Steps (group)


Steps (group)
Steps
Origin London, United Kingdom
Genres Pop, dance-pop
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1997–2001, 2011–present
Labels Jive (1997–2001)
Sony (2011–present)
Website stepsofficial.co.uk
Members
Lee Latchford-Evans
Claire Richards
Lisa Scott-Lee
Faye Tozer
Ian "H" Watkins

Steps are a British pop group created by manager Tim Byrne and writers Steve Crosby and Barry Upton, consisting of members Lee Latchford-Evans, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, and Ian "H" Watkins. Formed on 6 May 1997, Steps recorded a total of three studio albums, two compilation albums, released sixteen singles throughout their career. Hailed as the ABBA of the 1990s, their musical approach throughout the course of their career had a strong 1990s pop sound, similar to many artists of their time. Their name was based around a simple marketing gimmick: each of their music videos was choreographed, and the dance steps were included with most of their single releases.

Over the five years they were together, Steps achieved a series of charting singles between 1997 and 2001 including 2 number one singles in the UK, 2 number one albums in the UK, 14 consecutive top 5 singles in the UK and a string of hits throughout Europe. The group have sold over 10 million records and 2 million concert tickets worldwide in addition to acquiring a BRIT Award nomination in 1999 for Best Newcomer while supporting Britney Spears on the UK leg of her tour the same year. However, when group members Claire Richards and Ian "H" Watkins departed the group, the group disbanded on 26 December 2001. Their penultimate single reached number-five in the UK charts while their final album of greatest hits, Gold (2001), scored the band their second number one album in the UK.

The group reformed in May 2011 for a four-part documentary series on Sky Living titled Steps: The Reunion. The series started airing on 28 September, following an announcement of a second Greatest Hits album The Ultimate Collection that was released on 10 October. The album entered the charts at #1, becoming the band's third UK #1 album.

Contents

History

1997–99: Commercial success and Step One

Steps were formed by Steve Crosby & Barry Upton (writers of "5, 6, 7, 8") alongside Manager Tim Byrne after auditioning hopefuls who answered an ad in The Stage newspaper. Byrne had previously been involved in the production of the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party, the BBC collaboration with the pop magazine, Smash Hits. Byrne was looking to manufacture a band in order to release "5, 6, 7, 8" as a one-hit wonder.[1] After auditions, the original line-up of H, Lisa, Maddy, Derek and Mitch was finalised and the band started shooting promotional images and recording tracks.[2] However, Maddy, Derek and Mitch left, as they wanted more than a one-hit wonder, and saw no long-term future with Steps. New auditions were held on 7 May 1997, this time with H and Lisa acting as the judging panel, and they selected Faye, Lee and Claire as the remaining members.[3]

Their first single "5, 6, 7, 8" was a techno line dance song. Though not typical of what would become their style, it became their first hit both in the UK and internationally. Despite only peaking at number 14, the single achieved considerable longevity in the fast-paced singles climate of 1998, racking up over four months on the UK chart. The track remains one of the highest selling singles never to reach the top 10 on the UK Singles Chart. Its release in Australia gave the group their first number one in 1997.

Tim Byrne then founded a management & production company, Byrne Blood, with former BMG head of marketing & video, Victoria Blood, which took over sole management of Steps and was also instrumental in the creation and management of A1.

The group were signed by Jive Records and following the success of their debut single, songwriter Pete Waterman became involved in the project. Waterman's stated intention was to try to recreate the sound of ABBA and blend it with a more modern style.[citation needed] He would often refer to the group as "ABBA on speed". In April 1998, Steps launched their second single, a cover version of Bananarama's "Last Thing on My Mind", which became their first UK top ten peaking at number 6.

By August 1998, Steps continued to build momentum with their third single "One for Sorrow" which peaked at number 2, and began an unbroken chain of 14 consecutive Top 5 hits on the UK singles chart. Unlike many other pop acts of the era, Steps' singles success translated into impressive album sales as their debut album Step One entered the chart at number 2. It went on to become certified 5x Platinum following a run of 50 weeks in the Top 20 alone.

The next single release was a double A-side which provided Steps with their signature song and biggest career seller. The single was a cover version of the Bee Gees "Tragedy" and an original track "Heartbeat". The single was released in November 1998 when it charted at number 2. However, following enduring popularity over the Christmas period, the single rebounded up the chart and became their first number one hit in January 1999, seven weeks after it initially charted, a feat almost unheard of during the pre- and post-millennium era. The single eventually sold over a million copies and occupied the chart for 30 weeks.

The final track to be released from Step One was "Better Best Forgotten". Because of the continued success of the previous single, the CD release was delayed by nearly two months. Nonetheless, Better Best Forgotten could do no wrong and entered the chart at number 2 despite surrendering a midweek lead over the official Comic Relief song by Boyzone.

Steps were part of the ensemble that released "Thank ABBA for the Music" (a medley of ABBA's "Take A Chance On Me", "Dancing Queen", "Mamma Mia" and "Thank You for the Music") in March 1999, as performed at the BRIT Awards. The other artists singing were Tina Cousins, Cleopatra, B*Witched, and Billie, known collectively as the Supertroupers. The single later peaked at number four. The group was also nominated for Best Newcomer. Pete Waterman claimed to have been told days before the ceremony that STEPS had won the award, as voted for by listeners of BBC Radio 1. However, on the night the award was handed to the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian, who were assumed to be rank outsiders. Despite the allegation that a significant number of votes for Belle & Sebastian were traced to one location (two computers sited in a particular UK university campus), the band held onto their award as foul-play was denied by organizers of the BRIT Awards.[citation needed]

A fan created Steps fanzine Count Me In started in 1998. This became known for its Steps Photostory, in which cut-out members of Steps went on a variety of fun adventures. It ran for 13 issues and later issues included interviews with Steps themselves, as well Dermot O'Leary, Pink and other pop culture figures of the time. Count Me In can be viewed by visiting the British Library archive where all issues are held.

1999–01: Steptacular and Buzz

In July 1999, Steps released the first single from an all-new album, "Love's Got a Hold on My Heart". Once again they narrowly missed the number one spot following a last minute surge by Ricky Martin. After the single's release, Steps went to America to support Britney Spears on her 1999 ...Baby One More Time Tour. A remixed version of "One for Sorrow" was included in the film Drive Me Crazy and released as their debut American single. They were also successful in Europe and Australasia.

Steps returned home to release their second album, Steptacular, which was accompanied by "After the Love Has Gone". The album charted at number 1 and was eventually certified 4x Platinum, thus becoming their second UK million selling album. The group subsequently released an album in North America which was titled Step One and was an amalgamation of their first two albums. The group's next two singles "Say You'll Be Mine / Better the Devil You Know" and "Deeper Shade of Blue" (originally recorded by label mate Tina Cousins for her debut album) both continued their top five run.

In July 2000, Steps released another double-A-side, consisting of the Steptacular track "When I Said Goodbye" and an entirely new song "Summer of Love". The latter was a Latino-flavoured pop song, which later appeared on their third album.

Steps were also awarded the BRIT Award for Best Selling Live Act of the year in 2000.[4]

In October 2000, "Stomp" became their second and final number one single. The third album Buzz followed shortly and whilst it was less successful than their first two albums, went on to achieve double platinum status and contains five UK Top 5 singles. The group worked with many American and Swedish producers who had created hits for other Jive artists such as Britney Spears, 'N Sync, and the Backstreet Boys.

The following single "It's the Way You Make Me Feel" reached number 2 upon its January 2001 release. Steps promoted the Buzz album worldwide and did not return to the UK until May, when they released "Here and Now / You'll Be Sorry".

2001–02: Gold and Split

Split rumours started circulating after it was announced that Steps would be releasing a greatest hits album. The group continuously denied this in their interviews. "Chain Reaction", a cover of the popular Diana Ross song, was released as the first single from Gold: Greatest Hits. The single became their biggest in almost two years. The second single, "Words Are Not Enough / I Know Him So Well", was another top five hit. It would become their final single as a group.

In 2001, following their Boxing Day split, the group were heavily criticised by their own fans. Many UK tabloid papers published the fans' disgust on their front pages, displaying quotes taken from Steps message boards. After the group spent much of 2001 strongly dismissing claims of a split, fans were furious and accused the group of capitalizing off the success of a host of merchandise released in the lucrative pre-Christmas market. However, it has since come to light that both H and Claire left the group on the last night of the Steps "Gold: Greatest Hits" tour because of their ongoing unhappiness within the band, although Steps' official statement stated that the split was caused by their belief that they should end on a high, while they were at their best and could be remembered for being the best of their kind. H and Claire went on to form a duo and signed to Warner Music for a reputed £5 million (over five albums). although they only released one album Another You Another Me before being dropped due to poor album sales.

Jive released a remix and b-side compilation in 2002. The Last Dance featured previously released remixes, b-sides and rarities. The album did not fare well in the charts but charted at a number 57 without any promotion. A planned release for the track Baby Don't Dance was scrapped in November 2002. However, promotional copies were pressed and a video based upon their live Gold tour briefly aired on MTV.

Claire Richards performed "Tragedy" on ITV1 special Everbody Dance Now in 2008. This was also Richards' first public appearence in seven years.

2011–present: Group reunion and The Ultimate Collection

Ever since the band's break-up, rumours had been circulating that they would reunite in one form or another. In 2009, Lee Latchford-Evans revealed that the band had been approached to perform a series of concerts. He hinted that a future reunion was possible, but that "it isn't the right time right now".[5] In Early 2011, rumours began circulating that Steps would reunite for a TV series and a one-off concert to mark the tenth anniversary of their 2001 split.[6] Despite the claims being reported by various news stations and newspapers, the reunion was denied by bands members, including Claire Richards on her Twitter page. Richards also announced on 9 July 2011, that a Steps reunion would be "silly", but she would "never say never".[7] However, contrary to these claims, just 12 days later, it was announced that Steps would be reuniting for a four-part Sky Living documentary, depicting their split and the interim years. The band would also release their 'Ultimate Collection', as well as potential new material.[8]

In a new promo for the show each member reveals their true feelings, with ‘H’ sharing that he regrets the way it all ended but insisting, “If I were to revisit it and turn the clock back, I would probably have done it exactly the same way.” Evans has commented: “They took something away from three people that we loved and we didn't get a choice because certain people took that choice away from us and I think that is very unfair.” Steps Reunion begins on Sky Living at 9pm on Wednesday, 28 September.

Steps recently said in a recent interview with Digital Spy that they believe there is a gap in the market for their brand of "happy pop". Scott Lee said "Times have changed, but we are in a recession and Steps' music was very light-hearted and fun, so there could be a place for that in today's society," "What else is interesting is that there aren't any boy/girl pop groups out there at the moment, so there's definitely a gap there."[9]

In the first episode they opened up about the tension in the band, with Scott Lee saying "problems first arose when H started flying in Britney Spears' private jet while the rest of them travelled by bus." Before, Richards stated "Further cracks appeared when Richards discovered that H had been secretly dating the band's manager Tim Byrne. The second episode will focus on the band talking about their reasons for the breakdown of communication and friendships in the group and will also be the first time they have all been together in one room for over a year. The girls will go to Marbella to bond whilst the boys will go to Wales."

Steps' newly recorded and produced version of "Dancing Queen" (not to be confused with the 1999 version) has been added to the tracklist for the "Ultimate Collection".

On 10 October 2011, the group appeared for the first time on This Morning, performing "It's the Way You Make Me Feel" and "Tragedy" and announced their fourteen-date 2012 arena tour entitled 'The Ultimate Tour'. They also announced that they had reformed as a band full term.[10] On 14 October 2011, Steps appeared on Lorraine and sang "Deeper Shade of Blue", to which they also sang during an appearance on Loose Women on 24 October 2011. They have since added an additional 6 performances and removed 2 from the tour bringing the total number to 18 dates.[11] On 16 October 2011, their new album The Ultimate Collection went to number one in the UK Album charts.[12]

Steps to the Stars

Steps also had their own talent show named Steps to the Stars, in which young people performed three acts to be judged by a public vote. It was revealed on the next show who would go through to the final. This was shown on CBBC in 1999/2000. Two series were aired, presented by H and Claire, although the group performed one of its classics at the end of each show. The show featured a young Danny Jones (McFly) in a band called Y2K in which he played guitar with his sister and their friend Joss Stone who eventually won the show. Also featured were Gareth Gates, before he found fame on Pop Idol, and Sean Smith from pop duo Same Difference before he found fame with his singing partner and sister, Sarah Smith, on The X Factor. In one episode, Claire Richards was sawn in half. A young boy performed the torn-card trick to amaze Claire and then performed the sawing on her using the jigsaw method.

Members

Discography

Studio albums

Compilation albums

  • Gold: Greatest Hits (2001)
  • The Last Dance (2002)
  • The Ultimate Collection (2011)
  • The Platinum Collection (2011)

Tours

Main act
Supporting

References

  1. ^ http://skyliving.sky.com/steps-reunion/steps-to-stardom
  2. ^ http://www.ultimate-steps.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/tfs1.jpg
  3. ^ http://skyliving.sky.com/steps-reunion/steps-to-stardom
  4. ^ BRIT Award Winners
  5. ^ Ball, David (1 April 2009). "Steps 'eyeing future reunion tour'". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a151428/steps-eyeing-future-reunion-tour.html. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (11 February 2011). "Steps are reforming for TV show". The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/3411513/Steps-are-reforming-for-TV-show.html. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  7. ^ RTE (9 July 2011). "No Steps reunion on the cards for Richards". RTE. http://www.rte.ie/ten/2011/0709/richardsc.html. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Eames, Tom (21 July 2011). "Steps to reunited for Sky Living documentary series". Digital Spy. http://www.digitalspy.co.ukhttp://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Steps_(group)&action=edit&section=5/tv/news/a330859/steps-to-reunite-for-sky-living-documentary-series.html. Retrieved 21 July 2011. 
  9. ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a341343/steps-talk-reunion-and-chart-success-theres-definitely-a-gap-for-us.html
  10. ^ http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a344731/steps-announce-first-arena-tour-in-ten-years.html
  11. ^ http://stepsofficial.co.uk
  12. ^ "Nineties pop group claims number one album spot ten years after they split". Daily Mail. 17 October 2011. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2050032/Steps-claim-Number-One-album-spot-years-split.html. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 

See also


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