Before online streaming music sites became popular in the late 2000s, discovering new tunes back in the day was done in two ways: mass media (like TV and radio) or the internet, either illegally or legally. With music being spread like wildfire all over the internet, how we listen to music changed. More and more people also got curious about various musical genres from around the world. One way was through blogs. I remember reading each week on various LiveJournal sites about tunes I had never heard before, listening to each one, and then falling in love with new favorites.
It’s the 100th post at ☆ai love music☆! I never thought that I would reach this milestone as I didn’t think I would be continuing to blog after my long hiatus in 2009. It’s all thanks to the readers and my evolving music library both on my computer and in my CD shelves that keeps me going even during difficult times. I hope that I can reach my 200th very soon.
To mark this occasion, I want to use a song that involves the word “celebrate” as this a joyous occasion. I was looking through my iTunes and found a little gem from the German girl pop group Queensberry. The band was formed in 2008 during season 8 of the German version of the hit TV talent show Popstars. The original members were Leonore Bartsch, Gabriella De Almeida Rinne, Antonella Trapani, and Victoria Ulbrich.
Hoping to be as successful as Popstars alumni bands No Angel and Monrose, Queensberry released their debut album, entitled Volume I, in early 2009 with great success. It was certified gold.The group was quick to release singles from the album as well as work on what was supposed to be their US debut album. However, that plan never came about as their contract with Warner Music dissolved at the end of 2009.
What made matters worse was that Antonella and Victoria decided to call it quits by July 2010. Queensberry’s managers were quick to find their replacements, who were Selina Herrero and Ronja Hilbig. Queensberry didn’t release any material, just appeared on a song by rapper KittyKat and did live performances. However, Selina Herrero left the group two years later as she wanted to go back to school.
The group released their last album as a trio in 2012 with little success. Leonore Bartsch decided to leave the group soon after, leaving Queensberry with only Ronja and Gabriella. The group eventually disbanded completely in 2013.
It is currently unknown what the girls are doing now. It is presumed they are either out of show business or focus on their solo careers.
“Celebrate” might feel like a generic synthpop song. It features a high-pitched synthesizer, a clapping machine, and an air drum kit. I think the keys to the song are the vocals and the feel-good meaning behind the lyrics. You can say that the girls vocals are the standard pop vocals you hear from any pop tune. However, I feel like these vocals fit the song perfectly. It isn’t too deep nor high and the vocals are really smooth with a clear tone. They actually make you feel good and relax.
One other thing that makes the listener feel good is the lyrics. Who doesn’t want a friendly reminder like “Celebrate, we made it through the day Celebrate, good times are here to stay Celebrate, dreams come to life today” throughout their day, The song is filled with upbeat lyrics that tell you that you shouldn’t give up because you can celebrate your victories at the end of the day.
A week ago, I started to listen to television and movie soundtracks once again. One soundtrack that I listened to was the one for Disney’s “The Princess Diaries”. One of my favorite movies and book series when I was in junior high school, “The Princess Diaries” had a pretty solid soundtrack featuring known and unknown artists like Myra, Backstreet Boys, Steps, and others. Many would remember such songs like Myra’s “Miracles Happen” and Krystal Harris’ “Supergirl!”. Who didn’t sing “I’m Supergirl, and I’m here to save the world” out loud when the movie came out?
One of the less prominent songs off the soundtrack is “Happy Go Lucky” by the English pop group Steps. Formed in 1997 by music manager Tim Byrne and the writing team Steve Crosby and Barry Upton, Steps featured five members; Claire, Faye, H, Lisa, and Lee. The group released their debut single, “5, 6, 7, 8”, a year later with some success. This techno-flavored single caught the eye of one of my favorite producers, Pete Waterman, who signed them to Jive Records in hopes to create a new ABBA. Doesn’t that sound familiar? A*Teens?
The group released more singles, a mixture of covers and originals, before the end of the millennium. The group’s most successful single was “Heartbeat / Tragedy” featuring an original ballad and a cover of a Bee Gees’ song. The single went onto be the number one single of January 1999 and charted for over thirty weeks. The group released their debut album, “Steps”, and the follow-up, “Spectacular”, while going on tour in America with artists like Britney Spears and Youngstown.
Sadly, the success didn’t last long as the band started to slip when their third album, “Buzz” was released in late 2000. Relations also became fracture with Claire and H leaving the group in 2001 as they said they became miserable. The group official split quietly after the release of the single “Words Are Not Enough / I Know Him So Well” in 2001. The split angered fans back then for various reasons including capitalizing and lying.
The group reunited in 2011 to release new music. During this time, they released an album, “Light Up the World”, and hosted a small Christmas tour. The group also appeared on various talk shows and had their own reality show, talking about the past and why did they break up. However, the reunion was short-lived as the group announced a hiatus in 2013 with many of the group’s members resuming their solo careers.
I never really knew about Steps during the whole pop band epidemic of the late 90s. All I knew in terms of pop bands was the ones featured on Disney Channel or TRL; Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Youngstown, B*Witched, and 5ive/Five. It was when my mom bought Steps’ debut album from a thrift store during my high school days that I really noticed them. Sadly, I wished I had paid attention to them in the late 90s as they are pretty talented and buoyant group. I really like the fact that there were both male and female members with each one playing an important part in every song.
“Happy Go Lucky” plays on Step’s signature sound of bubblegum synthpop despite “Buzz” being a more mature-sounded album. I feel like the song starts off in a minor progression as the beginning is “a bit under the weather” in terms of a mood. Throughout the verse and pre-chorus, the progression somehow goes major as the chorus is a bit chipper. This cycle of sad to happy to sad keeps on going throughout the song until the ending.
Or, maybe I just imagining this?
The lyrics are a bit sad though. The character laments that she tries to pull off being happy and makes everyone believe that she is ok. However, it’s a lie. Under the emotional mask, the character is truly sad as she just experienced a break-up with a man mentioned in the song. She does her “happy-go-lucky dance even if I am foolin’ myself” in order to make people believe that nothing is wrong. “Happy Go Lucky” makes me feel a bit sad for the singer as the lyrics and melody paints the internal emotional struggle of the main character.
Even though the atmosphere isn’t so happy, the song is definitely a hidden gem in Steps’ discography. The vocals are a perfect match for the song as they aren’t too strong or sweet. In fact, this song is a perfect song for the The Princess Diaries or even anyone’s playlist as it’s an easy-listening tune. The best part for me is the chorus because it’s memorable with the lyrics, which I remember easily and sing them out loud randomly on occasion. Nonetheless, the song is a winner as it’s catchy, displays how skillful the group is with the lead and backing vocals, the lyrics’ plot, and the fervor.
Take a listen to the song below and tell me what you think.