Steps in 2022

NME reviews Buzz track-by-track

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Not satified by our track by track guide then NME have done the same and the album has come out great! Lets hope the rest of the reviews follow suit! Here is their guide:

Having released three albums in three years Steps return with their strongest collection yet – polished without being flat, adventurous without losing the plot, more mature without forgetting it’s supposed to be fun. And with a couple of exceptions ‘Buzz’ is an album whose subject matter is thoroughly depressing. There’s an array of songwriters and producers who run through the album – from Pete Waterman and Cyndi Lauper (fear not, it’s fine) to Swedish uber-producers Cheiron and (usually the kiss of death) the band themselves. ‘Buzz’ may not see Steps attracting many new fans, but crucially in today’s over-crowded teen pop market it’s unlikely to see fans heading off in search of pastures poppier. We’ve rated each track on ‘Buzz’ and given a mark out of ten using the ultimate barometer of pop worthiness: whether it’d make a good mobile ringtone.

‘Better The Devil You Know’
The point when a nation of 23-year-olds screamed “I can’t believe they’ve done this to my favourite record!” and promptly realised they’d turned into their own parents, this Kylie cover was originally bundled with ‘Say You’ll Be Mine’, last Christmas, and saw Steps parading about the stage quite literally in devil horns. A splendidly literal interpretation of the song title and one that kind of ignores the fact that it’s one of the best songs ever written regardless of who chooses to perform it. verdict: 7/10
Ringtone factor: 9/10

‘A tribute to’ Chic, ‘heavily inspired’ by ‘Everybody Dance’, and the launch single for ‘Buzz’ (both ‘Better The Devil You Know’ and track 3, ‘Summer Of Love’, have been AA-sides), is a fizzy disco bunny and well, basically it just sounds like Steps covering ‘Everybody Dance’. There’s a good bit where you can clap your hands, if you’re so inclined. verdict: 8/10
Ringtone factor: 8/10

‘Summer Of Love’
Saint Etienne’s ‘Pale Movie’ colliding with Hazell Dean’s ‘Who’s Leaving Who?’ and Irene Cara’s ‘Flashdance (What A Feeling)’ was never likely to be s*** and the AA-side to this summer’s moody black and white ballad ‘When I Said Goodbye’ stands its ground here on track three, a scorching sunbeam that sticks by the ancient Pop Rule that all albums should start with three singles. And these have already been singles!!! verdict: 9/10
Ringtone factor: 8/10

‘It’s The Way You Make Me Feel’
Noticed how the production team responsible for people like Britney ‘n’ Backstreet ‘n’ *N Sync ‘n’ stuff favour an odd vocal technique that sounds like the singers are being mildly strangled? Well here it is, happening to Steps! Fortunately none of them are actually choked during the course of the song, which sees the quintet scaling new heights of tunefulness. “Tell me how can I walk away? /I don’t care what they say – I’m loving you anyway”. Corking. Also launches into an amazing Abba-esque flourish in the middle eight – it’s the greatest song Steps have ever recorded and we’re only four tracks into the album! verdict: 9/10
Ringtone factor: 6/10

‘You’ll Be Sorry’
Basically this is the dumped lover pouring her heart out in ‘One For Sorrow’ realising that, actually, the whole relationship business was a bit of a lucky escape to be honest and that it is the dumper, rather than the dumpee, who will “be sorry”. In the long run. Then again, it’s written by the people behind ‘One For Sorrow’, so that’s that one sorted out. “One day believe me you’ll be sorry, you’re gonna feel this pain/One day you’ll see me and remember the promises you made/Just wait and see how you’ll be sorry”. Another upbeat disco extravaganza. verdict: 7/10
Ringtone factor: 3/10

‘Learn To Love Again’
H’s song. Any track that begins as if it’s about to launch into ‘It’s Raining Men’, then proceeds not to, is going to be something of a disappointment, and ‘Learn To Love Again’ isn’t one of the strongest tracks on ‘Buzz’. “I know the pain will pass/I’ll get there in the end/Somehow I’ll learn to love again” is all very melodramatic though the backing – intended to be sort of breakbeaty – just sounds unfinished, while the chorus is nothing to write home about. In fact it’s not even worth emailing home about. Vocoders feature. verdict: 4/10
Ringtone factor: 4/10

‘Never Get Over You’
Kicking off with a danceable introduction and a rampaging “Get over, get over” (someone’s been listening to Grace’s ‘Not Over Yet’, from the sound of things), this is the one Lisa did on the Steps tour earlier this year. The one where she had her wedding dress ripped off. Remember? Well it was ace. Stomping drum rolls and top notch disco sound effects are wheeled out and Lisa’s vocals even show a bit of emotion in the second verse, which is a turn up for the books. “Starting again, this time I’m learning my lesson”, she sings. “Now I know that I’ll never get over you”. And then – this is the masterstroke – there’s a church organ! verdict: 9/10
Ringtone factor: 9/10

‘Hand On Your Heart’
Not, disappointingly, another Kylie Minogue cover, ‘Hand On Your Heart’ is Claire’s number and comes on like Madonna’s ‘Frozen’ (all soundscapey windy effects and swooshing) with a little nod to Dina Carroll’s ‘Perfect Year’ – and it’s the first ballad on ‘Buzz’. Also manages the double-whammy of all pop cliches: “Hand on your heart/heart on your sleeve”. verdict: 7/10
Ringtone factor: 6/10

‘Happy Go Lucky’
The Ace Of Base revival starts here, and about bloody time. Nice lyrics, too: “I’m wearing this disguise so everyone can think I’m having fun/Everyone sees me smile but they don’t know the truth every night – ‘cos that’s when I hide my sorrow/And they call me happy go lucky, they don’t know my heart’s dying inside/I do my happy go lucky so well I’m even fooling myself”. People thinking she’s lucky? But she’s not too happy about it? Do you think she cry, cry, cries in the lonely car, too? verdict: 8/10
Ringtone factor: 9/10

The opening bars of the (almost) title track echo *N Sync’s ‘Digital Get Down’ – they’ve also thrown some crowd noise over the top and you can’t really go wrong with that. Twenty seconds into the track it all drops off and Ace Of Base are back but, as we move towards the chorus, it all makes happy sense. Steps also provide hope to songwriters unable to get their lyrics to scan: the chorus is “I get a b-b-buzz off you/Just be-c-c-c-cause I do”. Shamelessness is nothing to be ashamed of, as nobody once said. verdict: 7/10
Ringtone factor: 3/10

‘Here And Now’
And so we come to the greatest song Steps have ever recorded. It’s the end of a relationship (“Time is running out on you and me”), the whole thing’s gone tits up, but there’s one chance to save everything. “Here and now I wanna be the one for you, and everything you want me to/Cos’ I couldn’t live if we’re apart/Say there’s something I can do/If I can make it up to for everytime I’ve let you down/Let’s tear down the walls together/It’s better late than never” .And the heartbreak keeps on coming. “I wanna fall in love again”, they sing towards the end. But the listener knows it will never work. And we’ll tell you this: if this was a Britney Spears ‘n’ Justin Timberlake duet it would be a crying-during-‘Christmas Top Of The Pops’ moment to rival Kylie ‘n’ Jase’s now legendary ‘Especially For You’ extravaganza. verdict: 10/10
Ringtone factor: 9/10

‘Paradise Lost’
Nik Kershaw’s ‘The Riddle’ with yet more relationship traumas. This time it’s a holiday romance that’s gone wobbly “Paradise lost is a place without you/In the shadow of love there’s no room with a view/Walking alone on the sand/Wish you were here again”. Holiday romances never last, do they? verdict: 8/10
Ringtone factor: 9/10

It’s Lee’s track and it includes the line “Your love means everything to me”. Which it quite hackneyed in a way, but in the same way when people argue they tend to yell cliches at each other so that’s alright. Another high energy (rather than hi-NRG) moment, this time with a tinkle of Spanish guitar, but ends with a feeling of emptiness. verdict: 8/10
Ringtone factor: 1/10

‘Wouldn’t Hurt So Bad’
The penultimate track on ‘Buzz’ pulls some familiar strings in a ‘Stay With Me Baby’ soul belter kinda way – it’s stripped down and funky and miles away from the tracks that open the album. Lines like “I’ve got to put an end to what I’ve been dying to start” and “It wouldn’t hurt so bad if it didn’t feel so good” come from the Stereophonics ‘Hurry Up And Wait’ school of lyrics that sound clever but when you think about it just don’t make sense. “I’ve never met somebody that does what you do” , a Stepster sings. Presumably to an escapologist, or something. verdict: 8/10
Ringtone factor: 8/10

‘If You Believe’
Gently reminiscent of the theme to ‘Jurassic Park’, the fact that the final track on ‘Buzz’ is a ballad won’t result in too many front pages being held. It’s all about “believing in dreams” and achieving what you can in life and turning tiny streams into seas, and all sorts, and you can do it too, y’know, etc. etc. An inevitable end to a surprisingly strong album. verdict: 6/10
Ringtone factor: 5/10
(Source: NME)

STEPS have launched an attack on pop rivals Westlife, claiming the Irish boy band releases records in slack weeks so that they get to number one.
“They’re seen as such a big group because they’ve had six number ones” Ian “H” Watkins said, “but in reality we’ve sold triple what they have.”
STEPS’ Claire also told Heat magazine that Westlife had not to work as hard for success because of the fame of their manager, Ronan Keating.

Recently you may have read in the news almost daily that Westlife have been almost slating everyone in the world of music, they even criticised Mariah Carey whom they had a number one single week but STEPS hadn’t received anything. I’m sure that Westlife will respond to this but this is sure to get both acts in the news again and with both acts releasing singles and albums in the coming week it will probably increase sales for both acts :o)

Here’s more on the Westlife story from Dotmusic:

Steps have snubbed Irish popsters Westlife accusing them of having an easy time finding fame. This is apparently because their manager is Boyzone frontman Ronan Keating and because they release singles in slack weeks.
The pop band have claimed that they have had superior album sales than the boy band, even though Westlife have gone straight to number one with every single they’ve ever released.
Steps’ Claire Richards told entertainment magazine ‘Heat’: “They’ve done really well but we’ve sold more albums than them and you’ll go into a room and everyone’s paying attention to them. . . Westlife get a lot of credibility it is very hard sometimes when that happens.”
Her tirade continued: “I won’t slag anyone off who does this job, but it’s like we worked for a year before we got a number one and we worked hard. But all of a sudden, because they’ve got this manager who’s really famous, it all seems to come easy.”
Steps have only had one number one hit but have spent many weeks in the charts at number two. Richards has her own theory as to why this is. She said: “They always seem to release in a week where there’s nothing else or there’s really low sales so they’ve always just been really lucky.”

Heres even more on the Westlife story from Worldpop who are saying that members of Boyzone and U2 are ganging up against the Irish boy-band! :

Westlife may have had six consecutive No 1 singles in less than 18 months, but the lads have been forced to endure countless attacks on their credibility in the process. Now things have taken a decidedly grim turn as fellow pop acts have come out firing against the Irish boy band.
Steps, who look likely to have this week’s No 1 single with Stomp, dismissed Westlife’s hold on the charts in this week’s Heat magazine. ‘In the public they’re seen as such a big group because they’ve had six No 1s, but in reality we’ve actually sold triple what they have,’ H said.
Claire claimed that the only reason Westlife consistently hit the top spot was because they released on weeks where they had little or no competition. ‘They always seem to release in a week where there’s nothing else or there’s really low sales so they’ve always just been really lucky,’ she said.
‘Because they’ve got this manager who’s really famous, it all seems to come easy,’ Claire added, referring to joint managers Ronan Keating and Boyzone mastermind, Louis Walsh.
Another attack this week comes from an unlikely source, Boyzone members Shane Lynch and Keith Duffy. The pair use their cover of the Milli Vanilli hit, Girl You Know It’s True, to hit out at the boy band’s bland image, with lyrics that read, ‘Westlife, lowlife, go out get your own life.’
Keith has revealed that their video for the single, released in December, features a dig at generic boy bands like Westlife. ‘The video will start with a typical boy band standing on stage about to perform, then Shane and I come on and kick them all off,’ he said.
And to complete Westlife’s week of woe, U2’s Bono this week explained that the band were proud to be friends of Boyzone. However, when asked if this friendship extended to Westlife, The Edge said ‘No – you have to draw the line somewhere!’
Despite all this, Westlife go for their seventh No 1 when Your Love is released on 30 October.

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