A1 – Waiting For Daylight (Official Music Video)
Whilst Steps are proof that nothing sells records and tickets better than reality TV combined with a hardcore promotional circuit, there has to be a certain buzz about the band for the interest to be there in the first place.
A1 have actually been back together since 2009, following on from lead singer Ben Adams’ appearance on Celebrity Big Brother. Their reunion though has been only Norway’s special little secret, with it being the homeland of fellow band member Christian Ingebrigtsen.
I first remember seeing A1 on Gaytime TV – hosted by Richard Fairbrass and Rhona Cameron, no less (just a little bit gay, then) – promoting their debut single ‘Be The First To Believe’ back in 1999. It was very clear that their marketing team knew just who would love those boys. Ben Adams quickly became another entry in to the ‘floppy-haired pop singers we’d love to do’ list, along with 911’s Lee Brennan and Kavana.
Both ‘Be The First To Believe’ and it’s follow up ‘Summertime Of Our Lives’ crashed in to the UK Top 10, peaking at #6 and #5 respectively. Produced by former D:Ream lead singer Peter Cunnah, they are the epitome of 90s boyband pop, aside for one small difference.
It is worth noting early on that, despite the conventional boyband approach to their music, these debut top 10 tracks were written by the band themselves. Adams earned solo songwriting credits for their first single. All four – Adams, Ingebrigsten, Mark Read and Paul Marazzi – shared credits on the second, and the #3 hit ballad ‘Everytime’ which was their third single, released just before Christmas Christmas ‘99.
A debut album entitled ‘Here We Come’ just scraped in to the Top 20, but the Adams-penned ‘Like A Rose’ was released in February 2000 and became their fourth top 10 hit, peaking at #6. They even had a song (Heaven By Your Side) feature on Dawson’s Creek, which was also included on the second soundtrack.
Keen to capitalise on their popularity, it took them just six months to release the debut single from their sophomore studio album ‘The A List’. A cover of A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’, it was mauled by critics but still topped the charts, becoming their first UK #1 and went on to sell over 200k copies.
They followed that with another chart topper in the shape of ‘Same Old Brand New You’ – a personal favourite – and ‘The A List’ peaked at #14 on the UK album chart, beating the #20 placing of their debut LP. I remember a particular ex-boyfriend phoning me once and playing the opening line of album track ‘Scared’ down the phone after we ‘separated due to irreconcilable differences’. It was the ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’ nod to the Scream films. It confirmed that I had done the right thing, at least.
Anyway, the third cut from the album ‘No More’ made number six in early 2001, becoming the band’s seventh consecutive Top 10 single. That year they also won a Brit Award for Best British Breakthrough Act, much to the jeers of ‘credible’ onlookers.
Then a year later, the band came back with the well-received #2 smash hit ‘Caught In The Middle’, where they adopted a more soft guitar-rock driven sound. However, the follow up single and accompanying album, both called ‘Make It Good’, were unable to replicate the lead single’s success, and missed the Top 10.
When Paul Marazzi decided to leave the band in 2002, the remaining members decided to follow suit and call it a day. Ingebrigtsen launched a solo career in Norway in 2003 with his debut solo single staying in the Norwegian Top 10 for three months. Adams’ had less success on these shores with his solo single ‘Sorry’ scraping the top 20 before disappearing without a trace. I bought it, bien sur.
In 2009, after that Big Brother appearance, the band reformed as a three piece (without Marazzi), and released their first single in seven years. ‘Take You Home’ is a more mature slice of pop music, and charted at #9. In 2010, A1 represented Norway at Eurovision and their entry ‘Don’t Want To Lose You Again’ reached #4 on the Norwegian chart on downloads alone. A third single, ‘In Love And I Hate It’, followed.
Their fourth studio album called ‘Waiting For Daylight’ was made available in October and, in April this year, they released their first music video in nine years to accompany the title track from the LP.
Whilst little has been said of whether they’ll be releasing the album in the UK, A1 have announced that they’ll be doing their first UK gig as a band in nearly a decade on October 31st, at the O2 Academy, Islington. They also appeared on OKTV on 13 October, so perhaps now they’re looking to tap in to the 90s comeback fever.
Whatever happens, the boys have matured well both in looks and in their sound, They don’t sound like a copycat Take That, instead it feels like a natural progression from their ‘Make It Good’ album, and I bloody hope that this damned LP is finally going to get a UK-airing.