What the Future Holds Pt. 2

Steps

What the Future Holds Pt. 2

Almost a quarter of a century into her career as one fifth of Steps, Claire Richards experienced an epiphany. “I realized that the fact Steps were never cool means that we can never really go out of fashion,” she tells Apple Music. It was pure serendipity, then, that 2020's What the Future Holds found the group bang on trend, arriving amid a tidal wave of high-octane dance pop from acts like Lady Gaga and Dua Lipa. “When times are tough, people are looking for lightness,” adds bandmate Lisa Scott-Lee. “And that's what Steps do, we brighten up the world.” What the Future Holds, Pt. 2 was originally conceived as a deluxe version of What the Future Holds (aka Pt. 1), but quickly escalated into a stand-alone record, with 10 new tracks. They combine the group's trademark big choruses, bittersweet lyrics, and imperative key changes with moodier, more experimental elements and more pointed lyrics. “I think there's sometimes a misconception that Steps are a novelty act,” says Richards. “When we first started making music again in 2016, we were sent some really young, cheesy stuff. But underneath our bright outfits and big grins, we've always had really great songs. We've tried to take our very specific kind of pop and translate it into a new era.” Read on as Scott-Lee and Richards guide us through What the Future Holds, Pt. 2, one song at a time.
“Take Me for a Ride” Lisa Scott-Lee: “This was written by [songwriting and production duo] Karl Twigg and Mark Topham and was the first song they'd written together in 15 years. They were some of our original writers, but we hadn't worked with them for a long time, so it was nice to hear where they thought we sat musically after all these years. We all really liked the ’80s vibe. It's not as in-your-face poppy as some of our tracks, but it's good to do something unexpected. Lyrically, it's someone who's got strong emotions and feelings, and is speaking out and saying, ‘This is where I stand.’”
“Heartbreak in This City (Single Mix)” Claire Richards: “We've all admired Michelle Visage for a long time. [Band member] Faye [Tozer] got to know her after Michelle was partnered with Giovanni [Pernice] on Strictly Come Dancing the year after Faye [had been on the show]. When we were promoting Pt. 1, Michelle hosted an Instagram live for us, and during a conversation someone said, ‘Oh, you should come and sing with us one day.’ But straight after our manager suggested she do a vocal on ‘Heartbreak in This City,’ and she replied immediately. Within a couple of weeks, she had done her vocal, and then we were doing a video. We've never done something like that before, and the whole thing was just fantastic.”
“Wasted Tears” CR: “This is written by Christian Fast, Märta Grauers, and Malin Johansson, who did ‘Don’t You Leave Us Halfway’ on Pt 1. ‘Wasted Tears’ is a sad song, but it's also empowering and uplifting. When you get to a certain age, you realize that you have to be responsible for your own joy. I've certainly realized that I can't rely on other people to make me happy.”
“A Hundred Years of Winter” LSL: “H [band member Ian Watkins] has been friends with [Australian singer-songwriter and former member of Savage Garden] Darren Hayes for years, and Darren ended up sending us this song. I was a massive Savage Garden fan, and I instantly loved it. It's more midtempo than our usual tracks; it's not quite a ballad, but probably as close to one as Steps get. The boys have got great voices, and I think it's important that they get the opportunity to show them off as well.”
“Living in a Lie” LSL: “This one is very ABBA-esque. Pete Waterman once said Steps were ‘ABBA on speed,’ which has haunted me for years, but I understand where he was coming from. We both like to have songs with an upbeat melody and melancholic lyrics, which is very true of this song. ABBA are amazing, so it's nice to have a reference on the album.”
“A Million Years” CR: “‘A Million Years’ is probably something people might not expect from us. It's very grown up and quite cool. It's written by [Swedish songwriter] Peter Boström, who wrote [2012 Eurovision winner] ‘Euphoria.’ At least once a day someone asks us if we'd enter Eurovision, but we've never actually been approached. I'm not sure other countries would vote for the UK regardless of how good the song was.”
“Trouble & Love” LSL: “This was written by [Swedish musician] Carl Ryden and [British singer-songwriter] Fiona Bevan, who are just great pop writers. They wrote ‘Scared of the Dark’ for us, which is one of the songs that automatically joined the back catalog of Steps classics as soon as it was released, which is no easy feat. ‘Trouble & Love’ is really fun, with a very poppy sound and a key change, which is the other essential element of a Steps song.”
“Victorious” LSL: “This is one of the songs on the album that I loved straight away and wanted to play over and over. There are definitely Eurovision elements there, but it's very much a Steps song in terms of our group vocals. I like that it feels very authentically us, and has an uplifting chorus and empowering lyrics.”
“Kiss of Life” LSL: “As established artists, we love to give up-and-coming writers an opportunity to showcase their talents. This was written by Sara Anne Mathes, Bendik Møller, and Charlie Bryce Wallace, who are young, fresh writers. It's dance pop, but it has a very fresh sound and a great beat. I sing the first verse, and in the studio I really enjoyed dancing along and getting the vibe. I think this is definitely one that our fans will love to bounce along to.”
“High” CR: “One of my favorites on the album. It's got a really cinematic vibe to it, and a big old soaring chorus at the end that you can really get your teeth into. I think it has a really uplifting message that fans will take hold of.”
“The Slightest Touch” CR: “Faye, H, and I are massive fans of [’80s pop group] Five Star. We had the albums and were besotted with them when we were younger, so we've wanted to do a cover for years. When our manager Peter suggested doing 'The Slightest Touch' on Pt. 2, we said yes straight away. We've got a bit of a reputation of taking covers and making them our own by doing them in a huge way. It happened with ‘Chain Reaction,’ ‘Better the Devil You Know,’ and ‘Tragedy.’ I think this stands up there with the rest of them.”

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