So...British/Norwegian reformed boyband went straight to the final of Norway's Melodi Grand Prix competition at the weekend, with Ben, Mark and Christian hoping to represent Norway at the Eurovision in May. Yes they are a predominantly British band but I doubt many Brits even know they've reunited and would probably be shocked to see them walk out on stage to represent Norway instead of ourselves, particularly as Don't Want To Lose You Again, A1's entry, is an incredibly strong pop song in the 'Take That mature boyband' stakes yet retains the charm of some of A1's other material. Perhaps unfairly forgotten by many I thought I'd take a look at A1's career so far...
Launching as a four piece in 1999, A1 released their debut single Be The First To Believe to reasonable hype in the early summer - it stormed into the top ten on release and was quickly followed by another summer pop anthem, the now forgotten by most Summertime Of Our Lives which went one place better at No.5. The autum saw a double a-side release of the Motown-esque Ready Or Not, and probably one of their finest moments, the ballad Everytime, which for some reason hasn't gone down as 'a boyband classic' like Flying Without Wings, Back For Good etc...despite being an incredibly strong, and grandly produced pop ballad which should really be remembered more fondly. It was their first hit single in Norway, where they became even more successful than they are in the UK, largely thanks to their connection to the country - band member Christian is Norwegian. They performed it recently on Norwegian breakfast television show 'Good Morning Norge' and the song has surprisingly stood the test of time quite well, as have they in fact, barely looking a day older than they did ten years ago!
The similar but not quite as good Like A Rose followed this in early 2000 and went to No.6 before they scored their first UK No.1 single with a cover of A-Ha's Take On Me a few months later - impressive considering the original only peaked at No.2. The music video was incredibly impressive looking at the time too, I remember being blown away by the Matrix style effects. Same Old Brand New You became their first original No.1 just a few weeks later before No More was released in early 2001, going to No.6.
They then disappeared for a bit and reappeared in 2002 as a completely different band. Gone were the typical boyband clunky beats and in was a surprisingly mature acoustic sound, in fact you might say that they were ahead of their time, four years ahead of Take That doing the very same sort of comeback. Caught In The Middle narrowly missed the top spot, debuting at No.2 but lingering in the charts for longer than the average A1 single. A frankly brilliant pop song with a fantastic chorus, again, it's a wonder that this single didn't go down as a pop classic. The similarly mature but inferior Make It Good became their first single to miss the top ten, debuting at No.11 and Paul left the band causing the other three members to call it a day.
However, Mark, Christian and Ben reformed A1 late last year and despite only releasing music in Norway so far, it has been incredibly well received and rightfully so - it's potentially better than the material that they had been coming out with in 2002, testament to the strength of this trio as songwriters. Take You Home was a top ten comeback in Norway and classic mid-tempo ballad Don't Want To Lose You Again went straight to the top 3 on Norwegian iTunes after their performance on MGP. This material could be extremely well received in the UK and is very current sounding but unfortunately I don't think radio here would touch them, in fact I'm not certain that they got a lot of UK radio support when they were first around. So perhaps winning MGP and going to Eurovision would help to relaunch them worldwide? I could certainly imagine Don't Want To Lose You Again being downloaded enough from iTunes to give them a top 40 comeback, and it would certainly raise public awareness in the UK again. So vote for A1 Norway, and let's see this cruelly underrated boyband make a mark again!!!