Rock Steady (All Saints song)
|Single by All Saints|
|from the album Studio 1|
|Released||6 November 2006|
|Recorded||2006; Mayfair Studios, London, England|
|All Saints singles chronology|
"Rock Steady" is a song performed by British-Canadian recording girl group All Saints from their third studio album, Studio 1. It was co-written by group member Shaznay Lewis in collaboration with the track's producer Greg Kurstin. The song was released by Parlophone on 6 November 2006 on CD, digital, maxi single and 12" vinyl format. "Rock Steady" was the last official single to be released by the group. All Saints collaborated with Kurstin on a number of songs; six were chosen for the album. "Rock Steady" was released as the first single from it. The song contains prominent 2 Tone, dance-pop, reggae fusion, rocksteady and ska musical characteristics. It is lyrically influenced by feelings of feminism and confidence in reference to the personalities of the group members themselves.
"Rock Steady" received mainly positive reviews from contemporary music critics. On 11 November 2006, the single debuted at number eleven on the UK Singles Chart before reaching a peak of number three the following week. It became All Saints' ninth consecutive top ten hit in the United Kingdom. The single also garnered chart success internationally; peaking within the top ten in the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary and Spain, and the top forty in several other countries.
The music video accompanying "Rock Steady" was directed by W.I.Z. and it was released on 29 September 2006 after the song premiered on The Chris Moyles Show on 21 September 2006. The video features the group acting as professional bank robbers. All Saints performed the single live on various television shows, including: Popworld, Top of the Pops and Saturday Night Takeaway.
All Saints announced in January 2006 that the group had officially reformed after splitting in 2001. On 20 September 2006, the group revealed that the title of their 'comeback single' was "Rock Steady" and that it would be released on 6 November, accompanied by two B-sides entitled "Dope Noise" and "Do Me". The single premiered on BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show on 21 September 2006. "Rock Steady" was the first song group member Shaznay Lewis wrote with Greg Kurstin and it was also the first demo the group recorded in four years.
|“||This was the first-ever song I wrote with Greg Kurstin and the first demo the band sang together in four years. I wrote it about us four.||”|
|— Shaznay Lewis, The Sun|
The song was produced by Greg Kurstin. Kurstin also performed all instrumentation involved in the song and, recorded and mixed the song at Mayfair Studios in London, England. John Hudson was Kurstin's recording assistant for the track and Jasper Irm, Simon Hayes and Toshi Minesaki were involved in its engineering. All backing vocals in the song are sung by group members Nicole Appleton and Natalie Appleton. "Rock Steady" was mastered by Geoff Pesche.
A 20-second sample of All Saints' "Rock Steady" featuring the chorus led by Shaznay Lewis backed by a dance-pop, reggae-influenced breakbeat.
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
The song is composed in the key of D minor, the beat is set in common time and moves at 130 (closer to 137) beats per minute. "Rock Steady" features a different and new style in music in comparison to previous All Saints tracks. The song is upbeat and contains prominent 2 Tone, dance-pop, reggae fusion, rocksteady and ska or as described by the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, "sassy reggae pop" musical characteristics. The song is constructed in verse-chorus form. The first verse is sung by Shaznay and the second verse is sung by Nicole. Melanie Blatt leads the song's middle 8 along with Natalie. All the verses are sung in call and response with the chorus being sung as a combined vocal by all group members with Shaznay on lead.
Surrounding the release of "Rock Steady" was controversy regarding its sound after Cheryl from rival British girl group Girls Aloud accused the All Saints single of sounding like one of Girls Aloud's.
In an interview with MTV UK, group member Melanie Blatt sarcastically responded to the accusation: "'Jump (for My Love)' is so where I wanna be. [...] We could only aspire and dream to be like them (Girls Aloud). Hopefully one day we will achieve that. For now, we will have to make do with copying them."
In the same interview, Nicole Appleton responded: "We all have vaginas. That's about as similar as it gets." Shaznay Lewis went on to say that she doesn't care what Girls Aloud thinks, referring to them as "stupid little girls".
Shaznay later substantiated her reference in another interview, saying:
We [All Saints] say what we want. As long as we stand true and say what we believe, it's fine. I stand by it and I mean it. If you [Cheryl] say things about people for any other reason you have to be careful because you will bump into them. So you'd better mean what you say. We are four feisty women with a lot of attitude. We're confident because we're older now. People forget they're not talking Girls Aloud or Sugababes – we're 30-odd-year-old women so we aren't dizzy anymore. It's not cockiness, it's maturity. The industry is so false and we know that but when you're younger you think it's the be all and end all.
However, Girls Aloud member Sarah Harding rubbished reports of the feud, saying: "[...] It was taken out of proportion, twisted and they [All Saints] retaliated. I actually had a drink with Natalie Appleton and Liam Gallagher the other week as we have a mutual friend – everything is fine, honestly."
"Rock Steady" received mainly positive reviews from contemporary music critics alike. It garnered compliments regarding the strength of the group's vocals in combination with their new ska dubbed sound. Similarities with regard to the music of rival British girl groups Bananarama, Girls Aloud and Sugababes, and rock band Ordinary Boys were also made.
John Murphy of musicOMH positively reviewed the single as follows: "First single 'Rock Steady' is a good example of how at ease All Saints sound with their skanking new direction. It feels fresh and cool, and the backing vocals from the Appleton sisters fit in beautifully." Matthew Chisling of Allmusic described the song as a "kicking track" and "solid dance hit with enticing grooves". M. H. Lo of Stylus Magazine gave the track a nine out of ten rating, saying: "With a brilliantly insistent chorus, a backing track that deftly weaves a ska rhythm around a kind of breakbeat, the song will not leave your mind as long as you're willing to give it three spins. The golden age of British girl bands receives reinforcements." Hamish Champ of Virgin Media mentioned in a review of Studio 1: "From the opener, 'Rock Steady', one can't help feeling that the quartet has made a conscious decision to move into Girls Aloud territory." Leon McDermott of the Sunday Herald also gave the single a thumbs-up, saying: "An updated take on the sound they made their own, it adds cheeky nods to Jamaican-inspired two tone, ska and rock steady the genre that provides the title for their skanking, jumping comeback single." Adrian Thrill of the Daily Mail positively reviewed the song: "New single 'Rock Steady' finds their voices blending brilliantly over a backdrop of rimshot drumming and heavy, dubby bass." Malcolm Mackenzie of The London Paper said "Rock Steady" is "girly ska pop reminiscent of early Bananarama and [...] Lily Allen."
The song did however receive its share of criticism. Paul Connolly of the Evening Standard mentioned: "[...] Their comeback single 'Rock Steady' does smack off cynicism, however. It sounds like a 50/50 splice of Girls Aloud's pop dynamism and Sugababes' slouchy thrift-shop R&B. It really doesn't do the girls any justice. [...] 'Rock Steady' itself isn't a terrible song – it's just kind of pointless." Fraser McAlpine of the BBC Chart Blog gave the single a two-star rating, mentioning: "[...] the Saints are acting quite devilishly in pinching approximately 98.3% of their sound, mixing it with the dodgy checkered-trousered leftovers from the Ordinary Boys' Brassbound, and throwing in every single senseless lyric from every single girl band song ever."
"Rock Steady" garnered charting success for All Saints both in the United Kingdom and internationally. It became the group's ninth consecutive top ten hit in the United Kingdom and reached the top forty in thirteen other countries worldwide.
On 11 November 2006, "Rock Steady" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number eleven. It was the second highest new entry in the chart for that week, behind U2/Green Day collaboration single "The Saints Are Coming" which debuted at number six. The chart debut of the single marked All Saints first chart appearance on the chart since the chart success of 2001 single "All Hooked Up". In the single's second week of release, it faced competition from rival girl bands Girls Aloud and Sugababes' new singles "Something Kinda Ooooh" and "Easy". On 18 November the single climbed eight places to reach a peak of number three, outpeaking rival girl bands Girls Aloud and Sugababes who were at number six and eight respectively for that week. "Rock Steady" came two places short of becoming All Saints' sixth number one single, being beaten to the top position by Westlife's "The Rose". The single went on to spend a further two more consecutive weeks in the UK top ten; at number seven in its third week on the chart and at number eight on its fourth week on the chart. In the Christmas season "Rock Steady" began dropping at a faster pace. On 8 December it dropped nine places to number seventeen on its fifth week on the chart. In its sixth week on the chart, the single dropped thirteen places to number thirty and later exited the top forty in its seventh week after dropping fifteen places to number forty-five. Week eight saw the single drop a further ten places to number fifty-five but after the Christmas season, however, the song rebounded to climb back up eight places to number forty-seven on January 5, 2007. "Rock Steady" spent its tenth and final week on the chart at number sixty-five before exiting on January 19. The single has sold a total of over 85,000 copies in the United Kingdom alone.
The single bagged its second top ten peak in Hungary where it debuted at number forty but later peaked at number five on the chart issued for the sixth week of 2007, it spent seventeen weeks on this chart. "Rock Steady" debuted at number forty-seven in the Czech Republic but went on to peak at number eight in the first week of 2007, where it stayed for three consecutive weeks and spending a total of twenty-two weeks on the chart.
In week forty-six of 2006, the track debuted and peaked at number ten in Finland, becoming the girl group's third top ten hit there. "Rock Steady" earned a fourth top ten placing, this time in Spain where it debuted and peaked at number ten on 12 November 2006. It spent a total of three weeks on the chart and became All Saints' first-ever single to chart in Spain. On 17 November 2006 the single debuted at number sixty-seven in Austria before going on to peak at number twenty on 22 December 2006. It spent a total of twelve weeks on the chart and is All Saints' third top twenty hit in Austria to-date. In the Netherlands, it debuted and peaked at number thirty-eight, becoming the group's seventh top forty hit there. The single debuted at number thirty-nine in Slovakia before peaking at number twelve for week fifty-one of 2006 and spending a total of twenty-three non-consecutive weeks on the chart. It debuted and peaked at number forty in Germany and is only the group's third top forty hit there.
The song became All Saints' eighth top twenty hit in Ireland: debuting on 9 November 2006, peaking at number fifteen and spending a total of five weeks in the chart. It debuted and peaked at number thirty-eight in New Zealand, becoming the group's sixth single to peak in the top forty there. In Switzerland it debuted at number forty on 3 December 2006, later peaking at number thirty-seven for two consecutive weeks, spending a total of eleven weeks on the chart and becoming the group's sixth top forty hit in this country. "Rock Steady" peaked at number sixteen in Italy and spent a total of four weeks in the chart, at the same time becoming All Saints' third top twenty hit in Italy. "Rock Steady" also achieved charting success in Belgium (Flanders and Wallonia) and in Sweden.
Weeks of planning went into shooting the music video for "Rock Steady" in Cuba: booking flights for all staff, hiring equipment and arranging locations. However, All Saints were not able to sit together in first class travel to Cuba, they either had to "unacceptably" go on separate flights or sit in economy class and as a result the shoot for the music video was moved to Bucharest in Romania at the expense of Parlophone Records. The video leaked on 29 September 2006. The video was produced by Laura Kanerick. It was directed by W.I.Z., director of the group's 1998 single "War of Nerves".
The video begins with a consecutive, quick close-up of each group member. Natalie Appleton, first, is seen with tied-back hair and black sunglasses turning around. Shaznay Lewis, second, is seen with loose hair removing her sunglasses. Nicole Appleton, third, is seen wearing a tilted black hat and a veil over her face. Melanie Blatt, last, is wearing a European-styled black cap with her hair curled to volume and is depicted throughout the video reading The Thief's Journal by Jean Genet. A scene is then focused around the atmosphere outside a bank as the girls begin to arrive, the name of the fictional bank is "Banca dei Fortunati" (in Italian it means "Bank of the luckies"). The name of the fictional bank director is "Benito Berlusconi" The music video is set in black and white, with occasional streaks of yellow or red visible for dramatic emphasis. The scene then shifts to an ATM where money is seen ejecting. Shaznay and Nicole then walk into the bank in supermodel style with whips. Natalie comes through another entrance with her glasses on her head. With security all around, Natalie acts innocent by pretending to be doing her make-up while she waits for Nicole and Shaznay to act out the robbery. Upon Nicole and Shaznay about to act out the robbery is a scene where blood is leaking in a white background. Shaznay and Nicole are then seen sitting down at a table making a deal with the bank managers. At this stage Natalie goes back outside and puts her glasses back on. She stares at one of the security guards as blood starts dripping underneath her sunglasses from her eyes to the extent that the ground beneath her rapidly enlarges in a circle of blood before the screen flashes out in red. In another seen, Nicole removes her hat and now has loose hair, and begins crawling to escape the bank while Melanie is waiting outside reading. Natalie and Shaznay are now in the bank area where they make use of a whip to frighten the civilians. The civilians then put their hands in the air and begin moving together in an almost robotic dance routine. The group then makes their escape via a motorcycle and side car. Melanie had never driven a motorcycle before and W.I.Z. had to draft in an extra hiding behind a cap to take her place.
Promotion and live performances
On 21 October 2006 the group exclusively performed "Rock Steady" live on Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway. This was the first time All Saints performed live together as a group in five years since their split in 2001.
On 25 October 2006 All Saints performed the single live in a setlist of six songs, five from Studio 1 and signature hit single "Pure Shores" at the Sheperd's Bush Pavilion in London. The group wore black or white-coloured shirts teamed with big, loose-knotted ties. Before the show Shaznay Lewis addressed the crowd saying "We're very nervous, you know" and Nicole Appleton said that she was "emotional" after the gig. Chris Elwell-Sutton of the Evening Standard reviewed the performance saying:
All Saints are back in the groove. [...] All Saints did a good job showcasing some strong new material. [...] Forthcoming single 'Rock Steady' was another energetic, commercially viable highlight. They looked tired at times, especially Mel Blatt, who perspired heavily under the lights, and while their routines were competent, serious questions have to be asked about their live skills, with accusations of miming rumbling frequently around the room. Luckily for All Saints, this didn't feel like a symptom of decline, having always employed minimal physical effort, simple choreography, and heavily produced vocals. All Saints are not natural live performers, but against the odds, last night's showing provided some optimism about their comeback potential.
Eva Simpson and Caroline Hedley of the Daily Mirror said that the group "put on one hell of a show." James McNair of The Independent gave the gig a five star rating, saying: "The superb new single 'Rock Steady' shifts things up a gear, All Saints nailing their dancehall influences to the mast and engaging in some neat, microphone-swapping choreography. [...] Watch out, Pussycat Dolls."
The single was then performed live on Popworld on 4 November as part of its promotion leading up to its release on 6 November. On November 14 they appeared on Top of the Pops for a performance of the single. The girls also showed up at BBC's Children in Need on 17 November to perform the single.
All Saints performed the song live as the opening act on The Chart Show on 18 November 2006, alongside acts like Girls Aloud and McFly. The group also performed "Pure Shores" at the event and the following was said about their performances: "They didn't disappoint [...] the party was now well under way."
Formats and track listings
These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Rock Steady":
Credits and personnel
- Songwriting – Shaznay Lewis, Greg Kurstin
- Production – Greg Kurstin
- Instruments and programming – Greg Kurstin
- Recording – Greg Kurstin, John Hudson
- Engineering – Jasper Irm, Simon Hayes, Toshi Minesaki
- Main vocals – Shaznay Lewis, Melanie Blatt, Natalie Appleton, Nicole Appleton
- Background vocals – Natalie Appleton, Nicole Appleton
- Mixing – Greg Kurstin
- Mastering – Geoff Pesche
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||20|
|Belgium (Ultratop Flanders)||42|
|Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)||4|
|Czech Republic (IFPI)||8|
|Denmark Airplay (Tracklisten)||19|
|Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)||10|
|Germany (GfK Entertainment)||40|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||38|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||38|
|Switzerland (Swiss Hitparade)||37|
|United Kingdom (Official Charts Company)||3|
Official versions and appearances
These are the official versions and remixes and the release they appear on, of "Rock Steady":
|Calvin Harris Remix||
|K-Gee Reggae Bounce Remix||
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