Pure and simple, what DID happen to Hear’Say?
It’s hard to believe that twenty years have now passed since the first reality TV series to find the popstar(s) of the future. And what a name. Popstars! It was in February 2001 that five would be ‘pop stars’, Danny Foster (b.1979), Myleene Klass (b.1978), Kym Marsh (b.1976), Suzanne Shaw (b.1981) and Noel Sullivan (b.1980) were ‘put together’ by music moguls Nigel Lythgoe and Nicki Chapman and with the help of none other than Betty Boo herself, Alison Clarkson, the new super group, Hear’Say, were on their way! Immediately after they won the contest, the new famous five were in the recording studio and out the other side came “Pure And Simple”.
Their debut single was released the following month and hardly surprising, it topped the UK singles chart becoming the second biggest seller of the year with more than a million copies shifted! The song was also a minor hit in parts of Europe and in Australia. Hurriedly, they followed this with their first long player, conveniently titled “Popstars”, which actually featured writing contributions from Hear’Say themselves, along with a bevy of other hit making songwriters and producers, all of which made for a triple Platinum seller in no time at all. a trio of number one’s was attained with the second single, “The Way To Your Love”, in the Summer of 2001. But just as people were getting used to a new album and lots of potential singles, Hear’Say were back in the studio less than nine months later to make a follow up!
The second half of 2001 was mind bogglingly busy for the fivesome as they juggled touring and recording and I guess, eating and sleeping in between. But, November saw the single, “Everybody”, released. The song made the top five and was quickly followed with the release of a second album that year. Also titled “Everybody”, the album was not a success and perhaps proved that too much really was…too much at the end of the day. Not only were deep cracks appearing in record sales and wallets and purses, but also in the line up of the group itself, all just eleven months after they had arrived! January 2002 saw Kym Marsh leave, replaced by Johnny Shentall (b.1978), husband of Steps singer Lisa Scott-Lee, who was the about to embark on her own solo career. A new album (another one) began production straight away but after the demise of the lead single, “Lovin’ Is Easy” (UK No.6), all thought and work was cancelled.
It was formerly announced that Hear’Say were finished three months later and only twenty months since the release of their first single! Ironically, it was rival group and contest runner up Liberty X, that would win the hearts and purse strings of the general public as they would go on to have smash hits with “Just A Little”, “Got To Have Your Love” and “Being Nobody”. The group finally separated in 2016, fourteen years after Hear’Say!
The years since have been a mixed bag for Hear’Say. Foster became a TV presenter for a number of years although he returned to music in 2019 forming his band, Danny Foster and The Big Soul Corporation. They tour performing Motown and classic soul hits from five decades. Sullivan returned to the theatre, where he had started, appearing in productions of Fame and What A Feeling. In 2009 he made his West End debut in Grease and in 2011, in We Will Rock You. He toured with Jason Donovan in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert in 2014. Shaw also made a career on stage, appearing in Summer Holiday and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, while 2009 saw her tour with the musical Chicago. After leaving Hear’Say, Kym Marsh launched a solo career. Her debut single, “Cry”, entered the singles chart at No.2. But while her album, “Standing Tall” reached No.9, sales and interest in follow ups dwindled. Kym did, however, find fame on the small screen.
After appearances in a number of big British TV shows, she joined the cast of soap opera, Coronation Street in 2006 in the role of Michelle Connor. With over a thousand episodes to her name, Kym finally bowed out thirteen years later in 2019. She continues to be sought after as an actress with roles in the drama series, The Syndicate (2021) and even as a presenter of prime time show, The One Show. Arguably, it is Myleene Klass who has profited more than any other member of the group, becoming a hugely successful television presenter as well as releasing a number of classical music albums. She presented the Classic Brit Awards ceremony from 2008-2013 and again from 2018 to the present day and more recently has appeared in the 2021 series of Dancing On Ice. She has been a DJ for BBC Radio 2 and has hosted her drivetime show on Smooth Radio since 2014. Recently (2020) there have been rumours of a Hear’Say reunion although nothing has been confirmed. Whether the original five can repair their differences and work together again remains to be seen. It could be that purely and simply, what’s done is done.