Jun 11

WET WET WET – “Goodnight Girl”

Popular49 comments • 7,825 views

#673, 25th January 1992

Few types of music get less critical respect than the romantic ballad, and sometimes I wonder why. A tin ear for the form, an impatience with its slow unwinding of feeling? Or perhaps it’s just spite. After all, what good is the armoury of scorn against the direct emotional link ballads can forge with their audience? “Goodnight Girl”, however, raises exactly none of these difficult questions: it’s the kind of glossy mulch that gives balladry a bad name. Wet Wet Wet’s notion of soul was always underinspired and overdelivered. So it’s a toss-up as to whether you want to hear them mawk a strong song to pieces or, as here, wade through something more glutinous and self-penned.

There’s an annoyingly strong hook in here – which made this a constant radio torment at the time – with the “caught up in your wishing well” chorus. But is it going anywhere? There’s a jeweller’s craft to soul music – taking a lump of situation and emotion and cutting and setting it perfectly: it’s the most precise kind of pop. That’s what made the late 80s soul revival so obnoxious – instead of starting from situations and feelings bands like Wet Wet Wet started from a style of expression and seemed to assume that using the style dignified whatever you used it on. I can’t find any precision in “Goodnight Girl” at all, no particular situation or emotion I can retrieve from the slosh – it’s all vagueness, and oily vagueness at that.



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  1. 31
    AndyPandy on 11 Jun 2011 #

    re I don’t remember exactly but I should imagine Kiss FM would have played it quite a bit – they played most of the Prodigy’s stuff heavily in those days – these were the days when you’d get a 20 minute extremely underground rave mix in the middle of weekday afternoons etc. So in the London area it would have had a lot of exposure.

  2. 32
    edwardo on 12 Jun 2011 #

    In places where this was never a hit, it got re-released in a slightly remixed form in the wake of “Love Is All Around”. I’ve got a fondness for it, it’s treacly, but the “aah-aah-aah” is pure honey. Objectively awful, but… pleasant.

  3. 33
    Erithian on 12 Jun 2011 #

    Hmmm, strong chorus hook indeed, nice bridge, and I can see why some couples might have it as their song – washes over me a little bit, but far from an unpleasant listen. There’s always room for this sort of thing at the top of the chart, I guess, but five weeks was a bit much. Heck, I’d forgotten about Marti’s new longhaired windswept and interesting look!

    Sympathise with 23Daves’ problem with waking up to this on the radio alarm. A couple of years before this I was having a bit of a rough time at work and was woken one morning by “Don’t Worry Be Happy”. It helped…

  4. 34
    hardtogethits on 12 Jun 2011 #

    #20 said about five weeks. #33 says five weeks.

    It had FOUR weeks at number one. Let’s not allow this to be the place where exaggerated vagueness becomes fact, and history rewritten.

  5. 35
    Matthew H on 12 Jun 2011 #

    #26 – For the first few weeks of ’92 I was working in a magazine-packing factory, waiting for the new university term. Radio 1 played all day – I’d wow the other workers with my ability to identify the Golden Year within a note or two, but mainly I remember the daytime playlist. It seemed maddeningly limited. I haven’t listened so much recently so maybe it’s still thus, but it just seemed like 10 songs on loop. ‘Goodnight Girl’ was played a bit; the songs being battered that month were:

    The bunnyable next No.1
    Genesis, ‘I Can’t Dance’
    Ce Ce Peniston, ‘We Got A Love Thang’
    Simply Red, ‘Stars’
    Kym Sims, ‘Too Blind To See It’
    Sugarcubes, ‘Hit’
    Paula Abdul, ‘Vibeology’
    Prince, ‘Diamonds & Pearls’
    George & Elton, ‘Don’t Let The Sun…’

  6. 36
    LondonLee on 12 Jun 2011 #

    Kym Sims, ‘Too Blind To See It’

    That was a goodie.

    Must admit I’m losing the willpower to go check out these chart-toppers I’ve forgotten and my tolerance for white-Brit soul is probably higher than most here. The only thing I remember about WWW is Marty Pellow’s handsomeness.

  7. 37
    Alan on 12 Jun 2011 #

    Early 92 was a personally odd but highly memorable time for me. middle term of my PGCE I was living in a shared house in Peterborough being a trainee teacher, away from any friends or family, living with a succession of odd characters. i distinctly remember watching the Brits (yes it’s that KLF one) in the shared kitchen, buying ex-juker 7″ dance singles (inc The Bouncer and Everybody in t’ Place) from the convenience store by the bus stop. Army of Lovers’ CrucifiedObsession was on MTV, ^this and the next #1 was on ToTP a lot, and Ride was on my stereo a lot.

  8. 38
    George on 12 Jun 2011 #

    Simply Red, ‘Stars’

    The album lingered throughout most of the early 90’s like a bad fart as well. Wasn’t it the biggest selling album in the UK for two consecutive years during this period? The singles off ‘A New Flame’ were better anyway.

  9. 39
    wichita lineman on 12 Jun 2011 #

    Re 34: Neat.

    And Frankie Laine still trumps Bryan Adams in this household.

    Re 37: Did everyone live in a shared house in Peterborough at some point in their lives? Or a past life? (soundtrack to this thought – main title theme from Halloween)

    Oh, and this bears no resemblance at all to the way inferior Goodnight Girl by Go West. Swanstep! Three minutes of my life! You owe me!

  10. 40
    swanstep on 13 Jun 2011 #

    @wichita. Haw haw, yes listening to that first 30 seconds of synth squeal again now, I think I may! And those big ’80s drums (what the hell were people thinking)… I’d best shut up on this one (am really looking forward to the next #1!).

  11. 41
    Rory on 13 Jun 2011 #

    Speaking of Go West, the score field seems to have gone west on this entry. When the cover was added, perhaps?

    2 was a little harsher than I might have been, but not much.

  12. 42
    heather on 13 Jun 2011 #

    I have a watery lack of hate for this. It’s ok. It’s adequate. It doesn’t annoy me. I think I marked it a mighty ‘4’ to make up for JJ Barrie on this week’s TOTP.

  13. 43
    Ricardo on 18 Jun 2011 #

    This song was basically a test tube for what turned out to be 1994’s very own “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”, wasn’t it?

    Cliff Richard, “We Don’t Talk Anymore

  14. 44
    George on 1 Jul 2011 #

    ”Quite the dead cat bouncers, aren’t they? Just when you think they’re done, they pull another chart-topper (or, at other times, near enough) out of the bag.”

    See also UB40.

  15. 45
    Mark G on 1 Jul 2011 #

    There’s a whole bunch of, ahem, discussions we can have yet. On ‘forthcoming’ entries…

  16. 46
    StringBeanJohn82 on 4 Dec 2014 #

    I have a lingering soft spot for WWW, mainly due to the presence of an elder sister in my life who spent several years witha giant poster of Marti Pellow’s face on her bedroom wall. I still think that ‘Popped in, Souled Out (terrible name) is a very good album – played it to death as a 10 year old and still have it in my car (my car is very old and still has a tape deck). Even allowing for a fondness for the Wets, a 2 for this is silly. It’s one of the best pop-ballads of the era, and has some lovely touches – as someone said already, the ah-aahs, the orchestration, and the little middle eight bit with the stabs of violin and the Marti suddenly putting his back into it (‘Doesn’t matter how sad I made ya, doesn’t matter how hard I try’) make this a fantastic little song, albeit at the mum-pleasing end of the scale.

    I also think Marti Pellow’s voice is really underrated. It’s not that distinctive but he gets a lot of himself into it. He’s not as good as George Michael, who I guess has a similar style (I don’t think Marti could do ‘A Different Corner’ justice for example) but he can sit in the same division.

    I also think that WWW were perhaps the last major band that played pop that were actually billed as a band with members who played instruments. You had Simply Red but you never saw anyone other than Mick, and I can’t think of anyone else since as this genre got swallowed by solo performers and boybands (ie singer with backing harmonies, not a good old four piece band). Marti aside, they were an ugly bunch as well which is always pleasing to see.

  17. 47
    JoeWiz on 27 Apr 2015 #


    Unquestionably the best version of this song.

  18. 48
    benson_79 on 2 Dec 2020 #

    Side 1, track 2 on Now 21, the first Now album I ever bought and then played relentlessly. I’m still quite partial to it I must confess, maybe because Pellow sounds relatively restrained.

  19. 49
    Gareth Parker on 1 May 2021 #

    I think this is reasonable; not too much to say about this one. 5/10

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