20
Oct 14

BOYZONE – “You Needed Me”

Popular59 comments • 2,533 views

#824, 22nd May 1999

bzneeded There’s no “Goodbye” or “Never Forget” for Boyzone, no bravura statement of a legacy: that legacy, after all, was happily preparing its second single. Ronan and the lads’ final release missed the top, but as a valediction, this will do. It’s a cover of a string-soaked number by Anne Murray, a country-esque hit (Grammy-awarded, no less) from the 70s heyday of Tammy or Dolly. In either incarnation, it’s something of a slog – a pretty, wistful melody laden down by a glutinous arrangement and a lyric that peters out. Under Boyzone’s care it’s basically a Ronan spotlight number – so whether intentionally or not it feels like priming the audience for the imminent solo career.

But Ronan takes “You Needed Me” to different places from Murray, which makes this an unusual Boyzone single and a better goodbye than they deserve – for once a cover version they’ve put their own, perhaps stronger, mark on. Where Murray’s cool, unwavering vocal takes her lover’s devotion as a source of surprise and quiet strength, Keating sings the song in a wounded growl, making you notice what Murray doesn’t stress – the title is in the past tense. Someone needed Boyzone once, and they do no longer. The fans? That’s an obvious answer – “You Needed Me” as Boyzone’s version of The Smiths’ “Rubber Ring”: don’t forget the songs that made you cry, and the songs that saved your life…

There’s something else happening, though. If you mixed Anne Murray’s sweetly patient singing and Ronan’s bereft take on “You Needed Me”, you might get somewhere near another 1999 ballad, Sarah McLachlan’s Toy Story 2 soundtrack hit, “When She Loved Me”. “You Needed Me” isn’t nearly as brutal as that, of course, but it frames Boyzone’s song in a different way, as sung not to the fans but to Louis: the lament of discarded toys, sinking to the bottom of the box, remembering happier times before they were replaced.

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Comments

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  1. 26
    Kinitawowi on 20 Oct 2014 #

    zzzz

    2.

  2. 27
    Rory on 20 Oct 2014 #

    #22, #25, agreed, the formula was wearing a bit thin. Still had its moments, though. Moldovans was his best, I thought. Did you know he later made a movie version, starring himself? Interesting if you’ve read the book, but not as effective. It did make me wonder if his next book would be about making the film of his earlier book.

  3. 28
    JoeWiz on 20 Oct 2014 #

    A pretty unmemorable end to a remarkably unexciting career. Until of course the post Gately reunion album ‘Brother’, which contained some decent post 2006 Take Thatisms but didn’t produce any notable hit singles. They’ve got a Motown album coming out for Christmas.
    This song droops and shuffles like a latecomer at a wedding, the very definition of ‘phoned in’. I’d struggle it to a 3.

  4. 29
    lonepilgrim on 20 Oct 2014 #

    I didn’t need this. Ronan sounds constipated.
    As far as what constitutes “Country” music, IIRC Greil Marcus argues in ‘Mystery Train’ (something to the effect) that it is characterised by a stoic acceptance of the trials and tribulations of life (and death) – (cf Jimmie Rogers singing the ‘TB Blues’, Hank Wiliams’ ‘I’m so lonesome I could cry’). For Marcus this is what made the early Elvis so revolutionary – a refusal to accept his lot and to demand more.
    I’m not sure that what counts as ‘Country’ now necessarily fits GMs definition although it can still have a grittiness that is missing from more mainstream pop.
    The blandly ‘inspirational’ lyrics to YNM read more like ‘Contemporary Christian’ than ‘Country’ to me

  5. 30
    AMZ1981 on 21 Oct 2014 #

    I remember thinking that this was as dull as ditchwater at the time and it hasn’t improved with age. It did do one very useful thing at the time which was to block Geri Halliwell’s vile solo statement from the top spot and – it seemed – nip her solo career in the bud. The song that entered at three the same week and wound up the biggest selling non chart topper of the year summed up both records nicely – That Don’t Impress Me Much!

    Obviously this is the end of Boyzone as far as this blog is concerned, a bunnied solo career aside. As I noted when we discussed their previous chart topper a split was not evident at the time and they were still very much an extant band when Stephen Gately `came out` in the summer of that year. I mention this because Boyzone, albeit not through choice, broke the mould here more than they did with their anodyne music. It’s a hard point to qualify (and one that’s clouded by a cruel twist of fate ten years down the line) but I think it’s worth mentioning.

  6. 31
    swanstep on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Pretty feeble track. Good write-up considering (although I’d recommend adding a footnote or a parenthesis identifying ‘Louis’ for non-UK folk). Never mind, Shania’s gonna Rock This Country.

  7. 32
    mapman132 on 21 Oct 2014 #

    #30 I remember seeing “Look At Me” played exactly once on VH-1. At the time my reaction was, is she trying to be a self-parody? Suffice it to say, that was the last we heard of Ms. Halliwell in the US. Whether or not that was good thing will be determined by bunnies as yet unheard by me….

  8. 33
    swanstep on 21 Oct 2014 #

    High times for Anne Murray in 1999 then since she’s also pinged in South Park’s Blame Canada.

  9. 34
    iconoclast on 21 Oct 2014 #

    I went to school with Anne Murray!

    OK, it wasn’t *that* Anne Murray, but someone else with the same name. This fact is more interesting than the record, which is a dull plod which just can’t be bothered and is simultaneously too long. THREE.

  10. 35
    flahr on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Frankly it borders on the offensive that this and Geri conspired to keep ROCK CLASSIC “That Don’t Impress Me Much” at a paltry #3 – sparky, funny, exquisitely timed and with a great drop. And strictly evaluated this and Geri were the wrong way around as well, given that this is utterly dire. I think its complete lack of imagination/verve/life/dignity is meant to be comforting, although it vaguely makes me want to throw up. [2]

  11. 36
    Tom on 21 Oct 2014 #

    I heard “That Don’t Impress Me Much” and “Man! I Feel Like A Woman” for the first time in years the other day and while, yes, rather either than this, they sounded a lot more flatfooted and slow than I remembered.

  12. 37
    wichitalineman on 21 Oct 2014 #

    That Don’t Impress Me Much dumps on this and Look At Me (the title of that one, surely, had to be a little self-parodic). It seemed to get a lot more airplay, too. I suspect a little music industry foul play – it certainly felt like a major catastrophe for Geri that she stalled at no.2.

    Shania, meanwhile, had to deliver a rather curious line that killed her song’s narrative momentum: “Okay, so you’re a rocket scientist” (really quite impressive); “Okay, so you’re Brad Pitt” (also rather impressive, certainly in 1999); “Okay, so you’ve got a car”. A car? Well, that wouldn’t impress me too much either.

    Re 37: Really? That’s a shame. I always imagine the title of Man! I Feel Like A Woman as a Rainer Wolfcastle line in The Simpsons, though I don’t think it is.

    You’re Still The One is, for me, one of the best constructed pop songs of the 90s, or any era. Every line a killer hook.

  13. 38
    flahr on 21 Oct 2014 #

    #36 – that’s why it’s a ROCK CLASSIC rather than a UK HARD HOUSE CLASSIC ;)

  14. 39
    Kinitawowi on 21 Oct 2014 #

    #35 et al – I will never, ever forgive the Come On Over album for denying James’ Millionaires the album top spot. Almost as gross an injustice as Chesney Fucking Hawkes…

  15. 40
    Chelovek na lune on 21 Oct 2014 #

    #36 etc The single versions of both those tracks were a bit of a let-down compared with the original album version, if my memory serves me right – the mix tried to make them poppy, but just sucked a bit of the life out of em. I really enjoyed “Come On Over” as an album – lots of tracks, and a fair proportion were fine, gutsy things. But Trisha Yearwood was surely the queen of 90s country. What a pity she will not even come close to troubling us here.

  16. 41
    Duro on 21 Oct 2014 #

    My wife heard the line in the Shania song as “I can’t believe you kiss your c**k at night”, rather than “…car goodnight”.

    Impressive defence (comparatively speaking) of this terrible song, the second of four 1s I’ll bestow upon 1999.

  17. 42
    Erithian on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Two notable things about the Shania song: (i) the great misheard lyric “I can’t believe you kiss your cock at night”; and (ii) the album was number one when I became a dad.

  18. 43
    Erithian on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Duro, we posted the same thing simultaneously there…

  19. 44
    flahr on 21 Oct 2014 #

    Gotta love the staggeringly high exclamation mark density on the tracklisting for Come On Over. Anyway, time to stop stepping on Punctum’s territory and talk about Boyzone.

    Er…

  20. 45
    swanstep on 22 Oct 2014 #

    @41,42. That mishearing’s hilarious. Peak album watch: Come On Over ~ 40 million sold, Backstreet Boys’ Millennium ~ 30 million, Britney’s debut ~ 30 million. Ker-razy numbers from a contemporary perspective.

  21. 46
    Mark G on 22 Oct 2014 #

    #37 it was missing the last verse

    “Ok, so you’re Mutt Lange.. What.. *The* Mutt Lange?”

  22. 47
    JLucas on 22 Oct 2014 #

    Shania reached peak exclamation mark with the ‘Up!’ album tracklisting:

    1. Up!
    2. I’m Gonna Getcha Good!
    3. She’s Not Just a Pretty Face
    4. Juanita
    5. Forever & For Always
    6. Ain’t No Particular Way
    7. It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing
    8. Nah!
    9. (Wanna Get To Know You) That Good!
    10. C’est la vie
    11. I’m Jealous
    12. Ka-Ching!
    13. Thank You Baby! (For Making Someday Come So Soon)
    14. Waiter! Bring Me Water!
    15. What a Way to Wanna Be!
    16. I Ain’t Goin’ Down
    17. I’m Not In The Mood (To Say No)!
    18. In My Car (I’ll Be The Driver)
    19. When You Kiss Me

    God love her.

  23. 48
    wichitalineman on 22 Oct 2014 #

    Re 41/42: hence her reaction “you must be joking, right?”

    I dunno Tom, I just gave TDIMM a listen and it still sounds pretty watertight, built for airplay, and (something I didn’t really notice at the time) streets ahead of the 1999 UK productions we’ve encountered so far.

  24. 49
    katstevens on 22 Oct 2014 #

    I quite like ‘Look At Me’ and its Propellerheads-y daytime TV makeover show aesthetic. Possibly because it falls in the the ‘achievable goals’ category for karaoke. [Listens back] OH GOD the hammed-up middle 8 where she’s at her own funeral.. D:

  25. 50
    Tommy Mack on 22 Oct 2014 #

    But how would anyone know if you were singing it badly or just authentically ;-)

  26. 51
    Duro on 22 Oct 2014 #

    #42- had no idea it was a ‘thing’. Now worried my wife has been passing off other hilarious mishearings as her own. Will monitor.

  27. 52
    Shiny Dave on 22 Oct 2014 #

    This 3 means that Boyzone’s six number ones have finally combined for a higher number of marks than Kate Bush’s one.

    I’m looking forward to seeing if their Irish successors will “top” their combined average of precisely 2. Starting with a 4 was not a good start in that regard – they’ll need three 1s to have a chance at it, but I’m pretty sure they can pull that one off in thirteen attempts.

    And the above was more interesting than the song.

  28. 53
    iconoclast on 23 Oct 2014 #

    @32: Plagiarism, much? :-)

    Would that one could combine ten songs which score 1 and get a perfect ten. Alas, popular music does not work that way.

  29. 54
    mapman132 on 23 Oct 2014 #

    @54: Huh?

  30. 55
    Lazarus on 23 Oct 2014 #

    I think Iconoclast meant 52, not 32, the totting-up of Boyzone’s scores having been done earlier. Not that it really matters, eh?

    Other songs that were around in the Top 10 and getting plenty of airplay: ‘Kiss Me’ by Sixpence None the Richer, ‘Turn Around’ by Phats & Small, ‘Every Morning’ by Sugar Ray, ‘No Scrubs’ by TLC, ‘You Get What You Give’ by New Radicals. The last of whom will be connected to Boyzone at a later date, of course. Some of those are still daytime staples now.

  31. 56
    mapman132 on 23 Oct 2014 #

    I see now. Looks like I created a self-referential loop at #54 anyway.

    Maybe we’re all in need of some chocolate….

  32. 57
    mrdiscopop on 23 Oct 2014 #

    Tellingly, I recognised the opening frame (no pun intended) of the video instantly but failed to remember the song at all.

    Oh, and Tom’s gambit about Ronan’s interpretation of the lyrics is somewhat undermined by the total lack of interest he displays throughout that clip.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hblHmyb-83M

  33. 58
    Tommy Mack on 25 Nov 2014 #

    I made it nearly halfway…

  34. 59
    ciaran on 1 Dec 2014 #

    The dullest of all Boyzone singles Number 1 or otherwise. 2.

    All of Boyzone’s six chart toppers arecurrently in the bottom 100 which is some achievement. A bit harsh on 2 (ADB, NMW) being there. No complaints about the other 4 though.YNM rightfully at the bottom of the pile.

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