May 09

RENEE AND RENATO – “Save Your Love”

FT + Popular66 comments • 7,053 views

#512, 18th December 1982

It goes almost without saying that this is outrageous bilge, with a stripe of cynicism as wide as Renato’s spangly lapels. Renato who, of course, was allowed to appear as himself in the video, where his Pooh-Bearish charms win the heart of a replacement Renee – a forerunner of the Beijing Olympics pretty-voice-meet-cute-girl move, though the Chinese government are mere amateurs next to the steel-hearted nabobs of British Light Entertainment.

The record’s plonking self-confident awfulness is like critic-proof armour plate. You say it’s bad? They’re aware of that, and not in a comically knowing way either: they’ve made a stinking record which will sell a lot and make some people happy and do no great harm (certainly it passed the playground test – “SAFFE YOUR LUFF MY DAHLINK!”). Maybe you fancy a clever sneer, comparing Renato to the Just One Cornetto advert. Tough luck: he IS the Just One Cornetto advert. Records like “Save Your Love” are to the British charts what a nasty pissing shower of unspectacular rain is to the British weather: you take it, wait till it sods off and enjoy a satisfying grumble afterwards.



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  1. 1
    poohugh on 7 May 2009 #

    Excellent phonetic spelling! I don’t think it deserves 1, it’s vaguely enjoyable to listen to. You need to remove the Ron Jeremy lookalike from your mind. And ignore the line about ‘Roma’, you’ll have a pretty good time.

  2. 2
    Tom on 7 May 2009 #

    It’s a respectful 1 not an angry 1.

  3. 3
    The Lurker on 7 May 2009 #

    I agree with Poohugh – it’s clearly rubbish, but it’s not nearly in the same league of awfulness as Little Jimmy or St Winifred’s – I wouldn’t need to lunge for the off switch if this came on the radio. Worth at least a 2!

  4. 4
    rosie on 7 May 2009 #

    A very well-deserved 1 I think. Renato’s cod-Italian is far worse than Joe Dolce’s, which at least could be construed as an affection take on an Italian upbringing. This is just funny foreigner stuff, bordering on downright racism.

    From a personal point of view, this was number one for the most miserable Christmas and New Year of my life. Christmas because it was the first I’d ever spent on my own and the first I’d ever spent jobless and I didn’t then know how to cope with that so I spent most of the day in tears. Things had looked better for the New Year: I was invited up to Norfolk and a new beginning looked possible, but in the event I was stood up and ended up making my way back from Holt to Cambridge by public transport on a freezing cold January Sunday.

    This was not, however, the nadir of my life. That is still to come.

  5. 5
    Erithian on 7 May 2009 #

    I wasn’t exactly returning from another planet, but when I got back home from Brittany for Christmas I had a few nuances of British life to get used to. I’d only been away for two and a half months, but I had no idea about Channel 4, “The Young Ones”, what Watford were doing among the league title contenders and who the blue blazes was buying this record.

    You occasionally get a bit of light opera-style singing (or even proper opera in the case of old Pav) gracing the chart, which people are buying for the perceived touch of class it brings to their record collection, but “class” isn’t what comes to mind when you consider this offering. One of the very worst number ones ever.

    Jasper Carrott, before he lost his edge completely, did a good routine about Renee and Renato – “he comes from Birmingham, you know”.

    I like the bit about the steel-hearted pretty-voice-meet-cute-girl technique, Tom although they’re hardly alone – towards the end of the decade there’s a much worse example involving a soul diva, an Italian producer and a French model, which we’ll dissect in due course.

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 7 May 2009 #

    Ahem, I always enjoy listening to this one. I think that as a song its quite effectively constructed, and I really like the slightly husky timbre of Renee’s voice.

    It would be foolish to make any greater claims for it than that – and I fully accept that its a meritricious single – but I do always enter into the spirit of the song.

    I wasn’t very impressed when I was ten, although I felt a much greater sense of bafflement than of hostility towards it.

  7. 7
    misschillydisco on 7 May 2009 #

    i think that seeing the video on TOTP may be the very first time i had to leave the room with sheer embarrassment. now i have to do it on a weekly basis, thanks to shows like the x factor. this is just awful. i don’t know how it even gets a 1!

  8. 8
    Martin Skidmore on 7 May 2009 #

    #7: 1 is the lowest mark available. I gave it 2 – it’s terrible, but as The Lurker points out, there are a number of more offensively appalling #1s.

  9. 9
    Dan R on 7 May 2009 #

    You can’t fault the generosity of the regulars on here but this is absolutely a 1. It’s not a spitefully bad song, or a callously lowest-common-denominator song; it’s not incompetent or bandwagon-jumping. It is just a very very bland song, sung in a novelty Italian accent, in some misguided idea that this is ‘romantic’. The lyrics have what Henry James referred to as ‘weak specificity’; there’s nothing in there, not a single phrase that catches any sense of the particular, that this is an actual relationship between two particular people; there’s no tang of reality and this, lyrically, is what divides emotion from sentimentality.

    The absurd operette styling of Renato’s voice is laughable. Not, of course, as laughable as the ridiculous video (which I seem to recall was even considered absurd at the time), with the revealed Renato in his white-suited, pudgy, mustachioed horror, hammily pawing at the empty pillow, the soft focus, the comically bad cut on the thrown rose, etc. The arrangement, with the inevitable key change, the yucky strings, the air of Mantovani shimmer, the stars/moon/rose/Roma sciocchezze (as real Italians might say), all suggests the profound romance of a waiter saying ‘and a glass of champagne for the lovely lady?’. It’s not retrievable; it’s entirely without merit; I don’t imagine it was bought for much more than sentimental and kitsch reasons.

    It’s also one of those songs that is all about how they’re about to sing their song (‘A serenade I long to sing you’ ‘Darling, sing for me our lovers’ song’). Which only makes me think: yes sing the song that means something to you, not this crap.

    Sleeve oddly mismatches the song, I think.

  10. 10
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 May 2009 #

    i am enjoying the idea that henry james was specifically discussing this song when he used the term “weak specificity”

  11. 11
    vinylscot on 7 May 2009 #

    From wiki:

    “Renato is a keen fan of Aston Villa F.C. and during the early 90s was asked by manager Ron Atkinson to sing Nessun Dorma at half time following a particularly poor first half performance by the team. On completion of his performance Atkinson told the players ‘Now that is passion! Go and show me some of that in the second half!'”

  12. 12
    Laura Brown on 7 May 2009 #

    I might raise the rating to 2, purely because Linda Smith singing the lyrics of “Psycho Killer” to the tune of this song was one of the most hilarious things ever to happen on “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue”.

  13. 13
    Andrew F on 7 May 2009 #

    It’s no Barcelona, that much is clear.

  14. 14
    AndyPandy on 7 May 2009 #

    How can it be racist/cod italian when Renato was an Italian born in Rome?

    Like probably somewhere around 50% of the number 1’s I’d give it a 3 ie not annoying, just goes over my head and generally makes no impression either way on me.
    To me 2’s and 1’s are for the genuinely offensive/appalling – the latter quite rare…

  15. 15
    lonepilgrim on 7 May 2009 #

    When detached from the ridiculous video I find myself more positively disposed to this than I would have guessed – so I give it 1.

  16. 16
    Conrad on 7 May 2009 #

    “It’s also one of those songs that is all about how they’re about to sing their song”

    – Dan R yes absolutely.

    “Gonna write a classic
    Gonna write it an attic”

    Oh yeah? Go on then, off you sodding well go to your attic but spare us this claptrap.

    This isn’t taking itself as seriously as Gurvitz but it’s still terrible mind.

    A resounding Uno

  17. 17
    DV on 7 May 2009 #

    I can’t remember whether I liked this back then, but I definitely like it now. Without wanting to listen to it or anything like that.

  18. 18
    LondonLee on 7 May 2009 #

    Can we stop now so this record doesn’t get more comments than Beat Surrender?

  19. 19
    Mark G on 7 May 2009 #

    Well, I’m here to say:

    At the time, I thought “It could be worse, it could have been an operatic woman singing and a bloke with a fair/middling voice”

    Cue “Barcelona”, Mercury/Cavaille. Guess I was wrong.

  20. 20
    Snif on 7 May 2009 #

    “I like the bit about the steel-hearted pretty-voice-meet-cute-girl technique, Tom although they’re hardly alone – towards the end of the decade there’s a much worse example…”

    Wasn’t there one happening at around this time with The Maisonettes, singing “Heartache Avenue” with a couple of ring-ins for the backing singers?

    “It’s also one of those songs that is all about how they’re about to sing their song”

    The best example was Peter Cook and Dudley Moore’s “Alan-a-Dale”

  21. 21
    rosie on 8 May 2009 #

    Anybody who thinks Renato has an ‘operatic’ voice hasn’t heard much opera. He’d be lucky to escape La Scala with his bollocks intact.

  22. 22
    Mark G on 8 May 2009 #

    I didn’t say he was, just that I’d had that thought back then.

    And also to clarify, “Barcelona” is not worse than this.

    OK, carry on.

  23. 23
    wildheartedoutsider on 8 May 2009 #

    Is there REALLY all that much difference between the ‘awful fascination of the very bad’ novelty factor of this song and the current popularity of Susan Boyle?!!

    And I’m not talking about the physical similarities of the two singers.

  24. 24
    wichitalineman on 8 May 2009 #

    So, does anyone know why “Renee” is always partly hidden in the video? Bit of an odd thing to do if you’ve forked out for a model; she was cross-eyed or had a boxer’s nose, or both, according to Terry Wogan (who played it quite a lot). Either way, it feels like a song and a video that needs a punchline. It’s entirely baffling and therefore hard to hate. But even Cara Mia has more class (production-wise, certainly) which condemns this scientifically as a 1.

    I assumed it was a rotten Italian ballad at the time but, again like Cara Mia, it was British, written (according to Wiki) by Johnny Edward, the creator of Metal Mickey. The vocodered voice of Mickey was preferable to Renato’s, and his reggae shuffle Sillycon Chipp would have been a much more enjoyable Xmas no.1.

  25. 25
    Dan R on 8 May 2009 #

    According to Wikipedia, this song had a considerable afterlife in Scandinavia. Which goes to show that excellent welfare provision and a fine tradition of deliberative democracy do not correlate with good taste in music.

  26. 26
    Davey on 8 May 2009 #

    Execrable song! But damn it if I don’t have a wretched case of earworm just from reading this post! Maybe I need a good dose of Metal Mickey.

  27. 27
    Rob K on 8 May 2009 #

    Smash Hits did a pretty good version of this that’s stuck with me for some weird reason.

    Darling I am wider than I’m tall
    My mouth is big, my piggy eyes are small
    About my clothes I don’t have cares, just wear my jumper and my flares,
    In fact I don’t have any dress sense at all.

  28. 28
    Erithian on 8 May 2009 #

    Weird – that “Darling I am wider than I’m tall” line has stuck with me for all these years too!

    Speaking of weird, maybe we could riff on the theme of peculiar songwriters for a minute. I learned that the creator of Metal Mickey wrote this song while I was still reeling from discovering that the early-70s crooner Malcolm Roberts wrote Edwin Starr’s “Contact”. Then there’s Charlie Chaplin writing “This Is My Song”, Trevor (Vicar of Dibley) Peacock with Herman’s Hermits’ “Mrs Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter” and Charles Dawes, a former Vice President of the United States, penning “It’s All In The Game”. I’m sure you all can come up with a few more?

  29. 29
    Alan on 8 May 2009 #

    i recall a spoof (probably on 3-of-a-kind) that had the couplet

    i’ve got a boyfriend home in Pinner
    Better looking, and much thinner

  30. 30
    Steve Mannion on 8 May 2009 #

    I’m still unable to recall for sure whether or not I hated Tight Fit, Captain Sensible and even poor Eddy Grant so this is officially the first #1 single I DEFINITELY did not like at all. Any irony or dubiousness conceptually was lost on me, the overbearing slush seemed to deter me on it’s own. I haven’t actually heard it since the time and don’t intend to so it’s either slightly better or a whole lot worse than I remember, which just isn’t enough of an incentive to check for sure. Next!

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