When The Saturdays announced plans for a Greatest Hits compilation and accompanying tour last Thursday (April 3), the reaction amounted to the internet equivalent of a slightly disgruntled sigh.
The firestorm of indifference ranged from comments like “I honestly hadn’t realised that they’d released that much material,” to “Don’t you think the word ‘TURD’ really stands out in their logo.”
But such collective apathy is unforgivable given The Sats’ contribution to pop music over the last six years – a career length most girlbands can only dream of. Since the release of If This Is Love in July 2008, acts like Girls Can’t Catch, The Dolly Rockers, and – God forgive us – Stooshe have all lived and quite rightly died by the pop sword, but The Saturdays have continued to transcend their status as ‘what the S Club Juniors are doing now’ to become something of a household name.
From adopting Jamaican accents on last year’s What About Us to rocking up to the Not Giving Up video in a Citroën, the girls’ persistent approach to pop stardom means this Greatest Hits collection has a hit rate that would only be topped if Ri-Ri dropped a singles collection tomorrow.
Because with 13 top ten hits – from sing-a-long staples like Up and Higher to their somewhat iffy promise to make the party "super naughty" on All Fired Up – you can’t deny that The Saturdays have churned out some concrete bangers during their time together.
Frankie, Mollie and co. have always embodied that simple pop sensibility that’s completely lacking in today’s Jess Glynne-backed, techno-lite charts: there’s a lot to be said for the kind of pop music that reinvigorates a flagging dance floor, and you can’t in all honesty call yourself a card-carrying homosexual unless you’ve belted out Ego at 3am with a G&T in each hand.
Part of their endearing appeal is the fact they’re a band from a simpler time: a time when being a popstar meant identifying yourself with coloured leggings, fronting a lip gloss campaign and filming the occasional music video against a green screen. While upstarts like Little Mix try to conquer the States with their tight harmonies, irreverent banter and ‘look-at-our-sexually-unthreatening-hi-tops’ shtick, The Saturdays have never deigned to play it cool in the name of credibility – just look at the rap breakdown in 2013’s Gentleman, in which Una manages to name-check 80-year-old Larry King as a hot older man.
The group has also given us two unreasonably addictive reality shows in the form of ITV2's The Saturdays 24/7 in 2010 and last year’s Chasing the Saturdays, which aired on E! in the US before being given a primetime slot in the UK on 4Music of all places.
The former’s highlights included an episode in which the girls head off on a day trip to Go Ape! in Thetford Forest, but any concerns that the follow-up series wouldn’t top this were allayed during an episode of Chasing... entitled ‘SatsAndTats,’ in which Frankie and her older sister got matching swallow tattoos.
Chasing the Saturdays also introduced the public to the most ground-breaking celebrity coupling since Booty Luv: as Una and Vanessa get ready to hit the town for a drinking session, Una turns to the camera to reveal that: “I’m Fierce, she’s Ness. Together we’re FierceNess.” Let it never be said again that these girls lack personality.
Maybe it’s that the British public love an underdog, but the fact the The Saturdays have stuck around despite four of their five albums failing to chart any higher than number nine is probably comparable to Michael Jackson’s musical achievements in a round-a-bout kind of way.
When 2009’s Depeche Mode cover Just Can’t Get Enough became the first Comic Relief single to fail to reach the number one spot in 14 years, the band’s subsequent quest to reach the top spot with something – anything – suddenly became the kind of drama that the public could invest in. Having finally achieved the feat with the Sean Paul-assisted What About Us last year, this Greatest Hits compilation feels almost like the perfect book-end to that mission’s success.
So whether they’re hiding a pregnant Frankie behind a minibus in the Disco Love video or covering Shut Up and Driveon tour after an injured Vanessa gets rolled onstage in a wheelchair, there’s just something completely loveable about The Saturdays – which is why I’ll be front and centre at one of the various town halls they’ve booked for the autumn.
Here’s to you, Sats: may you rattle on for many a year to come.