Column: The Day I Learned to Hate
“Steptacular it said. Even an idiot nine-year-old knew this was an awful pun”
Christmas Day 1999 was a day of contrasts for me. On one hand, I finally got a PlayStation and a BMX scooter, which made my nine-year-old head explode. I’d have been happy with these, more than happy in fact, but there was another present to open, which had a distinct, CD shaped look about it. “Great”, I thought to myself. I’d just started getting into music and I was happy to think that my sister had noticed my growing interest in AC/DC, Motörhead and Metallica. Yes, it was about time I got my album collection going, yet as I opened the gaudy, Santa-covered wrapping paper I didn’t see AC/DC’s lightening bolt looking back at me, nor Lemmy and his iconic, warty face. No, I saw five perma-tanned, false-smile-wearing, young, plastic, pop idols staring at me, the presumed leader of which pointing at a word in the middle of this horrible quintet. “Who the fuck are Steps?” I thought; or at least I would have if I weren’t nine and still fairly naive.
As skeptical as I was about this strange present, I thought it might be worth giving them a try, especially after my thirteen year old, Smash Hits reading sister assured me that, far from the reality of Steps being who Butlins turn to as filler for their Friday night disco, they were in fact an amazing band. Yes, she said band, not group. So I went upstairs and threw the CD to the side, I would listen to it later after playing Crash Bandicoot and scaring the pensioners on my street by tearing past them on my aforementioned scooter; I was nine, it was my job.
Eventually, a few hours later, I got around to looking properly at the CD. Steptacular it said in the liner notes. Even my nine-year-old self knew this was an awful pun. But I wasn’t going to judge them on that; I had to listen to the actual music. I wish I hadn’t. The first song was a cover of ‘Tragedy’ by Bee Gees, a song I already hated when sung by the three weird falsetto brothers. At no point did the album get better. It even ended with the horrendous bonus track ‘5,6,7,8’, a quite frankly crap attempt to break into that much overlooked line-dancing market. I can’t pretend this was the worst album I’ve ever heard, (after all, Justin Hawkins from The Darkness released an album with his second band Hot Leg which isn’t for the faint of heart) but it is the worst I’ve ever owned. Worse than that is the knowledge that if I threw it out, I’d offend my sister, which even as an annoying little brother, I wasn’t prepared to do. So for about three years until I had the pocket money to buy other CD’s I had to stare at H from Steps. Christmas day 1999: the day I learned to hate.