1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 300

7, by S Club 7
Suggested by Lea Syme

There’s an S Club 7 boardgame.

The player count? Two to six.

This makes me surprisingly happy. I’m a boardgame purist, but even I’d have gone “just make it 2-7 players, no one will moan about that.” It’s likely a tossed-off roll-and-move brand cash in, not a Spiel des Jahres contender.

In our team at work, we have a colleague called Nathan. For some reason lost in time, we constantly tell everyone that he’s a huge S Club 7 fan. He isn’t a fan, but that doesn’t matter. We’ve photoshopped him into crowd pictures, decorated his desk with an S Club 7 motif, included S Club themed slides in group presentations. We all know it’s ludicrous, but we still do it. He’s a lovely guy, but it’s clear that he doesn’t quite understand, and he’s laughing with his mouth but not his eyes every time. To me, that makes it even funnier.

S Club 7 sit in that weird manufactured middle ground, between the dubious pioneers of Take That  / The Spice Girls and the later reality TV chartbusters of Sugababes and One Direction. Formed, like so many of their tribe, in the heady summer of 1998, S Club 7 had a slew of chart successes alongside a number of media projects such as the BBC shows Miami 7, Hollywood 7 and Viva S Club. They had a spinoff band of Mini Me’s in the form of S Club Juniors, and released four albums before disbanding in 2003. They reformed for a few years in 2014, and have just announced their re-reformation, as if 2020 wasn’t depressing enough.

“7” is the band’s second studio release, housing three singles. Natural peaked at number 3, Reach number 2, and Never Had a Dream Come True number 1. I’d give Reach the edge, as it’s meme-level catchy, and my choice as standout for their career, never mind this album.  Never Had a Dream Come True is pure manufactured pop band ballad fare, which Reach at least has some bounce. I never registered Natural at the time, and I don’t rate it now.

I’ve got two issues with S Club 7. The first is their bloated line-up. SEVEN band members, each looking for their time in the spotlight and their song to sing. And like The Spice Girls, they each bring their own musical characteristic to the table. There’s the soulful one, and the rapping one, and the fun one, and so on, and the songs on 7 reflect their eternal and hellish struggle to become The All Powerful One. And the songs, singles included, are so beige. The album plays like a school concert, a showcase for GCSE musicians to each play their little song and do their little dance.

The second issue I have is personal. I was what, twenty-four when S Club 7 were formed? I was simply outside the band’s scope of relevancy. What with the TV shows and the polish and the wholesome appeal, S Club 7 were firmly pitched at the adolescent. I can’t even stomach this ironically, because it meant nothing the first time around.

S Club 7 get 4/10. You can reach for the stars all you want, but you’ll still end up with fistfuls of crap.

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