“The whole outfit and apparent re-branding just doesn’t satisfy this supposedly bold, sonic recalibration”
Digital Release: September 4, 2011
Physical Release: September 5, 2011
The recipe for a good respectable pop song these days is buried deep underneath a slaughtering of pop sensibilities and know-how in the belief that throwing everything and anything possible at a slight melody will produce a big hit. Unfortunately for pop lovers, this haphazard method proved successful sales-wise and as a result, more hectic constructions of cheap ten-a-penny dance hits can be churned out a twice the speed and efficiency than usual, at the benefit of the western pop market taking the form of one big smoke-billowing heap of grease-covered, grinding metal and conveyor belts tossing out recycled garbage with a shiny 2011 coating and sticker while the more ‘risky’ independent pop acts not guaranteed to bring in a quick return are left staring at closed doors to this money-sponging monolith.
The Saturdays are but merely one of the many manufactured pop groups doing the rounds while public interest allows them to – they’re special operatives for Fascination/Polydor Records who’ve proven they can chuck out a decent pop tune once in a while (‘Up’, ‘Ego’), but in the more recent stages of their career, they’re goods have turned quite stale. ‘Notorious’ was passable but anticlimactic will.i.am fraud; it’s serious-faced strop-pop vibe and the girls’ claim to being “gangster” were unintentionally received as naïve amusement but it’s worst crime was that it stripped The Saturdays of their girly demeanour and cheery pop concoctions. Basically, no matter what the song had going for it, the new sound sucked the fun out of The Saturdays.
‘All Fired Up’ is a similarly faceless offering from a once vibrant girl-group turned mistresses of foxiness. But the whole outfit and apparent re-branding just doesn’t satisfy this supposedly bold, sonic recalibration. Teaming up with Xenomania – the masterminds behind Girls Aloud’s enormous successes – The Saturdays put up an admirable fight to stand their own ground amidst the flood of synthesiser, drum machine and anonymity, but the fundamental flaw is that the ground on which they stand isn’t their’s, or at least, they’ve not give us enough of an impression that they suit the trance-pop sound of ‘All Fired Up’. The juxtaposition of sounds may sound like an interesting complement and a sure-fire hit with today’s market but the inescapable awareness of the genre’s roots result in a tangled mess where neither of those conventions click well with each other. Due to the unchanging chord progression, the defined sections of a standard pop song are blurred into one elongated track that drifts to an arbitrary length (it’s fly-by nature enhanced by the fade-out coda); the girls’ unnecessary embellishments of excessive auto-tune clashing with the spacious feel of the backing track, and the typical pop lyrics, which reach an all new level of bewilderment with “I put my head against the speakers” and “We’re all animal-mal-mal” making recurring appearances, the latter being particularly laughable as Mollie King’s featherweight vocals deliver about as much animalistic power and feral drive as a new-born kitten.
If The Saturdays still want to be considered relevant then they should pursue this newer sound – the general public aren’t fussy about conviction or credibility. But that path would be an undignifying scavenge to remain in the shifting spotlight. To retain musical worth as the faux-feisty pop vixens they were happy enough to be during albums one and two (and mini-album ‘Headlines!’), they need to return to their original roots and think over this whole reinvention but until then, it’s a worrying truth that Fascination Records are happy enough with the girls’ hip thrusts and wannabe cat-walking, and will simply allow them to go through the motions with all kinds of capital to blow but no incentive to do anything differently.