It was Samantha Fox’s childhood dream to be a pop star, but despite being a household name before the age of 20 her attempts to break into the music industry repeatedly failed for some three years before she finally had a hit. “Since I was a little girl I used to go to drama school and I learnt to sing and I used to do lots of plays so I always wanted to be a singer. I always wanted to be a model as well but now I can be a singer and a model but everyone says it’s not credible. Whatever you’re tops in, people are going to try and bring you down – that’s my philosophy,” she told Tom Hibbert when he interviewed her for Smash Hits. Unusually, the magazine took a rather lofty attitude towards her, with the contents page summarizing the article as “Britain’s foremost philosopher speak[ing] about Thatcher and the unions and God Almighty and floppy hats. Gosh!” (Well, it was her own fault for using the word ‘philosophy’.) Hibbert did indeed quiz her on these and other topics such as press intrusion and feminism and while his verbatim reporting of her answers was clearly intended to mock, she nevertheless gamely replied to all his questions. She readily expected people to dismiss her music. “As long as I’m pleased with the record and I’ve done my best, then I know that all that’s let me down is this Page Three image. But then again it’s 1986, not the 1920s – anything goes these days,” she said.
With that, she acknowledged what had brought her to public attention initially: glamour modelling. The fame this brought her in turn led to a record deal with the small Lamborghini label, but her early records sold poorly. The first was the reasonably inoffensive new wave Rockin’ With My Radio, released with her band SFX in 1983 (the year she made her debut as a Page Three girl in The Sun). Aim To Win, released under her own name, followed in 1984 but it flopped and that was it for the time being. Her modelling career continued and her image helped to sell other people’s records if not her own: she featured in the dreadful cover art for Hallmark compilation album The Top Of The Poppers – The Best Of Top Of The Pops, and the following year was photographed in an embrace with David Cassidy for the picture disc edition of his single Romance (Let Your Heart Go). By the end of that year, Fox had signed with Jive records and her new record company put together a comprehensive campaign to make her name as a singer during 1986.
Her label debut was the ghastly Touch Me (I Want Your Body), a deliberately seedy song title designed to secure maximum publicity. Despite its flimsy composition and the cringe-inducing moaning and heavy breathing liberally applied throughout, it made the Top 10, as did its far superior follow-up Do Ya Do Ya (Wanna Please Me), a fun (and unintentionally funny) pop/rock track which she did her best with. Of the song, she said “One morning, an envelope arrived with just ‘Samantha Fox, North London’ written on it. Inside was a cassette with the demo of this song, written by two unknown writers. I loved it instantly and it brought out the secret rocker in me.” Her vocal limitations meant she couldn’t quite do the song justice, although she had a respectable go at belting it out. Next was Hold On Tight, a truly awful rockabilly pastiche which was one of the worst records of the year. She followed that with the slower-paced I’m All You Need (“I love this. It has beautiful lyrics… it reminded me of Fleetwood Mac who I loved and still do.”), by some margin her best song and the highlight of the filler-heavy album from which all four of these singles were taken, Touch Me.
She remained a Top 40 artist for the rest of the decade, but there were few memorable songs. Her second, eponymously titled album was a professionally put together affair but it lacked a radio-friendly tune; the one Top 10 single that was included, Stock Aitken Waterman’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now, sat uncomfortably with the rest of the material and had obviously been bolted on when Jive realized there was no big hit to promote the album with in Europe. She actually had more luck with it in the US, where one of its tracks Naughty Girls (Need Love Too), written and produced by American soul/funk outfit Full Force (who also performed on it), reached #3. As a result, America got third LP I Wanna Have Some Fun first (in November 1988; it didn’t appear here for another few months). Stock Aitken Waterman and Full Force were both back, but again the album lacked a winning single; in the UK, the biggest hit was a cover of I Only Wanna Be With You. Jive seemed unable to decide how to market her: she was often portrayed as a wild-child, but in interviews she was keen to emphasize that she was just an ordinary young woman.
Thereafter, although her pop career has continued, her records have been infrequent and in the UK at least, unsuccessful. Full Force returned to produce the four ridiculously camp opening tracks on One More Night (1991), her final album for Jive. How she kept a straight face in the promotional clip for its lead single (Hurt Me! Hurt Me!) But The Pants Stay On is anyone’s guess. The album’s title track was presumably meant to be funny, so outrageous was its content, but it was promoted without any hint of irony. Regardless, both these songs and the other two Full Force contributed ended once and for all the pretence that she was a ‘girl-next-door’ type. She made brief returns to the singles chart here in 1995 as lead singer with all-female band Sox (Go For The Heart was a Eurovision hopeful, but didn’t get to represent the UK) and in 1998 as a guest vocalist on DJ Milano’s club hit Santa Maria. Final albums 21st Century Fox (1997, re-promoted in the millennium in question as Watching Me Watching You) and Angel With An Attitude (2005) failed to chart. Occasional one-off singles and collaborations have emerged over the past ten years.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 1
Samantha FOX I’m All You Need (Jive FOXY4)
MADONNA Open Your Heart (Sire W8480)
PRETENDERS Hymn To Her (Real YZ93)