Do you know what today is? It just happens to be the 15th anniversary of Miami 7, a little TV show about a cheery pop band that premiered in Britain in the spring of ‘99.
When S Club 7 in Miami came to the States on Fox Family (yes, Fox Family) a few months later, I had no idea who these people were or whether they were famous in Britain. Back then, children couldn’t look up transcontinental artists on Wikipedia, and there was certainly no Encarta entry for S Club 7. But for whatever reason, I accidentally grew to love this utterly random show about seven British band members who go live in Miami for some reason. By they time the group got the hokey second series S Club 7 in L.A. a year later, in which they rented a Venice beach house from the demon girl in The Exorcist, I was completely hooked on this absurdly optimistic and painfully happy band.
S Club 7’s work was not high art, and their lyrics couldn’t be simpler (“I really miss you/Yes I do, yeah/I really miss you/Oh, yeah, I do”). But here’s why I love S Club 7 so: The songs were, frankly, about nothing. Each shiny, bubbly tune — ballads notwithstanding — was the aural equivalent of a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper, glossy and colorful on the outside but holding seemingly nothing of import on the inside. S Club songs were about celebrating friendship and believing in yourself and enjoying each other’s company and don’t stop never give up hold your head high and reach the top. Positive things, all ridiculously over the top in their saccharine optimism and practically built for singalongs by pre-teen headboppers who weren’t looking for anything in the way of gravitas in their music.
That’s not to say that today’s playlists are devoid of “Let’s Party” songs or “Friendship Is Great” tunes. Plenty of chart-toppers are about gleeful nothings, thanks to people like One Direction and Betty Who and even the Mileys and Keshas of the world. But surely I’m not alone in recognizing the distinct difference between the kid-friendly age of B*Witched, Spice Girls, LFO, A-Teens and S Club 7 versus whatever passes for kid-friendly these days.
Haters be damned, allow me to look back on a truly under-appreciated band which I have refused to forget. To celebrate the anniversary of my first encounter with the Club, indulge in my list of the group’s best tunes:
20. “Friday Night”
S Club essentially had three types of songs: peppy group anthems, slow-burn ballads, and inexplicable hip-hop. This is the third.
19. “Viva La Fiesta”
What early ‘00s musical ensemble would be complete without an ethnically ambiguous salsa number!?
Bradley and Jon’s semi-acoustic duet doesn’t get much love, but it was one of the only S Club songs that tried to have a global message. About war, maybe? Or, like, proposing to a girl? Or something? Actually, it really makes no sense at all.
17. “Stand By You”
The song in which they sing “stand by you” legitimately 50 times. (Not a joke; listen for yourself.)
Remember that time everyone except Paul starred in a movie about a bunch of clone versions of S Club? Yeah, that was weird. But the big let’s-escape-the-villain song was a total jam.
Three steps to creating an S Club build-a-ballad: 1. Borrow a title from a playground colloquialism. 2. Throw in a groupwide harmony and a generic chorus about love. 3. Get Jo to sing the rest of it.
Rebellious American children relished the chance to spell ‘color’ like a classy Brit.
Probably the Spice Girls-iest song of the group. It’s very reminiscent of “Stop” and another song I can’t remember, in the best way.
Such a groovy retro throwback. Yet another reason to love the group: that inimitable ability to pull off disco in 2000.
I know some will clamor that “Natural” is among the group’s top ten, but I have to disagree. It’s still an S Club classic, sure, but I can’t in good conscience put it on the top half of the list because of how many times I skipped it on the CD. Sorry, I’ve waited fifteen years to be heard.
10. “Have You Ever”
That CHORUS, though.
Any love song that starts with trumpets and includes copious tintinnabulation is a solid entry. This is S Club at its finest: sugary sweetness laced with an our-relationship-is-perfect missive.
Awww, the Blair Witch episode! Memorable because Tina gets a big solo and it’s basically the only time anyone pays attention to her.
Of S Club’s two best ballads, this is the undeniable runner-up to the even more undeniable champion (see #2). It was the gang’s first, and it was Jo’s first time taking lead — which she would do for basically every (good) future song until the group’s demise.
Here’s another that I can’t back up with any specific reasoning — and yet, in all my years, it’s one of the songs I keep coming back to. Every time iTunes or Spotify suggests this little lighthearted nugget, I start dancing. Or, like, rhythmically moving in a still-sedentary way.
5. “Love Train”
Remember Paul jamming by the swimming pool/art patio/dungeon kitchen? Because I do. Paul was arguably my first real crush, which is a shame since a quick Google Image search will show how things turned out for Paul in the modern era.
“Hoochie mamas, show your na-nas.”
Remember when I said S Club songs were about being happy and positive and having a lovely outlook on life? Reach for the stars, bitch. This is the cheer-up to end all cheer-ups.
Oh, what’s that in the last chorus? A key change? Yes, please.
The Citizen Kane of S Club 7 songs.