Where do you start when dissecting the appeal of Blue?
Well, perhaps most importantly, I should start by pointing out that pretty much every record they ever made was, to put it as politely and honestly as I possibly can, shit.
Yet somehow they managed to rack up 40 number one hits globally and sell 15 million records. And amongst that, they managed to persuade Stevie Wonder and Elton John to not only allow them to record godawful covers of two of their hits, “Signed, Sealed Delivered, I’m Yours” and “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word” respectively, but also got the megastars to appear on the record with them.
Let’s be honest, there’s very little to like about Blue.
Take Lee Ryan, for example. In 2001, the band were in New York when the attacks on the World Trade Centre happened. Interviewed afterwards they are asked not, as one might expect, whether they thought they may have been the intended targets, but for their thoughts on the atrocity generally, Ryan answered: “This New York thing is being blown out of proportion”, which shows not only a staggering lack of awareness, but only a gob-smackingly poor choice of words. “What about whales?” Ryan continued, “They are ignoring animals that are more important. Animals need saving and that’s more important.” Yes, Lee, whales are important, but there’s probably better days and places than to raise this point, to be honest.
Ryan announced on 2008 that he was engaged to a woman he met on Myspace. Myspace! In 2008!! They were probably the only two people left on Myspace by 2008! He may as well have announced that he Asked Jeeves to find him a bride! Anyway, that relationship was short-lived after she accused him of assaulting her, although I should stress that all charges were dropped. Unlike that time in 2003 when he got an eighteen month driving band and a £2250.00 fine for drink driving. Or that time in 2007 when he was arrested and charged and successfully prosecuted for assaulting a taxi driver. His defence rested on him feeling “targeted because he is famous”. Well, there’s a very simple way that can be remedied, Lee…
Such was his dislike for being “famous” that he appeared in the 2014 series of Celebrity Big Brother, where he earned himself the reputation for being one of the most odious people walking the planet, quite some achievement bearing in mind he was sharing the house with Jim Davidson and Dappy from N’Dubz. He became involved in a “love triangle” with Casey Batchelor and Jasmine Waltz, two names which trip off the celebrity tongue closely followed by the words, “I’m sorry, who now…?”. After the show had finished, Ryan and Waltz briefly became a couple, until she ended it, citing Ryan’s ego as being instrumental in the break-up, as well as insinuating that the whole band were suffering from depression due to their lack of success since reuniting in 2011. But more of that later.
split up announced they were going on a hiatus in 2005. I say Blue announced that; I imagine that, given the correct use of the word “hiatus”, someone at the record company wrote a press release on their behalf. You’d think that would give us some respite, but no, for two of the foursome swiftly turned their attention to the glittering prize that is The Eurovision Song Contest.
In 2005, Ryan wrote “Guardian Angel” for former member of 3SL (nope, me neither), failed ‘Pop Idol’ contestant, and, worst of all, sibling to Lisa out of Steps, Andy Scott-Lee. Alas, Andy (and Lee) lost out on representing the UK when Javine was selected in his stead, with her song “Touch My Fire”. (Javine is not Health & Safety trained. You should never touch fire, even if it does belong to Javine and she tells you it’s okay.) Now, I’ve never heard “Guardian Angel”, nor do I ever want to, but since it was deemed not as good as “Touch My Fire”, which managed to amass just 18 points and finish 22nd in the Eurovision Song Contest Final, I’m guessing it’s not much cop.
A year later, 2006, all eyes turned to the next member of Blue destined to restore some national pride. Step up to the plate one Anthony Costa. On “Making Your Mind Up”, the show where the UK entry to the competition was decided, four music biz types renowned for not just their knowledge of pop music, but also their availability, sat on the panel, invited to pick a winner from those delicious talents on show. Two, Fearne Cotton and Bruno Toniolo, plumped for Costa and his song “Its a Beautiful Thing”, whilst the other two, Kelly Osbourne and Jonathan Ross, sided with eventual winner, “Teenage Life” by Daz Simpson. (Seriously, what sort of middle-aged crisis do you have to be going through to insist people still shorten your name to a three letter word ending in a ‘z’?)
You’ll remember “Teenage Life”, of course. No? Brace yourselves:
Yes, the UK public picked that indescribably cringe-worthy piece of pap as not only the song most likely to win the Eurovision Song Contest, but, more importantly, a song which was better than Anthony Costa’s effort.
“Teenage Life” finished in 19th place with a 25 points. The wiki entry regarding the 2006 competition contains quite possibly the nicest thing ever written about that record: “Coming up to the 1,000th song, the United Kingdom’s entry this year was the 994th song in the Eurovision Song Contest’s history.” High praise, indeed.
But what about our boys in Blue? What happened to them next? Well, spurred on by Costa’s celebrity endorsement by no-less a respected luminary than Fearne Cotton, they reformed in 2011 and were promptly snaffled up to represent the UK with their song “I Can”, which always sounds like it should have the words “Tina Turner” at the end of the title. They came 11th with 100 points, which to be fair, is a whole lot better than we’ll ever score again, now that we’re telling the rest of Europe to do one. See, that’s a side-effect of Brexit that brown-nosed toad Farage et al forgot to mention, wasn’t it?
Duncan James insisted that the result wouldn’t affect their UK comeback. “Should the worst happen,” he said, “we’re still going to press ahead with the album”, not fully comprehending that them pressing ahead with a new album was pretty much exactly, word for word, the dictionary definition of the worst happening.
In the meantime, there was of course “Blue Go Mad in Ibiza”, a show which I never saw (it premiered on ITV2, would you have watched it??), and which followed the band as they ran their own bar out on the white islnd. Little did the boys know, but the whole show was a set up: everybody involved with the bar (excluding Blue themselves) were actors who purposely made things as awkward for them as possible. I’ll be honest, I wish I had watched that.
Of course, now Lee Ryan has met some actors, he’s decided he can be one himself. He is about to – if he hasn’t already, I’ve no idea, if he has then he’s not had any scenes with Danny Dyer – appear in ‘EastEnders’ as (of course) “bad boy” Woody Woodward, so I can learn to hate him all over again if I choose to. By the way, a measurement of time has not yet been invented which is brief enough to describe how long it took the scriptwriters to come up with that name. Woody Woodward. They may as well have called him Cocky Cockcock and been done with it.
I’m reminded of the time when Ryan appeared on “Never Mind The Buzzcocks”, and seemed less than keen to promote the gangster film he had just appeared in. If I were writing a click-bait ad, it would read something along the lines of “Watch Lee Ryan get totally destroyed” now, but I’m not, so I won’t:
Anyway, now I’ve said all that, I must confess, I have a real soft spot for this, their debut single, despite its studious following of the each-member-must-take-it-in-turns-to-sing-a-line boyband template, it’s dubious use of vocoders, their insistence to holler things like “Yo yo yo” slightly off-mic, and them all being, y’know, total dicks: