All Saints were a British/Canadian girl group. Founded in 1993 as All Saints 126.96.36.199, the group consisted of founding members Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis, and sisters Nicole Appletonand Natalie Appleton. They became one of the most successful British pop groups of the 1990s, with nine top ten singles (including five number-ones), two multi-platinum albums, two gold albums and record sales in excess of ten million worldwide.
All Saints were formed as a trio in 1993 with Blatt, Lewis and Simone Rainford, who released two singles before Rainford's departure in 1995. Natalie and Nicole Appleton joined the group for the production of their debut album, All Saints (1997), which produced three UK number-one singles, including the BRIT Award-winning "Never Ever". Their second album, Saints & Sinners(2000), was also a success and yielded two number-one hits, although the group broke up in 2001. They later reformed for a third album, Studio 1 (2006), but it sold poorly. All Saints were confirmed to have split up for a second time in 2009, and Melanie Blatt stated in an interview that the band would never reform again.
History[edit | edit source]
1993–95: Formation and line-up changes[edit | edit source]
Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis started their career by singing backing vocals at Sarm West Studios, the ZTT recording studios near All Saints Road, London. In 1993, Blatt, Lewis and Simone Rainford were signed to ZTT Records, and music manager Ron Tom decided the trio should become a group.
All Saints 188.8.131.52 were launched as a trio in the vein of girl group Eternal. In 1994, All Saints 184.108.40.206. performed for their first time at the Touch Magazine stage at the Notting Hill Carnival. They released two singles together, but they were not successful. Additionally, Rainford and Blatt had conflicting visions of the band's musical direction which caused tensions in the band.
By 1994, the complicated recording sessions had produced the group's first single, "Silver Shadow", and the three girls performed throughout the UK. In mid-1995, Rainford left the band and ZTT Records dropped the remaining duo from their label. Regardless, Blatt and Lewis set out to find a replacement for Rainford. Conducting many auditions, Blatt's father met Nicole Appleton whom Blatt knew from her days at the Sylvia Young Theatre School. Nicole's sister Nataliesubsequently became the fourth member of the group.
1996–99: All Saints and international success[edit | edit source]
After forming a new group in May 1996, the four singers met with Karl "K-Gee" Gordon, a former band member of Outlaw Posse, who recorded a demo for "I Know Where It's At". The band began looking for a new record deal, but most record labels wanted to model them after the Spice Girls, who had become an international sensation by that time. The demo made its way to London Records, where John Benson finalised the recording deal in November 1996. All Saints recorded their debut album, All Saints, with producers such as Cameron McVey, Magnus Fiennes, Karl "K-Gee" Gordon, John Benson, Johnny Douglas, and Nellee Hooper.
In mid 1997, the single "I Know Where It's At" broke the group into the mainstream, reaching number four on the UK Singles Chart. Their second single, "Never Ever", was issued in November 1997 and launched them worldwide, peaking at number one in the UK and Australia. The single sold 1.2 million copies in the UK alone (receiving a double platinum certification from the British Phonographic Industry) and won the group two BRIT Awards in 1998: Best British Single and Best British Video. The album All Saints was released in November 1997, reached number two on the UK Album Chart, and was BPI-certified five times platinum in the UK for sales of 1.5 million. The third single from the album was the double A-side "Under the Bridge / Lady Marmalade", which became their second UK number-one single in May 1998, earning a gold certification for 400,000 copies sold. The same month, the album was re-released with a slightly different track listing. "Bootie Call", the fourth single, also went to number one, and the silver-certified "War of Nerves" (the fifth and final release) peaked at number seven, selling 200,000 copies.
The album achieved success in countries such as Australia (double platinum, selling 140,000 copies), Canada (triple platinum, 300,000 copies), and the United States, where All Saints was certified platinum by the RIAA for sales of one million and produced two top forty singles on the Billboard Hot 100: "I Know Where It's At" and "Never Ever". In November 1998, All Saints received the MTV Europe Music Award for Best Breakthrough Artist and performed at the ceremony, although Blatt was absent due to her pregnancy.
2000–01: Saints & Sinners, break-up, and All Hits[edit | edit source]
All Saints returned in February 2000 with the single "Pure Shores", written by Shaznay Lewis and William Orbit for the soundtrack of the film The Beach (starring Leonardo DiCaprio). "Pure Shores" was their fourth number-one single in the UK and the second best-selling single of 2000, with 600,000 copies sold; it also became their first and only number-one single in Ireland and was a substantial hit across Europe and Australia. The song won an Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work. All Saints performed the song at the 2000 MTV Europe Music Awards.
Also in 2000, the Appleton sisters and Blatt made their film debut with Honest, which was directed by former Eurythmics member Dave Stewart. Honest is a black comedy set in Swinging London in the late 1960s, in which the singers playing three street-wise, saucy sisters who head "up West" to pursue a life of crime. The film became most notable for the topless scenes by the Appleton sisters. Their performances were widely panned; one critic remarked, "It is the worst kind of rubbish, the kind that makes you angry you have wasted 105 minutes of your life watching it."
In October 2000, All Saints released the single "Black Coffee", which became their fifth and final number-one single in the UK, selling 200,000 copies. This preceded their second studio album, Saints & Sinners, which debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, eventually reaching double platinum certification in the UK for sales of 600,000 copies. The second and final single was "All Hooked Up" in January 2001, which peaked at number seven.
In February 2001, All Saints announced that they were to take a break so that they "could clear the air between themselves". Melanie Blatt said later that year that it was uncertain if they would reform, citing their difficulties with the financial and business aspects of the group.Shaznay Lewis later explained that the catalyst for the break-up was a disagreement over who would wear a certain jacket for a photoshoot: "I would never in a million years have put money on the group ending over a jacket incident. But when that incident happened, it fired up so strong, it had to be over. And the way I was then, the state we'd got into then, there was no way she was getting that stupid jacket."
In November 2001, London Records released a greatest hits compilation entitled All Hits. It contains the group's hit singles and Blatt's first solo single, "TwentyFourSeven", a collaboration with Artful Dodger. The album peaked at number eighteen on the UK Albums Chart and was later certified gold, selling 100,000 copies. In 2008, a slightly altered edition of the album was given away for free as part of a promotion with The Mail on Sunday.
2006–07: Reunion and Studio 1[edit | edit source]
On 24 January 2006, it was announced that the band had reformed and signed a record deal with Parlophone.They subsequently began work on their third studio album, Studio 1. The first single, "Rock Steady" (released in November 2006), reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. Studio 1 entered the albums chart at number forty, falling significantly short of the success of "Rock Steady" and the group's previous releases; it has since sold 60,000 copies according to the BPI, being certified silver.
A second single, "Chick Fit", followed in February 2007, but promotional appearances and a physical release were cancelled and it failed to reach the top 200. It was subsequently reported that All Saints and Parlophone had parted ways and the group cancelled their planned UK tour. Blatt discussed the reunion's failure in an interview with i-D magazine in 2012: "I don't think it was done for the right reasons... I know that I did it for the money. We got signed before we had even made music again, it wasn't like we felt we had something to give back to the world... we were given an opportunity and took it, without really thinking about it too hard". She also said she never felt comfortable with the success the band had and that "it was not necessarily the plan at the beginning; there was a lot of compromise involved".
2008–10: Later activities and second split[edit | edit source]
In January 2008, Nicole Appleton and Melanie Blatt served as "hijackers" on E4's Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack, during which Blatt said that they had a record deal with an undisclosed company in a conversation with housemate Nathan Fagan-Gayle.
In February 2008, in a press release for the Wideboys' single with Shaznay Lewis ("Daddy O") posted on the official website of All Around the World, it was stated that All Saints were recording in the studio and would be back with new material before the end of 2008. Because no record label was mentioned in the update, fans assumed that the group's new label was All Around the World. In September 2008, All Around the World discredited claims that All Saints had been signed with them with a post at their official website.
In August 2009, Melanie Blatt told the London Lite: "All Saints are never getting back together again. I never want to sing again. I recently did the Brits with Nic and we just went round chatting to people and then got drunk. That's my goal—to get paid for chatting to people and getting drunk!". In 2013, Blatt said of a second reunion: "I can't see it, but then I never thought I'd see Michael Madsen in [Celebrity Big Brother] either. Who knows what will happen".
A second compilation album, Pure Shores: The Very Best of All Saints, was released in September 2010. This two-disc collection features the group's hit singles alongside a selection of album tracks and B-sides.
Solo careers[edit | edit source]
Melanie Blatt was the first member to record after the group disbanded. In September 2001, she collaborated with Artful Dodger on the track "TwentyFourSeven", which peaked at number six in the UK. In February 2002, Blatt replacedKelis's vocals on the UK release of the track "I'm Leavin'" by Outsidaz and Rah Digga; the single reached number forty-two. Her third single, "Do Me Wrong", was released in August 2003 through London Records and peaked at number eighteen. Blatt was dropped by the label due to low sales, and the album she was working on at the time never materialised.
In April 2005, Blatt returned to the music industry with a new single, "See Me", which was included on the Robots film soundtrack and peaked at number seventy-eight in the UK. The single was released through Swollen Ankle Ltd, with whom Blatt began working on an album. During mid 2005, she played small venues in the UK and performed material from the album, which was shelved when All Saints reunited in early 2006.
After All Saints' split, Natalie and Nicole Appleton wrote and recorded their own album, formed the duo Appleton and signed a contract with Polydor Records. In September 2002, the Appleton sisters launched their first single, "Fantasy", which reached number two in the UK. Their autobiography, Together, was published the following month. Their second single, "Don't Worry", was released in March 2003 and reached number five in the UK before the release of their first album, Everything's Eventual, the same month. The album peaked at number nine; its final single was "Everything Eventually", which was released in July 2003 and peaked at number thirty-eight. Appleton and Polydor subsequently parted ways.
Shaznay Lewis released her first solo single, "Never Felt Like This Before", in July 2004; it reached number eight in the UK. Her album Open followed two weeks later via London Records and peaked at number twenty-two, although the second single, "You", charted only at number fifty-six. In November 2004, Lewis was one of the artists involved in the Band Aid 20 re-recording of "Do They Know It's Christmas?". In early 2008, Lewis collaborated with Wideboys on the UK top forty hit "Daddy O".