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.

[11] Macy Gray featuring Erykah Badu, ‘Sweet Baby’

1999’s …On How Life Is was an astounding success, a must-have and a false dawn; the sort of shot in a million that gives Second Album Syndrome a feast to feed off. Macy was in no mood to let anyone down and steamed right in with The Id, a funk-led mess that put her up there with Terence Trent D’Arby in the “oops – there goes that advance” pantheon of sophomore flops. A distinction she didn’t share with TTD was the sad truth her album wasn’t all that great anyway – but ‘Sweet Baby’ is.

Cut from the classic soul pattern, this is lush, heartfelt, teasing and sincere. Junior locked into the gentle sway of the verse/chorus/verse before whipping out the plastic guitar with its searing choice of plastic riff buttons for the second chorus – just in time for the still-relaxed beat to kick in, and to match Chili Pepper John Frusciante lick for lick.

Erykah Badu’s role is to provide an improbable second Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney vocal to support Macy’s, erm, Ella Fitzgerald via Walt Disney lead. It’s an equally improbably gorgeous mix. In the second half, Badu keeps the song honest while Gray lets loose with her Id, and we all love her now and ever.