Editors' Notes When the time came for Steps to record their sixth studio album, their brief was typically singular. “We wanted it to sound like sliding down a rainbow, landing in a pot of glitter and dancing with unicorns,” Ian “H” Watkins tells Apple Music. In fact, the quintet had been undecided about making new music together, following the success of 2017’s Tears on the Dancefloor—until they heard Sia’s demo of “What the Future Holds.” Suddenly they had a lead single, album title and concept all at once. “That song was the catalyst,” says Lee Latchford-Evans. “The lyrics, ‘One foot in the past and one foot in the future’ felt like where we were at that point in time.” Freshly inspired, they set out to make a record which combined the nostalgic and the contemporary. “Steps songs always have to be anthemic, to have emotion, drama, melancholy and a key change,” says H. “But this time we wanted to nod to the future, as well as the past,” adds Faye Tozer. “This album is more of a rollercoaster of styles, with ballads and intimate moments, as well as dance floor fillers.” Read on as Steps talk us through each track.

What the Future Holds
Ian “H” Watkins: “We’ve had songs submitted to us by well-known artists before, and they’ve not been great, so we’ve just said no.”
Claire Richards: “But as soon as Sia sent us this, we all thought, ‘This is amazing’. It was her suggestion that we should record it, because she said it would be perfect for us.”
Faye Tozer: “We had our first number one in Australia, so she probably grew up with our music. We’ve heard that she’s very pleased with our version, so that’s lovely.”
CR: “Not to be derogatory, but Sia’s got a very unique way of phrasing certain words. So we’d all lived with the demo for quite a long time, and listened to it a lot. And then we were sent the lyric sheet, and I was very surprised because the lyrics were completely different to what I thought they were!”
H: “She sounded drunk, to be fair. Like when Vic Reeves does club singing.”
CR: “Her version is incredible, but the pronunciation is a lot clearer on ours. There’s a line where she sang, ‘wid ya’, which we had to change to ‘with you’, because we sounded ridiculous.”

Something in Your Eyes
FT: “There were a few songs on the table that had an ABBA-esque feel, which our fans always enjoy, but this was the strongest one of the lot. The chorus was so strong, and we knew we could do a really camp, fabulous video. It actually ended up trending in the US, which is mind-blowing.”
H: “During the key change, you can literally hear all the gays screaming, ‘Yes!’”
Faye: “One of the writers, Thomas G:son, wrote ‘Euphoria’ for [Swedish Eurovision winner] Loreen, so it gives a nod to Eurovision too. Would we ever enter? That’s something we have differing opinions about. H wants to do it desperately, and I...don’t.”

Clouds
H: “This is a little bit more experimental for us. I just love the chorus on it–the ‘Ooooohs’. It reminds me of the chant that opens ‘Better Best Forgotten’. If we end up doing this on tour, I’d love to do a mash-up of the two. Usually, whenever ‘Better Best Forgotten’ starts, the whole arena screams it back at us, and I’d love for that to happen with this song.”

To the Beat of My Heart
H: “This one was written with Xenomania, who we’ve never worked with before, and MNEK. I wasn’t completely on board with the demo because it didn’t sound to me like a Steps song, but once we added the vocals and the production, I loved it.”
Lisa Scott-Lee: “It just has a great vibe, it’s very feelgood. I think with everything that’s happening in the world, with the pandemic, it’s what people need to hear. Positive, upbeat lyrics. I’ve said before, I like it when Steps do pop-dance because I think we’re doing a good job of it. It’s nice to have something like this on the album.”

Father’s Eyes
Lee Latchford-Evans: “Our last album was a lot of dance floor fillers, but this one is more mature, with the ballads. It’s also the first album that feels completely unified, with all five of our voices. A lot of our older songs have been very girl-led, because they’re just so friggin’ high. The boys haven’t been featured as much, but now we’re really utilising the fact that we’re the only boy/girl band out there, which is something unique. You can hear the boys’ vocals coming through on that bottom octave here, while the girls’ melodies are going the other way.”

One Touch
FT: “As soon as I heard the demo, I thought of Anastasia—it has that more rocky vibe to it. But then the production has a real nod to that ’90s pop sound, which I enjoy. What we did in the ’90s was so specific to that time, those big melodic bangers, that we really had to think about how to deliver Steps songs, but bring them into the present day. What we’ve tried to do is make sure that there is something for everybody. There are nostalgic sounding songs, and then some more progressive ones, and lots of sing-alongs.”
Under My Skin
H: “I really didn’t like the original demo of ‘’Under My Skin’ at all. It was a really sparse indie track that reminded me of a Massive Attack song. But now it’s one of our favourites, I adore it.”
CR: “I'm a massive fan of one of the writers, Rachel Furner, who I co-wrote with on my album. With Tears on the Dancefloor, we made a conscious decision to keep the album full of uptempo bangers because we felt that’s what the fans wanted from us at the time. With this album, we wanted a chance to be able to give the listener a bit of a breather. Anything melancholic and a little bit sad, like ‘Under My Skin’, is perfect for us.”
LLE: “Melancholic and sad are not the first words you think of when you think of Steps.”
CR: “Yeah, but we manage to put a happy spin on it. A lot of our songs aren’t as happy and upbeat as we make them out to be. It’s our presentation that makes them feel like that.”
H: “You’re dying inside, but you want to dance your tits off as well.”
CR: “Exactly.”

Heartbreak in This City
LSL: “This is co-written by Karl Twigg, who was one of our original Steps writers and wrote on ‘One for Sorrow’, ‘Deeper Shade of Blue’ and ‘Stomp’. He's got a certain format and formula which he’s used with us in the past, and you can definitely hear it on this song. He co-wrote it with Stella Attar, and I think the fans will love it because it has that nod to the past, yet it’s been bought up to date.”

Come and Dance with Me
LSL: “I think this is a bit quirky, compared to some of the others. Lyrically, it’s about living in the moment, feeling free, being true to yourself. I think that’s what we’re about. We always say to people: just be yourself, let yourself go, come to our shows and have a good time. And if Steps ask you to dance, it would be rude to say no, wouldn’t it?”
H: “This one was written by Carl Ryden and Fiona Bevan, who did ‘Scared of the Dark’ and ‘Neon Blue’ for the last album. Sometimes we ask people to write songs for us and they come back with something really twee and childlike, because that’s their perception of what a Steps song is, but it completely isn’t. It’s good when writers understand what makes a Steps song.”

Don’t You Leave Us Halfway
FT: “I really enjoy this one. When it kicks in, it reminds me of ‘Neon Blue’ on the last album. Lyrically, it feels really relevant to where we are in our lives. It’s a little bit more grown-up. We’ve watched each other grow through relationships and have to fight for things. Even though it’s melancholy, it has an upbeat message to it with the lyrics, ‘If we can be brave, we can be beautiful.’”

To The One
H: “I love when songs are rooted in the present but nod to the past–like with ‘Black Magic’ by Little Mix. That’s a song which you can imagine Debbie Gibson recording in the ’80s. What I love about ‘To The One’ is that it transports you back in time. My favourite TV show is Stranger Things, and ‘To The One’ could be on the soundtrack.”

Hold My Heart
CR: “I think this is the perfect end to the album. Pete Waterman always used to say an album should take you on a journey—it should take you to a peak and then bring you back down again. This song is very different to everything else, it’s much more stripped-back and is really all about the vocals.”
FT: “We worked really hard in the studio to give our vocals that raw, delicate quality. We wanted them to have that pure, lovely sound that resonates even without lots of harmonising.”
CR: “Even though it’s slightly different to our other songs, I still think it’s very, very Steps. I’m so glad that this made it on to the album. It’s there to say, ‘....and relax. You’ve been on this journey, and now you can chill.’”
H: “It’s the album version of a happy ending.”

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