S Club 7: a reappraisal

The first album I ever bought was the debut from S Club 7, imaginatively titled S Club, released in 1999. I liked to flip through the booklet, which showed the band having fun splashing in water. I felt like I knew the band, as they had their own sitcom, Miami 7, on children’s TV. As with any pop group, you had favourites. I liked Paul (you were supposed to like Jon or Bradley, but then I never went with popular opinion – see my blog post on boy band 5ive) and although I acknowledged that Jo was the superior singer, I liked Rachel better. The band were created by Simon Fuller, who had managed the early career of the Spice Girls. I didn’t like the Spices, but I liked the S Clubbers. I still don’t know what the ‘S’ stands for. I probably assumed it was ‘Song’ or ‘Singing’. I had the next two albums, 7 and Sunshine. I remember thinking that the songs on Sunshine were not so good. Maybe that was really the case, or maybe I was just growing up and developing my music tastes. Then Paul left and they went further downhill, but by then I wasn’t so interested any more.

S Club 7 recently announced that they’ll be touring for their 25th anniversary. Aside from making the 90s kids feel old, this has put them in the spotlight. The band members have had their ups and downs over the years, but I’ve always been inclined to separate art from the artist, so I’m not debating whether they should be reuniting. I hope the tour goes well and that they make people happy. The question is, was the music actually good? Just because they had several number 1 hits – although funnily enough their song ‘You’re My Number One’ only reached number 2 on the UK chart! – does not mean the music was any good. Many dreadful songs have topped the chart, while many excellent songs have got nowhere near it.

My conclusion is that the music of S Club 7 is among the best of late 90s / early 2000s manufactured pop. It’s fun, positive, well-produced, with (mostly) innocent lyrics and a distinctive sound. Songs such as ‘Bring It All Back’ and ‘Reach’ cannot fail to lift your spirits and get you dancing. The mid-tempo ‘Natural’ is an anomaly, more sultry than the usual fare, while rousing ballads ‘Two in a Million’ and ‘Never Had a Dream Come True’ are classic examples of the genre. S Club 7 have never tried to be cool, although maybe enough time has passed that it’s now cool to like them?

As they say, there ain’t no party like an S Club party.

S Club 7 album cover

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