Released: 20th March 2000
Writers: Sheppard Solomon / Wayne Cohen / Jennifer Carr
Peak position: #11
Chart run: 11-18-31-46-65
The release of Rewind saw Precious subtly shrug off their label as Eurovision hopefuls and relaunch as a fully-fledged pop group with a single that looked and sounded every bit a smash hit.
Quite why it took almost a year to properly launch the group is unclear. Promo CDs for the track Stand Up were distributed towards the end of 1999, but a release never materialised. Perhaps the intention was to put a bit more distance between Precious and Eurovision; indeed, there’s enough evidence here to perceive it as a soft-relaunch, of sorts. And it’s fair that EMI would wait until after the competition to gauge the long-term potential for the group. Nevertheless, a year is a long time in pop music, and few platforms were more high-profile for Precious than the one that had already given them a top ten single.
Either way, there is no mistaking their intention with Rewind. This is a big song, helmed by Swedish producers Quiz & Larossi, which goes some way to explaining why the influence of Cheiron Studios – and …Baby One More Time in particular – courses through the veins of the track. It’s a dramatic, brooding behemoth that is dripping with squelchy synths at every turn. The primary production elements alone situate Rewind very authentically within a specific time and place in pop music. Still, in case there was any doubt, the track is bookended by that stock sound effect of a tape rewinding (you know the one). It would, of course, have been absurd to release a song called Rewind and not include it; say what you like about the late ‘90s / early ‘00s, but we were nothing if not very literal.
The track attempts to position Precious on the more credible-sounding edge of pop music. The fact that one of their album tracks (These Days) would later be recorded by Mis-Teeq, while Jenny Frost would go on to join Atomic Kitten is symbolic of the diverse market that Precious were trying to straddle. And there is a certain level of street-smart about Rewind. Certainly, the line: “I guess some things are destiny, now I finally see, the one true thing I need is you inside” is a rather blunt assertion, in hindsight. One of the most likeable aspects of the track is the bold – yet entirely clumsy – attempt at emulating a slick Swedepop chorus. There is something ever so slightly awkward about it, particularly the line: “The more I try, to live individually…”; however, even if the execution isn’t perfect, one can’t fault the effort, and those shortcomings are all part of the charm.
While Rewind sails close to the wind of …Baby One More Time, for the most part, it still manages to do enough to maintain its own identity. However, the middle-eight has no such qualms about dropping the pretence; if you’re going to copy, you may as well copy from the best; therefore, it’s little more than a cut-and-paste job. As Precious ponder: “The more I try, the more I find, all we had you and me, now I long to right this wrong, and be with you again” (they bothered to change the lyrics, at least), the production becomes sparse and desolate, while accompanied by a gentle piano melody. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery, and few songs subscribe to that school of thought as much as Rewind.
Such is their commitment to seeing Rewind through to its full potential, there is a sense that Precious sacrificed a bit of themselves. A clear lead singer was emerging in Louise Rose, so even when everyone is singing collectively, it’s primarily her voice that can be heard. There’s little attempt to showcase any of the individual vocal personalities present within the group. For all intents and purposes, Rewind could be mistaken for a solo single. That works for the song itself, but is of questionable benefit to Precious, particularly at such a crucial moment in their career.
The music video is – quite understandably – one which is relatively creative with what is likely to have been a modest budget. Not for the last time in their career, Precious find themselves in a disused warehouse. The dark, industrial aesthetic fits well with the sound of Rewind, as we see the group in what looks like a cage-fight arena performing the track with a squad of dancers. There are some neat reversed sections accompanying the ‘rewind’ sound effect, and there is at least some semblance of individuality with cutaway shots for each member of the group. That said, there’s still little doubt where the focal point of Precious lies; Louise Rose is positioned front and centre, dressed in skin-tight black leather trousers with bright pink heels. It’s certainly a look and one that ensures your eyes never veer too far away from her in the wider shots.
In this era of pop music, every act was striving to be the biggest and the best; there was no middle ground, but unfortunately, that’s precisely where Rewind ended up dumping Precious. The track came perilously close to breaking the top ten but stalled at #11. And while they weren’t quite at the make or break stage yet, this did feel like a pivotal moment that negatively shaded the perception of the group and made their uphill climb much steeper. And it’s a massive shame because Rewind is an absolute bop that made all the right moves for Precious. It’s a prime cut of budget-Britney pop music (with an incredible Almighty Remix, to boot) that – quite rightly – aimed high and only stumbled at the very last moment.