Never Had a Dream Come True
November 18, 2018
Todd plays "Never Had a Dream Come True" on the piano.
S CLUB 7 - NEVER HAD A DREAM COME TRUE
A one-hit retrospective
Todd: Welcome back to One Hit Wonderland, where we take a look at bands and artists known for only one song. Now, as you know, I cover…
Montage clips of Dexy’s Midnight Riders –“Come On Eileen”; A-ha – “Take On Me”Todd (VO): …a lot of foreign acts on this show, most of whom turn out to be more popular in their home country than they were here.
Todd: But a lot of my understanding of music comes from critics based in the UK, and…that’s affected who I cover
Clip of Blur – “Song 2”
Damon Albarn: Woohoo!
Montage clips of Cliff Richard – “Devil Woman”; Take That – “Back for Good”; T. Rex – “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”Todd (VO): See, there’s a ton of British acts who are…technically one-hit wonders in this country, but in merry old En-ger-lund, they are not just more successful, they’re bona fide superstars. I simply cannot think of acts like these as one-hit wonders. So, I have always chosen not to cover them on this show.
Todd: That changes today.
Video for S Club 7 – “Bring It All Back"
S Club 7: Don't stop, never give up
Hold your head high and reach the top
Todd dances along in his seat
Let the world see what you have got
Bring it all back to youTodd (VO): Yes, as one of the requests I got, we are going to be looking at an act that was, for a few years at least, the biggest band in the Britain. [pause] Well, I don’t know the biggest there—I wasn’t there. But at the very least, they had very few rivals in the early 2000s British pop scene.
Todd: I am of course talking about the one, the only...
Video for “S Club Party”
S Club 7: S Club (There ain't no party like an S Club party)Todd (VO): That’s right. S Club 7.
Todd: Ain’t no party like an S Club party, ‘cause an S Club party is extremely irritating!
Clip of BBC trailer for S Club 7 in Miami
Jon: You Yanks might not have heard of our band, yeah.
Hannah: Believe me, you will!Todd: [shrugs] Ehhh…
Brief clips of S Club 7 in MiamiTodd (VO): If you’re an American, and of the right age, you might remember them for their TV show, which ran on the Fox Family channel for many years. S Club 7 in Miami, S Club 7 in Hollywood.
Todd: And then I think it was [shot of Law & Order title card with S Club logo stamped over; theme song plays in the background] S Club 7: Criminal Intent. I don’t remember. As far as I can tell, their show was decently popular here, but…
Clip of live performanceTodd (VO): …it was nothing compared to how big they were back home. Literally, every damn one of their singles broke the Top 5 in the UK. But in America, their presence on the pop charts was limited…
Todd: …to just…this.
Clip of “Never Had a Dream Come True”
S Club 7: I never had a dream come true
'Til the day that I found youTodd: [beat] Do you remember this one? Because I do not.
Todd (VO): I was in high school and I was way too good for that teeny-bopper, TRL crap by that point.
Todd: I was not too good for Matchbox Twenty, but I was way too good for S Club 7.
Todd (VO): But I feel like I should at least remember it, and I don’t. No memory of this whatsoever.
Todd: And actually, why would I? It’s not a very good song! [throws hands up]
S Club 7: I never had a dream come trueTodd (VO): In fact, I find this entire thing kinda mystifying. Big proven hitmakers, with the added promotion of a hit show. And yet their only American hit, which scraped into the Top 10 in the summer of 2001 was this forgettable, nothing ballad.
Todd: [shrugs] Okay. A dream come true, I guess. Alright, let’s get this S Club party started.
S Club 7: No no no no
I never had aBefore the hit
Clip of S Club 7 - "Everybody Wants Ya"
S Club 7: You just gotta bump, see the people jump
I can't help thinkingTodd (VO): Our story begins in 1998. But the story of S Club 7 is not really that of any of its members.
Todd: No, their story is the story of [image of Simon Fuller] this man. You probably don't recognize him; you may or may not recognize his name, Simon Fuller. If you don't, well, guess what? Simon Fuller is maybe the most influential man in popular music of the past twenty years.
Montage clips of Pop Idol; American Idol; The X Factor; The VoiceTodd (VO): Yes, it was he who started the television revolution that was Pop Idol. Quickly exported to nearly every country in the world, and unleashing a whole onslaught of rival talent competitions that clog up the airwaves to this day. But in 1998, he was still riding high off his...
Todd: ...first name-making success...
Video for "Say You'll Be There" by...
Spice Girls: I'm giving you everythingTodd (VO): The Spice Girls. A pop sensation whose time in the spotlight was...actually surprisingly brief, but will forever define British pop music for me. [image of Simon with the Spice Girls at a charity event] And Simon Fuller was the brains behind the group. [clip of The Spice Girls - "Spice Up Your Life"] He found them, managed them, gave them their identities, and in 1997 [another image of Simon Fuller with red X stamped over his head] was rewarded by being fired by the group.
Todd: Why? [shot of article: "Exit Sixth Spice, a victim of girl power"] The Spice Girls themselves have never really given a clear reason. Personally, I suspect [clip from...] Spice World was the main factor.
Mel C: Hold on to your knickers, girls!Todd (VO): Yeah.
Todd: But that's when Fuller got his next idea.
Clip of another trailer for S Club showTodd (VO): A band that had the backing of a sitcom. Just like The Monkees. It'd be just like Spice World except it's on week after week. And it'd be on television instead of film, so it'd be okay it had no budget. He named it the S Club 7. What does the S stand for?
Todd: The members eventually confirmed it a few years ago. [yet another image of...] It stands for "Simon." He slapped his initials on that band like a pair of [image of Calvin Klein boxers] designer underwear.
Brief montage clips of S Club 7 in L.A.; S Club 7: Boyfriends And Birthdays; Seeing DoubleTodd (VO): And they starred in their TV show for four seasons. Plus two TV movies, plus one feature movie in the UK. And I watched all of it.
Todd: No, I didn't even remotely, but I tried my best.
Todd (VO): It's about being a struggling English band trying to make it in America. Which is funny because they mostly didn't.
Todd: But here they are. Let me introduce you to [brief shots of cast with their names...] Rachel, Bradley, Hannah, Paul, Jo, Jon, and Tina. Or actually, let me introduce you to them by the character archetypes they played on the show. [same shots appear...] The dumb one, the dumb one, the dumb one, the dumb one, the dumb one, the dumb one, and the dumb one. I'm sorry, this show rotted my brain.
Clip of...Todd (VO): Like, you know how you can watch Saved By the Bell, and know who the different characters are or...[image of Spice Girls at the VMAs] how you could look at the names of each Spice Girl or even just look at their outfits and figure out what they represented?
Todd: I could not do that at all for S Club 7.
Clips of S Club 7 in HollywoodTodd (VO): The only real characteristics they have were that they were color coordinated like the Power Rangers. So, uh, if you like yellow, you were Hannah I guess. But even though that show is not good, it's really easy to see how influential it was. You can bet that the Disney corporation was watching this, because that show is the model for every [clip of Lizzie McGuire] Hilary Duff and Hannah Montana that came after.
Todd: I don't know if I prefer this or the Disney model honestly.
Todd (VO): The BBC does things very differently. It's much less colorful and grubbier, and it doesn't have a laugh track, so it's a lot less memorable, but also less annoying.
Clip of S Club 7 in MiamiTodd (VO): But the songs...oh, the songs.
Todd: Oh, boy.
Clip of "Bring It All Back"
S Club 7: Don't stop, never give up
Hold your head high and reach the top
Let the world see what you have gotTodd (VO): Like, even in the days of TRL dominance...
Todd: ...this is edgeless.
Todd (VO): It's so chipper. It doesn't even sound '90s.
Todd: It's a direct recreation of what pop music [clip of live performances of The Partridge Family...] sounded like in the '70s. It's clearly trying to be [...and...] the Jackson 5.
S Club 7: Bring it all back to you
Clip of The Jackson 5 - "I Want You Back"
Jackson 5: I want you backTodd: It's-it's just too bland.
Video for Britney Spears - "...Baby One More Time"Todd (VO): What I remember about teen pop in 1999, the-the Max Martin sound, was that it was incredibly forceful...
Todd: ...and in your face!
Snippet of familiar three-note riffTodd: It's like a tank...
Todd (VO): ...rolling through your city. Unstoppable.
Todd: And S Club 7 are an entirely different genre.
Video for S Club 7 - "S Club Party"Todd (VO): Even when trying to be at their most in-your-face, they sound so innocent. Like, whatever is too kiddy for Radio Disney.
Todd: You play this on Nick Jr. Jr.
Todd (VO): Which is weird, 'cause every now and then they'll dip into something more adult than they should be.
Todd: And it hits such a weird note.
S Club 7: Ghetto Boys make some noise
Hoochie mamas, show your nanasTodd is speechless
S Club 7: Hoochie mamas, show your nanasTodd (VO): The mere fact that you call them nanas tells me you're not ready to be talking about them!
Todd: And that's not even getting into what [air quote] "ghetto boys" is supposed to mean.
S Club 7: Ghetto Boys make some noiseTodd (VO): Is [album cover for Best of the Geto Boys] Bushwick Bill hiding in the background?
Todd: I mean, they did get sexed up eventually. [image of Jo, Rachel, Hannah, and Tina in bikinis] They were young, hot people in a world full of UK tabloids. I watched their show, I think I [clip of Miami 7] caught a joke about Rachel having giant boobs.
Jo: Yeah, you're just like Ally McBeal. Except when she looks down, she can see her feet.Todd (VO): Let me guess, that never happened on Victorious. There's also a bit that sticks out to me from where they were trying to learn how to be American.
Tina: This...is a lift. Over here they call it an elevator. This...is Hanson. Over here they call them talented.FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!
Todd: How dare you?! [tries to compose himself] Hanson [clip of live performance] became a really good band when they got older! Yeah, I know it was...
Video for Hanson - "MMMBop"Todd (VO): ...the '90s, and everyone clowned on Hanson; me included, but...
Todd: ...if there's one group of people who weren't allowed to diss them...
Clip of S Club 7 - "Reach"
S Club 7: Reach for the stars
Climb every mountain higherTodd: I'm just saying. [text appears briefly: hanson rules!] Well, anyway, let's cut to the end of the year 2000.
Snippet of spinning S Club logos which serves as the segue to...
The big hit
Todd: [pause] Uh...yeah. Well...
Clip of live performance of "S Club Party"Todd (VO): ...S Club 7 are now an international smash. Hit show across the world, two seasons, two albums. Mega-successful in the UK, but still no breakthrough in America. They were gonna need a real act of charity to get big.
Todd: And that's what they got.
Clip of BBC News...
Terry Wogan: ...million, two hundred and forty-four thousand...Todd (VO): The BBC does a charity drive called Children in Need every year. And they released a charity single for it every year, too. Sometimes it does well, sometimes it doesn't. That year it was delivered by S Club 7.
Tess Daly: "Never Had a Dream Come True." Go buy this song!And I'm sure they helped a lot of kids. But the real kids who benefited were themselves. [clip of "Never Had a Dream Come True"] It was their dream come true. They might as well have called it, "Never Had a Hit Break America."
Todd: Not 'til the day they found...this.
S Club 7: I never had a dream come true
'Til the day that I found you
Even though I pretend that I've moved onTodd: This is such a goddamn boring song. [throws hands up] I'm not sure what to say here, but here it goes.
Clip of Children In Need performanceTodd (VO): Okay, first point, charity singles suck as a rule. For us Yanks, they were only [clip of USA for Africa - "We Are the World"] a thing briefly in the '80s, and all attempts to revive them have failed. But, the Brits have never gotten over it; they love it more and more every year it seems like. They have them for Children In Need, [clip of One Direction - "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)"] for Comic Relief, a bunch of one-offs every year. I've heard a [clip of Cher, Chrissie Hynde & Neneh Cherry - "Love Can Build a Bridge"] bunch, and I don't know if there's a good one in them.
Clip of Children In Need performance of "Never Had a Dream Come True"
S Club 7 (with choir): 'Til the day that I found youUgh, the live version has a children's choir, too. The Brits must be a really generous people who love giving out of the bottom of their hearts...
Todd: ...because no one could like these songs.
Video for "Never Had a Dream Come True"Todd (VO): So why was this their only American hit? Well...
Todd: ...it fit the American pop scene in a way that all their other songs didn't.
Video for The Backstreet Boys - "Larger than Life"Todd (VO): Look, the Backstreet Boys and Britney and Christina, they had their big, giant Max Martin smashes...and S Club 7 were just not a band who could compete on those terms.
Todd: But boring ballads...sure. That was super successful in both countries.
Montage clips of Christina Aguilera - "I Turn to You"; Mariah Carey ft. Joe & 98 Degrees - "Thank God I Found You"; Ricky Martin - "She's All I Ever Had"; Faith Hill - "There You'll Be"; Celine Dion & R. Kelly - "I'm Your Angel"Todd (VO): You could be a TRL act, or an R&B singer, or a Latin pop star, or a country singer; no matter who you were, you could dip into easy listening and the public would eat it up. And then forget it entirely within a few months.
Todd: Soppy ballads ruled the airwaves, especially in England.
Clip of Westlife - "Flying Without Wings"
Westlife: I'm flying without wingsTodd (VO): Oh my fuckin' Christ, England by the way. What the hell were you guys doing? [clip of Blue - "Guilty"] From what I can tell, British pop was at a serious low point. Shitty ballad after shitty ballad. Awful. This is why no UK pop act crossed over for, like, the entire Bush administration.
Video for "Never Had a Dream Come True" startsBut yeah, this is, uh, this is as early 2000s as it gets. [opening notes play] Got the Spanish guitar in there, which is...like the sad residue of the Latin pop craze.
Todd: But I just don't have anything to grab on to here.
Todd (VO): When you got a ballad, you have to have some kind of memorable detail, like a sentiment, a hook, a something.
Todd: Like, "I Want It That Way."
Clip of The Backstreet Boys - "I Want It That Way"
Nick Carter: Tell me whyTodd (VO): That song's great, and its hook is that it doesn't make any sense. [clip of Celine Dion performing...] Or "My Heart Will Go On." It had the flute, and it had Celine's bulldozing powerhouse voice.
Todd: But..."Never Had a Dream Come True?"
Clip of "Never Had a Dream Come True"
Jo: There's no use looking back, or wondering
How it could be now or might've beenTodd (VO): I just don't see what I'm supposed to care about. They're even dressed in all white, they don't even get to wear their colors. That was all the personality they had!
Todd: Okay, the opening lyric about having to leave someone behind does tug on one heartstring I have.
Jo: Everybody's got something
They had to leave behindTodd (VO): I mean, I kinda like the idea that it was just fate, no one's decision. And there's a lot of regret there.
Todd: But...it kinda shows the problem, too.
Jo: Everybody's got somethingTodd (VO): Yeah, everyone's got that someone. It's writing about it like it's a universal experience.
Todd: And a ballad needs to be personal.
S Club 7: And I know no matter where life takes me toTodd: Yeah...nothing. My heart remains cold and dead listening to it. [pause] I mean, it might just be cold and dead, period. [shrugs]
Jo: Somewhere in my memory
I've lost all sense of timeTodd (VO): I-I'll give it this. Jo is a good singer...and she's singing it like she means it. She's giving it her all. I mean, look. These kids, they haven't had the joy and life strangled out of them yet, so, you know, that does a lot. I've heard worse is what I'm saying, they're doing their best. Or at least Jo is, I don't know if the rest of them are all that necessary.
Todd: Are the guys even doing anything on this song? I think they're just lip syncing.
Todd (VO): [as one of the guys] Yeah, we're still here...maybe.
Jo: I just can't say goodbye
Clip of "Country Song (Pandering)" from Make Happy
Bo Burnham: Y'all dumb motherfuckers want a key change?
Back to "Never Had a Dream Come True"
S Club 7: I never had a dream come trueLook, I guess the S Club were trying to remake themselves in a more mature direction. But you don't gain maturity just by singing mature songs.
Todd: And maturity is overrated anyway. As far as I'm concerned, they should've stuck with their original direction. Next!
The same segue from before transitions to...
The failed follow-up
Todd: I'd like that to stop. Well, anyway, here's their next single, "Don't Stop Movin'."
Video for "Don't Stop Movin'" starts
Bradley: Yeah, come onTodd (VO): Oh, it's uh, we're going disco, I see.
S Club 7: Don't stop movin'Ain't no disco like an S Club disco. It's got more of a groove at least. It's...
Todd: ...kinda like a middle school version of Daft Punk.
Snippet of Daft Punkian beatTodd (VO): It's got a good beat, you can dance to it. It's still really, really just for kids. Like, there's nothing that's ever gonna give this band any kind of edge; they could sing Megadeth and it'd still sound like The Wiggles.
Todd: But you know, I can't complain. It's their aesthetic.
Video for S Club 7 - "Have You Ever"Todd (VO): Unfortunately, they followed that with another Children In Need ballad, which was even more boring than the first one. But you know what? Those songs both still topped the British charts. And all their other singles did well, too.
Todd: I promised you a failed follow-up, so let me give you a failed follow-up.
Clip of opening for S Club SearchTodd (VO): You know how I was talking about Pop Idol earlier? Technically, that's not Simon Fuller's first reality show. Because, debuting just one month earlier, we had S Club Search. The quest to find the preteen spin-off group to S Club 7. It had a whole docuseries hyping up their arrival before their debut in April 2002, so...
Todd: ...let me introduce you to S Club 8.
Clip of S Club 8 - "One Step Closer"
S Club 8: One step closer to heavenTodd (VO): Actually, they were S Club [logos for...] Juniors at first, and then they changed the name to [...and...] S Club 8. Either way, they still sound like the shitty direct-to-video sequel of the original. And honestly, they weren't exactly failed either. For one album at least, it was very brief though. Their second album flopped, their show was cancelled after a season...
Todd: ...and they quickly disbanded. Although a couple of the girls eventually [image of promotional poster of The Saturdays] started their own girl group, which became much more successful. And I bring up the Juniors because it just reminds me of how mercenary this whole enterprise is.
Video for S Club 7 - "Natural"Todd (VO): S Club 7 were not a band, they were a franchise. Even other manufactured pop acts look more legit. There...
Todd: ...was no Backstreet spin-off. NSYNC didn't continue without Justin. [clip of opening for Hannah Montana] Disney didn't slap a wig on some random girl and make her the new Hannah Montana. [clip of another live S Club 7 performance] Meanwhile, here's the interchangeable 7, not a single one of whom could've been easily replaced, and their boss is trying to launch the S Club extended universe! Fuller tried to do something...
Clip of trailer for American JuniorsTodd (VO): ...similar in America by the way. Like child stardom isn't fraud enough. Let's have them compete and pick them off one by one.
Did they ever do anything else?
Todd: Oh God, it's a mess.
Clip of S Club 7 - "You"Todd (VO): Look, the S Club 7 were big their entire existence. They kept having hits, but the S Club machine was getting really shaky. [clip of Hollywood 7] The show was brutal. And I don't mean it was brutally bad, although it was. I mean, the schedule. They were trying to be pop stars in Britain, and [screen capture of Google Maps trip from London to Los Angeles] TV actors in America at the same time. [underlined text appears: 5,437 MILES] That's nuts!
Another clip of Hollywood 7Oh, and at some point, the show had Hannah and Paul start dating. [as Hannah and Paul kiss] Woo! To be clear, Hannah and Paul [clip of interview with S Club 7] started dating in real life, and it got written into the show. To me, that seems like a recipe for goddamn disaster. But it turned out not mattering because, Paul quit the band anyway midway through the fourth season. He was gaining weight, he didn't like the attention, and he wanted to make his own music.
Todd: And as foreshadowed by his [image of Paul] awful Limp Bizkit goatee, he started a nu metal band, which ended up going nowhere. [shot of article: "S Club 7 star Paul Cattermole's shock Twitter rant about Hannah Spearritt"] His relationship with Hannah did in fact end pretty ugly, but that came later.
Clip of Viva S ClubTodd (VO): And since there weren't seven of them anymore, they renamed themselves just, S Club. Or S'Club as I call them.
Todd: I kinda wish they'd just become S Club 6 for maximum confusion.
More clips of Viva S Club; "Never Had a Dream Come True" plays in the backgroundTodd (VO): And there's too much other stuff. [shots of various articles: "S Club 7 trio cautioned for drug possession"...] Drugs, [...S Club's Jo Ordered To Rest Over Spinal Problem"...] injuries, [...and "TV show sold to 120 countries.. but the band got just 52k each"] lawsuits.
Todd: They called it quits in '03.
Clip of Rachel Stevens - "Sweet Dreams My LA Ex"
Rachel: If I were in your shoesTodd (VO): Some of them [clip of Primeval (ITV): Aired 2007 - 2011] went on to bigger and better things. [shots of articles: "Big Brother star Jo denies racism"...] Some of them...
Todd: [...and "S Club 7's Paul Cattermole's desperate struggle for work"] ...did not.
Clip of reunion concertTodd (VO): They did do a brief reunion tour in 2015, and there are rumors they are going to reunite again soon for the 20th anniversary. [shot of yet another article: "S Club 7's Paul talks 'difficult' reunion and labels bandmate a 'bully'] But the last one didn't seem to go very well, so, hh, yeah. Maybe it'll happen.
Todd: Right after that co-headlining tour of the original lineups of [images of...] Guns N' Roses and Smashing Pumpkins. [shrugs]
Did they deserve better?
Todd: In America, you mean? Well, how about I put it like this. I think they deserved to have any of their other hits be big rather than the one that did.
Clip of "Never Had a Dream Come True"
S Club 7: I never had a dream come trueTodd (VO): I'm not gonna say I liked them exactly, but I have had "S Club Party," and, "Reach", and "Don't Stop Movin'", and "Bring It All Back" intractably stuck in my brain since I started this episode.
Todd: They're cheesy, they're really grating. But I see why they're hits. Goddamnit, they're catchy.
Todd (VO): "Never Had a Dream Come True" just slides off my brain. And did they deserve better?
Todd: Yeah, they deserve better the same way every child star deserves better than to be ground up and spit out by the pop machine. [shrugs]
Video for "Never Had a Dream Come True" endsClosing Tag Song: S Club 8 - "Never Had a Dream Come True"
"Never Had a Dream Come True" is owned by Polydor Records
This video is owned by me
THANK YOU TO THE LOYAL PATRONS!