Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Big Reunion: Discography Review

If you've been watching, you'll know that we're seven weeks into the ITV series, The Big Reunion, which reunites six (as of this week, seven) of the biggest turn-of-the century pop bands, which include Five, Atomic Kitten, 911, Honeyz, Liberty X, B*Witched and Blue,  in preparation for a one-off UK arena tour this year. The series so far has detailed the highs of their success (some dangerously exaggerated) and their lows. Here's an in-depth look of at the records that best define each of their peaks.

Five - Invincible (1999) Five, like so many of their peers, worked best as a 'singles' band rather than a full-fledged album band--which when capitalising on teen-pop stardom, is the best way to work. If their first self-titled album was their 'N SYNC, then this was their No Strings Attached, only without the harmony-tight ballads and more edgy beat-heavy pop and rapping. Where the first album was a rougher, Stateside inspired diluted urban-pop, Invincible felt more refined and polished, spawning their first set of chart-toppers with the guitar-backed, happy-go-lucky pop of "Keep on Movin'" and the energetic sort-of-cover of Queen's "We Will Rock You." The album generally trails between laidback-pop ("It's Alright" and "How Do Ya Feel") and the more hard-edged, electronic-guitar studded pop ("Two Sides to Every Story" and "Don't Wanna Let You Go") but mainly takes the route of sugary mid-tempo's--the best being the syrupy, but charming title track and the Backstreet Boys inspired balladry of "You Make Me a Better Man." Essential: We Will Rock You. (3.5/5)

Atomic Kitten - Right Now (2000/2001) While on the show, they grasp at straws attempting to chart the success of Atomic Kitten in its orignal line-up, when in fact up until the infamous Kerry Katona departed, their record was underwhelming both quality and chart wise. The first edition of their debut album landed the band three top ten's with intechangable bubblegum-pop numbers "Right Now," "See Ya," and "I Want You Now." But it wasn't up until the re-vamped version of fifth single, "Whole Again," with new member Jenny Frost, that the world paid attention. And rightly so, the catchy and slightly-whimsical beat-heavy single scored their first chart-topper, becoming their signature hit. Their cover of Bangles' "Eternal Flame," quickly followed, scoring their second #1--then followed the #1 debut of the  albums re-issue. However, behind the success, remains a rather inconsistent and weak album, with its highlights--which were mainly the singles--sticking out like sore thumbs. Aside from, "Whole Again," and "Eternal Flame," only the cancelled seventh single, "You Are" and the sweet balladry of "Cradle" strike a chord. Essential: Whole Again. (2/5)

911 - The Journey (1997) More so than their peers, 911 didn't have a particular album that capitalised on their success. In fact, where albums were concerned, sales-wise they underwhelmed, but combined they landed ten top ten hits. This debut album may not contain their only chart-topper, "A Little Bit More," but it did spawn the most hits and the most singles, including their signature hit, "Bodyshakin'" a funk-studded, New-Jack swing inspired number--a sound that the majority of the album mimics, save for the pure-90s balladry of "The Day We Find Love" and "Our Last Goodbye." Essential: Bodyshakin'. (3/5)

Honeyz - Wonder No. 8 (1998) While, I don't particularly remember Honeyz that well, their debut album Wonder No. 8 is indeed my favourite out of the bunch. Their sound harboured a sultry mix between the fiestiness of En Vouge and the subtlety of SWV. The album was their only release and only a moderate hit, only peaking #33 upon its release. But they did score five consecutive top ten hits. The album begins with the sultry R&B of "Finally Found," and "Never Let You Down," and drops in a bit of hard-edged urban-pop along the way, like "Won't Take It Lying Down," which I in fact remember for its ridiculously sexually-charged video. But everything pales in comparison to the swooning, Motown-inspired balladry of  second single, "End of the Line." Essential: End of the Line. (4/5)

Liberty X - Thinking It Over (2002) Initially being labelled "flopstars" for not quite making the cut on talent show Pop Idol, Liberty X formed in 2001, releasing the moderate hit, the garage inspired pop of what would become the title track of their debut album, "Thinking It Over," they followed up with the more urban influenced single, "Doin' It," which became an unfortunate flop. Like Atomic Kitten's "Whole Again," it wasn't until a later single that turned their fortunes around. It was the seductive, guitar-backed pop of "Just a Little," that catapulted Liberty X into UK pop stardom, landing their first chart-topper and winning them Best Single at the BRIT Awards. Thinking It Over, is a surprisingly good album. Varying between stabs at R&B ("Everyday," "I Got What You Want" and "Right Here Right Now") the more downbeat balladry ("No Clouds" and "Holding On For You"). Even the more energetic pop of "Saturday" and "Dream About It" aren't too bad. Essential: Just a Little. (3.5/5)

B*Witched - B*Witched (1998) While their peers harbour some level of cheese, Irish pop group, B*Witched take the crown. Their debut single, "C'est la Vie," and its denim-drenched video, launched the Irish quartet's impressive consecutive run at #1, with their first four singles debuting at #1. B*Witched is a surprinsgly varied album from such a cheesy-pop group--there some some "what the fuck" moments, like on the trippy, downbeat "We Four Girls," which feature some strange whispered lyrics. But ultimately, the highlights are the singles--particularly the haunting, "To You I Belong." Essential: C'est la Vie. (2/5)

Blue - All Rise (2001) It's hard to pin-point an album that the JLS of their day, Blue were at the peak of their success, but for the opposite reason of 911 as Blue were consistent in their success up until their split in 2005. But in any case, their debut album All Rise kicked things off, launching four top ten hits, including two #1's "Too Close," and "If You Come Back." The album itself is sexually-charged, which meshes well with its R&B inspired pop collection, which I suppose set them apart from Five. While the upbeat balance out the album, the more subtle moments win the album over me, like the melodic pop of "Best In Me," the more dramatic, "Back Some Day," and the guitar-backed, "Long Time." Essential: If You Come Back. (3.5/5)


x LifeAsISeeIt x said...

Haha, I watched this! :P

J.Mensah said...

Haha! :) Great, isn't it?

x LifeAsISeeIt x said...

It was quite amusing.. took me back! Wish S Club 7 could be on it, that would be amazing haha!