Released: 13th November 2000
Writers: Ian Lewis
Peak position: #50
Chart run: 50
New Beginning was a bold statement from Precious, but would it be enough to finally get them back into the top ten? Well, as their fourth – and final – single, you already know the answer to that, but it was still a brilliant effort.
Things had started so promisingly for Precious. Yes, the #11 peak of Rewind was agonising, but it had nonetheless established in clear terms that there was life for the group after Eurovision. However, the following single It’s Gonna Be My Way pushed them in a more R&B-orientated direction, which felt like a misinterpretation of how people perceived Precious and what they wanted from them. When the track underperformed – reaching #27 in the UK – it sent a clear message, and at the very least the group’s label responded. Thus, New Beginning was both a not-subtle-at-all statement of intent and a welcome return to the poppier sound of Rewind. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, firstly, let’s address the elephant in the room. Despite being helmed by the Danish producers Cutfather & Joe, the track feels deliberately aligned to the Swedepop of Cheiron Studios. The ghost of …Baby One More Time is inescapably present within this track, with many similarities in structure and production; from the boppy beat to the eerie middle-eight and the deconstructed final choruses. In that respect, there are no surprises here. But Precious weren’t the only ones to try and jump on that bandwagon, and it wasn’t a bad call to try and push them into a domain which many pop acts – but very few girl groups – now occupied.
New Beginning is fabulously melodramatic; the jaunty verses are positively tortuous: “Don’t know this feeling inside of me, but I know it’s here for wrong not for right, don’t know what your heart is telling me…”. There are also some occasionally clumsy lyrics that probably made perfect sense when written with a specific context in mind, but may raise a wry smile when taken at face value: “…every time I ask you turn out the lights”. Inarguably the highlight of New Beginning is the brilliant hook that is embedded within the pre-chorus: “Where are you now when I fall, I’m trapped inside these four walls, somebody answer my call”. With an intensely satisfying melody and a perfectly measured balance of desperation in the vocals, it’s about as authentically Swedepop as a track could hope to be without the presence of Max Martin himself.
The middle-eight is composed with similarly impressive credibility. The shimmering, sparkling production marks a shift in tone and tempo that allows Precious to approach New Beginning more softly. There’s an aching sadness here: “Let’s close this down make amends, our love was always two friends, living in each other lives; we’ve worked so hard to be one, don’t know now what we’ve become…”, and it’s a moment of reprieve that the song needs. Here, the group manage to ground New Beginning with some vulnerability and ensure it’s not merely style over substance before the echoed: “…somebody help me be strong” transition back into the chorus.
If there is one thing Precious loved, it was a music video set in a warehouse. New Beginning finds them back in familiar territory, this time performing into a mirror that is some sort of portal to another dimension. Inevitably, the group passes through it (after standing in front of it for a minute) and on the other side is…a slightly cleaner warehouse where dancers join Precious for the remainder of the song. As parallel-universe videos go, this one is rather modest with not even a hairstyle or outfit change to be seen, which probably reflects an air of caution from the group’s label. It does work, though; Precious appear relatively cool – as pop acts go – and you can see that some individual personalities were starting to emerge. There’s still heaps of potential here, and if determination alone were enough to generate a hit, then the group would have been on to a winner.
Alas, in chart terms, New Beginning proved to be anything but and proved cruelly ironic for Precious. The track peaked at #50, which was nothing short of disastrous for a group who had narrowly missed the top ten just two singles earlier. This was a pivotal moment for them as well, with the release of their self-titled debut album just weeks away. Alas, it failed to chart at all, and – unsurprisingly – that was bad news for the group, who split shortly afterwards as we found out when Jenny Frost made a new beginning of her own and joined Atomic Kitten a few months later. It’s hard to know what went wrong, but certainly, the shift in sound from Rewind to It’s Gonna Be My Way seemed to be a turning point that was beyond repair.
New Beginning made all the right moves, but that chart peak represented more than just a blip; the path back was insurmountable, and time was up for Precious. But they can – at least – take consolation in the fact that they departed with a criminally underrated single.