Rosie Ribbons – A Little Bit

Released: 13th January 2003

Writers: Kara DioGuardi / Dave Siegel / Steve Morales

Peak position: #19

Chart run: 19-37-68

After finishing sixth on Pop Idol, Rosie Ribbons landed a multi-million-pound record deal with Telstar. But when her debut single Blink landed on a knife-edge at #12, decisive action was needed for the follow-up.  

Choosing A Little Bit at such a critical point in Rosie Ribbons’ career was a huge – and probably unnecessary – risk. The track had form, but not the sort you’d want. It was originally released in America by Jessica Simpson as the follow-up to Irresistible in 2001 and promptly became her first single not to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s not even as if it did anything wrong (although the styling was…interesting); the music video had a considerable budget thrown at it, and the song was heavily promoted, but the public didn’t bite. Therefore, it would seem that by re-making A Little Bit two years later on a more modest scale, the odds were probably going to be stacked against it. Nevertheless, that is the decision Telstar opted to pursue, and they went in hard with it.

The track was given a slightly funkier twist, but in essence, hits the same beats and sees Rosie Ribbons serving a stone-cold lesson in it’s-not-me-it’s-you realness: “A little less talk, a little more do, a little more me, a little less you; baby at the end of the day, a little bit goes a long way”. The delivery works best when it remains slick and tight. The moments where Rosie Ribbons wanders away from the core melody are far less effective than those where she’s allowed to flex her vocals a little, like the middle-eight: “And it hurts me, cos I care and I’m tellin’ you why; I’m unhappy, so if you love me, a little bit is not that much to ask to make things ri-i-i-i-i-ight…OOH yeah, OOH yeah”.

And if there is a flaw here, it’s that A Little Bit doesn’t seem confident enough to rely on its strengths. This is a superb little pop song, with a great rhythm and catchy hooks. But the production very much adopts the everything-including-the-kitchen-sink approach, which at times serves as a distraction. It even sees fit to throw in an additional new element: a rap verse performed by Porsha (Joanna Barnes) and Tanya T (Tanya Scarborough). It all serves to big up Rosie Ribbons while including some dubious statements – “Feels so natural, not manufactured” – and a bit of wishful thinking: “Can’t you see that she’s here to stay”. There’s also the eyebrow-raising line (which went way over our heads at the time): “Now Rosie’s on top, she can make your butt rock” – just what could they be referring to? It’s all very harmless, if entirely non-essential and seems only to exist in an attempt to earn A Little Bit some credibility. But Rosie Ribbons didn’t need cheerleaders or frills; she just needed a solid track to showcase her talent, and underneath all the gubbins that got tossed into the mix, that’s precisely what this is.

When Jessica Simpson released A Little Bit, she had Hype Williams on hand to direct the music video. And while Rosie Ribbons has to make do with a little less budget, the two are not entirely dissimilar in how they attempt (a little too hard) to style their respective performers as cool, cutting edge pop stars. The black-and-pink colour scheme is undoubtedly a striking choice for Rosie Ribbons, particularly with pink blusher smudged up both sides of her face, which looks more like a first-degree sunburn. But you can’t go wrong with a jaunty beret, and if you were going to storyboard a music video that typified the early ‘00s, then this is very much it. There are panel lights, corridor-choreography sections, moving walls with the lyrics scrawled over them and some frisky elevator action thrown in for good measure. We’re still not totally convinced this is what people wanted from Rosie Ribbons, but there’s no denying that it makes an excellent attempt at passing her off as an A-list pop act.

Yet, for all that A Little Bit has its heart – or ambitions, at least – in the right place, we have to call it out on some elements that feel a bit slapdash. Firstly, while Kara DioGuardi would become a more prominent songwriter as the decade wore on, it’s not as if she was unknown, having worked on Kylie Minogue’s Spinning Around. So, to have the single make it to retail crediting her as ‘Karen DioGuardi’ is sloppy. Indeed, it shouldn’t matter how famous she was; if you’re releasing a song that someone else has written than at least get their name right. And on the subject of the artwork, what is the cover about? Sure, with her debut album now titled Misbehaving, having Rosie Ribbons coquettishly draped around the door to the men’s toilet is – in theory – playing into the image that Telstar envisaged for her. But it creates a first impression that is a cheap and tacky pop record (which it is not) and undermines what the aesthetic of A Little Bit otherwise managed to achieve.    

Unlike the original version, Rosie RibbonsA Little Bit did – at least – impact the chart here. But not in the way that anyone would have hoped for. While Blink had finished on the cusp of the top ten, this single peaked at #19, painting a worrying downward trend. One cannot fault the sheer gusto with which Rosie Ribbons threw herself at A Little Bit. But it’s difficult to escape the fact that she was saddled with an enjoyably competent track that was far better realised by Jessica Simpson. Moreover, it did feel that Telstar already had an end product and were desperately trying to plaster it onto Rosie Ribbons, rather than facilitating an organic growth of the singer who auditioned for Pop Idol with very different aspirations. Nonetheless, the label seemed adamant that they would continue to support her and pushed ahead with sourcing new material for Misbehaving.

Alas, it was not to be, for Rosie Ribbons was yet another casualty (and cause) of Telstar’s financial difficulties. When the label went bust, so did her multi-million-pound record deal and Misbehaving quickly became a thing of internet folklore. Until 2018, when it was finally put on Spotify – with a rap-less version of A Little Bit – for the world to enjoy.

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Post Author: cantstopthepop