The rightful heirs to ABBA’s sadpop legacy, Steps are doing fine work of showing the pop world how you formulate a successful comeback. After a killer first single and a very decent album (followed by a sold out tour), it’s only natural the second best band of the nineties should want to milk every penny out of their reunion. So what follows a successful album? An album reissue of course, complete with new bonus material.
‘Dancing With A Broken Heart’ is our first glimpse at what the deluxe package has in store. An upbeat dance-pop affair, it’s a cover of a 2012 track by Delta Goodrem that encapsulates the euphoric heartbreak that lies at the core of every Steps smash.
It’s immediately clear that ‘Dancing With A Broken Heart’ was born from a savvy record producer ever-so-slightly tweaking the winning formula that made comeback single ‘Scared Of The Dark’ such a triumph. Dramatic orchestral intro? Check. Subdued verses followed by a dance chorus? Check. Bombastic key change that isn’t part of the original? Check. Naturally.
What ‘Dancing With A Broken Heart’ lacks, though, is the sinister undercurrent that throbbed through ‘Scared Of The Dark’ as well as a toe-curlingly sensational chorus. But hey, not many songs have that. What ‘Dancing With A Broken Heart’ does have is still pretty impressive. Virtually every line is a hook in its own right, diligently picking its way into your brain and taking up residence.
While the arrangement sticks pretty rigidly to Goodrem’s original, there are some nice flourishes in the production, from the chirpy hand claps to the robotic vocal distortion serving as a subtle nod to the 90s. Perhaps the best part is the pre-chorus that features horn stabs and a Phil Collins-esque drum breakdown. With its fairly generic pop sheen, it’s easy to overlook some of the nuances hiding behind the driving beat and orchestral swoops, but they’re certainly worth finding, especially given that subtlety has never been a Steps strong point.
‘Dancing With A Broken Heart’ is a welcome addition to Steps’ expanding discography that shows them at their camp, Europop best. Is it as good as ‘Scared Of The Dark’? No. Is it a wonderful pop song anyway? Of course it is.