Sep 10

SONIA – “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You”

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#631, 22nd July 1989

A theme we’ll come back to relentlessly when we reach the 00s: people assume reality pop talent shows are (or rather, ought to be) about talent, when in fact they’re about narrative. The records sell initially because we’ve accompanied the singer on a story whose ending requires that they sell: it’s what happens next that’s the problem. Of course, this has always been part of pop’s dynamics – Sonia’s career runs along similar lines, only without that pesky four months of television to sit through.

Stock Aitken And Waterman had always made music for everygirl: there was very little glamour in their female-fronted pop, the distance between the images of the stars and the teenagers they assumed were buying the records was deliberately tiny. But Mel and Kim and the Reynolds Girls had been didactic; Kylie was a star who played ordinary girls. It’s only now, with SAW’s fortunes at their zenith, that they are seen to let one of their audience make a record. Sonia’s entire hook (at the time) was that she was ordinary – determined and talented, but very much one of the listeners with a good enough voice to attract the attention of Pete Waterman in his DJ persona. As it happened, Sonia Evans’ background – though generic in one sense – wasn’t quite as unremarkable as the publicity pretended. She’d been at stage school since she was 8, and after the initial leg-up she found a niche recording oldies before a career in musicals and panto. They might as well have got Bonnie Langford in. But of course it suited Waterman to promote this everyday image, and himself as the man who could make a star out of anybody singing anything.

And there’s the rub: “You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You” is very thin fare. It’s not really the fault of Sonia, who does have an okay voice – a little fuller and smokier than Kylie, the obvious vocal model, though with no real presence beyond the belted “youu-ooo”s on the chorus. She doesn’t seem to have any interesting ideas about how to deliver the song, either, but then she’s not got much to work with: after some opening bars that nod frustratingly towards house music the ‘proper’ drums come in and the song slides into automatic. As usual, the title says it all: Sonia is all dogged persistence in the face of an unfeeling fella, and on the verses sounds positively perky about it thanks to those annoying high notes at the end of each line. Sonia approaches it with gusto but she can’t stop the record seeming flat, and even at the time this seemed like hubris on Waterman’s part – a man who’d come to believe the “Hit Factory” hype. It’s taken them almost a dozen number ones, but Stock Aitken And Waterman have finally got to the top with the sort of track unkind critics assumed they always made.



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  1. 1
    Kat but logged out innit on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Awww 3’s a bit harsh! I loved Sonia at the time, and I think she was the first person I ‘knew’ as AN SCOUSER. Her Eurovision turn in 1993 was pretty good too…

  2. 2
    JLucas on 27 Sep 2010 #

    I love this song. It’s a generic production, for sure, but I actually disagree with you about what Sonia brings to it. Play this alongside the hits of Jason, Brother Beyond, Big Fun and other SAW hitmakers of the time and I think this stands up much better simply because of Sonia’s sheer enthusiasm.

    I can’t really intellectualise my love for the song beyond that. But she definitely deserves a higher mark than the dreadful Jason numbers. It’s a shame she got a lot of B-grade stuff after this actually. When she did have something to work with she shone. Her cover of ‘End Of The World’ is leagues ahead of Jason and Kylie’s more succesful cover hits (Sealed With A Kiss and Tears On My Pillow).

    On the whole it never quite happened for her though. Of her post-SAW stuff I find ‘Only Fools Never Fall In Love’ very appealing, and she gave a great performance of a mediocre song at Eurovision ’93 (And was rewarded by coming agonisingly close to a victory, but the right song and singer won that year). But mostly it was just too many cover versions.

    I’ll always cherish this, End Of The World and her spectacular appearence on the horribly misguided ‘Reborn In The USA’ though.

  3. 3
    JLucas on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Plus she had such a lovely assortment of hats.

  4. 4
    MikeMCSG on 27 Sep 2010 #

    #2 Spot on review Tom. I always felt this was the point where SAW jumped the shark and lost that little “cred” that kept them buoyant. Without being too mean to Sonia there’s no way you could view the bubble-permed hamster-cheeked Scouser as anything but irredeemably naff. I’m sure Pete Waterman didn’t intend to make any more than one single with her but once this got to number one they were stuck with her whatever the damage to the brand. I think this is their last chart-topper as writers isn’t it ?

    Last sighting of Sonia was on that “Reborn In The USA” thing where she was struggling with Dollar to avoid getting the wooden spoon which says it all really.

  5. 5
    weej on 27 Sep 2010 #

    This is something I haven’t heard for twenty years, and unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have aged well at all.
    I remember being a bit disappointed by Sonia’s entry in Eurovision because I was expecting her to be singing the much better Kylie song of the same name.

  6. 6
    Dominic on 27 Sep 2010 #

    #1, well “Everybody Knows” Sonia, don’t they?

    Harmless, insubstantial, not particularly memorable, or admirable, fun, I suppose. Cilla Black updated, a lorra lorra laffs for a new generation, chuck. It may be grim up north but they know how to smile through hard times up there. Theatreisied working-class Northern normalness in a red-haired bundle of fun. But minus the menace that a Geordie might have.

    As for the inspiration for her SAW career. Heavens knows. Maybe it was all a bad well-intentioned mistake: a theme representating a continuation on from the Ferry Cross The Mersey remake earlier in the year crossed with the even-more-ordinary-than-Sonia Reynolds Girls. What had Liverpool done to deserve all this dross? Was it a way of waving two fingers at Derek Hatton, or Pete Waterman regretting that he’d never been able to find or forge a Beatles of his own?

    So boringly ordinary. And so unremarkably musically, so underacheiveing in terms of production. Although with the possible exception of Listen To Your Heart (which took some time to grow on one), this was heads and shoulders above her other 1989-90 singles, which really were truly dire. I think I’d give this a 5, maybe, just about,but “Can’t Forget You” would be lucky to scrape a 2, and “Counting Every Minute” a 3.

    Just dull dull dull

  7. 7
    Dominic on 27 Sep 2010 #

    #2 agreed – her take on End of the World was, at least, listenable, and even pathos-laden. it was just a much better song than anything else she sang

  8. 8
    MikeMCSG on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Sonia is the oldest of four 80s chart-toppers who have yet to turn 40. She will get there in February next year, Kelvin Grant of Musical Youth in July and Tiffany in October. The fourth and youngest we haven’t got to yet.

  9. 9
    Alan Connor on 27 Sep 2010 #

    What does the world of YouTube comments have to say?

    “Why this seems like rick roll?”

  10. 10
    thefatgit on 27 Sep 2010 #

    She’s hamstrung from the start, but I have a soft spot for Sonia. She sings with a smile on her face to put a smile on yours. Oddly enough, the attributes that make Jason irritating, make Sonia endearing.

    Having said that, I find this hasn’t aged at all well, so a generous 5 from me.

  11. 11
    flahr on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Some hilarious overacting in the video, especially from her male companion. (It was quite possibly not the actual video, since it cut away to a party on a bus for the last ten seconds – that sound familiar?)

    I also noticed that this is one of those songs where the title of the song and the hook line of the song aren’t quite the same (presumably why a number of the YouTube videos are mistitled You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You). We’ve got another one of these in 2005, at least.

    The fact my main observation on the song is so dull reflects accurately the level of interest I was able to muster in it.

  12. 12
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Hm – 3 is a bit harsh. The first thirty seconds of this the h-h-h-h-house feel and then that maximum emphasis “HOME” “PHONE” couplet) always promise more thrills than are subsequently delivered for me. This single provokes the opposite set of associations in me than it does for JLucas – while s/he hears its evident superiority to Jason and Big Fun, I can’t but help start thinking about Donna Summer or Lonnie Gordon. The sentiment of ‘This Time I Know Its For Real’ has a similar motif of persistence, but – by God – its more convincing there. Similarly the stammering middle-eight bit makes me want to listen to ‘Happenin’ All Over Again’ instead.

  13. 13
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Number 2 watch: A week of The London Boys quite, quite, brilliant ‘London Nights’.

    Then a week of the not-so brilliant long-awaited Bros comeback, ‘Too Much’ – Their attempt to sell out Wembley Stadium were one of the most interesting pop stories of this summer.

  14. 14
    JLucas on 27 Sep 2010 #

    I see your point, and Sonia certainly ain’t no Donna. But I can’t really hear Donna, and certainly not Lonnie, doing this song. It’s pure teen fare and Sonia sells that with an appropriate degree of vivacity which was distinctly lacking in other home-grown SAW fare.

    I also love how the lyrics are totally stalkeriffic.

    The video is indeed quite something. Poor Sonia has a case of the Tina Charles’, she loves to love but her baby just wants to dance. I can definitely imagine her being that girl who the class gay half-heartedly dated before coming out of the closet and being her best friend instead.

    Given that I *was* that class gay, it’s little wonder I felt a certain affinity for the ginger one.

  15. 15
    JLucas on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Shame we can’t talk about Lonnie Gordon actually. She was bloody fierce. Love Eviction may be the campest song I have ever heard in my life. But I digress…

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    wichita lineman on 27 Sep 2010 #

    As mentioned on a previous thread, I went to Bristol to review a PWL roadshow in spring ’89 with Jase the main attraction for the crowd. Bottom of the bill was Sonia who I thought looked like a chubby goldfish and didn’t have a chance of scoring a decent hit with this, SAW hot streak or no. I’m still not really sure how it happened, other than her voice has more character than many SAW acts. It sounds like an album track. It’s ok.

    Re 6: I’m hoping the next Go Kart Mozart album will include their social critique A Lorra Laughs With Cilla.

  17. 17
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Sonia performed ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’ four times on Top of the Pops. You’ll just have to wait if you want to find out about the Christmas show;

    6 July 1989. Also in the studio that week were; Monie Love, The Beautiful South and Rufus & Chaka Khan. Nicky Campbell was the host.

    20 July 1989. Also in the studio that week were; The London Boys, Monie Love and The Blow Monkeys & Sylvia Tella. Gary Davies was the host.

    27 July 1989. Also in the studio that week were; The Primitives, Kirsty MacColl and Bros. Mark Goodier & Simon Parkin (who?) were the hosts.

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Light Entertainment Watch: As you might expect, a trooper like Sonia is always happy to appear on TV;

    THE BRIAN CONLEY SHOW: with Paula Abdul, Sonia, Joe Brown (1995)

    DES O’CONNOR TONIGHT: with Britt Ekland, Hulk Hogan, Bradley Walsh, Sonia, Julio Iglesias (1991)

    THE EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: with Sonia, Terry Wogan (1993)

    HALE AND PACE: with Rory Underwood, Sonia, John Benson, Ricky Ellis, Cheryl Fergison, Jon Glover, Filipa Jeronimo, Judith Street (1995)

    THE LILY SAVAGE SHOW: with Gaby Roslin, Zoe Ball, Simon Williams, Anthea Turner, Sonia, Stephanie Beacham (1997)

    THE LILY SAVAGE SHOW: with Janet Street-Porter, Camille Weaver, Anita Dobson, Linda Robson, Sonia, Daniel Newman, Sally Chattaway, Michelle Boyle, Alan Ralph, Joanna Maddison (1997)

    THE O ZONE: with Dee-Lite, Sonia, Level 42, The Spin Doctors (1994)

    THE SMASH HITS POLL WINNERS PARTY: with Bros, Jason Donovan, Phillip Schofield, Kylie Minogue, Neneh Cherry, Big Fun, Soul II Soul, The London Boys, Sonia, Transvision Vamp (1989)

    TV SQUASH: with Roy Hattersley, Peter O’Brien, Sonia (1992)

    WOGAN: with Sonia, Richard Beattie, Patricia Hilton, Wendy Morris, Ron Moody (1991)

  19. 19
    Dominic on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Ooh the Primitives. That must have been “Sick of It”, which was their toughest, verging on heavy-metal, hit. Both that and the incredibly poppy (non-hit) follow-up “Secrets” had cracking B-sides. In fact one of the B-sides (I forget of which A-side) “Noose” was…well, first class indeed.

    Agreed #15 Lonnie Gordon was the PWL star-in-the-making that never really was. She got some good quality songs out of them too, had that voice, and (apart from “If I Have To Stand Alone”) generally got much-better-than-generic production

  20. 20
    pink champale on 27 Sep 2010 #

    seconding the London boys love. this on the other hand, is horrible pound shop pop and has tom says, probably the first time SAW fully lived down to their rep. I certainly hated it with full teen boy righteousness at the time and it took the great kylie of a couple of years later to see me right again.

    #17 simon parkin was a sub-andy crane broom cupboard presenter (no schofield, anstis or future totp producer whose name currently escapes me, he). looked like a ginger john harris, iirc.

  21. 21
    lonepilgrim on 27 Sep 2010 #

    I like my pop stars to have an air of glamour or unworldliness about them – not to revel in their averageness. The best pop stars suggest a way of escape from the everyday whereas the message that Sonia seems to be selling (at SAWs behest) seems to encourage a bland fatalism.

  22. 22
    Erithian on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Yes, a generic SAW production indeed, but the eager-puppy-dog enthusiasm of the singer no doubt won it an appreciative audience. I didn’t remember her version of “End of the World”, but listening to it now on YouTube, it’s startlingly good. Sonia was effectively lampooned by Dawn French in a spoof of the Star Test programme, which reportedly upset her at the time but they made up afterwards (it did seem harsh on her compared to the thoroughly deserved treatment they gave Bros…).

    The “party on a bus” that Flahr mentions at #11 looks like it was filmed on the Reborn In The USA tour bus – can anybody spot any long-forgotten 80s acts in the seats around her?!

  23. 23
    wichita lineman on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Re 21: Does that make Sonia proto Britpop?

  24. 24
    JLucas on 27 Sep 2010 #

    That Dawn French spoof is one of the best things I’ve ever seen of that nature. Just BRILLIANT. F&S had an uncanny gift for lampooning the musical foibles of their victims. ‘I’m Gonna Close My Eyes And Count To Ten’ could actually have been one of Sonia’s hits.


  25. 25
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    I’d forgotten about those Star Test sketches – the Dawn French Matt Goss looks a bit scary! This one is my favourite;


  26. 26
    MBI on 27 Sep 2010 #

    Still better than the abomination that was “I Should Be So Lucky.”

    You know, this song is dying for a quiet unhappy guitar ballad rendering like Jose Gonzales gave to “Hand on Your Heart.”

  27. 27
    lockedintheattic on 27 Sep 2010 #

    More love for Lonnie Gordon here – her version of ‘Beyond Your wildest dreams’ (which sybil later covered, nowhere near as well) is one of stock aitken & waterman’s classiest productions ever – really lovely, and can’t believe it didn’t even make the top 40:


  28. 28
    23 Daves on 27 Sep 2010 #

    I always did wonder how genuine Sonia’s chirpiness was – and I thought I got the answer when she (only just) failed to win the Eurovision Song Contest. As it became clear that she just wasn’t going to take home the prize that year, the camera panned over to her, and you could see her looking rather upset and vulnerable. Then, realising she was back in shot, the Sonia manic grin was quickly turned on for the benefit of the viewing public as she waved to us in a manner which suggested “It’s OK, I’ll be all right”. I wanted to hug her at that point.

    Anyway, yes, “You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You” is nothing special, is it? A truly baffling number one, albeit not one I find particularly offensive.

  29. 29
    Billy Smart on 27 Sep 2010 #

    14 “Stalkerific” – Koo – you’re not wrong! I’ve not hitherto been paying sufficient attention to the second verse to notice;

    “When I know that you’re ALONE!
    I wander to your HOME!
    And catch a glimpse or two -”

    “It seems that all the TIME!
    The thought is on my MIND!
    Of being with you”


  30. 30
    swanstep on 27 Sep 2010 #

    This is new to me… except that it isn’t: SAW continue to rewrite and repackage the same song, with 95% the same instrumentation that they reverse-engineered from Col. Abrams all those years ago.

    The lyrics here are pretty irksome – she sounds stalker-ish, but also highly exploitable. I feel vaguely guilty just watching the vid.:

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