The Saturdays, ‘Notorious’

The Saturdays

In the leading pack of life’s crushing disappointments is the discovery that the default hottest girl group in the land’s new single is not a cover of Duran Duran’s brilliantly lumpenly funky quasi-career-killer. Mollie could’ve done a “No-“, then Rochelle could’ve done a “No-“, then Frankie, Una and the other one could’ve joined reedy forces on “NOTORIOUS”, and it could’ve all descended into Chic meets the Sex Pistols meets Red Hot Chili Peppers chaos. Just look at what you could’ve won.

Instead, “My résumé says I’m a bad girl”. It’s no “Who really gives a damn for a flaky bandit?”, is it? Where it pulls it out of the fire though is with the fruity electro pulse and vocals put through the ringer – it’s mechanised. The Saturdays are only bad girls, notorious, because they’ve been programmed to be so. It’s svengali’d by computer, a Space Odyssey Malcolm McLaren. Not a terribly wholesome, erm, whole but a functional thrill.

It’s brought here by mistake, the lucky conjunction of the girls appearing on So You Think You Can Dance? and Junior and I happening to be watching it. While I continued my ongoing study of career trajectories of girl groups, Junior copied every single dance move they made. One beat behind, but accurately. Recent clips from Rihanna and Lady Gaga have got me in a panic about just how knowing young girls can get. They sponge it up. Normally – to the odd sulky “awww” – I’d switch over, but there’s little overtly sexualised about The Saturdays’ robotic choreography. Thin end of the wedge though.

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[10] Duran Duran, ‘Notorious’

Our budding Lester Bangs in the backseat admits, “I liked David Bowie better.” And, well, that’s the sane response, isn’t it? She does clap along to the first few bars, but interest soon wanes as if we’re acting out Duran Duran’s career in microcosm. Five minutes later they’re releasing Public Enemy covers and Junior is into Suede.

This is where Duran Duran put their “We want to sound like Chic crossed with the Sex Pistols” money where their mouth was, and came out sounding like, erm, Hipsway. But credit where it’s due, it has some funk and a nicely rearranged ‘Union Of The Snake’ chorus, and full marks for actually trying. With Andy Taylor jettisoned, they no longer needed to pull shoddy rock shapes and could get on with working that groove.

It’s just a pity no one cared anymore.

Don’t monkey with my business:

[13] Duran Duran, ‘Skin Trade’

Like a typical Duranie of the period, Junior was indifferent to this. There was a brief slapping of the thighs at the start, yet attention soon turned to the socks. So, what made the fans desert in their droves? I don’t think it’s a bad record even now, but it was the first to miss the Top 10 in years. Maybe it’s because it had an almost intelligible lyric.

Arcadia and the Power Station diluted the fanbase and the preceding single ‘Notorious’ scraped to No.7 on comeback power alone. A-ha had nicked the girls and the CD age had come and populated the chart’s upper reaches with the more ‘serious’ artists. The biggest bands in the country were now Dire Straits and U2. Duran Duran’s fabled mix of the Sex Pistols and Chic – without the Sex Pistols and the disco joy – wasn’t cutting the ice.

So, Simon, we’ve explained the reason for this strange behaviour. Perhaps you shouldn’t have allowed all those Taylors to jump ship, and then replaced them with AMERICANS.