Picture the scene if you will:
You are lying on the sofa in a state of semi-consciousness, silently cursing the life circumstances which led you to adopt this position at what seems like an obscenely early hour. You wait for the just ingested caffeine to win the battle of hearts and minds currently raging inside you and jerk you into a state of full wakefulness, when suddenly out of almost nowhere the gaudy colours dancing on the television resolve themselves into the living, breathing future of pop music. Suddenly the circumstances don’t seem so bad after all. Meet Holly, Steve, Gemma, Carl and Jade (oh, and Mr Baffled too). You now have Go! Go! Go! in your life.
The concept sprang into life close to five years ago, the group the brainchild of producer and manager Steve Crosby whose previous claims to fame are having a hand in the creation of Steps and subsequently the Fast Food Rockers, with additional music input from Mike Stock, a man whose work in pop music surely requires no introduction here.
Go! Go! Go! actually began public life as a children’s stage show back in 2010, the five characters appearing in an all-singing all-dancing musical adventure which along the way featured them performing a series of bright and bubbly pop songs. Search carefully and you will find reviews dating back over the past few years for some of the performances, along with promotional clips which show how both the cast and their individual characters have evolved into the finished product today.
By the summer of 2012 the touring stage show had ended up with a residency at the Leicester Square theatre in London and in November that year a deal was signed with Viacom Networks for the group to become the new faces of pre-school TV channel Nick Jnr.. “The energy and fun of the performances, combined with perfect pop songs will complement our schedule wonderfully; acting not only as on-channel continuity but also as a vibrant live-action representation of the Nick Jr. brand.” read the press release announcing the tie-up. It is on Children’s TV channel Nick Jnr. that here that their music can be seen on a daily basis with the videos dropped in as fillers between shows several time a day – all of which brings us neatly to how they came to be beamed at my enraptured face a few months later.
Go! Go! Go! now live in a colourful CGI world full of windmills and lighthouses which provides the backdrop for an ever growing range of songs, some of which have transferred over from the stage show along with others that are now clearly made with an eye to proper commercial success. Rightly so as well – because here is the deep secret I’m letting you into. The music and performances are quite extraordinarily good.
The deal with Viacom clearly means most of the videos are officially exclusive to Nick Jnr. and are only playable through their site with no sharing or embedding possible, so in some cases you will have to bear with some clicking through in order to see just why I love this project so much. A small handful however are online as showcases for the graphics company which produced them, so they are the clips reproduced here.
First, the song that first grabbed my attention earlier in the summer, Wake Up Smiling. A bright, cheerful theme song which yes, does feel a little stagey and with some knowingly cheesy choreography as befits its origins as part of a children’s musical, but which also serves as the perfect introduction to both the sound of the group and the characters within and does so with more than a nod to some early S Club 7 songs. Which is no bad thing at all.
Also with on-stage origins is another earworm Get Along Song which somehow transcends the “let’s all be friends everybody” cheesiness thanks again to the joyful, immaculate production but most importantly an engaging lead vocal performance from Holly (the redheaded one) which may well inspire in you some rather more adult thoughts.
But still, so far so cheesecake. Surely this isn’t anything that has the potential for proper commercial success? Well then take a listen to Lay The Rhythm Down which is not only closer to being a proper pop video but a genuine crossover hit in waiting as well, a pumping house-pop track which might as well have walked off any of the last three Kylie albums, bursting with remix potential and with a dance diva vocal from Jade (geeky, denim dungarees, utterly incredible voice) which would sit comfortably alongside anything in the charts with consummate ease.
Or if you prefer how about the newest addition to the canon, This Is The Life which lets the boys take lead vocals for a change and which once more is inspiring, joyful, effortless pop music of the kind you just didn’t think they made any more. I’ll freely admit to being a sucker for the kind of music that simply promote the joy of just being alive, and this track has it in spades. Heck, it even features the ‘Two Bar Pause Into The Great Key Change of Joy’ which is one of my favourite underused production tricks. In here is the proof that this is more than just a stage show for kids – there is a proper pop act in here just waiting for their chance to shine.
It is almost certainly no coincidence that one of the most vocal critics of what is being seen as the ever-growing sexualisation of teen pop and the growing tendency for even the most squeaky clean of Disney-pop stars to go full on boobs and bottoms the moment the magic handcuffs come off is songwriter and producer Mike Stock. A man who in this instance has his money where his mouth is and with an act perfectly poised to benefit from a demand for something that is safer, friendlier and without knicker-flashing controversy.
As for where they go from here, well that is the big question. Queries to Crosby, Stock and the group themselves are generally met with enigmatic “wait and see” answers, suggesting that there are bigger things afoot in 2014 (at the very least a new stage show has been spoken of), the deal with Viacom for the moment clearly providing Nick Jnr. with some form of exclusivity. For now they are just working hard to build a fanbase, happy to interact on Twitter and Facebook (where they all have in-character profiles which are only too happy to befriend you) and just generally concentrating on being amazing people. A handful of bookings at Christmas lights switch-on ceremonies have further helped to raise their profile – and demonstrated just how immaculate a set of performers they are with singing and dancing in inch-perfect time with the TV clips.
I can’t wait to see what happens next…