Released: 3rd July 2000
Writers: Stuart Kershaw / Andy McCluskey / Liz McClarnon / Bill Drummond / Jimmy Cauty / Ricardo Lyte / Jerome Moross
Peak position: #10
Chart run: 10-20-26-42-74
Proving the adage that good things come in threes, I Want Your Love completed a trio of uptempo bubblegum pop hits, which launched Atomic Kitten’s career with a cheeky precociousness that would soon become obsolete.
There’s always something slightly jarring about revisiting Atomic Kitten’s first three singles because while they’re all good tracks in their own right, they sit very separately from how the group functioned for much of their career. It’s not just that Right Now, See Ya, and I Want Your Love are formative examples of a sound which evolved as Atomic Kitten matured, though there certainly is an aspect of that. Fundamentally, however, they represent a group inspired by – rather than intended to recreate or compete with – the boisterous, captivating vigour of the Spice Girls at their peak. But Atomic Kitten stopped trying to be that midway through their debut album campaign when Whole Again reached #1. Thus, those early singles went from being the group’s template for success to anomalies that felt distinctly out of place.
I Want Your Love is one such track, although, by any other measure, it’s also a terrific product of late ‘90s/early-’00s bubblegum pop. Several variants of the song exist since Atomic Kitten’s debut album – Right Now – was released in Japan seven months before the UK. As such, some of the material underwent significant changes. In the case of I Want Your Love, the original – titled All The Right Things – featured differences in the arrangement, along with a conversation between Atomic Kitten after the middle-eight: “He said he was gonna call, he never did. I mean, I gave him my number and everything…” which was later scrapped. The track also contained a: “Bring the beat back” vocal sample from The KLF’s 1991 hit Justified and Ancient. Curiously, despite initially featuring on the version of I Want Your Love (the 2XS Radio Mix) released in the UK, it was removed shortly thereafter and doesn’t appear on the Right Now album or Atomic Kitten’s greatest hits.
One thing that didn’t ever change, however, is I Want Your Love’s more prominent sample: the Main Title theme of the 1958 Western movie The Big Country as performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a stirring, distinctive instrumental that is still used now (most recently in 2021 to advertise Walkers Crisps) and a brilliant example of how to meaningfully incorporate a well-known piece of music into a pop song without any trepidation of being subtle and respectful (the artwork for CD2 shows Atomic Kitten astride a mechanical bull waving cowboy hats in the air…). I Want Your Love wouldn’t be the same without the sample, given how it’s woven into the melody. Yet, the track doesn’t merely coast by on that; what’s crafted around it also adds much value.
In many respects, I Want Your Love is the perfect manifestation of what Atomic Kitten were conceived to be. That’s not to disregard their later singles, but here is where everything – the group’s name, marketing, styling and even logo (designed as a bomb with a lit fuse) – is entirely cohesive in a way that they always had to work around after the first album, to some extent. Indeed, if Innocent Records could have a do-over and use Whole Again as a starting point, it’s hard to imagine they’d still be called Atomic Kitten. However, that’s precisely what the group looks and sounds like here. I Want Your Love moves – relentlessly – between coquettish suggestiveness: “Move it right up to me, like you know you should, and make me know you’re doing. all of the right things”, and an ethos that celebrated the superficial pursuit of being rich and famous: “‘Cos making lots of money, and living in a dream, is when you know you’re doin’, all of the right things”. This is Atomic Kitten living in the moment and here for an exhilarating good time, not – necessarily – a long time.
The sense of anarchic teenage mayhem in I Want Your Love is created partly from the onomatopoeic, personality-laden chorus: “’Cos baby (ooh-woo-ooh-OOH), BOOM, I want your love, (I want your loving BABY), baby (ooh-woo-ooh-OOH), BOOM, I want your love…BOOM”, where Atomic Kitten are essentially creating their own sound effects while filling the track with ad-libs and shrill whoops of excitement. I Want Your Love also dares to deviate slightly from the typical structure of a bubblegum pop track. After a rambunctious middle-eight: “Push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (make way, just don’t), push it (uh), don’t push it, push it (uh)”, the sample restarts and the beat steadily builds until the two reach a crescendo into…a third verse. It’s a neat moment of subverting expectation that takes Atomic Kitten’s persona as a group willing to break – or at least bend – the rules and reflects it in their music.
The enthralling chaos of I Want Your Love sees each member further carving out a role for themselves. Natasha Hamilton delivers some impressive vocals – particularly her final: “Baby…baby…BA-BAY-AY-AY-AY-AY” – that defies Atomic Kitten’s bombastic image. Liz McClarnon also contributes to the volleying ad-libs and takes a co-writing credit on the song, showing that her contribution to See Ya wasn’t just a one-off. Then there’s Kerry Katona. Her presence ties I Want Your Love firmly to this era of Atomic Kitten. And, while she does sing, it’s her infectious energy that runs rife throughout. It’s hard to imagine the subsequent line-up featuring Jenny Frost gyrating and bouncing around the track in quite the same way. That’s probably one of the reasons I Want Your Love was one of the few songs not re-recorded for Atomic Kitten’s debut album after she joined. And it feels right that the song continues to exist as it ever was, rather than trying to make it fit a different dynamic to which it was never suited.
The music video for I Want Your Love (which uses the 2XS Radio Mix and thus includes both samples) features the group – and a troupe of dancers – on a planet in space. Atomic Kitten, wearing silver tin-foil-looking jumpsuits, no less, teleport into individual pods where the furniture is stuck to the wall, and the camera spins to (barely) give the impression of an altered gravitational pull. After emerging, some impressively exuberant choreography goes almost beat-for-beat with the song, and an additional dance breakdown is thrown in for good measure, which is both conventionally of its time and yet quite absurd even by that standard. A pause in the music sees Atomic Kitten and their ensemble performing a series of steps – with intensely serious looks on their faces – in time with sound effects, including glass smashing, finger clicks, whip cracking, and gun loading and the exaggerated whooshes of a fight sequence; it’s entertainingly preposterous. However, a grand concept executed in a likeably economical fashion – which describes this music video all over, essentially – is what Atomic Kitten were all about at this point, and it works.
I Want Your Love was released during an extremely busy chart week which saw seven new entries in the top ten. It entered at #10 – matching the peak of Right Now – and spent a modest five weeks in the top 75. Total sales of 72,000 put the track just outside the top 200 of the year (although it sold only 9,000 copies less than See Ya, which benefited from debuting during a quieter week). It remains Atomic Kitten’s tenth biggest seller overall.
Of all the pre-Whole Again singles, I Want Your Love feels like the one that probably should have been bigger. Not just because it’s a great use of a sample to elevate the material, but there’s a solid argument for this – three singles into Atomic Kitten’s career – as being the most confidently cohesive the group ever looked and sounded in relation to how they were initially pitched as a pop act…even if it’s an identity from which they had to quickly evolve as a means of long-term survival.