Jun 14

BOYZONE – “No Matter What”

FT + Popular62 comments • 11,336 views

#798, 15th August 1998

nmw “No Matter What” has an elevated position in Boyzone’s catalogue. It’s their big crossover hit, the one by songwriters of real mass-appeal pedigree – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman – and the only one to have done well in the USA. You might see it as Boyzone asking to be taken seriously, except it fits so well with the stately, windy ballads they were already making: this isn’t a stylistic change so much as a levelling up in songwriting competence. There’s an efficiency to the hook and a solidity to the structure here which you’d expect from two men made swinishly wealthy by their ability to pull out a show-stopping ballad.

Those abilities had been expressed in quite different ways. A glance down a list of Lloyd Webber hits – “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, “Memory”, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” – suggests one of his fortes is the philosophical ballad, the song that ties a bow on a lead character’s internal drama and sells it to the audience. But of course the details of this are very much down to his librettist, which is why the Jim Steinman team-up seemed so odd and (on paper) intriguing. Steinman got famous for songs where intimacy gets blown up to IMAX size, where interior drama isn’t so much packaged up as exploded in the audience’s faces, and then when the embers settle all the pyromania hides human feelings after all. If Lloyd Webber needs a lyricist for maximum effect, Steinman needs a voice that doesn’t just ride the bluster but puts its foot on the accelerator to make the song even bigger.

By these expectations, “No Matter What” is a very damp squib. Steinman doesn’t get his voice, he gets the maudlin strainings of Ronan et al. But Lloyd Webber doesn’t get his lyricist either – he gets Steinman ringing the changes on a three-word phrase to abstracting and tedious effect. Which means whatever the basic strength of the melody, I end up feeling “No Matter What” stretches itself desperately thin.

But an analysis of what might have been only explains why “No Matter What” is a disappointment – not why I particularly dislike it. And I do: in fact I detest it. It’s the least bearable thing by Boyzone I’ve covered so far, something which goes beyond an off-day by a pair of well-known writers. Trying to pin down the peculiarly bad taste it leaves, I keep coming back to “No Matter What”’s theme.

In Whistle Down The Wind, this is sung by a bunch of kids who have met a hairy guy in a shed and think he’s Jesus. The song is about their faith in the man. But by extension – and freed from this context to roam free on radio – it’s a song about any kind of personal faith in the teeth of adversity. “No matter what they teach you,” runs the key line, “What you believe is true”. There’s a righteous strength in that, but paranoia too – as a sentiment, it could be a source of comfort and strength to anyone on the losing side of a social argument, from apostates to anti-vaxxers. There is one moment – the most Steinmanesque bit of the song – where Boyzone solemnly assert that if prayers were answered, the words God would utter are… the chorus of “No Matter What”. It’s comical, but it makes complete sense: in a self-centred worldview, that kind of ultimate underwriting of belief is all faith is. This is my truth: don’t tell me yours.

So the more universal a pop song gets, the woollier it gets too – big surprise. If “No Matter What” walks a line between strength and complacency, it’s down to the performers and what they bring to it to push it one way or the other. And Boyzone certainly do. As usual, the group are here to soothe: they tie “No Matter What” back to romance in the second half, when it becomes more explicitly a song for persecuted lovers, but there’s no struggle in the singing, just creamy, self-satisfied reassurance . There’s been plenty of care taken over the arrangement – the final seconds, with the members of the band finishing each other’s lines, standing together, are certainly a thoughtful touch. But confronted with a notionally defiant Boyzone, I’m left with the same disquiet I had facing one who wanted to take a stand and change the world, on “A Different Beat”: I don’t believe you.

This might seem plainly unfair. “No Matter What”‘s dogged devotion – its affirmation that your feelings matter – isn’t taking it places “Viva Forever” doesn’t visit too. But there you go: it’s hard for me to give this mob a fair shake. It turns out that the incompetence, shoddiness, overreach and dreariness that characterised Boyzone’s earlier hits weren’t my problem with them. This is them scrubbed up and with their strongest material, and still almost every decision they make – including and especially those nerve-scraping “Chika-ahh-ahh-ahh” breaths at the start – makes me cross. Some bands get worse when they’re at their best.



  1. 1
    Tom on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Apologies for the unintended break in entries, by the way – a pile-up of work and home commitments. I’ll try and get back on schedule using some of the less write-able upcoming tracks…

  2. 2
    JLucas on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Wow, some real rancor here. I always had it in my mind that this was one of their more tolerable efforts – possibly because my mum really liked it. However, a close listen reveals that it really is quite unpleasant and hollow.

    Boyzone songs are generally so undemanding that they’re easy to relegate to a sort of benign background hum. They really don’t bear any scrutiny whatsoever though. Not to bang a drum but for me this is the polar opposite of Viva Forever in terms of ambition and accomplishment. That song could be described (if you were cynical about such things) as being better than it has any right to be. This one, like so many Boyzone songs, is exactly as it appears. Professional, effective and completely lacking in heart and soul.

    Still, there’s a pretty tune in there somewhere – I have a weakness for Lloyd Webber arrangements – so a 3 for that. In terms of the 1998 hits from Whistle Down The Wind, Tina Arena’s rendition of the title track is vastly superior. It was the fifth and final top forty appearance for her, which based on her TOTP performance strikes me as a tragic waste of a really incredible voice.


  3. 3
    Andrew Hickey on 11 Jun 2014 #

    The fact that David Icke uses (used?) this as the intro music for his talks says just how pernicious the “have faith in your own opinions despite all the external evidence” message of this is. One is too generous — this is a genuinely *dangerous* song, and not in the good way.

  4. 4
    Tom on 11 Jun 2014 #

    That is the sort of fact I wish I had known before the review. The lizards don’t want you listening to the ‘Zone.

  5. 5
    weej on 11 Jun 2014 #

    As much as I relish it, I still have some misgivings about preaching to the choir about the awfulness of Boyzone, perhaps due to a contrarian urge to challenge myself even when the result is inevitable.

    Couldn’t have picked a better (or worse) song to go with it though – listening again one final time ever I genuinely felt uncomfortable and unhappy, not my usual reaction to any music, no matter how bad. There’s something about the chord sequence and the phrasing that sounds unspeakably wrong, and the way Gately and Keating sing sounds like a man calmly telling his family that he’s about to kill them. Horrible.

  6. 6
    Tom on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Yeah, I understand that, and I’ve tried to find the good in their records, but – actually more so than their successors – they really are the worst of the boybands for me, the platonic form of all that is dopey about such. The chronology of Popular means that with Take That out of the picture we don’t get much of the kind of contrast between good and bad boybands you might find at other times, at least not yet.

  7. 7
    swanstep on 11 Jun 2014 #

    NMW is new to me, and I’m very surprised the music’s by Lloyd Webber. From him I’d have expected a surprising chord somewhere, something for the main melody to bite down on as it were, maybe somewhere a Mozart-style hurry-up hooking you…. but no, NMW is very dull indeed: a bad, churchy, nursery rhyme. Maybe, just maybe the Everleys or McCartney (and MJ say) could have sold this with flat out gorgeous harmonies, but Boyzone are nowhere near that.

    I can report that NMW spent fully 6 weeks at the top of the Kiwi charts. Madness:

  8. 8
    lonepilgrim on 11 Jun 2014 #

    I like this melody a lot but mostly because something very similar can be heard on ‘Amor I love You’ by Brazilian singer Marisa Monte – which you can listen to here. Sung in Portugese I don’t have to agonise over the lyrics either.
    Watching the Boyzone video makes me wonder why they were considered a ‘boy’ band – they look like an awkward, well behaved stag party at a karaoke bar.

  9. 9
    mapman132 on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Ouch. Seems like a “Vincent”-esque personal unfavorite of yours. Not that there’s anything wrong with that ;) An inoffensive 5/10 to my ears, but then I didn’t listen to the lyrics too closely, as I usually don’t, except on those occasions when I do…

    As far as being their token US hit, it wasn’t much of one: #12 on the Adult Contemporary chart, but missed the Hot 100 entirely. My sister (who likes this song) swears up and down this was a big US hit, but I think she’s remembering it from her semester in London at the time. And I’m not sure I ever heard it apart from my own trip to London that December. I certainly haven’t heard it on the radio since.

  10. 10
    James BC on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Agree with #7 about its musical straightforwardness – the verse tune, or maybe even the whole tune, could easily be a dum-de-dum nineteenth century hymn in the vein of There Is A Green Hill Far Away. I wonder whether anyone has written hymn words to it?

    Also, I thought someone would have mentioned the Meat Loaf version by now. At the time some people talked up how Meat obliterated the Boyzone version, and I suppose he kind of does, but the song is still duff and I wouldn’t say his rendering is actually any good.

  11. 11
    Kinitawowi on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Every time I listen to this I’m left thinking the same thing: “this sounds exactly like a Boyzone song”, much as Richard Hammond on Top Gear once described the BMW 3 Series as “fourteen foot of car”. Banal covers of the Bee Gees, Tracy Chapman and the Osmonds, show tunes, three years and literally nothing has changed. It’s dull, it’s dreadful, it’s stupid, it’s pointless. But I can’t hate Boyzone for it; Meat Loaf’s version isn’t much better, forcing one to conclude that the song itself is the issue this time.


    Sash! watch: bringing along Tina Cousins for the absolutely barnstorming Mysterious Times. His best effort at the top spot yet; vim, vigour, vitality and a midsummer release should have been enough to get there, but.

    Other #2 watch: Stardust, with Music Sounds Better With You. Well, it sounds better with them than it does with Boyzone, at least, although I remember not thinking much of it at the time. One third of Stardust are one half of Daft Punk, I seem to recall.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Though they are weak, the ad-libs – “chk-chk-ah”, and that growl on “at-TACK” – suggest even Boyzone thought this was a little too milky and regulated. It does sound like a nineteenth century parlour song, something that suggests a timeslip – past present and future all at once – but quite horribly, like an inverse Voodoo Chile. David Whitfield or Ronnie Hilton would have felt comfy with NMW, and could have wrung something more out of It.

  13. 13
    enitharmon on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Here was me sneaking a look ahead and thinking that this was a cover of the old, and not at all unpleasant, Badfinger song of the same name which ought to be pretty indestructible even by Boys’own. As it was Boys’own, however, I couldn’t be arsed to chased it up to find out. And I still can’t. Oh well…

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Joseph Stalin
    Pol Pot
    Enver Hoxha
    General Augusto Pinochet
    Rev. Jim Jones
    David Koresh
    David Miscavige
    Tom Cruise
    David Icke
    Nigel Farage
    Kim Il Sung
    Kim Jong Il
    Kim Jong Un
    Saddam Hussein
    Joseph Kony
    Adolf Hitler
    Idi Amin Dada
    Francisco Franco
    Benito Mussolini
    Robert Mugabe
    Omar Al Bashir
    Ferdinand Marcos
    Sun Myung Moon

    This song’s for you.

  15. 15
    Chelovek na lune on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Terrible, just terrible, narcissism and boredom. I would run a mile from A Lloyd-Webber at the best of times, but if Steinman was involved with a weaker recording than this I am yet to hear it. (In other circumstances his bombast, with assured musical confidence and excess, allows all sorts of lyrical foolishness through the filter: the very blandness of this track means there is no escape, and leads me to wonder how Boyzone might have covered one of the songs from his – in places wonderful – Pandora’ s Box project ‘(There’s No Such Thing As) Safe Sex (When It Comes To Lovin’ You)’.

    Such a bland, self-satisfied track, which manages to elide religion with superstition, apparent concern for truth with self-absorbed indifference to anything other than ones own unconsidered feelings, this comes perilously close to insulting its audience, who none the less were, evidently, lapping it up.

    While deadly dull, this is at least a marginally more substantial composition, less of a complete non-entity of a song, than their then most recent previous number one. But if anything the larger scale, and thwarted ambition, of this, just makes this all the worse. Truly Boyzone’ s golden days – from ‘Father and Son’ through to ‘Isn’t It A Wonder’ appeared to have been forgotten now, sacrificed to the lowest common denominator. Intensely tedious and self-satisfied.

  16. 16
    mapman132 on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Good grief people, I realize this isn’t the most profound song of all time (I stand by my 5/10), but do we really need to go Godwin here? I mean, sure, this song could be interpreted as being on the side of nutcases and kooks, but couldn’t it also be interpreted as not always conforming to the party line? Lots of, maybe even most, unpopular viewpoints are wrong, but *occasionally* they’re right. I’ve always thought I was a bit of a cynic, but jeez…

  17. 17
    Lazarus on 11 Jun 2014 #

    “I can’t be what I’m not” sings Steven Gateley, a year or so before coming out … this is their ‘Back For Good’ isn’t it – a final throw for the mass market. And before long they’d receive acceptance, of a sort, by way of a cameo in a U2 video. 3 from me too, I certainly wouldn’t seek it out but neither do I lunge for the dial if it comes on the radio (and as one who’s subjected to Heart on an all-too-regular basis, I know it as one of the two Boyzone numbers that still receives regular plays on daytime commercial radio – the other being ‘Picture of You’). Interestingly, or perhaps not, Heart have recently been giving much airplay to the original of ‘Baby Can I Hold You’ – which I don’t think was ever a UK hit for Tracy Chapman.

  18. 18
    AMZ1981 on 11 Jun 2014 #

    Firstly can I be a clever clogs and mention that this was actually the third chart hit from the Whistle Down The Wind musical; Tina Arena’s title song was the second but the first was When Children Rule The World by Red Hill Children which propped up the top forty for a week in 1996.

    I’ve got this nagging feeling it may have been the last UK chart topper for both Steinman and Lloyd-Webber – I may be wrong but I can’t think of any after this.

    Initially there was nothing to suggest that this was going to be anything other than a `here today down to number four tomorrow` Boyzone chart topper so the fact it stayed there for three weeks, kept a stone cold classic off the top and wound up the fourth biggest seller of the year proves that somebody must have been buying it – even if they didn’t dare admit to it. It’s a better song than the performance and I’ll go as far to say I don’t dislike it.

  19. 19
    Ronnie on 11 Jun 2014 #

    As an American, I know Boyzone only through Popular — Tom says this was successful in the USA, which is news to me — and I was genuinely shocked to find this had such a sterling pedigree, because, as noted, it sounds exactly like all their other dreck covered here. Was mighty worried at the beginning of this article that Tom was going to show mercy and I’m mighty glad he didn’t; I completely agree, this is the worst Boyzone single I’ve ever heard. Weird that the embarrassing “A Different Beat” has turned out to the best of their number ones (at least so far, I haven’t spoiled myself to see if they’ll be troubling us again on Popular).

  20. 20
    mapman132 on 12 Jun 2014 #

    #11 Thanks for the Sash! alert: “Mysterious Times” now vying with “Ecuador” as my favorite of the bunch. Looks like a little while until the final one.

    Stardust’s hit reached #62 in the US although I have no memory of hearing it at the time. Maybe it just wasn’t played on the stations I was listening to. Not surprised at all to learn of the Daft Punk connection. Too bad it didn’t reach #1.

  21. 21
    Ed on 12 Jun 2014 #

    Seconded on Swanstep’s support for Lloyd Webber @7: I am not a huge fan, but I think he is usually interesting and sometimes a lot of fun. The ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ tour with Michelle Williams (the ex-Destiny’s Child one) as Mary Magdalene and John Lydon as King Herod (really!) sounded unmissable.

    I guess he is the closest thing Britain has to Jim Steinman, really. You should probably always have known that if you put them together they would come to no good.

    I also have to quote here Alexei Sayle’s reaction on hearing that Ben Elton was working on a musical with Lloyd Webber: “I have to say, I’m quite disappointed. I mean, we always had our political differences, and I wasn’t keen on a lot of what he did, but there was always a sort of grudging respect there. And then to hear that he has gone and started working with Ben Elton….”

    (Not verbatim, but you get the idea.)

  22. 22
    fivelongdays on 12 Jun 2014 #

    The best thing about the review is the foreshadowing which, at the risk of facing the wrath of the bunny, means I should start writing about the next number one ASAP, in order that I may get my ideas down nice and early.

    So, for the last time, let me just say this.

    This is possibly one of the very few Boyzone hits that I can actually remember. It’s bland, it’s tedious (and I had no idea that ALW and Steinman wrote it – you’d expect those two to put together a hell of a lot more), and it’s rubbish. It makes B*Witched sound like the Bunnied Welsh Band.


  23. 23
    anto on 12 Jun 2014 #

    I can’t say I was aware of Jim Steinman’s involvement in this. If it reminds me of any other number one then it’s ‘Eternal Flame’ – every bit as soporific, smarmy and off-puttingly assured in it’s polished ‘professionalism’.
    Keith Duffy looks like a total divvy on the cover.

  24. 24
    DanH on 12 Jun 2014 #

    I will attest, I did hear this a few times here in America…but only when working at deptment stores (so that it made the AC chart only, makes sense). So the tune was familiar when I heard it while perusing UK #1s…but I guess I’d assumed it was yet another 98 Degrees ballad…reminded me of “I Do (Cherish You)” which I heard a lot more often at stores and school dances. So I’m a little surprised the dislike here goes beyond “oh great, another boy band weeper”

  25. 25
    Martin F. on 12 Jun 2014 #

    @23 And Ronan has caught a whiff of something nasty.

  26. 26
    Auntie Beryl on 13 Jun 2014 #

    And Shane Lynch has been told to ‘be Howard Donald’.

  27. 27
    Izzy on 13 Jun 2014 #

    Boogie Brothers’ ‘Inferno’ hit no.1 during Stardust’s reign here. It was a surprise to see such a hard-edged industrial track go all the way, though a lot of the appeal may have been Yvonne Elliman’s gorgeous, soulful wordless melody on the surprising piano coda. (8)

    It was succeeded by Monstarr Bunch with ‘Step On It’, the No Doubt revival being in full swing by this point. It’s decent enough if a way short of their preceding LP Parti Jamz (every frat house lived off this in 1997); but it was nice to see co-vocalist Muggs, ‘the GG Allin it’s safe to hug’, score a no.1 before his ill-fated cross-Pacific swimathon. It also made for one of the most memorable TOTPs ever. (6)

    No.2 watch: Dave Stavroz’ ‘Hot Lips’ (a Curiosity Killed The Cat-influenced number honed on Dave’s days working the Medway jazz scene), and Keni’s proto-afrobeat monster ‘Lust In My Head’.

  28. 28
    James Masterton on 13 Jun 2014 #

    I make no comment on its musical worth, save to note that No Matter What was a massive, massive single in its day.

    Holds the record as not only the biggest selling single by an Irish act ever, but also the biggest selling song taken from a stage musical, eclipsing Don’t Cry For Me Argentina.

    Also consider this…

    Number of number one hits produced by Jim Steinman for the rock acts he is generally associated with: 2

    Number of number one hits produced by Jim Steinman for cheesy 90s boy bands: 2

  29. 29
    Rory on 13 Jun 2014 #

    I’ve inadvertently tested this song’s earworm potential by listening to it precisely once when Tom’s entry went up and not at all since – and can still remember the tune note-for-note today, so that’s a plus for Lloyd-Webber’s contribution. Not his finest tune by a long shot, but still memorable.

    On that first listen the production annoyed me no end, as with all of Boyzone’s work, but I’ve given a couple of their past hits a 3, so production alone doesn’t drive their songs into 1 territory for me. I was so focussed on the surface of the song that I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics, but after Tom’s review I’ve studied them more closely, and ye gods, they’re appalling. Jim Steinman has gone down in my estimation a fair few notches this week.

    On one level I can see them being read as simple affirmation of a young couple’s love for one another in the face of hostility from friends and family. No doubt that’s what drove the song to the top in Britain. But a blind-faith religious interpretation is also possible, and makes it surprising that this didn’t do more business in the US, or at least in the midwest. (Perhaps that’s why it got what little chart support it did there, though.)

    For my part, I find the sentiment of “No matter what they teach you / What we believe is true” totally toxic. It’s the worst aspects of cultural relativism in lyric form. It’s fundamentally anti-science, anti-rationality: a total eclipse of the brain. Lately my life-long environmentalist side has been preoccupied by climate science and its deniers, and this attitude seems to me exactly the sort of outlook that makes such denial possible. Ignore the evidence of the real world, ignore the expertise or experience of others: what you believe is true, because God says so.

    Jesus. 1.

  30. 30
    Rory on 13 Jun 2014 #

    #22: It’s going to seem strange not to be referring to “Bunnied Welsh Band” any more.

  31. 31
    Tom on 13 Jun 2014 #

    Thankfully, fans of the “bunnied welsh band” formulation can just switch to the St*r**ph*n*cs.

  32. 32
    chelovek na lune on 13 Jun 2014 #

    ” But a blind-faith religious interpretation is also possible, and makes it surprising that this didn’t do more business in the US, or at least in the midwest. (Perhaps that’s why it got what little chart support it did there, though.) ”

    Probably because the message is completely antithetical to any kind of religious message ,and very obviously so. I am no fan whatsover of the kind of “contemporary Christian” music that does play well in certain circles (and more so in the US than in the UK), nor the kind of theology that tends to accompany it, but however it is summarised, relativism of the sort that this song exemplifies precisely what it is not. Soft woolly fluffiness is not a bedfellow of religious fundamentalism, but of indifference (and not of a commitment to wholehearted secularism or science, or of anything except self-satisfaction, really). I suppose Amy Grant is the nearest that any US artist of this type came to crossing over in the UK, and then with less religious stuff – at least as regards singles – but on the associated albums the lyrics of the more Christians songs are a million miles away from those here! They tend to be challenging and even introspective, rather than self-satisfied and complacent!

    Actually – I think there is an interesting debate to be had, much later on, and as a spin-off of debate on one future no 1 in particular, on the dramatic change of attitudes towards religious belief in Ireland in recent decades as evidenced in Irish popular music (with the attitude expressed in “No Matter What” reflecting a particular point in that shift).

    But just the thought of all the myxomatosis-afflicted Irish bunnies we have to face before we get to that point is almost too depressing for words. And they are all I have…

  33. 33
    Rory on 13 Jun 2014 #

    I agree, fundamentalism is antithetical to relativism, but that relates to my point about the lyrics being open to multiple interpretations. One of those could be attractive to a fundamentalist mindset: if you read from “Then we would hear God say” onwards as if the “I” is the voice of God and “they” is secular society, the whole song becomes about not what you, the individual, believe, but what we, the collective followers of our faith, believe to be true.

    I don’t personally interpret the lyrics that way; I interpret them as relativist, precisely because they have that “insert your belief here and these lyrics will justify it” quality. Because my own outlook is scientific, I refuse to take them up on it, because I don’t see that as being how truth works. But I imagine that anyone who does take them up on it wouldn’t see them as relativist: they would see them as justifying their own position.

    Re: “on the dramatic change of attitudes towards religious belief in Ireland in recent decades as evidenced in Irish popular music”: and other branches of popular culture. Graham Linehan said somewhere that he couldn’t have (co-)written Father Ted today, because its affectionate portrait of its priests would be so at odds with all we’ve heard in recent years. I was thinking about that this week with the horrific news from Galway. Sinead was a prophet before her time.

    (An aside: curious to see what she’s said about recent news, I checked her website, and from there found that she had a mere 391 followers on Twitter. Staggeringly low, really. Now 392.)

  34. 34
    Steve Mannion on 13 Jun 2014 #

    #27 Wow I didn’t know Boogie Bros. and Monstarr Bunch were real acts – they are both referenced in the ‘Music Sounds Better With You’ video (as the kid in it watches a chart rundown on TV). The video didn’t emerge until quite a few weeks after Stardust peaked at #2 here.

  35. 35
    glue_factory on 13 Jun 2014 #

    Re: 34, looking at the French wikipedia for Stardust (mon Francais non est bien, so I may be wrong) I suspect Izzy’s comment is a rather sly one :-)

  36. 36
    ace inhibitor on 13 Jun 2014 #

    thefatgit@14 – ‘your boyzone took a hell of a beating’, surely…

  37. 37
    thefatgit on 13 Jun 2014 #

    #36 :-))

  38. 38
    Patrick Mexico on 14 Jun 2014 #

    I’m back! At an ungodly hour. Thanks, World Cup.

    But I’m delighted to be back on FT. Older, wiser, sorted my life out – this time I will try to post a little bit less like a crazed fictional dictator. Delighted Tom’s ploughing through the late nineties like Mr. Mercedes.

    @11 – Aye, Mysterious Times was excellent, a rare high-charting trance records that genuinely thrills me, up there with Bullet in the Gun and Plummet – Damaged (one of the few trance records with an alt-country source!)

    In both MT and the first #1 album of 1985, the lyrics forewarn us of an even more dangerous boyband. Can’t give away the bunny, but I can give away something about a warm injection (I know)

    I’m also back in Clitheroe – Whistle Down The Wind was set in the surrounding villages, particularly Downham. Had fond childhood memories of that place, whole days spent throwing sticks into streams. (Sorry.. so sorry. Just one more won’t hurt.. ;) )

    Any chance of salvaging local pride from NMW? Sorry, nope. The only essence of the Ribble Valley here is that Boyzone sound like sheep (literally.) And sing a song about being them. (Metaphorically.) But the chorus is better than most things in this genre, for example latter-day Arcade Fire. 2.

  39. 39
    swanstep on 14 Jun 2014 #

    Since Patrick@38’s mentioned the WC, what a cracking start this tournament’s had (good effort Aussies!), and good luck to all Popularista-supported teams, including of course England tomorrow. (All the Anglosphere teams are in beast groups, which is making for a very exciting first phase of the tournament in my household, and I’d guess for Popularistas generally.)

    @rory, 29, 33. Yeah, it’s bizarre hearing certain US right-wingers run all sorts of relativist/post-modernist lines to defend themselves against science when they’re wildly non-relativist/absolutist about morals (and much else).

  40. 40
    ace inhibitor on 14 Jun 2014 #

    I don’t think NMW is relativist. A relativist lyric here would go ‘No matter what they teach us / we need to challenge the foundationalist assumptions of that knowledge / and interrogate the ways in which it is paradigmatically constructed in the world’ which doesn’t scan as well but is, y’know, better (and not incompatible with a scientific rationality). What NMW is, is solipsistic.

  41. 41
    chelovek na lune on 14 Jun 2014 #

    #40 hmm, not sure I entirely agree – also, only a certain Bunnied Welsh Band would come up with a lyric that so combines bad scansion with a not necessarily perfectly applied intellectual precision. (BAITS THE BUNNY FURIOUSLY)

  42. 42
    Rory on 14 Jun 2014 #

    #40: I’d call yours a postmodernist lyric. NMW is like the crude stereotype of relativism that critics of postmodernism accuse it of being.

  43. 43
    Cumbrian on 18 Jun 2014 #

    If you tolerate this, Westlife will be next.

    I didn’t think this was quite that bad, though still very bad, but the comments have helped alerted me to the lyrical problems that this song has. Difficult to see it as anything other than hateful now.

  44. 45
    skpow on 24 Jun 2014 #

    I can’t find it on the net but thought I’d mention that the popularity of the next number one saw the title used to protest against the silvermines in Tipperary Ireland becoming a landfill site. True fact and it seems contextually relevant! http://www.anphoblacht.com/contents/4301

  45. 46
    fivelongdays on 24 Jun 2014 #

    Waiting, somewhat impatiently, for Tom to make his pronouncement about the next entry…

  46. 47
    Tom on 24 Jun 2014 #

    Sorry, sorry, huge apologies for leaving you with Ronan and the lads for ages. I blame the World Cup. Anyway, bunnied Welsh band is BUNNIED NO LONGER.

  47. 48
    ciaran on 4 Jul 2014 #

    Ah Tom of all times to give this lot a 1.It’s not that bad!

    It’s probably their most agreeable thing they did popular wise.I would say whats left of them is more deserving of a lower mark than this. 5

  48. 49
    Zacco on 13 Nov 2014 #

    I generally don’t like boy bands so unsurprisingly I’m not a fan of this. The only Boyzone song I’m familiar with and I have little motivation on exploring their catalogue further. I don’t hate it but I don’t like it much either. Vocally it’s bland and very uninteresting. The whole thing is a chore to sit through and I wish it had ended a minute earlier. The production is probably the only thing here I find redeeming here and even that is nothing noteworthy. Poor man’s Take That for sure. It (just) gets a 3 from me.

    If anything, the worst thing about this record going to #1 is it blocking Music Sounds Better With You (which would get a 10 from me) from #1. I don’t know a lot about UK #2 hits, but this would go up there as one of the worst blockages from #1 ever for me. Blocking Sash!’s Mysterious Times is also annoying, not just because the song is very good but also because of the unlucky run of #2s that Sash! had in the UK. Blocking these two songs is only made worse due to the fact that Boyzone had 5 other #1s and that this blends in with so many other similar songs by boy bands. This only got to #5 here in Australia, but it spent 16 weeks in the top 10 and 29 in the top 50. So undeserving of such a chart run.

  49. 50
    cryptopian on 28 Jul 2016 #

    I remember liking this song, but not anymore. Pushing aside Boyzone for a while (or forever, I wouldn’t miss them), I’ve always had a problem with ALW’s writing style. In terms of just the music, pop toes the line between flair and simplicity. A few too many awkward modulations and rhythms and you start alienating people. Unfortunately ALW slides right off the other side, writing exactly the sort of “primary colours” melody that gets under my skin. I can handle this sort of thing if it’s performed by somebody who can sell a performance, but instead, we have Boyzone. 2.

  50. 51
    Phil on 29 Jul 2016 #

    ALW slides right off the other side, writing exactly the sort of “primary colours” melody that gets under my skin

    Yes, I think this catches something. Primary colours, or even primary school – the unabashed sweetness of Puff the Magic Dragon and Morning Town Ride, but deployed artfully and for an adult audience. At least, it’s an adult audience now. At the time I always bracketed Joseph and JCS with things like Captain Noah’s Floating Zoo – improving stories retold for kids using broad-brush pop pastiches, awful rhymes and obvious jokes – so it’s been quite a surprise to me how seriously ALW has been taken in the last 30-odd years. I don’t think the writing’s changed much, though.

  51. 52
    MUSICALITY on 24 Apr 2017 #

    Their huge global hit #1 across Europe, New Zealand and Asia though just missed US top 100 at #116 and moderate in Canada #51 (only charting song there).

    The song is good but not great when compared to ‘Back For Good’ or ‘Stay Another Day’. I would say over rated and I think some of the covers Boyzone did were better than this track.

  52. 53
    meal5 on 27 Apr 2017 #

    I make no comment on its musical worth, save to note that No Matter What was a massive, massive single in its day.

  53. 54
    kodi media player on 6 May 2017 #

    It made use of to be called XBMC and has been around for many years.Kodi is merely a media gamer, just like Windows Media Player or VLC. There is absolutely nothing unlawful regarding downloading,

  54. 55
    Cmsources on 11 Jan 2018 #

    I was thinking about that this week with the horrific news from Galway. Sinead was a prophet before her time.

  55. 56
    Andrew Farrell on 12 Jan 2018 #

    ^ just a spambot cutting and pasting from the above comments, but enough to put the heart crossways in me.

  56. 57
    flahr on 12 Jan 2018 #

    The horrific news from Galway peaked at #2, of course.

  57. 58
    Mark G on 15 Jan 2018 #

    The Pogues destined never to make to number one

  58. 59
    besttodolistapp on 24 Jan 2018 #

    It’s not that bad!

  59. 60
    sharkeymedia on 25 Jan 2018 #

    Boyzone did were better than this track.

  60. 61
    Gareth Parker on 31 May 2021 #

    Tom’s spot on about those excruciating “Chika-ahh-ahh-ahh” backing vocals, but I would just about go to a 3/10 here.

  61. 62
    Mr Tinkertrain on 25 Apr 2022 #

    I don’t love this but I don’t despise it either. It became Boyzone’s biggest and most respected hit and – briefly, anyway – gave them a bit more credibility, as it’s a bit more mature than their past efforts. It’s well enough put together, even if it’s still relatively bland fare. I can’t go any higher than 4/10 though.

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