This week's 'Big Reunion' showed the strength – AND shortfalls – of girl power, and shared two more of life's harsh lessons along the way.
As six bands from the past decade and a half continued to prepare for a concert bringing them all together, it was time to tell the stories of B*witched and Honeyz.
B*witched were just four wholesome Irish lasses, until the competitive spirit set in
B*witched were the strawberry runner offshoots of another Irish pop money pot, with twins Edele and Keavy Lynch the springy sisters of Boyzone's Shane. Together with Sinead and Lindsay, they gobbled up the charts with such sweet ditties as 'C'est La Vie' and videos filmed in sunlit cornfields - “we were bubble, bubble gum, with extra bubbles on top” is how one of them described it. As well as oodles of Irish charm, their unique selling point – lashings of double denim, an inexplicable styling decision straight from the wardrobe of Status Quo, something all the girls are wryly bemused about now.
Chart success, pop history (first four songs all going to number one) and an invitation to tour with 'N Sync around America all followed, but – as with all the bands in this show – cracks inevitably appeared. Why? Because of the oldest story in the pop perils book: one girl got singled out. Edele was put out front, with her twin Keavy left clowning around, “just wanting to make sure people knew there were two of us, with the same face”. You have to sympathise with poor Keavy - even by the standards of pop egos bashing around together, this would be particularly weird.
Keavy duly imploded, with Edele forced to confront both her own negligence to her twin, and the fact that unsympathetic management saw them as “not people, but product”. It wasn't long before their * stopped twinkling, and even ditching the denim failed to rescue them. It was time to get the boot, get drunk and get tattoos... in that swift order.
First lesson of the week: the speed with which these record companies pull the plug on their young money-spinners is mind-boggling, and it's impossible not to feel sorry for a bunch of very young girls, working their guts out, who just didn't see this coming.
Fortunately, they all seem happy enough these days, with Keavy performing as a wedding singer, and Lindsay apparently an actress, although all the evidence we saw of this was her stripping as a nun. But at least it wasn't denim.
The Honeyz - three different formations - fourth time lucky?
Meanwhile, the Honeyz were another bunch who had the chance to take their success across the pond, after signing to Def Jam Records. Three classy-looking girls were presented as the R&B alternative to the Spice contingent, and, as Heavenli described it, with three distinctive roles: “Singing, talking to the press.. and looking good.” How could it fail?
Well, because, as usual, they had varying degrees of enthusiasm for the task at hand. First, it was Heavenli who bolted, without looking back, much to Selena's distress. And then her replacement Mariama did a bolt, not long after her bandmate attempted to sit on the lap of her premiership boyfriend. Back through the revolving door came Heavenli in a repeat mission that was bound to fail, and yet again a record company pulled the plug.
With these three, the reunion (which has now turned into a tour, such is the interest in this motley crew of former stars) proved the forum for a massive therapy session – some shared grief, fears, fresh understanding and lots of tears. I think Selena had a point – why DIDN'T Heavenli phone her when she left? Selena seemed happy enough with “I'm sorry, but I can't say I regret it”. Personally, I'd have held out for a bit more, despite Heavenli's profound analysis that some TLC (NOT the band) was required - “we'll hug, crying isn't very good.” Okay, then.
She still had the best line of the night, however, mooting on her excitement for the reunion lineup, sans Naima - “The three of us can sing. I can be proud, knowing there isn't a mike switched off at the end of the stage.”
And the other life lesson to be shared this week... as for B*witched's Edele and Sinead, so for Honeyz' Selena – all the hit records, cash and plaudits count for nothing if you fall out with your bestie. Which is kind of reassuring.