liberty x The remarkable speed with which their public turned on Hear’Say left things open for readymade rivals to add a twist to the story, and Liberty X – a band of Popstars runners-up – stepped up. Their angle was obvious – you, the discerning pop connoisseur, would show yourself a better judge of star potential than “Nasty Nigel” et al, rewarding the group with the real chemistry and talent. Hear’Say had been so popular they quickly became embarrassing: Liberty X would be reality TV pop done right.

This position was greatly helped by “Just A Little”, which really was a lesson in how to build a good pop single for a lashed-together group. It did two things that winners’ singles tended to botch. It sounded like its writers had bothered to listen to music from the last few years, and the group was blessedly unable to take the dire metatextual route of singing about their gratitude for winning.

Instead “Just A Little” sounds up to date, is built around a strong concept, and has things for different singers to do. This should all have been a baseline for reality TV hits. Instead this single was a rarity, a song aimed at catching the ear of people who liked pop instead of people who wanted to tie a bow on a show they’d liked.

The single could have gone to anyone with a couple of strong women singers, which Liberty X had (though the Pop Idol judges had been broadly right on their individual star quality). It’s a simple record, and doesn’t actually need a lot of intra-band chemistry, since it’s all about working to break down barriers to intimacy: the scenario is an woman seducing and educating a shy and inexperienced (though hot) lover, so a little awkwardness might have been on-message. In fact there’s none: the bridge (“It’s so exciting…”) brings down the walls, and the song bumps enthusiastically to its end. It’s a stretch to actually call “Just A Little” sexy, or great – but its basic competence is put in a very good light by its reality TV peers and their delibidinized blandness of output.

Score: 6

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