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The Saturdays - 'Work'

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Fraser McAlpine | 12:27 UK time, Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The SaturdaysHmph. Let's see now. Ears cleaned thoroughly. Feet resolutely stuck to the floor. Fingers still. Heartbeat steady. Head facing floorward and unmoving. Face expressionless, with no urge to smile or frown. Pupils reactive and un-dilated. Nervous system untroubled by excess adrenaline. Hair on back of neck - unruffled. Breathing - regular. Goose - unpimpled.

This is not a description of the critic at rest, preparing for reviewing duties in a meditative trance and clearing his mind. That's an actual account of my physiognomy during several listens to 'Work' by the Saturdays. If there is another way to measure the quality of music, I am unaware of it, and I'm afraid this may mean that, as a single, the record's a bit of a dud.

(Here's the video. It's an industrial fashion smelting plant, near Dagenham.)

It's hard to pinpoint the problem. It's not as though this is a song with no hooks or the girls are off-key or otherwise lacklustre. Possibly it's a case of expecting too much. 'Up' and 'Just Can't Get Enough' are close to perfect in their own way, and this seems to try a lot harder, only to achieve a lot less.

It would help if this wasn't such an anonymous pop retread of various recent R&B hits. Ravey synths, dramatic string arrangement, melodies that finish and then echo themselves, huff, puff, it's all here.

It's not a good sign if you're watching a video and you forget whose it is, only to find yourself - I mean myself, of course - thinking "oh look, Mollie from the Saturdays is in this. I wonder why..." like you are your own grandparents.

Also, and this is really a note to all pop producers, if you're going to slather on the autotune like butter on a hot crumpet, DO try and keep it off the really high, emotive bits, or people will start to wonder if they are listening to singers who can't sing. Vanessa's "it's time for you to step up if you wanna be with me" sounds like a broken thing which has been fixed, and I don't believe that's her fault.

At this point in their meteoric rise, the Sats should be putting out one final amazing song before prepping their second album. This is not that song, as it sounds far more like a "hello! Look! Us! We're a hot new girlband" sort of thing, than a "hey, we're back and you will not BELIEVE the musical goodies we got for ya".

Actually, I'd have settled for "alright? Fancy a bit of a sing song?", but that might just be my gran talking...

Two starsDownload: Out now
CD Released: June 29th
BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

BBC Music says: "Tracks like 'Work' and 'Lies' can be skipped in an instant and have "filler" written all over"
Fabtastic says: "The track took a while to grow on me, but now I'm a massive fan."
Popjustice says: "The sort of song it's hard to imagine the UK's two existing girlgroups recording."


  • Comment number 1.

    First I should point out i'm really not a 'pop' fan. This aside, there was something slightly alluring about The Saturdays' previous two offerings; catchy and upbeat melodies. This song has nada, and is not really capturing the summer mood imho.

  • Comment number 2.

    OK ... Girls Aloud are on a well earned break , so here is a chance for The Saturdays to steal their crown for a while !

    Er no.....

    This song is so bland , it follows a cliche-ridden formula for writing a pop song and I am struggling to find something positive to say... OK.. pleasant chorus.. that's it !

    Girls aloud have great songs to work their personalities over.

    This is not a great song, the girls look good, but that is not good enough for me. The video and song is full of cliches.... where is the originality ?

    The song is superficial, disposable , pop , nothingness , with no personality and if this band have aspirations to move in higher circles , they need songs far better than this .

    A missed opportunity.

  • Comment number 3.

    Huh. Well I have to say, after your introduction I was expecting the worst, but this is actually quite good. I loved Up and If This Is Love, but I love the chorus, the intro, and the end bit - especially the "rip up the pace if youwannit". The bit with the girl singing "it's up to you how far we take this" really deep, and the, well, I think they're synths, the ones that go eee really high in the backrgound? Yeah that just annoys me.

    Actually, I've just listened to it again and whatdoyaknow, it's kind of rubbish... still, a good song to hear on the radio - but definitely not one I'll keep listening to.

  • Comment number 4.

    lovee this song :D 4 stars x x

  • Comment number 5.

    Ready Set Go?

    Ready set snooze more like.

    "The Saturdays are back with their latest and greatest single, Work! Available 29 June on Fascination Records. Let us see you work! " ... it says on the official YouTube channel Fraser has linked to.

    Latest and greatest? Latest is factually correct but "greatest" is extremely dubious and may well be a case for the Trades Descriptions Act.

    In fact the only thing this video might have going for it is the girls themselves, who are, well obviously, girls.

    In which case what is it they want? "Let us see you work?" Do they want videos of me chewing a pencil and playing solitaire? Or is work a mis-spelling? Possibly if your eyesight was wonky it may say something different ... but I doubt they would want videos of that particular game of solitaire. Still, odd thing to demand.


  • Comment number 6.

    oooooeeer thranjax!

  • Comment number 7.

    I find that Vanessa's warbling (sorry, melismatic vocal runs), much as with Melody in the PCD (e.g. Buttons), just doesn't seem to fit with the song, whether it's accompaniment or descant. That might just be me. Totally agree about the auto-tuning.

    I also kept thinking of the Umbrella video, what with the sparks and water on the floor. And are the back of their heads particularly itchy, or something?

  • Comment number 8.

    "And are the back of their heads particularly itchy, or something?"

    (tries to resist obvious line... Can't...must resist...)


    YES, when you get them trapped in your underwear...


    Oh Well I Tried.

  • Comment number 9.

    this song is a good example of when not to use the vocoder machine thingy

  • Comment number 10.

    Am i the only 1 thats going 2 write a positive comment? i think this is a brilliant track from a brilliant album... and this girlband is sooo under rated!!! like girls aloud pfffttt like 2 or 3 of em can sing and thats it but atleast all 5 can sing.. i just think there gunna blow up in america =D and i really do hope them all the best! GET DOWNLOADING WORK PEEPS!!

  • Comment number 11.

    "i just think there gunna blow up in america"

    Doubt that would go down well, although spontaneous combustion - what a way to finish a show!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Love it Catman .
    I shared an interesting e-mail conversation with a music writer with a v. well known glossy magazine recently.
    He said that this song would be a "huge" hit for The Saturdays.
    I asked him how big , and he said top ten.
    I told him it has been their weakest single so far , and it would struggle to make the top 20 .
    All I will say is that it's now 3-0. lol .

    If JLS get to number one next Sunday, it will be 4-0. Fingers crossed.

  • Comment number 13.

    "2 or 3 of em can sing and thats it but atleast all 5 can sing"

    Logic not a strong point eh?


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