Atomic Kitten - Greatest Hits

Let me take you back in time, just a few short years ago. The venue is the Evening News Arena and as you'd imagine thousands of pre-pubescent teenagers are awaiting the arrival of Boyzone on their Greatest Hits tour. The fickle females practically ignore one of the support acts, three girl next door types from Liverpool who attempt to warm the crowd up with a set of high energy pop songs with a touch of class. These young ladies were of course Atomic Kitten who included future Queen Of The Jungle Kerry McFadden. When the busty blonde left, former Precious glamourpuss Jenny Frost joined and their image changed from ordinary everyday girls to sophisticated sultry sex sirens with stylish photo shoots and tastefully made videos. The ladies now dominated the charts and like the Irish boy band who they opened for they too played the very same venue (headlining of course), co-incidentally promoting a greatest hits collection. Atomic Kitten have come full circle in what can only be described as perfect symmetry.

"Greatest Hits" has fifteen tracks, but do they still stand the test of time compared to more credible girl groups like Misteeq and Sugababes? Well yes and no. Atomic Kitten's best song is arguably their ballad "Whole Again". Although basically a retread of the classic "Walk On By" this track had all the hallmarks of a good song - heartfelt lyrics, catchy chorus, faultless production and the best vocals Atomic Kitten have ever laid down. I'm fond of the bands earlier material as well. "Right Now 2004", while not as good as the original is still as disco delight with saucy suggestive lyrics. You can imagine young teenage girls in their white stilettos dancing around their handbags to this one (or is that just me). "I Want Your Love" cheekily samples the theme from The Big Country and is a gutsy floor filler. Less polished than their more recent output, but a hell of a lot more fun and frothy is "See Ya" which features old school scratching and plenty of female empowerment.

The more successful the Kittens became they began to commit the cardinal sing of taking themselves too seriously and their songs started to suffer as a result. "It's Ok" is the kind of track played at dinner parties for middle class professionals who believe Dido is at the cutting edge of female singer songwriters. Their over reliance of recording cover versions is disappointing and lazy. Their reinterpretations of the Bangles, Kool And The Gang and Blondie are far too faithful to the originals and offer nothing new (unlike Gary Jule's seminal reworking of Tears For Fears "Mad World").

The Greatest Hits collection is a hit and miss affair. For every poppy dance track there's an inoffensive mid tempo ballad or mawkishly sentimental love song which may be fine if you work in Top Shop, but a little tiresome for the more selective music aficionado. Atomic Kitten have strenuously denied any rumours of a split and that they're taking a well deserved break. What Liz McClaron, Natasha Hamilton and Jenny Frost do in the meantime is anybody's guess although Nat will probably relish spending more time with her son while Liz and Jen may opt for the solo route or work on TV. We haven't heard the last from these feisty women, believe me these kittens have claws. Watch this space!!!

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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