During our recent chat with Steps, Lisa and Lee told us that if the band were still releasing music today, they could imagine themselves singing the chorus of Lady GaGa's 'Judas'. Putting the idea of such a mind-blowing collaboration aside for a moment, their words feel all the more poignant given that GaGa spearheaded the return of the '90s dance-pop genre they made popular well over a decade ago.
It also means the lion's share of The Ultimate Collection - their third retrospective no less - actually holds up surprisingly well. OK, the bass needs ramping up drastically; but the idea of 'Deeper Shade of Blue', 'Summer of Love' or 'You'll Be Sorry' in the charts today - with some guest-rapping skits, natch - doesn't seem as ludicrous as it did six years ago.
On reflection, the biggest realisation about the 20-strong collection is the sadness littered throughout the largely Pete Waterman-helmed tracks. "I'm one for sorrow/ Ain't it too, too bad" they mourn on 'One For Sorrow', "We may not have tomorrow/ But there's always yesterday" on 'After The Love Has Gone' and "You're so far, far away" on the sad-pop classic 'Deeper Shade of Blue'. History has consistently shown that the best pop songs have always come from the heart - even when disguised in studio trickery and flashy dance routines.
The numbers that don't hold up quite as well instead serve as timely nostalgia. The country-pop sound of '5, 6, 7, 8' was, in hindsight, a bizarre choice of lead single, while the sing-song lyrics of 'It's The Way You Make Me Feel' remain a fan and group favourite to this day. Should Steps record a new album? Their genre of choice may be carrying favour for now, but it'd be a shame to risk spoiling a legacy this impressive.
Tracks to download: The whole lot. If you like this, you'll like: S Club 7, Atomic Kitten, Hear'Say, Scooch