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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:19 GMT
Hear'Say race against time
Hear'Say were formed on ITV's Popstars programme
Can Hear'Say do it again second time round?
By BBC News Online's Nigel Packer

Hear'Say and their management team appear to be racing against the clock.

New release Everybody is the Popstars quintet's second album in eight months, and the sheer speed of its turnaround looks like an admission that their bubble could burst at any moment.

Either way, the group's success has already opened up a world of possibilities to those who pull the strings in showbiz circles (see Pop Idol for details).

Whatever anyone thinks of the boy/girl band phenomenon, Popstars made for riveting television. Yet even as millions tuned in to see five hopefuls picked and packaged for instant stardom, there was no guarantee that they would sell that many records.

Suzanne Shaw was picked from thousands of hopefuls to form the band
More cheery pop tunes
Viewers were intrigued to see inside the music industry, but would they do what was asked and buy the final product?

They did - to the tune of more than one million albums. No wonder everyone was so keen to meet that pre-Christmas deadline with the follow-up.

Like its predecessor, Everybody is assembled with icy professionalism but makes for insipid listening. Not that the group themselves are to blame.

The first album was effectively put together before they were - with vocals added at the last minute once the winners were chosen.

Given their hectic touring commitments the same method was presumably used this time, although they do get a couple of co-writing credits.

Contributors again include Scandinavia's StarGate writing/production team, but in truth the songs could have been constructed entirely by computer.

Cheery pop tunes stand alongside half-baked ballads, and each track sticks doggedly to tried and tested formulas.

New generation

Pure and Simple is the best thing here, and that is a new version of their debut hit.

Elsewhere, there is the bouncing, synthetic pop of the title track, the R'n'B flavour of A Good Thing and the slightly outdated Latin touches of Play To Win.

To be fair to the group, they can carry a tune with confidence, although none of the voices are really distinctive.

And it is the anonymous quality of both vocals and music which finally makes Everybody a strangely disheartening album.

By now everyone must be resigned to boy/girl bands dominating the UK music industry for some time to come.

But even in this tepid environment Everybody sounds lacklustre - especially when heard alongside the sprightly new album from longer-standing rivals S Club 7.

With a new generation of production-line pop acts set to trundle down the conveyor belt in 2002, Hear'Say are already in danger of sounding like last year's model.

Everybody is released by Polydor on 3 December

Listen to the new single Everybody
See also:

30 Nov 01 | Reviews
Hear'Say: Your views
28 Nov 01 | Music
Hear'Say threatened by newcomer
23 Sep 01 | Showbiz
Hear'Say success in kids' awards
06 Sep 01 | Music
Hear'Say tour fails to sell out
01 Jul 01 | Music
Hear'Say top charts again
28 Mar 01 | Reviews
Thumbs up for Hear'Say
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