Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Saturday's 'Headlines' Reads Thumbs Down

Let me start this rant piece by saying I've been a the Saturdays fan since day one proper, from the minute I heard the gloriousness that was "If This Is Love." With that said...

You can imagine my chagrin when I realized The Saturdays' most recent release, the "mini-album" Headlines!, saw release last week, fitting in quite nicely into my block of time sans Internet and therefore leaving me with no ability to enjoy my own copy of the album. Considering the UK is somewhat lacking currently in terms of poppy girl group goodness, this very well could have been considered a crime against humanity. However, after being able to finally perusal the album myself, I was immediately met with a sigh of relief, and then a somewhat familiar cringe of sadness at the current state of affairs at Saturdays HQ.

This just in...Headlines! Disappoints. Big time.

Headlines! is being promoted as a mini-album, but in actuality, its a bit more like a lazy appetizer for what the girls are currently working toward for their upcoming third album. Given the apparent Abandon-Our-Ship mentality that their label Fascination Records (also home to Girls Aloud and Alphabeat, it should be noted) has taken toward their at times geniunely brilliant sophomore album Wordshaker, the mere suggestion that this hastily chunked together "mini-album" (note the insistance on quotes because I'm not quite sure what to label this release as) will serve as more than a means of a Plan B/Backdoor Exit toward their most recent era completely boggles my mind. Mollie King herself has stated the girls hope to have another single released from Headlines! after lead single "Missing You", and perhaps a third after that. I've said my piece on "Missing You", which you can read here.

Click the 'Read More' to...well, read more.
My question to the five ladies Satz is...what was so wrong with Wordshaker? Because in effect, Headlines! seems to follow no cohesive sense, almost features more old material than new (with appearances by previous Wordshaker singles "Forever Is Over" and "Ego" as well as a remix of "One Shot"), and what is new doesn't feel new. The biggest offender in regard to the latter statement is "Died In Your Eyes", a semi-sweepy ballad that verges on epic until you realize as I did around the first chorus that it is in fact a cover of Kristinia DeBarge's original, and homegirl did it better (certainly a missed opportunity by Island Records for a fourth single, after "Sabotage" of course). If you want Saturdays epic semi-sweepy ballad done right, look no further than "Not Good Enough" or "Here Standing" or "No One" (hmmm...what album were they from again?).

(Left, The Saturday's "Died In Your Eyes" Studio Version; Right, Kristinia DeBarge's "Died In Your Eyes" live acoustic cut.)

"Higher" is the proposed second single, and the one everyone seems to be clamouring over. Admittedly, I do like it the more I spin it. It's certainly better than the mixed-message that is "Missing You" (the latest of the Satz single victims of being beaten to the #1 spot on the UK charts...once again at the hands of Flo Rida). However, it sounds a bit like a carbonized copy (melodically) of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" (to my ears anyway), and as foriegn as this statement will seem to my mouth, ears and fingertips, I prefer "Dream".

Overall, the entire set is not unlistenable in any capacity. It just feels a bit like all of the leftover and reheated Wordshaker tracks and various B-side material, slapped together with a fresh cover and a seemingly unrelated title to make up for the abandonment of the sophomore release and to provide some promotion while we wait for album #3. Ask Lady Gaga how to do a true mini-album justice. Ask anyone in the Korean pop marketplace. Hell, ask Justin Bieber. Clearly, someone at Fascination Records didn't do their homework. It's sad, coming from a group I hold so dear, and a record label who holds catalogue of not one but two of my very favorite girl groups of all time (amongst so many others I enjoy very much -- their artist roster reads literally a who's who in terms of my favorites).

I'm not quite sure where Mollie and Co. expect to find Single #3 from this, to be honest. Unless, of course, it's the one (new) track I was quite pleased with, which was the dancy whirlwind that is "Puppet". I'm sure the song will result in mixed reactions from the fandom, as it is a bit generic. It's certainly a victim of overproduction, as they literally throw everything and the kitchen sink into its musical backdrop with the group's vocals coming in a (distant) second. In its defense, at times it echos the Euro-Pop of the past, and has a great stop-go stutter in the bridge that segues into echoey callout hook a-go-go, before breaking back into the unrelenting chorus. It also invokes images of No Strings Attached *NSYNC in this fangirl's mind, and that is never a bad thing. If this was the single, perhaps as a soundtrack effort or something unrelated to this unnecessary "mini album" concept, it would be something I would have jumped on right away. Trust.

(The Saturday's, "Puppet")

I quite like "Karma" as well, but it does sound a bit like four different songs in one, and I'm fairly certain I only like two of them. As for the older material, why rehash what was already squeed upon when Wordshaker was released? I will say though that the remix of "One Shot" is not for ill -- as it comes to us from the capable hands of Starsmith, who brought us highlights from Ellie Goulding, Diana Vickers and Kylie Minogue. It's also a reminder of what this release should have been noted as: nothing more than the available goods for the seeming inevitable re-package of The Saturday's undervalued sophomore album.

Mini-album, I think not. If I have to wait for Album #3, I suppose that's what I'll do, but meanwhile, I shall be blasting Wordshaker in full while I wait, not this. Except for maybe "Puppet". It's kind of addicting. Somethings never change, fam -- but, considering I have now touted my love for the song, it too shall be probably forgotten by the Satz.


Linus said...

Aww... this isn't very good! I was really looking forward to this release. Sure, I was kinda hesitant to the whole idea of releasing a mini-album, but new material from The Saturdays are always good news to me.

But who am I kidding? I'm still gonna buy the crap and (not very) patiently await the release of a proper studio album.

Aaron said...

You know...To be totally honest, I think I may be more honest to hear this after having read this review - It sounds right up my alley :D

I do really look at it as a "slot-in" to tide us over, but these kind of compilation-esque stuff makes me happy!

rcLoy said...

And here I thought you're gonna love it since you love the girls so much :) Glad that you're back! :D

Mel said...

Linus - I'm in the same boat with you. I can hem and haw it all day long (as I have for a bit of their B-side material, and this qualifies), but I'm still excited for Album 3.

Aaron - I'm always welcome to other viewpoints and I hope you do end up enjoying it more than I did. It's not a bad "record" so to speak, I was just wanting so much more.

Loy - Heh! :) I missed you all so much you don't even know! One week was torturous enough!

John said...

Disappointed, but I kind of get where they are coming from by doing it. Having said it, what happened to "do it right or don't do it at all"?


Darling, I'm with you. I've fallen off the Bandwagon long ago. Not feeling their direction since the last album.

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