U.K. pop group Steps celebrated 20 years together on May 7. The five members, Claire Richards, Ian "H" Watkins, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer and Lee Latchford-Evans, formed the band when they answered a newspaper ad and were selected. Steps' first single "5,6,7,8" was released in Nov. 1997 and that breakthrough led to the debut album Step One the following year. During their initial time together, the quintet scored 14 consecutive top 5 singles in the U.K before breaking up in 2001. A brief reunion took place in 2011 and then Steps returned with a pop vengeance earlier this year with Tears on the Dancefloor (read our album review here). To commemorate 20 years together and an upcoming U.K. tour, let's countdown Steps' top 10 singles.
10. "5,6,7,8" - Step One (1998)
"5,6,7,8" was the single that officially kicked off Steps in late 1997 as a way to test the group the public. Before Miley Cyrus' "Hoedown Throwdown," Latchford-Evans and co. had the U.K. moving to their techno line-dancing smash. Lee carried himself like a smooth instructor while the ladies sweetened the tune on the chorus. "5,6,7,8" was the beginning of Steps' campy, feel good sounds.
9. "Chain Reaction" - Gold: Greatest Hits (2001)
As much as Steps' career was built on original hits, it was also thanks to the group's many covers. One of those standouts was the quintet's cover of Diana Ross' 1985 hit "Chain Reaction." Their 2001 update for a greatest hits album turned the song into an electronic delight that allowed the group to flex its sensual side. Steps' rousing rendition of "Reaction" was magnetic.
8. "Here and Now" - Buzz (2000)
For third album Buzz, Steps linked up with Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys songwriter Andreas Carlsson on "Here and Now." Much like the sounds of the time, hard-hitting Euro-pop beats backed the members as they harmonized about being a friend to the end. The reconciliatory tune was edgy and dreamy all rolled into one care package.
7. "Story of a Heart" - Tears on the Dancefloor (2017)
After taking so much inspiration from ABBA, year 20 for Steps marked their first collaboration with legends Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, who lent the group "Story of a Heart." The ladies' vocals soar on the heartbreaking tune, effortlessly bringing ABBA into the 21st century. Steps sounds at home on this timeless-sounding slice of Euro-pop.
6. "It's the Way You Make Me Feel" - Buzz (2000)
"It's the Way You Make Me Feel" from 2000's Buzz melded ABBA's melodramatic vibes with the teen-pop of the time thanks to Spears producers Jörgen Elofsson and David Kreuger. Steps was simply irresistible in trying to win over an old flame that moved onto someone else. The group drove a good bargain with all the feels they brought to the stunning single.
5. "Say You'll Be Mine" - Steptacular (1999)
Steps was at its most adorable on the sweet pop tune "Say You'll Be Mine." Every member had a moment in expressing that love-at-first-sight feeling and they did so with absolute glee. The music video where Steps recreated classic moments from '90s classics like "Austin Powers" and surprisingly "Something About Mary" made the single all the more charming.
4. "Tragedy" - Steptacular (1999)
Steps covered the Bee Gees' 1979 classic "Tragedy" for a tribute album in 1998 and the quintet's rendition became one of their biggest hits ever. They took the Bee Gees' disco sound and updated it with a faster tempo and electronic edge. Richards, Tozer and Scott-Lee's powerful performances (coupled with that iconic hands dance step) made "Tragedy" an undeniable dance floor anthem.
3. "Scared of the Dark" - Tears on the Dancefloor (2017)
Steps' triumphant comeback was made possible thanks to "Scared of the Dark," the lead single from Tears on the Dancefloor. In true Steps campiness, the production shifts from majestic to melodramatic with the members serving hot come-ons in haunting performances. The group struck down naysayers with this familiar yet fresh pop tour de force.
2. "One for Sorrow" - Step One (1998)
Steps scored its first true classic with "One for Sorrow," which beautifully blended that ABBA influence with bumping electronica. Richards took on lead vocals and also took the song's tragic wordplay to church in a powerhouse performance. The rest of the band helped her drive that heartbreak home on the chorus. "Sorrow" stands as one of Steps' finest pop moments.
1. "Deeper Shade of Blue" - Steptacular (1999)
Instead of looking to the past, Steps looked ahead with the futuristic club banger "Deeper Shade of Blue." The group battled the love blues atop pulsating house music beats with Richards' out-of-this-world vocals channeling the dance floor divas that came before her. Among Steps' vast discography, "Deeper" remains the band's fiercest, most flawless effort.