Whole Again

Album: Right Now (2001)
Charted: 1
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Songfacts®:

  • Atomic Kitten is a girl group founded in 1998 by OMD's Andy McCluskey and Stuart Kershaw. Their first four singles were middling hits and their debut album, Right Now, only reached #37. Their fifth single, "Whole Again," was a last-ditch attempt to save their record deal with Virgin Records.

    Atomic Kitten publicized the tune on TV, the tabloids, and personal appearances, and significantly there was airplay on BBC Radio 2 too, the first time the national radio station had backed the girls.

    The catchy tune caught the imagination of the public and it debuted at #1 in the UK, staying at the top for four weeks. The song also peaked atop the charts of Austria, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
  • Andy McCluskey and Stuart Kershaw originally wrote "Whole Again" for a girl band called Honeyhead in 1997. That project failed, but McCluskey and Kershaw believed in the song and when they formed Atomic Kitten, the girls recorded it for Right Now. At the suggestion of Virgin, McCluskey and Kershaw gave it to another songwriting duo, Bill Padley and Jeremy Godfrey, to transform the album track into a more melodic international hit single.
  • Lyrically, the song is one of unrequited love, with the girls telling their crush only he can make them "whole again." Andy McCuskey told 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh he took inspiration from the music of '60s girl groups, especially The Shirelles. "I loved the Shirelles, " he said, "and in many ways this is the sort of song The Shirelles would have been doing now."
  • Kerry Katona, Natasha Hamilton and Liz McClarnon were the three Atomic Kittens who recorded "Whole Again." It was the last Atomic Kitten song to feature Kerry Katona, who left following her pregnancy with Westlife's Bryan McFadden. Her replacement, Jenny Frost (formerly a member of Eurovision hopefuls Precious), arrived just after the single topped the UK Singles Chart and the video was re-filmed to replace Katona's part with the new recruits. Following the song's success, Virgin reissued Right Now with a re-edited version of "Whole Again" featuring Frost's vocals.
  • In its original form, "Whole Again" had a spoken-word introduction similar to All Saints' "Never Ever." It was later removed, but a version with spoken words by Jenny Frost's was included as a bonus track on international versions of Atomic Kitten's second album, Feels So Good.
  • During England's run to the semifinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, fans adopted a football chant about manager Gareth Southgate to the tune of the chorus of "Whole Again":

    The lines:
    Baby you're the one
    You still turn me on
    You can make me whole again


    Were changed to:
    Southgate, you're the one
    You still turn me on
    Football's coming home again
  • England football fans continued the chant during Euro 2020, so Atomic Kitten re-recorded their hit song, adding the Gareth Southgate twist. By then Jenny Frost had moved to Ibiza. She told Capital Breakfast with Roman Kemp that her bandmates Liz McClarnon and Natasha Hamilton had given her a last-minute call to get into the studio. "I had a hangover and I was on the beach and I was like 'what?'" she said. "I seriously went into the studio and I was like 'I'm really sorry, I'm covered in sand' and they were like 'Can you take your shoes off?'"
  • Atomic Kitten released "Southgate You're the One (Football's Coming Home Again)" on July 6, 2021, the day before England's semifinal match against Denmark. The footy version reached #14 on the UK singles chart after England reached the final.
  • OMD covered "Whole Again" for the 2008 compilation release Liverpool - The Number Ones Album.

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