Background and release
Steps were put together in 1997 following an advert in a magazine, The Stage, asking for applicants to audition for a place in a pop band. Out of the thousands who applied, Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, Claire Richards and Ian "H" Watkins were successful in securing a place in the band. "5,6,7,8" is a techno-pop song with elements of country-pop which was written by Barry Upton and Steve Crosby, produced by Karl Twigg, Mark Topham and Pete Waterman, and lasts for a duration of three minutes, 22 seconds. Latchford-Evans performs the majority of the song, while Scott-Lee sing the middle 8, or bridge. It was recorded at PWL Studios in Manchester, England, and mixed by Lee Sharma at the same venue. Upton also arranged the track and played the guitar, while the banjo, violin, drums and keyboards were played by Sean Lyon, Chris Haigh, Chris McDonnell and Twigg, respectively.
Al Unsworth and Bradlee Spreadborough served as the assistant engineers and it was mastered at Transfermation Studios in London, England. "5,6,7,8" features all of the band members on lead vocals except for Ian "H" Watkins, who only performs background vocals. Various versions of the song were included on the CD single in the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan, including an extended version, an instrumental and a remix by W.I.P.; the CD single in the United Kingdom and Europe also included the B-side, "Words of Wisdom", which was also written by Upton and Crosby. It was released in the United Kingdom in November 1997, and it was later included on their first greatest hits album, Gold: Greatest Hits (2001), the W.I.P. remix on their first compilation album The Last Dance (2002) and their third greatest hits album, The Ultimate Collection (2011).