East 17’s popularity is hard to fathom from this distance but in the mid 1990’s they were a genuine rival to the decades big boy band Take That. Like the Manchester lads East 17 had a solid songwriter in their ranks and it was Tony Mortimer who penned the bands biggest hit and only number one ‘Stay Another Day’. Much like Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s ‘The Power of Love’ East 17’s Christmas song has long been accused of not been written for the season and a casual look through the lyrics goes a long way to proving this point. That said East 17 cleverly employed a tumultuous set of church bells as ‘Stay Another Day’ reaches its climax to give it an undoubted yuletide edge. Their harmonies were as tight as ever and the addition of a promo video that featured members of the band in luminous white parkas while a flurry of, admittedly digitally rendered, snow gave the occasion the winter scene it craved and so there was only going to be one outcome. And ‘Stay Another Day’ has subsequently moved beyond it natural audience of screaming teenagers to an adult fanbase who lavish the song with praise from the comfort of a workaday compilation of Christmas greatest hits. Some might scoff but this will be a permanent fixture on the Christmas soundtrack for many decades to come.
Despite the huge success of ‘Stay Another Day’ East 17’s only other contribution to Christmas was a song for the children’s support service Childline. ‘The Gift of Christmas’ featured the band amongst a whole host of other artists such as Boyzone, Dannii Minogue and Backstreet Boys and while it fell short of the success that was expected it still was a fine gesture by all involved. ‘The Gift of Christmas’ featured a lengthy rap solo by Tony Mortimer as well as considerable vocal contributions from all of the other members of East 17.Author: Kevin