BMG Rights Management UK
Release Date: November 27th 2020 / September 10th 2021
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Track Listing [What The Future Holds]:
- What the Future Holds (Single Mix)
- Something in Your Eyes
- To the Beat of My Heart
- Father’s Eyes
- One Touch
- Under My Skin
- Heartbreak In This City
- Come and Dance with Me
- Don’t You Leave Us Halfway
- To the One
- Hold My Heart
- What the Future Holds
Track Listing [What The Future Holds Pt. 2]:
- Take Me For A Ride
- Heartbreak in This City (Single Mix) (feat. Michelle Visage)
- Wasted Tears
- A Hundred Years Of Winter
- Living in a Lie
- A Million Years
- Trouble & Love
- Kiss Of Life
- The Slightest Touch
- What the Future Holds (Acoustic)
- Something in Your Eyes (Acoustic)
- To the Beat of My Heart (Acoustic)
- Heartbreak in This City (Acoustic) (feat. Michelle Visage)
- Take Me For A Ride (Initial Talk Remix Edit)
- What the Future Holds (7th Heaven) (Edit)
- Father’s Eyes (Shanghai Surprize) (Edit)
- To the Beat of My Heart (Shortland Tropical Remix)
- Wasted Tears (Initial Talk Remix) (Edit)
- Clouds (Conway Remix) (Edit)
- Heartbreak in This City (Saint Remix) (Edit) (feat. Michelle Visage)
- Something In Your Eyes (7th Heaven Remix) (Edit)
- Under My Skin (Shortland Remix) (Edit)
Boy-bands. Girl-groups. Vocal groups. Bands where the members don’t play any instruments and share vocals instead. These days people who sing together in perfect harmony; well they seem to be extremely popular within the past few years, or maybe even the past decade. Bands like One Direction, Little Mix, Pentatonix, Fifth Harmony, Westlife, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Spice Girls, Girls Aloud, The Saturdays, The Jackson 5, New Kids On The Block, Blackpink, BTS, The Pussycat Dolls, and Destiny’s Child to name a few (or to name a lot!), are just some of the high profile groups over the years to capture the attention of a few of us, or many of us; as we are introduced to a whole new brand of pop. In the past, I haven’t been actively listening to optimistic, positive music, that girl groups and boy bands mostly record. Aside from CCM I was very sheltered.
However it is through Jon’s and my blog series in 2019, that I started to branch out and listen to all types of music; pop music and vocal groups being one type of music I eventually explored deeply. And what I found out, was that bands like One Direction, Little Mix, Pentatonix, Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child and others; these bands provide to me a sense of peace, calmness, serenity and comfort, on maybe a different level to any other type of genre. Sure, Christian pop and worship will always resonate to a greater extent than any other type of music- particularly because I am a Christian and I will always gravitate to music that praises Jesus’ name. But pop music with the emphasis on multiple vocalists; they’re something special. The way different singers blend their vocals together; that’s a skill that I admire probably second to beatboxing. And though girl groups and boy bands and vocal groups can come and go, can last a long time, or can sometimes quit after the first album; there is one artist whom I stumbled across last year, who has impacted me greatly, who has flown by under the radar, and who is extremely underrated. There is a band who has inspired me and encouraged me immensely, whom I reckon should be more popular than they already are. British pop/dance group Steps have recorded music since 1997, and with a 10-year hiatus in the middle and now the group being stronger than ever vocally; the underrated dance pop quintet are ready to recapture the world by storm and to show us that you’re never too old to make a comeback.
You know what, we don’t ever expect it [getting to no. 1]. Sometimes we think we’re just about to get it but the last two we’ve been pipped at the post by a male solo artist. The Manic Street Preachers are releasing, that would be a bit bittersweet if we managed to get number one over them after they beat us with ‘One For Sorrow’. Streaming is apparently the thing…
It would be lovely but it doesn’t affect us if we’re not number one. It’s not like we’re gonna get dumped by the record company. It’s different days for us. The fact that we’ve got such an amazing loyal fan base that still keep on asking us to do more and keep buying those tickets…
That’s been our story throughout our career as well. Back in the day our albums were always number one but singles wise there were weeks when we were number two but any other week of the year it would have been number one. It seems to be our story but we break records even though we’re not number one. We’re just doing our thing and hoping that the fans still want it and hopefully we gather a few new fans along the way. We’re not avidly sitting there with the chart expecting and waiting for that number one because we know we could still do what we’re going to do anyway.
Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Ian “H” Watkins are the members of Steps, and you can read about the group (and the individual members, on their own Wikipedia pages. I won’t go deep into any of these members (because there is a lot to cover), but prior to mid-2020, I hadn’t heard of this underrated ABBA-meets-Westlife-meets-Spice Girls group. It was only when I was surfing the pre-order sections of my Apple Music account one day last year that I stumbled across the pre-order for the 2020 album What The Future Holds. With the band then releasing the album in November last year, I found myself captivated, transfixed, and enthralled by one of the most underrated pop albums of the last decade. We wanted to review the album for our site, but we never did. But when Steps went one step further this year, and unveiled a sequel album called What The Future Holds Pt. 2, I knew I had to review both of these albums. If there is one album that you all need to buy or check out from 2021… then THIS (both volumes of What The Future Holds) would be it. If you do not know anything about Steps, like myself not too long ago; then both What The Future Holds and What The Future Holds Pt. 2 would be the perfect place to start.
The way things abruptly ended, no, I don’t know I’d ever seen this coming. It was a tricky time, but amazingly, the friendships survived. We managed to discuss what happened at that time and work on it, and just become friends again.
We had to go through that process and discuss the past in order to move on. We had a lot of unanswered questions, especially from myself, Faye and Lee. We had no idea that the other two were going to resign and go off as a duo — it came as a shock to us, and the rest of the world.
Once we’d all become friends again, I felt the fans deserved to know. Having spoken to fans over the years, I knew a lot of them felt in the dark about why we split. H and Claire were sorry about the way it all happened, and recognised that it was badly managed. With age, you can be honest. Once you get that apology, it’s closure, and after that we became really good friends again. But it was very, very raw to film; it was very honest.
It’s really interesting. Having known and been friends with a lot of big bands, the politics are the same. The issues are the same. And when you’re 20, they seem really important. It’s only when you’re older you look back and realise they’re not. For us it was down to even issues over styling – they’re not major issues! Communication is definitely the key … whether you’re in a pop group or whether you’re in a friendship.
If you’re looking for a blow-by-blow description of the songs from both albums… well this won’t be the place for that. I know, I know, I normally review albums pretty extensively, and that’s fine the way I usually do it in most cases. However, just like how I reviewed Carly Rae Jepsen’s Dedicated and Dedicated Side B, I reckon this is the way to go with Steps’ 2 latest albums. If you google ‘what the future holds review’, or ‘what the future holds pt 2 review’, or read the reviews on Wikipedia; you’ll find plenty of articles on the internet, and they’re all virtually positive, which is why I don’t really need to add to the championing of the band if I’m just going to be regurgitating what others have said. But for me the drawing point to these two albums and how I became interested in the band… was the fact that these guys split up in the early 2000’s (and it was a very nasty split!) but somehow, someway, I guess through the grace of God; Faye, Lisa, Claire, Lee and H reunited, and are now stronger than ever. It’s a feel-good success story, and let me invite you all to be an active part of these guys’ story; which is still excelling to lofty and loftier heights.
The title track, from the 2020 album, is one that immediately jumps out to me. With the quintet ardently and passionately relaying to us that they are scared and apprehensive of looking to the past and are looking for reassurance and encouragement that the future will be ok; there is an instant 80’s feel that brings a smile to my face, as does the vibrant, picturesque and soothing music video. With each of the 5 vocalists singing exquisitely, professionally and beautifully in harmony, this melody is a must listen if you were to choose one song to listen to first if you’re not a fan already. “Something In Your Eyes” follows closely behind as another favourite of mine from the 2020 album, as the ABBA-like melody is a pure love song directed to a lover or a significant other, and is something that ABBA would’ve recorded in their prime heyday; while “Heartbreak In This City” is a melancholy track dressed up like a pop song, as the quintet passionately and fervently sing about loving someone you know isn’t healthy and right for you.
“To The Beat Of My Heart” is a perfect song for the club and the disco dance floor, and is simply a feel-good dance anthem; while Steps treads gorgeously into ballad territory with the piano led “Hold My Heart”, similar musically to Lady A, with the group earnestly and honestly declaring through the persona that they strongly desire the love of another, so that they can hold their heart and help them make it through the day. “Father’s Eyes”, a pulsating, captivating pop/EDM melody, speaks about wanting to be in a relationship whereby no on else thinks it’s going to succeed, but the persona is believing the relationship will succeed because they see it ‘through my father’s eyes’, either through God’s eyes of their literal father; while the strings led dance party anthem “Come And Dance With Me” is as direct a song as the title- with the vibrant track a track about dancing and partying just because you feel like it. “Clouds”, as inspirational as they come, is a radio friendly ballad about reaching for the stars and always wanting to aim higher to strive to reach your dreams; whereas “To The One”, another personal highlight, features all 5 vocalists brilliantly singing together in harmony, and via the persona earnestly lamenting to their ex that they still miss them and they’re not over them yet.
As moving and heart-warming and nostalgic as What The Future Holds is (the album brings me happy vibes, an 80’s atmosphere and an overall jovial and celebratory presence permeated throughout!); What The Future Holds Pt. 2 is an extension of its predecessor, and builds upon the concept of the jovial, happy pop anthem littered with deep and meaningful lyrics. Album opener “Take Me For A Ride” is a haunting, mysterious and heartbreaking pop track about a lost love and relationship that has gone sour. With the quintet fervently relaying through the persona to their ex that ‘…don’t tell me that I’ve lost my mind, and use it as an alibi, baby, I’m not crazy, the conversations you avoid tells me I’m not paranoid, baby, I’m not crazy, the truth is you’re a liar, and all you did was take me for a ride…’; we are met with a melody that calls our toxic relationships and reminds us all to look in the mirror to see if there are any parts of us that we need to change. With Michelle Visage joining Steps for a remix of “Heartbreak In The City”; the next ‘original’ track is “Wasted Tears”, a pop/EDM track that is an empowering track about putting yourself first and prioritising your own mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health.
The eerily Christmas-themed “A Hundred Years Of Winter”, written by Savage Garden frontman Darren Hayes, speaks about the heartbreak of many couples on this earth, as the quintet ardently lament that ‘…people are cold and love is so frail, this house of ours is buckling under, feeling the strain, ice is falling on windowsills and it’s in my veins, love is frozen over…’, but then later on in the chorus encourages us that there is light at the end of the tunnel; while the ABBA-like “Living In a Lie” calls out a dysfunctional relationship, and decides that it’s time to end it as the two people are ‘living in a lie’. “A Million Years”, one of my favourite songs from What The Future Holds Pt. 2, is a soft, heart-warming ballad about the love and commitment between two people and the promise that they tell each other: ‘…can’t you see me through the tears I could wait a million years, I could wait a million years, in my heart I know, I will never let you go, baby I’ll never let you go…’. “Trouble & Love”, a track whereby the quintet speak about a burgeoning relationship that could be unhealthy and unwise for the two parties, is musically quite captivating, pulsating and catchy; while “Victorious” is straight up as inspirational as can be, and is similar in theme to Skillet’s song of the same name.
“Kiss Of Life”, a yearning love song where one person sings to their lover, asking them to ‘…give me the kiss of life, cause I can’t breathe tonight, give me the kiss of life, my oxygen is running out inside…’, is another melody that brings a smile to my face- predominately because of the catchy music and the brilliant harmony of the five vocalists; while “High” is an explosive pop anthem, that showcases each of the incredible vocalists, and highlights the notion of one person in someone’s life making them feel alive- whether that is a friend, a parent, a lover or even God. “The Slightest Touch”, a cover from British 80’s pop group Five Star, is skilfully and wonderfully covered by Steps, and is again a relationship themed song where one person can’t get enough of the other person’s touch.
We were signed 25 years ago on a one single deal with a line dance song so to be having songs from Sia and Darren Hayes, and doing ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, it feels like such an exciting new era. It’s just mind blowing to me. I did an interview yesterday and they said, ‘you’re bigger now than you ever were’ and I thought, ‘What do you mean?’. I thought actually it does feel bigger.
When you have bands that keep going and have longevity, their fans keep them going but you don’t necessarily hear them on the radio constantly or see them constantly. It’s like Status Quo, they were always going and always releasing new albums, and I only knew them about them through friends but they were still like selling out arenas all over the world and just doing their thing. I feel like we’re a little bit like that. We’ve done our time a little bit, and we can just crack on, but not be in everyone’s face.
I know from the outside looking in a lot of people, especially back in the day, saw us as a bit of a joke and a bit of a novelty act. We’ve always taken it seriously. We have a laugh but we take our job really seriously and we would never want to put out rubbish material just for the sake of it. Every time we do this, we’re really conscious of the music that we are putting out and making sure it’s what the fans want ultimately. I don’t think any of us would sit back and accept just putting out music for the sake of it just because we can. We always take it very, very seriously and we want to be the best that we can.
With What The Future Holds Pt. 2 also containing 13 acoustic tracks and remixes; this collection of studio tracks and rarities (37 tracks over 2 discs), to me, is well worth every one of you buying these albums. Steps is not that well known, nor popular, nor influential. But they have proved to us in these songs that friendship and the love of music can last a lifetime, and that an truly timeless artist gets better with age and with experience. It isn’t known what will happen in the future- whether Steps will record another album or not, particularly because each of the 5 vocalists are still embarking on solo careers and other endeavours. But as long as these five stick together and continue as a band; then I’d say we should continue to check out this underrated group, because they have so much to say. Sure, more often than not, these songs are about relationships… but when you’re in a pandemic that isn’t going to end soon, why not listen to some songs about the positive and optimistic aspects of life? Well done Claire, Faye, Lee, Lisa and H! I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you all next!
3 songs to listen to (What The Future Holds): Something In Your Eyes, To The Beat Of My Heart, Hold My Heart
3 songs to listen to (What The Future Holds Pt. 2): A Hundred Years OF Winter, A Million Years, Victorious
10 songs to listen to: Something In Your Eyes, To The Beat Of My Heart, Hold My Heart, Come And Dance With Me, To The One, A Hundred Years OF Winter, A Million Years, Victorious, Take Me On A Ride, High
RIYL: ABBA, Westlife, Spice Girls, Jess Glynne, Selena Gomez, Little Mix, NSYNC