Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 2003 debut album PartyTime by Romanian duo The Cheeky Girls. Will this album make you want to Party, or will you want to press charges for assault? Read on…
This 12 track album opens with Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum), a song that honestly would not be appropriate now. That said, the bouncing synth and the chorus is catchy as hell, but the sung vocals in the verse are quite hard to cope with as they’re very auto-tuned out of tune. It’s simple, repetitive, and everything you’d expect from euro-dance in the early 00s, and therefore reached #2 in the UK singles chart.
Salsa In The Disco follows this, beginning with crackling vinyl before giving away to a simple piano sequence. This track is actually catchy and not bad, and highly reminiscent of Las Ketchup’s Aserejé hit from the previous year.
Next is second single Take Your Shoes Off, which reminds you of who is singing just in case you’re drunk and can’t remember ‘cheeky girls’. Musically it reminds me of a hybrid of some long-forgotten ABBA song, meets the soundtrack to a level on my old Smurfs GameBoy game. The UK singles buying public rewarded the song with a #3 position in the chart. This reminds me a fair amount of something you’d expect to hear on the Vengaboys albums.
Get The Party On is up next, and bears the simple singalong repetitive lyrics. Suddenly you realise that this is actually a re-written adaptation of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – a hit for Middle Of The Road in 1971. It’s much more sexed-up here, with a throbbing bass drum and handclaps. Well, the album is called PartyTime after all.
Next is Celebration, and this track sounds much more elaborate in comparison to everything that has played already. It’s more S Club 7, and absolutely loaded with disco, complete with strings, congas, and a wonderful bass line. This is the genuine highlight so far, and really should have been a single.
This is followed by reggae-inspired Summer Fun, and once again I’m reminded of the Vengaboys. Gabriela and Monica manage to throw a few ‘cheeky time!‘ comments amongst the verse and choruses. This track is nice enough but definitely not single territory.
The familiar notes of Hooray Hooray (It’s A Cheeky Holiday) are next, and it’s not quite as good as the Boney M version, but it’s not far off. I still don’t particularly like it. Still, it gave The Cheeky Girls yet another #3 UK hit single. Somehow.
Mickey Blue is next, and it’s here that it reminds me of Rebecca Black vs Toni Basil (imagine it!). The idea is good, as are the swirling synthscapes but the auto-tuned vocals are just too distorted to make this sound anything better than disturbingly robotic.
That’s followed by Hip Hop and just from the title, I’m fascinated as to how these two will approach this. Needless to say, it opens with RnB-inspired male DJ vocals along with record scratching sample styled guitar riffs. The heavily auto-tuned vocals feel so processed that whilst listening, I feel almost compelled to press 3 to renew my insurance. The lyrics are lacking a bit – ‘I like hip hop, go for a ride, jump in my car’ the girls sing, not realising that they need to get in the car before it starts moving.
Now it’s time for Magic, which starts off promising with synths that would do Vince Clarke of Erasure proud. Musically though, you soon realise that the melody in the verse is pretty much the same as some of the other songs. There’s a formula here, and they’ve already had hits with it.. so why change.
Espanola Dream is next up, and we’re straight into that familiar melody, this time delivered by the synth pad. The vocals here are so heavily tuned, that they they require extra concentration to understand what’s being said/sung as the bass drum pounds away.
The album closes with Follow My Star which again bucks against the style that The Cheeky Girls are known for. This song is more like a B*Witched ballad, and the vocals are really nice. There is some auto-tune, but it’s not overpowering here. Instead, it’s a really nice track.
Over all, this album reminds me of a Wetherspoons – Pensioners go there for the cheap food, teenagers go there to get drunk – but the two generally don’t want to mix with each other. In this case, it’s like an album of simple songs for toddlers whilst singing sexually charged lyrics. It’s an odd combination.
There are some high points, and those are Celebration, Salsa In The Disco, and Follow My Star. All three of these songs (certainly Celebration and Follow My Star) sound nothing like the singles that were released by the duo.
The dependency on auto-tune is disappointing and distracting too. If that’s what it took to make the sisters sound acceptable, then that’s a shame, but the good songs seem to lean on that less.
More than 60,000 copies of this album were sold in the UK!
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 2 / 5
- 2003 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #14, certified Silver by the BPI.
- POP RESCUE COST: 99p from a Discogs.com seller.