I want to talk numbers, folks.
We currently have twelve premiered/chosen artist-and-song combos headed for Eurovision 2015. Twelve and a half, if you think Italy’s Il Volo will take Grande Amore to Vienna but aren’t willing to bet on it (side note: I hope they do, as I LOVE it and want to have a romantic Lady and the Tramp-style spaghetti dinner with it…or with all three group members, whatever’s easiest).
Now, this may come as a shock to you, but none of these 12.5 entries belong to the United Kingdom’s. As is the norm, we’ve heard zilch from the UK as of now and shouldn’t expect to until March. That makes it perfectly appropriate for me to put an idea into the BBC’s mind – if not for this year’s contest, then perhaps the next.
Instead of laughing in my virtual face at that comment, please allow me to indulge in a fantasy of ‘what if?’ as I continue my sporadic series of Vienna Wishlist posts – a.k.a. ramblings re: the names I’m longing to see pop up on screen come May, but probably won’t. Today, it’s the UK’s turn.
Last “episode”, I selected teen pop pinup Robin Packalen for Finland (without success, as the UMK line-up that followed is testament to). This time, for the land of Trafalgar Square, tea and Terry Wogan, I’ve picked…well, it’s pretty clear from the title.
So let’s get this
incredibly boring party started, as I say, “Can I PLEASE have…”
WHO? WHERE? WHAT?
Rochelle Humes + Una Foden + Frankie Bridge + Mollie King + Vanessa White = The Saturdays, est. 2007, hailing from England and Ireland (that’s Una). They’re the Spice Girls of today’s music scene, mostly because there are five of them, the hair colours match, they’re female, and because I said so. Don’t question it, just go with it.
The Spice similarities don’t end there – The Saturdays were also manufactured, put together after a nationwide audition callout. Their first gig involved supporting Girls Aloud on tour (whether that’s something to be proud of or embarrassed about is up to you) and during that time, they released their first single ‘If This Is Love’.
The song was co-written by a) Remee, host of JESC 2003 and co-writer of this year’s Danish entry from Anti Social Media, and b) Norway’s Ina Wroldsen, who was partly responsible for Adelén’s ‘Bombo’. EUROVISION CONNECTION ALERT! It went on to chart in the UK Top 10, and was followed by the singles ‘Up’, ‘Issues’ and ‘Work’, all from The Sats’ debut album Chasing Lights. This album also charted within the top 10, giving them the leg up to head off on their own tour in 2008.
Their following two albums Wordshaker (don’t ask, ‘cause I have no idea either) and Headlines! arrived in 2009 and 2010, spawning a further four top 10 singles. On Your Radar (2011) was their last record before the 2012 premiere of their reality TV series Chasing The Saturdays, which detailed their (more or less unsuccessful) quest to break into the American market.
2012 wasn’t a year totally devoid of Sats success though. In December, they released ‘What About Us’ featuring Sean Paul, which went on to become their first – and to date, only – UK #1. But they did it big-style, knocking Justin Timberlake off the top spot. The single even made an appearance in the US Dance charts.
Living For The Weekend (2013), which featured that all-important #1, was their last studio album prior to the release of their greatest hits collection. Finest Selection was released last year, and is unlikely to be where the girls’ story ends.
Here and now in 2015, The Saturdays have achieved some serious stuff: produced five studio albums, two EPs, 18 singles (13 of which have charted in the UK top 10), 20 music videos and a compilation album, to be exact. Not bad for a group that was put together and could so easily have fallen apart.
PS – Here’s another Eurovision-related fact: Una’s no stranger to the ESC, having sung backup for Ireland’s Brian Kennedy in 2006. Methinks it’s time she made a comeback and brought her four gal-pals with her.
Pop, basically, and with the slew of Scandinavian songwriters who have had a hand in their back catalogue, not completely unfamiliar, un-Melodi Grand Prix (Dansk AND Norsk) type pop. R & B is a clear influence in a number of their tracks, though, and they have a lot of dance songs to their name at this point. You’ll also find retro and electro influences creeping in on the likes of ‘Disco Love’ and ‘Notorious’. They do the occasional ballad – i.e. ‘Issues’ and ‘My Heart Takes Over’, and that’s when you can hear how well they harmonise.
The Sats are a girl band of traditional mould, and they don’t tend to be overly experimental or groundbreaking. In fact, even I’ll admit that some of their songs are questionable. But for every miss, there’s two or three hits, and that’s a pretty good track record. If your main requirement in a good pop song is that it’s catchy, you’re unlikely to be disappointed; but if you like your pop to be unique, there’s something Saturdays for you too. See ‘Gentleman’ for an example…and then just try to get that ‘A gentleman is so 1995’ hook out of your head.
- Chasing Lights (2008) feat. ‘If This Is Love’, ‘Up’, ‘Issues’, ‘Work’
- Wordshaker (2009) feat. ‘Forever Is Over’, ‘Ego’
- Headlines! (2010) feat. ‘Missing You’, ‘Higher’
- On Your Radar (2011) feat. ‘Notorious’, ‘All Fired Up’, ‘My Heart Takes Over’
- Living For The Weekend (2013) feat. ’30 Days’, ‘What About Us?’, ‘Gentleman’, ‘Disco Love’, ‘Not Giving Up’
- Finest Selection: The Greatest Hits (2014) feat. ‘What Are You Waiting For?’, ‘808’, ‘Walking Through The Desert’
THE HIT LIST
‘Higher’ feat. Flo Rida
And my must-hear track, ‘Disco Love’
My answer to this question, posed by myself, is always ‘Why not?’. In my opinion, there are very few acts who’d be unsuitable to compete. Maybe a band that insisted on performing nude (Eurovision’s a family show, remember) or an all-singing, all-dancing German Shepard (animals are fur-bidden). But I’m going off on a tangent now. While lady-bands haven’t got the best track record at Eurovision – think XXL, NonStop and Moje 3 – The Sats are no XXL, NonStop or Moje 3. They can sing live, they never wear lingerie on stage and they wouldn’t be seen dead in those polka-dotted Serbian monstrosities. Few people would.
If given the chance, I think they’d provide the UK with something fun and poppy á la ‘Rockefeller Street’, or a stadium-worthy dance banger like ‘Amazing’ (only they’d automatically be in the final). Or how about an R & B-infused ballad along the lines of the TWiiNS’ ‘I’m Still Alive’? Yes, I’m aware none of those entries had great success, but I am convinced The Sats could learn from the mistakes made by Estonia and Slovakia on those occasions, and nail whichever style of entry they opted for. After all, they’re accustomed to performing on big stages in fancy outfits in front of a ton of people, so they know what does and doesn’t appeal to the masses, aurally and aesthetically.
And a final reason why Eurovision needs these girls? Because I need these girls at Eurovision. It’s all very selfish, this.
With that in mind, put your suitably sparkly thinking caps on and answer me this: which artist/s would YOU parade in front of the BBC if you had the power to choose on the UK’s behalf? Or, if you just can’t be bothered where Royaume Uni is concerned, toss your ideal choice for any other country my way in the comments. Even if they’ve already chosen, you may as well come up with a replacement in case, say, Trijntje Oosterhuis walks along a little too fast (see what I did there?), stacks it, and ends up in a body cast that renders her unfit for traveling to Vienna.
What? It could happen.
I’ll leave you to your brainstorming until the next Super Saturday – February’s third – is upon us. The times are exciting, people – so enjoy them while they last!