During Steps’ heyday in the late nineties, Pete Waterman took great pleasure in telling anyone who’d listen that Steps were ‘ABBA on speed’. What he meant by this clunky little soundbite was that Steps took ABBA’s brand of melodic sad pop and essentially sped it up, giving it a dance twist for a 90s audience hungry for catchy tunes and novelty electro line-dancing singles. It seems fitting then, that twenty years after their first hit, Steps are finally covering an ABBA song. Sort of. ‘Story Of A Heart’ was co-written by Benny and Björn for their first compilation album and features ABBA’s trademark bittersweet sound. It makes for a solid Steps single too (although I still think ‘Happy’ would have been a better choice) and comes with a summery, wholesome video to go along with it.
As with any good Steps video, there’s lots to take in here. First of all, who is dressing Lisa Scott-Lee? While Claire, Faye, Lee and H are all styled to look somewhat demure, Lisa has been squeezed into some sort of girdle. She looks like she’s about to start waiting tables at a seafood restaurant in Corfu. And not a good one. Needless to say though, Claire and Faye look angelic.
Moving on to H, he has the look of a man who is ageing faster every time he talks over someone in an interview to remind us he’s gay. And boy does H like to do that. Here, he has the dejected look of a man who has just realised that naming himself after one of the worst letters of the alphabet was a bad idea. Not his usual, bouncy, mad-eyed self, here he does his best to act subdued and reflective, instead coming off like he’s staring down the barrel of a gun, or maybe thinking about how his three second solo in ‘Heartbeat’ single-handedly brought the track down from a 9/10 to an 8.
The video takes place in an idyllic, summer setting. While most of the band find themselves surrounded by flowers and blue skies, Lisa once again draws the short straw and ends up swaying in front of a fence, doing her damned best to make it work, instead looking like she’s posing for a very lonely pre-prom photo in her back garden. Elsewhere, Lee looks like a masc4masc gym fit ‘no time wasters’ Grindr jock, hunky but plain in a blue polo neck that he probably brought from home. Still, the band is still better styled than they were in 2012 when they were put in a series of gaudy block colours that made them look like a ball pit.
What’s amazing about the ‘Story Of A Heart’ video is that it seems to have been actually sponsored by an actually reputable, big money company. In this day and age, hp appear to have decided that Steps are the key to marketing success, their little camera gadget thing playing a starring role as the band print off goofy snaps of themselves for their scrapbook. If that doesn’t send sales rocketing, then I mean really, what will.
Finally, the video culminates in a dance routine, hastily crammed in at the end, the band in a new set of garb, this time styled in tasteful, muted pink. It’s not one of Steps’ best routines, but then this isn’t a track that lends itself particularly well to dancing, the scenes of the band clinking glasses and pretending to reminisce about the good old days feeling more fitting. It feels like an ending, the reflective trip down memory lane usually the sign of a band on the brink of a split, but for Steps, this is just another chance to celebrate a long and illustrious career as one of the liveliest – and best – pop groups around.