For one U.K. pop girl group, the tide was once very high, but then it rolled back out — whatever happened to Atomic Kitten?
Thanks largely to the rallying call of the Spice Girls, the bubblegum pop revolution hit its peak in the late ’90s.
Led by Ginger, Sporty, Scary, Posh and Baby’s demand for Girl Power, an influx of female pop stars launched their careers, including the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera — though that barely scrapes the surface.
Meanwhile, in the U.K., a slew of fellow girl groups followed in the Spice Girls’ glamorous, platform-wearing footsteps, including Atomic Kitten.
The first iteration of the group included Liz McClarnon, Kerry Katona and Heidi Range.
However, Range’s time as a Kitten was limited. Digital Spy notes that she departed due to artistic differences before the group even landed a recording contract. (It was not the end of her career, though. She went on to join another successful girl group: the Sugababes.) Her departure was the first hint at the group’s shifting lineup, and it would not be the last.
Range’s spot was filled by Natasha Hamilton, and the girls went on to release their first single, “Right Now,” in 1999.
“Right Now” went Top 10 on the Official Charts in the U.K., earning them a respectable hit right out of the gate.
Their first album, fittingly also titled Right Now, eventually hit the top spot on the charts. The Kittens were clearly off to a strong start.
Atomic Kitten soared even higher on the wings of their 2001 single “Whole Again,” which became their first chart-topper in the U.K. The song has the distinction of being one of the best-selling releases by a girl group in U.K. chart history. Their second No. 1, “Eternal Flame,” followed shortly thereafter.
Watch Atomic Kitten’s “Whole Again” Music Video
BBC notes that the group’s big break came a few days too late, though: Katona departed Atomic Kitten shortly before they reached the pinnacle position with “Whole Again.”
She was replaced by Jenny Frost, who had cut her teeth in the girl group Precious. (We did say that the lineup was going to change a lot, and this is still just the warmup.)
Now with Frost, Atomic Kitten released their albums Feels So Good and Ladies Night in 2002 and 2003, respectively.
The former includes one of their most successful releases to date: a cover of Paragons’ “The Tide Is High.” Their sugary take on the breezy bop (which has also been covered by Blondie) became their third chart-topper.
Watch Atomic Kitten’s “The Tide Is High” Music Video
To date, Atomic Kitten have amassed 13 Top 10 hits in the U.K. But believe it or not, they haven’t released an album since Ladies Night.
What have they been up to for the past two decades? Read on to find out everything we know about Atomic Kitten then and now.
Atomic Kitten Went on Hiatus in the Mid-’00s
If the Spice Girls taught us anything, it was that all good things come to an end (at least for a while). Atomic Kitten was no different.
The girls released a greatest hits project in 2004 and took an extended break afterward.
But hope for the group was not all lost. Irish Examiner notes that they got together for a couple of sporadic, mini-reunions throughout the back-half of the ’00s.
In 2005, a version of their song “Cradle” cracked the Top 10 on the Official Charts. Three years later they broke onto the chart again with “Anyone Who Had a Heart.”
Watch Atomic Kitten’s Live Performance of “Anyone Who Had a Heart”
Atomic Kitten Reunited for The Big Reunion
The year 2012 brought about a new era for Atomic Kitten when Hamilton, McClarnon and Katona reunited.
They appeared on The Big Reunion, a reality show that resurrected several pop groups, in 2013.
Unfortunately, their comeback was not without drama. Digital Spy reports that early in the year, there was a feud brewing between Katona and Frost. The latter ultimately skipped out on the comeback.
Regardless, the girls enjoyed a brief renaissance, performed together and repeatedly teased the possibility of new bubblegum bops and bangers.
Digital Spy notes that Atomic Kitten announced plans to hit the recording studio again in 2013, igniting hopes for a new album. However, the album never materialized.
In 2014, the girls were forced to cancel a joint tour with fellow pop groups All Saints and East 17. Ticketmaster cited “unforeseen circumstances” to explain the canceled plans, according to NME.
Despite a botched tour, Katona continued to mention plans for new material, according to Digital Spy. She spilled some piping hot tea about an Atomic Kitten takeover in 2015 but, again, it didn’t happen.
Things were not looking great.
In 2017, the trio became a a duo after Katona bounced for a second time. The Mirror reports that the split came shortly after Katona reportedly went off about Hamilton at an event.
Hamilton opened up about the drama in 2018, claiming Katona stabbed her in the back and was the one who ultimately decided to depart, according to The Sun.
Long story short, Atomic Kitten’s comeback was over before it even really had a chance to begin.
As they say though, cats have nine lives — and this was not the end for Atomic Kitten.
The Return of Atomic Kitten Member Jenny Frost
Thankfully, the Kittens were able to rally. Hamilton and McClarnon carried on as a duo for a while, and then there were three again.
In 2020, Frost linked up with Hamilton and McClarnon via Zoom for a mid-pandemic hang. (Was there any other way to do reunions in 2020?)
“Was fab catching up with my Kittens today,” she gushed on Instagram. “We don’t speak often enough but when we do it’s like we’ve just spoken yesterday… so so funny.”
It wasn’t until 2021, however, that Atomic Kitten really offered a hint at what was to come. That’s when the trio dropped an updated, sporty version of their song “Whole Again.”
The newly updated track — called “Southgate You’re the One (Football’s Coming Home Again)” — was released in honor of Euro 2020. It marked the first time Frost recorded with the group in 13 years, according to Official Charts.
Listen to Atomic Kitten’s “Southgate You’re the One (Football’s Coming Home Again)”
Atomic Kitten Plan to Tour in 2022
The release of “Southgate You’re the One (Football’s Coming Home Again)” primed fans for more from Atomic Kitten — and they’re in luck.
Frost, Hamilton and McClarnon took to Instagram to reflect on their reunion and plans for the future.
“We can’t wait to see what new memories we can make 2022,” they teased.
The very next day they confirmed that they would be hitting the road again in late 2022.
“We are going to have so much fun and can’t wait to bring back all the nostalgia to all those who have supported us throughout the years. 2022 is set to be an incredible year,” they wrote in a caption accompanying the happy news.
It appears that the members of Atomic Kitten are more outspoken and confident than ever before.
The Daily Mail reports that Hamilton spoke out about ageism in the industry during a recent event, and she pulled no punches.
“Do you know what I am sick of? In the industry, it’s like it’s not below 25, like you’ve had your day,” she said.
Make no mistake thought, that is not the case for Atomic Kitten: “No, b—-es, we are back,” Hamilton promised.
Let it be known: 2022 is the year of Atomic Kitten supremacy.
Does all of this mean that new music is finally on the horizon? At the moment, it’s unclear, though it would make sense to bring out some new music in support of the tour — but it’s probably too early to get our hopes up just yet.
After all, we all remember what happened with the Pussycat Dolls reunion, right? On the flip side, can you blame us for dreaming?