – having spent much of her time in the Spice Girls pointing and pouting – handles the choreography impressively well. It’s almost a bit disconcerting to see her do so much actual dancing, but it’s every bit as slick and energetic as it needs to be. The styling within the video is also unconventionally great; it suits the general ambience of the whole thing. Out Of Your Mind concludes with Victoria Beckham breaking the matrix…or whatever is perceived as happening at the end of the movie. In a sense, it’s a shame that what could’ve been a straightforward concept ends up being somewhat convoluted. But then, that very same argument could be made about The Matrix.

Ultimately, it’s a shame that in the end, Out Of Your Mind was overshadowed by the media circus that accompanied its release. It was an inevitability – to a certain extent – and it wasn’t entirely one-sided. You sense that such was Victoria Beckham’s relationship with the media, even the bare minimum in terms of promotion would’ve been labelled an act of desperation. When it became evident that the track faced competition from Spiller’s Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love), utterly normal things like in-store record signings were reported in a deliberately misleading way. “They have been making fans buy the single before signing it”, claimed one outraged news report, as if the CD should’ve been put back onto the shelf once Victoria Beckham had scrawled her name over it. The newspapers all fed into the narrative of an artist frantically trying to prove her worth. Even so, dragging David Beckham along to some of the in-store events was probably misguided because it sent a message that Out Of Your Mind was indeed all about the chart position rather than the music.

And everybody knows the outcome: Groovejet (If This Ain’t Love) won the battle and topped the chart, while immediately Victoria Beckham’s solo(ish) career was branded a disaster. But let’s be rational here; Spiller (and Sophie Ellis-Bextor, of course) didn’t just top the chart with a throwaway track; it’s one of the most famous dance tracks of the ‘00s. Then there’s the fact that Out Of Your Mind still managed to shift just over 180,000 copies in its first week, the biggest of any solo Spice Girls single to date (a record that seems unlikely to change at this moment in time). Indeed, Victoria Beckham still holds the fourth biggest selling solo-Spice single overall, behind When You’re Gone, It’s Raining Men and Never Be The Same Again. So, all in all, while Out Of Your Mind didn’t reach #1, neither was it merely a footnote. Indeed, it remains an integral part of the Spice Girls’ solo catalogue.

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