Mini Viva – One Touch
Following their 2009 Out Of Control tour (and a bizarre support slot for Coldplay alongside Jay-Z which did actually happen) Girls Aloud went on hiatus and life as we know it got cold. The music industry was, or at least it thought it was, prepared for this. Polydor/Fascination had developed The Saturdays in the shadows (whether the group ever escaped GA’s shadow is up for debate) and they arrived on the scene with inoffensive, catchy tunes destined for top ten success. Meanwhile, the mad scientists at Xenomania had their own game plan: find unsigned singers/acts and use their alchemy to turn them into the popstars of the future, with the look and the songs already in place and ready to be signed to the highest bidding label.
The plan got off to a good start: the week the Aloud supported Coldplay (still can’t believe it really), Mini Viva’s Left My Heart in Tokyo debuted at no.7, two places higher than the return of Muse.
Then things went very, very wrong…
Rather than waiting until either November or the January drought (satisfying the thirst for something fresh that comes at the start of a new year, and in this case a new decade) follow-up single I Wish was released during one of the busiest Christmas weeks in recent memory. Killing in the Name, The Climb and Bad Romance were fighting for number one while Ke$ha and Black Eyed Peas were ruling the airwaves. The more innocent little sister to Call The Shots had no chance.
Following this disaster it was obviously back to the lab for some re-tooling of Mini Viva. Out went the girl-next-door styling in favour of sleek black attire, and the kitsch oriental-disco sound was replaced with post-Gaga keyboards. One Touch was brewed using a recipe Xenomania had perfected: multiple hooks, off-kilter lyrics, double choruses and relentlessly high energy – this was the kind of song Brian Higgins and company had taken into the top ten multiple times. The girls even had a weekly streamed show, Viva Mini Viva, which showed behind the scenes clips from their tour with Diversity and Aggro Santos (more on him later), and had Britt and Frankee answering fan questions live and at one point dressing up as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga. This was before the days of Periscope and Twitter takeovers and doing karaoke with James Corden to create shareable YouTube #content, even though such a time is hard to remember nowadays.
The gaping hole in this plan, however, was that this all happened in May. May! Five months after I Wish had failed to make a blip on the public radar, and a staggering eight after Tokyo. The girls had missed their window for following up on success before being forever branded a one-hit wonder. And with a song like Left My Heart in Tokyo tip-toeing the line between cool and novelty, it wasn’t a very large window at all. The only promo slots the girls could get were on the short-lived Koko Pop and Blue Peter, neither of which were great live performances. There was no streamed show that week either, because on the final episode the previous week the girls had revealed to guest host Peter Robinson of Popjustice fame that all they had planned for release week was a holiday(!).
Thus, One Touch flopped, Mini Viva subsequently split after months of radio silence and Britain’s great production house suffered one of many failures to come over the next few years. Life really was cold for all of us.
Interestingly, the song was originally titled Do You Wanna Candy? but was changed because Aggro Santos’ Candy was released the same week, hitting no.5. Heaven forbid Mini Viva getting a few extra sales off the back of the ‘confusion’ (or indeed a catchier song title).
Entered chart: did not chart, though it apparently made no.124
Who could sing this today and have a hit? Maybe not this song in particular, but Katy Perry would have made a killing had she recorded some of Xenomania’s uptempos.