This week marks the release of one of the best pop singles of this decade so far. We should be celebrating, yet the song’s lack of chart success indicated by the midweeks, means we’re too busy worrying if the fantastic album from which this single is taken will ever be commercially released, or if there will even be another single. I am of course talking about Rachel Stevens’ new single, I Said Never Again (But Here We Are), which is currently sitting at a not-utterly-terrible-but-certainly-not-good-enough no.10, the same as her previous and also excellent single, So Good.
So who or what is to blame for this travesty? It certainly can’t be the song. Even if the electropop sound has been in fashion for quite a while now, the better examples of it (for example Goldfrapp and the Scissor Sisters) are still having huge hits, and even the indie bands with a more electronic sound, particularly the Killers, are very successful. Giving a pop starlet an electro track isn’t entirely foolproof but when that starlet is known for her top quality past releases and that track is I Said Never Again, you really can’t have a more obvious recipe for success.
So perhaps it is Rachel herself who is not shifting the units? She certainly has a following for her good looks, but those fans are more likely to buy the ‘lads mag’ she’s on the cover of than her CD. The ex-S Club fans are sadly dwindling as the years move on and the fans grow up (not that you are really ever too old for S Club), so they can be relied on less and less to keep Rachel up the charts. Luckily she is still a big enough name to keep her in the press, and with her lack of competitors in pop music at the moment, she gets very good coverage in the pop magazines and TV shows such as TOTP Reloaded and CD:UK. However, this still doesn’t seem to be enough. It could be that despite all this good press, Rachel as a person still doesn’t appeal to the traditional pop market of young teenage girls. She is presented as quite a girly girl and her attractiveness could well put off girls who find this intimidating and can’t relate to her, but she also comes across as a very nice, sweet person (although perhaps lacking in the infectious personality found in the most successful pop stars) which you would think would be quite appealing – but isn’t the niche of “nice girl of pop” a bit crowded already?
It will be a huge shame if Rachel does decide to give up after this single, although I will be surprised if she doesn’t have at least one more shot. I don’t know how she could possibly improve on I Said Never Again, but if she can come up with something even better then I can’t wait to hear it!