Line-Up Changes: Part 3

PROBLEM:  A well-known girl group is riding high on the success of their current album and recent hit singles. As they prepare to release their next sure-fire smash, one (or more!) of their members suddenly departs the group. While replacements are quickly found, the group has to figure out the best way to acknowledge this potentially career-damaging situation as they shoot their next video.

(Destiny’s Child was covered in Part 1 and the Sugababes in Part 2)

CASE STUDY: Atomic Kitten

Atomic Kitten Right Now single cover

Even though they charged on the scene in 1999 with 3 back-to-back UK Top Ten singles, Atomic Kitten’s debut album Right Now barely made it inside the Top 40. In danger of being dropped by their label, the Kittens pinned their hopes on the album’s final single (“Whole Again”) to turn their fates around. Meanwhile, dissatisfied member Kerry Katona had just found out she was pregnant and was overjoyed…because now she had a perfect excuse to jump ship and leave bandmates Natasha Hamilton and Liz McClarnon in the lurch. With mere days to go before the release of “Whole Again”, new member Jenny Frost was quickly recruited and ushered into the group.

SOLUTION: Makeover the whole band

As a group, Atomic Kitten’s youthful energy was evident in their bouncy singles and was visually anchored by the buxom and bubbly Katona. However, the addition of the sleek and sexy Frost combined with the down-tempo melodies of “Whole Again” helped give  the band a new level of mature sophistication, and once Hamilton and McClarnon upped their game style-wise, Atomic Kitten 2.0 was off and running .

It's OK! (Atomic Kitten song)

RESULT: A purr-fect success (sorry – couldn’t resist). The change in members proved to be just the jump start the band needed. “Whole Again” spent 4 weeks at #1 and the Kittens went on to chart numerous more hits, including their #1 covers of “Eternal Flame” and “The Tide Is High”, never once returning to the high-energy sound with which they initially made their mark.

Advertisements

Line-Up Changes: Part 2

PROBLEM:  A well-known girl group is riding high on the success of their current album and recent hit singles. As they prepare to release their next sure-fire smash, one (or more!) of their members suddenly departs the group. While replacements are quickly found, the group has to figure out the best way to acknowledge this potentially career-damaging situation as they shoot their next video.

Destiny’s Child was profiled in Part 1 and now for Part 2 we’re taking a little hop across the pond.

CASE STUDY: Sugababes

In 2005, UK girl group Sugababes had just notched their third #1 single (“Push The Button”) when member Mutya Buena announced she would be departing the group to spend more with her newborn daughter (aka: she wanted to launch a solo career). In addition to finding a replacement, the ‘Babes were faced with another dilemma. This would be their third line-up since bursting on the scene in 2000, and the first one to happen mid-campaign for a current album. They prospered after the first change, but would the Suga still be sweet after another shake up?

SOLUTION: Own it

Not only did the Sugababes camp not try to hide the fact that a search was on for a replacement for Buena – they trumpeted her arrival once she was chosen. Amelle Berrabah found herself front-and-centre in her first outing as a Sugababe – the video for the single “Red Dress”. The clip, which opens with a close-up of  Berrabah singing the opening hook and later shows her confidently strutting down a hallway flanked by veteran members Keisha Buchanan and Heidi Range, placed her directly in the spotlight and let everyone know there was a new girl in town.

RESULT: Sugary-sweet success. “Red Dress” hit #4 on the UK charts and fan response was so positive that the Sugababes re-released their current  album (the #1-peaking Taller In More Ways) with Berrabah appearing on 3 redone tracks as well as another all-new track. Sugababes 3.0 went on to notch up 2 more #1 singles and another chart-topping album.

Line-Up Changes: Part 1

PROBLEM:  A well-known girl group is riding high on the success of their current album and recent hit singles. As they prepare to release their next sure-fire smash, one (or more!) of their members suddenly departs the group. While replacements are quickly found, the group has to figure out the best way to acknowledge this potentially career-damaging situation as they shoot their next video.

CASE STUDY: Destiny’s Child

In 1999, Destiny’s Child released their second album, The Writing’s On The Wall.  Soon after topping the charts with the album’s lead single “Bills, Bills, Bills”, disgruntled members LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson were given the old heave-ho and quietly replaced with Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin. The new line up was poised to make their public debut in the video for the album’s third single, “Say My Name”

SOLUTION: Downplay it

By using quick edits and filming each girl in a separate, colour-blocked room (with clothing  to match) along with two female backup dancers each, the video was became a sly exercise in confusion and misdirection.  The new members blended in with the gaggle of similar-looking backup dancers while original members Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland (and their visually distinctive ‘dos) pulled the focus to themselves. Also helping this stealthy switch was the fact that the new lineup was not publicly announced until right before the premiere of the video on MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL).

RESULT: Destined for success. “Say My Name” shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and follow-up single “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” (with a video that again emphasized Knowles and Rowland over the newer members) peaked at #4. Franklin left the group shortly thereafter and Destiny’s Child continued on to even more success as a trio.