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by Malcolm Mclean
Way back in 1996, four friends from Dublin formed a group and named themselves D'Zire. Little did they know that this group would become the biggest girl band in history ever to come from the Emerald Isle. Some people say the band have had their day, but the girls would argue that they still have a lot to prove.
B*Witched's next single, "Jump Down", will be a big make or break time for the girls once again. If it fails to reach the Top 10, like their previous release, "I Shall Be There", the girls could be in trouble. Apparently they are finding it hard to target the changing fanbase, now that they have shed some of their teen image, but the magic is still there somewhere.
In May 1998, under the name B*Witched, the foursome released their first single, which went straight into No. 1 in the UK. "C'est La Vie", with a catchy Irish feel to it, was a breath of fresh air in the charts. In September that year the band returned with their second single, "Rollercoaster", which scored Edele, Lindsay, Sinead and Keavy their second chart topper. The girls already had an army of fans and their self-titled debut album went straight in at No. 3.
No. 1 singles shortly followed with "To You I Belong" and "Blame It On The Weatherman". B*Witched broke the record as the first group to have their first four singles go straight in at No. 1 (which has since been equalled by Irish boy band Westlife). It seemed the girls could do no wrong, having received many award nominations, including Record Of The Year, Ivor Novellos and Brit Awards. The tickets for the group's first tour, which comprised 13 arena dates around the UK, sold out in no time.
1999 was a year of breaking the United States, where the girls spent more than four months promoting their records. Over 1,000 live performances included touring with the likes of 'N Sync, 98 Degrees, and Britney Spears. The effort paid off, as "C'est La Vie" went top ten in the States, and their first album reached No. 12 on the Billboard Charts.
The second album, "Awake and Breathe", was recorded whilst over there. It reached No. 5 in the UK charts in October 1999. The first single to be taken from it, "Jesse Hold On" was hotly tipped to be the girls' fifth chart topper, but only managed No. 4 in the British charts. The girls denied it was a failure and went ahead with rehearsals for their UK tour. The concerts received rave reviews and were described as "the best pop shows since Take That". How right the critics were: pyrotechnics, glitter explosions, real rain pouring from the roof of the arenas and a giant cargo net made it a spectacular concert to see for any fan of live entertainment.
The second single from the album was a collaboration with the well-known African choir, Ladysmith Black Mambazo. "I Shall Be There" was released at Christmas time and was said to be the girls' best song to date. However, it failed to set the charts alight and only reached No. 13. The media described it as B*Witched's first flop and reported a lack of interest in the girls. Apparently their time spent in the US led the British public to find other interests, in the likes of S Club 7 and Westlife. For others the theme of the video to the song, which featured green grassy hills, exotic animals and a tropical rain forest, may not have been right for a Christmas release, as it did not fit in with the typical winter image of a Christmas song.
B*Witched are not over, far from it. The four girls from Dublin will still be producing spectacular shows and catchy singles this time next year. Lindsay, Keavy, Sinead and Edele will still be wearing their trademark denim, and who knows, maybe one day they'll get another No. 1? As a fan who knows the girls on a personal level, I hope they carry on being a success. We shall have to wait and see! But in the meantime, these four girls are here to stay!