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Jun 13

TAKE THAT – “Never Forget”

Popular62 comments • 7,684 views

#724, 5th August 1995

never I’m a sucker for a self-conscious farewell. I bought final issues of comics I’d never prevoiously read. My best Doctor Who memories were the regenerations. As a student, my favourite Shakespeare was The Tempest. And look! Here’s Gary Barlow as Prospero, drowning his songbook, letting Caliban free to hang out with Oasis at Glasto, moving on and leaving behind him maybe the most self-important single a boyband has ever produced.

It ought to be terrible. Perhaps it is. It’s hubristic enough to write about how you “looked each day and night in the eye” without hauling on a cherub to sing it. “We’re still so young, and we hope for more” – stay tuned for the solo careers, kids! “With danger on my mind I would stand on the line of hope and I knew I could make it”: wait, what? Now, probably “Never Forget” was written before the split became obvious – though it was surely on the wind – so these abstractions were just pseudo-profound horseshit from a songwriter groping tragically for meaning. By the time it actually reached us, though, it was retooled by the video-makers, marketers and Jim Steinman into “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” meets Gary Barlow Superstar. (And wouldn’t Robbie make a great Judas?)

But, slapdash and grotesque though it is, I like it. I’d happily call it their best single if it wasn’t for all the really terrible bits (The whole “invincible” bit, for a start). Why?

First, though this isn’t actually their final single, overdramatising a split is probably what the fans need and deserve. No hollow thanks and mutterings about really special plans for the future from men who are clearly hating every second of the job they’re quitting. To the fans – these fans of this band especially – a split was armageddon, or at least to be played as it. Take those feelings seriously – give the fans some catharsis! “Never Forget” does this, and then some.

Second, the combination of Barlow, Steinman and Brothers In Rhythm makes “Never Forget” a single that sounds like very little else. We’re about to enter a dark time in which “epic” in British pop is going to be codified in terms of string sections, stately plods, and pained rock vocals. Here is a parallel vision for bigness in pop: gospel choirs and boyband harmonies, stadium rock choruses emerging out of elephant-legged R&B. It’s blowsy, absurd, and unsustainable but glorious when it works – when the chorus hits you can see the fireworks shooting up from the stage.

Finally – and this is the important bit – the whole teetering folly of “Never Forget” is just a delivery system for Gary’s probably finest, and certainly wisest chorus. “Never forget where you’ve come in from / Never pretend that it’s all real / Someday soon this will all be someone else’s dream”. This is really good, grounded advice, not just as a pop fame survival guide, but as a way of staying level-headed about the transient things in life. It’s rare for a group to realise their moment has passed, rarer for them to acknowledge it, and in this chorus Take That are singing not just about themselves, but about their fans, and about fandom and youth.

Researching this song I watched its home-movies clipshow video on YouTube – a visual farewell tour, not an uncommon gambit since splitting bands become harder to convene for video shoots. Below it though were a surprising number of comments from kids, who had turned the song into school leaving videos – some secondary, most primary. They weren’t posting the videos themselves (thankfully) but I was surprised how moving I found the idea of it – 11 and 12 year olds taking this song, an oldie for them, and turning the self-mythologising into something they could use to navigate their own life changes. We all want to turn our lives into stories – “Never Forget” is a song about exactly that, and works as both a tool for doing it and a warning of the consequences.

6

Comments

  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 30 Jun 2013 #

    I can’t say that this does much for me. I wasn’t invested in Take That at the time (or now) so members leaving & band in crisis(?) wasn’t and isn’t a selling point. I don’t dislike it but I don’t think it works that well as a song. I’ve just listened to it and I can’t remember it – other than they appeared to have thrown everything including the kitchen sink into the production.

  2. 2
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    This was used to great effect in Shameless.. talk about Mancunian things with a huge audience which didn’t know when to stop (though both conjured up some charm from unpromising ingredients, for a while. But – in the absence of a way of life, just repeat this again and again, they didn’t know when to stop, and it exposed their shortcomings.) Brilliant anthemic chorus but too much plodding and artificial bombast for me. Though it does feel like a bittersweet time capsule of Take That approaching the end, and would be a sin to rank it below Cotton Eye Joe.

    6.

    But on songs with imagery of the band as ickle kiddies on the sleeve, I’m loving Die in the Summertime instead. (here be the Welsh bunnies – the good ones.)

  3. 3
    swanstep on 1 Jul 2013 #

    My experience of hearing the first minute of this for the first time:
    “Wait, is this A Clockwork Orange? No, it’s Go West! Er, no it’s the Stones/Britten. Hang on, that’s the burbling bass line from Autobahn! Ugh, no it isn’t. This verse sucks….”
    Things pick up after that: the chorus does do something fun (although I’m not sure what it is); the overkill/massiveness sort of works there – it sounds impressive. In a way, to me this record feels kin to Dreamer: lots and lots of reverby treble around in the chorus that makes it sound good in the moment but also creates too much of a wash for anything to be hummable/memorable. Things in fact don’t really click into aural focus and hummability until the kids’ choir reenters, which is the oddest thing (a hook you only recognize as a hook in the last few bars of the song)! Anyhow, the official vid. gives the game away: this is fan service, a la (Abba’s) Thank You For The Music or The Way Old Friends Do. I’m interested by the thing that Tom mentions: that it’s become something like a standard leaving song for primary schoolers. Do kids leaving primary school really feel like they’ve walked a thousand miles? that they’re rolling people? What? From me, then, too sloppy (simultaneously underwritten and over-produced) to get more than a:
    5

  4. 4
    speedwell54 on 1 Jul 2013 #

    The intro that never gets played on the radio – the first 20 seconds or so- would catch most people out; I must remember to include it in my next ‘bits and pieces’ tape.

    The song probably is their second best single and the pass the mic stuff does sound like a chance to share the honours last time out. (bunnied- I’m not going to count) I don’t think giving Robbie the repeated line “I’m not invincible” was accidental, and I presume he admits this somewhere.

    The only thing I remember about the video were the shots of Robbie as a young lad. There is something in the quote about ‘give me the boy at seven and I’ll show you the man’. I don’t think that’s the exact wording but you get the gist; looking at the ‘cheeky’ grin, you can guess it won’t all be plain sailing with this one. Six is fine.

  5. 5
    Chelovek na lune on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I wondered how you would deal with this, as it really is quite a peculiar – and brave – single, of a kind that only an act with the stature of Take That in 1995 would have got away with making a sustained commercial success of. Such apparently contradictory elements all – well, not thrown together at all, but carefully arranged and structured to form….something like an ELO track, almost? (The involvement of Jim Steinman – of which I was completely ignorant – explains much.) And properly mature, reflective lyrics (mostly…) – which, much more than “Back For Good” – hint forward at future glories (and not in anyone’s solo careers) – and show that (for all that one verse sags and flags a bit more than it need do) they really have moved on from the fairly mindless disco or sappy ballad confections dished up earlier. Giant bunny steps from “Babe” or “Why Can’t I Wake Up With You” to this; and only fairly modest bunny steps between this and some fine things a good decade later…

    Anyway, I love it. My first “9” for ages. (Final cassette single I ever bought, too).

  6. 6
    flahr on 1 Jul 2013 #

    What an awful choice of typeface.

  7. 7
    Izzy on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Surprised you think this is his best chorus. For me it’s exactly why this record doesn’t work and shows Barlow’s limitations – he could never write a proper singalong earworm; hooky as it is, even Back For Good doesn’t make it. I have no idea how Robbie split his solo writing duties, but his golden run destroys Gary’s efforts on that score.

    In fact, the acclaim for this reminded me of the hype the occasional indie band would get when they had a single that was supposed to push them over the top, a surefire smash, whistled by milkmen, etc. I’m thinking Suede’s Stay Together, St Etienne’s Who Do You Think You Are?, I can imagine The Stone Roses’ One Love might’ve been hailed along those lines too. Those singles never worked, at least in those terms: (a) an earworm hook is pure golddust, you can’t just isolate four notes and make it one; and (b) pop magic is so much more anyway.

  8. 8
    Chelovek na lune on 1 Jul 2013 #

    #7 My impression was that “One Love” (the release of which was much and repeatedly delayed – ostensibly because John Squire noticed “an accidental suggestion of a swastika” in the single’s artwork….) was, in fact, regarded as a great disappointment, after the promise of the album and “Fools Gold”, precisely because of its lack of a great melody or earworm hook. One review (maybe it was Record Mirror, maybe it was NME) referred to it as “dyslexic guitar drone”.

  9. 9
    punctum on 1 Jul 2013 #

    TPL bunny time again but I gave it an 8.

  10. 10
    Cumbrian on 1 Jul 2013 #

    This single ladles on the meaning. It’s not just the lyrics, the “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” choirboys, the Steinmanisms, the massive chorus, etc. It’s the fact that, of all the band, they gave this lead vocal to Howard – one of the dancing boys at the back. Let’s be honest, when TT split, everyone expected Gary to have the career and for Mark and Robbie to be knocking around in some capacity – but everyone expected Howard and Jason to fade into obscurity and become the type of celebrity you see at Homebase of a weekend. If anyone was going to sing an ode to the impermanence of their career, it had to be Howard or Jason.

    I liked my memory of this an awful lot more than the reality. I had this built in my mind as the stadium pop pinnacle of Take That’s career and then I went and listened to it. It doesn’t half go on, taking two verses and what felt like an eternity to get to the chorus. The chorus is great though and probably lifts this to a 6 on its own. I don’t mind the great heaps of meaning either and, somehow, it didn’t surprise me that Steinman is involved – I’m a bit of a sucker for his sense of dramatics. All in all, I find this to be pretty likeable; it could just do with being a tad punchier.

  11. 11
    Dan Quigley on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I don’t find it easy to justify liking this. I could say that I simply like the perposterousness of it all, but I think closer to the truth is the fact that I have a weakness for ‘Elephant-footed R&B’, archaic synth horns and all. The lyric makes no attempt at universality as far as I can see, and its messianic boasting masked as faux-humility seems to done without a trace of self-awareness (I don’t discount that there might be an element of knowing camp, but if so, they are admirably dead-pan about it).

    I would defend the way the verse meanders, holding back the pay-off of the chorus, which I always expect eight or sixteen bars early. All the gospel/choir/industrial(???) variations in the last two minutes add little and make one realise how comparatively taut were Some Might Say’s five-and-a-half minutes, but somehow it all works for me in a way that none of TT’s stuff apart from Back for Good does.

  12. 12
    Tom on 1 Jul 2013 #

    #7/#8 – I can’t think of that many “proper singalong earworms” that I love, perhaps I have a bias for things that are hooky enough to stick in my brain but not hooky enough to dominate it. :)

    (And yes, nobody thought One Love was a song the milkman would whistle. At least not when they heard it.)

  13. 13
    Alan Connor on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Boy, you’re gonna carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.

  14. 14
    John on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I don’t think Barlow had recognised that the band’s moment had passed when he wrote this. On the contrary, he was humblebragging about how massive Take That had become. Of course, as you suggest, he was plotting an ever bigger solo career. In a sense, it’s a British pop take on Notorious B.I.G’s ‘Juicy’: look where we started out, and look how successful we are. But the British are rubbish at boasting.

    Still, I loved the production and the chorus then, and I love them now.

  15. 15
    thefatgit on 1 Jul 2013 #

    #14 Not just boasting, but also looking over the shoulder perhaps? I was thinking about an Odyssey “Going Back To My Roots” from the early 80’s (81?) and a tenuously linked top 5 hit seven Popular years hence, along with a slew of R&B and Rap hits which cover this ground more ably than Barlow does here.

    I still like “Never Forget” though. They almost by accident get the balance right with the gospelly bits.

  16. 16
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Changed my mind about this. It sounds like an advert for some Weight Watchers yoghurt or a terribly elitist stage school, socially engineered by Barlow the milk-snatching Tory scab. Sure, it has an amazing chorus, but so do most number ones. Plus I spent all my “kind things to say about Take That” in the admittedly impressive and timeless Back for Good. Aged 10, 11, their pseudo-homoerotic take on the charts caused me such fury, and I was going to say “One day this will be someone else’s dream” was a great kiss-off line but it’s an open invitation to future boy bands who will be far, far worse..

    4.

  17. 17
    Andrew Farrell on 1 Jul 2013 #

    “There’s a road going down the other side of this hill” is a lovely lyric, borrowing some of the comfort rather than majesty from Tolkien.

    I’ll be the first, then, to admit that I always lazily heard it as “never forget where you’re coming from”

    Also framing this as like a rock epic but informed by dance instead has made me re-appreciate it!

  18. 18
    Tom on 1 Jul 2013 #

    #17 I think the road lyric is also reasonable evidence (good enough for me anyhow) that Barlow’s humblebragging is at least a workable approximation of actual humility…

  19. 19
    James BC on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I heard Gary Barlow say in an interview recently that the reason Howard gets to sing lead on this is because when he first wrote the song he didn’t realise what a big one it was going to turn into. I think he was partly joking, but from that it seems pretty clear this wasn’t originally intended as the big send-off song it became.

  20. 20
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I meant to say “pseudo-melodic take on the charts”.. sorry. I think I have no idea about the context of how this song should be properly appreciated (save a nudge nudge wink wink moment at the end of Shameless), so I’ll notch it back up to a 5. There’s some charm to it. The Gary Barlow thing was tongue-in-cheek, I can’t bring myself to hate Take That. I just think they got more number ones than they deserved..

  21. 21
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Besides, I don’t like Mondays. And I’d rather listen to Never Forget remixed with a 52-day slap bass solo than that Geldof atrocity.

  22. 22
    leveret on 1 Jul 2013 #

    This one always sounded like some sort of musical theatre tune to me. Something about the intro, the plinky-plonk keyboard bit following it, and the overly chirpy chorus.

  23. 23
    MikeMCSG on 1 Jul 2013 #

    # 20 Patrick if you’re bothered about this lot getting more number ones than they deserved I’d check out now !

  24. 24
    Lazarus on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Can hang around from 1996-2006 though.

  25. 25
    Izzy on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I dunno, if he’s struggling with Take That he might really have a problem with some of what’s coming up.

  26. 26
    hardtogethits on 1 Jul 2013 #

    I’m so astonished at the benevolence towards this that I feel tomorrow might be one of those days when I’m in a bit of a bad mood and I spend most of the day trying to work out why. It’s not just that I think the lyric is awful, and the music dull and drawn out, and the choir doubly bathetic (in concept and execution), and the theme of the song painfully self-referential; it’s all of these things and then on top of that the fact that the song could only exist BECAUSE Take That had outstayed their welcome. And yet, they still didn’t leave straight away.

  27. 27
    anto on 1 Jul 2013 #

    As much as Gary Barlow claims he was following Eltons every move he was clearly looking to his inner Lloyd Webber with this one. This is one of the first singles where I can recall having an opinion about the production and arrangement(I wasn’t that keen on either). Actually I probably couldn’t tell one from the other but by this stage I was at secondary school and therefore sophisticated.
    It’s odd that I find myself commenting solely on Mr. Barlow each time we return to Take That considering he was (unfairly) tagged “the boring one”. For me he’s the most interesting member of an uninteresting group. As for the other fella – a lot closer to my idea of a bore – we’ll have plenty of time to talk about him as the solo career kicks off.

  28. 28
    hectorthebat on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Sample watch: that introduction is verdi’s “dies irae – tuba mirum”

  29. 29
    thefatgit on 1 Jul 2013 #

    The thing that makes me sympathetic to TT here is that they parade their shortcomings as something to cherish. Gary’s clunky lyrics (why not “…forget where you are coming from”? Instead it’s “…forget where you have come in from”). Come in from where? The car park? It’s those little idiosyncratic word selections that, in hindsight aren’t as frustrating as they should be. Barlowisms, like those found in their previous #1 singles can be used as a stick to bash TT with. I know I have in the past, but now I consider them as somewhat endearing. This is the last time we’ll be discussing Barlowisms from a TT perspective, I think.

  30. 30
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Re 23: Ha. That is a risk, but I review these hits similarly to Tom – it depends on my mood at the time and instinctive reflex emotions. Unfortunately, today I have the reflex of a Daily Mail reader. A quick sabbatical may be needed.

    I have been intending to take a break from Popular to steel myself for a certain monster number 1, but when I do that I jam my brain with more broken heroes; ie listening to the (1989) Heart of Rock and Soul’s 1001 Greatest Singles on Spotify. It’s a great, sprawling read, but not as good as Popular. Most Motown/Stax/Chess/50s rock n roll/60s British Invasion “classics” are all present and correct but there’s a nagging sense of “Ugh, sans Prince/Jacko/I Feel For You the Eighties were just flashy, trashy and HORRID!” From someone who chose as one of the chosen ones.. Er.. Get Out Of My Dreams, Get Into My Car.

    At 267, there is a song with very similar, soul-cleansing themes to Never Forget of looking back to your roots, and does the “heartwarming” schtick what it does very well. Unfortunately, I fear what the FT literati would make of Small Town by John Cougar Mellencamp.

  31. 31
    Patrick Mexico on 1 Jul 2013 #

    Take comment 2 as “gospel”.. Sticking with my 6.. childhood mark inflation isn’t a problem here as I never “got” TT at the time. But I wasn’t their target audience so swings and roundabouts.

    Besides, I burnt all my cynical bridges early on. Nearly everything in 1989 got 3 or less, except Black Box, Soul II Soul and Lisa Stansfield, the latter being mostly because I thought it was great defiance of nature’s laws that someone from Rochdale – or any Accy-like northern milltown you bring up – had a sense of glamour. I was amazed reading about the Hacienda as a teenager, having been at nursery school when it peaked – I just thought all people did in Manchester was watch Coronation Street and cry.

  32. 32
    Patrick Mexico on 2 Jul 2013 #

    In the interests of balance and sanity, I’ll put this back to a (good) 5 and say no more except thank you, goodnight, and sorry for nearly ruining this thread being such an oaf!

    Next please..

  33. 33
    enitharmon on 2 Jul 2013 #

    hectorthebat @28

    … a piece of which Steinman is inordinately fond, it seems.

  34. 34
    mapman132 on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Its victory lap sound probably prevented this from becoming a hit in the US where of course they were never more than one hit wonders. It’s a decent song in the proper context though – I’d be willing to give it a 7.

  35. 35
    Steve Williams on 3 Jul 2013 #

    What I don’t think anyone’s mentioned so far is that although this was loaded with significance as being about Robbie leaving, that appeared at the time to be simple serendipity because he actually departed in between the record being released to radio and so on, and then its actual release. Certainly I remember the only interest in it initially came from the fact Howard was singing it.

    That’s why Robbie’s on the sleeve and in the video, but by the time they started actively promoting it (I remember their first post-Robbie interview was the weekend before its release on the otherwise long-forgotten Steve Wright’s People Show on Saturday night BBC1) he’d buggered off.

  36. 36
    fivelongdays on 3 Jul 2013 #

    13-year-old me hated this, but 31-year-old me quite likes it. Never knew it had Steinman’s imput, nor did I realise the lyrics weren’t ‘Never Forget where you’re coming from’.

    Think I’ll give it a six.

  37. 37
    hardtogethits on 3 Jul 2013 #

    “Never Forget where you’re coming from” doesn’t make much sense. Linguistically and grammatically, it’s a load of shite.

  38. 38
    Tom on 3 Jul 2013 #

    I really like “where you’ve come in from” – I don’t think it’s clumsy. It’s making the point that the thing you’re part of is bigger than you are – we are all outsiders, coming in from somewhere and able to leave (or be kicked out) as quickly.

  39. 39
    will on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Re 35: I always suspected that this was written specifically as TT’s great group farewell. Barlow doubtless saw this as the point where he’d make for the exit and a George Michael-style solo career, but when Robbie left first this meant he had to hang on a bit longer so it didn’t look as if RW had split the group.

  40. 40
    MarkG on 4 Jul 2013 #

    .. except Rob did not leave, he was told to go.

  41. 41
    punctum on 4 Jul 2013 #

    100 years from now, who’ll know the difference?

  42. 42
    Mark G on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Glen Matlock for a kickoff.

  43. 43
    punctum on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Will he be alive in 100 years’ time? Paddy Power taking bets now.

  44. 44
    flahr on 4 Jul 2013 #

    If this interview is anything to go by, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry will still be alive in 2113. (Sadly not conducted by me, I was relegated to writing about the new My Bloody Valentine that week.)

  45. 45
    punctum on 4 Jul 2013 #

    “I have no plans to die” – that’s the spirit. Avoid dead chickens, folks!

  46. 46
    lonepilgrim on 4 Jul 2013 #

    i’m curious to know when the pattern of disaffected/ambitious band member jumps ship to start a new career began in UK pop. I can think of Graham Nash and the Hollies – and most of the Beatles were eyeing up the exit towards the end – but perhaps there were earlier examples

  47. 47
    Mark G on 4 Jul 2013 #

    How about Jet Harris and Tony Meehan, independantly, from The Shadows.

  48. 48
    The Lurker on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Clapton from the Yardbirds?

  49. 49
    Rory on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Just my luck… I wait three Popular years for entry #725, and now it’s all going to happen while I’m on holiday. Expect my by-then-obsolete thoughts at around the comment-300 mark on July 15th!

  50. 50
    Tom on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Sorry Rory – it’s about half-finished but I’ve been having to do a lot of work writing, and the entry has ended up quite long.

  51. 51

    The entire subterranean history of London club-based music from Ken Colyer across to Alexis Korner is a blizzard of mutual disaffection, really. Everyone thought everyone else was playing the wrong sort of something.

  52. 52
    punctum on 4 Jul 2013 #

    That reminds me, I’m supposed to be writing a book on this very subject (not pop stars jumping ship but the strangely logical anti-nexus of Brit blues boom, free jazz and psychedelia).

  53. 53

    Clapton is a 6 on the Pete Frame Valency Index, beating John Mayall, Mick Taylor and John Wetton, who are all 5s. (I took literally 20 seconds to “research” this, so the reported data may be shakier than the underlying science.)

    PFVI = the number of different pages/family trees a family member appears on

    That book sounds awesome, punctum!

  54. 54
    Rory on 4 Jul 2013 #

    No worries, Tom – it’s been great to see the flurry of activity around here lately. I feel all Popular-ly reinvigorated. If I can get O2 in Shetland I’ll try and post a comment from my phone.

    Mind you, my comment on it is only a few paragraphs long… the other recent threads used up some of what I might have said.

    By the way, it’s a 4 for “Never Forget” from me. Take that, Take That!

  55. 55
    swanstep on 5 Jul 2013 #

    @46, Lonepilgrim. Arthur Sullivan spent most of the 1880s trying to ditch Gilbert and Comic Opera (esp. after being knighted for his more hifalutin’ stuff). A right Gabriel, Sylvian, Albarn he was.

  56. 56
    AMZ1981 on 6 Jul 2013 #

    Never Forget was the third (and final) single from the Nobody Else album and the only one to be released (albeit it remixed form) after the album’s release. Nobody Else, with the exception of two songs (Back For Good and an oddly haunting acoustic piece sung by Mark Owen) is an album of two halves. One half is of `Sures`, soul influenced upbeat numbers that have dated hideously and a second half of `Never Forgets`; ridiculous earnest Gary Barlow solo numbers aimed at proving he was a serious artist – the title track is exceptionally hideous. In the CD booklet Barlow has a full page photograph while the rest of the band get quarter of a page each. Given that it was Mark and Robbie the girls still wanted this is telling – Nobody Else is virtually a solo album.

    There was a script here. Gary Barlow was set to `do a George Michael` and outgrow his pop roots to become a solo superstar. Except – it all went wrong. The first mistake was that the other four Take Thatters were not Andrew Ridgely; Orange and Donald were relatively disposable but Mark Owen was the pin up and Williams the best voice.

    The second mistake, which Barlow’s camp could not have forseen but which they reacted to badly, was that the musical scene was changing. Gary Barlow had a seat marked at the same table as Elton John, Phil Collins and Sting and the rock world would shortly reject these dinosaurs for a new breed of Gallaghers, Albarns and Cockers. At the same time (as this blog will soon show) the world of pop moved away from earnest hearthrobs like Barlow to brazen, tabloid baiting superstars (it’s pretty obvious which girl band I have in mind here). It’s worth noting that Robbie Williams would owe a lot of his subsequent success to the fact he could straddle both camps. For Gary Barlow matters would be made worse by the fact that, by the time he finally divorced his pop band and was in a position to do a George Michael, George himself had returned with what (for me anyway) was his strongest collection of songs.

    A final point, while Never Forget was at number one Boyzone spent two weeks at number three with So Good. It was not the first time Take That and Boyzone had been in the top five simultaneously, nor would it be the last.

  57. 57
    ciaran on 18 Jul 2013 #

    A kind of no more worlds to conquer feel to this.Though the signs of the end had probably begun with the success of Back For Good.

    I liked it in 95 but now its a bit of a chore to listen to outside of the chrous.It doesnt stand up as well as BFG now.

    5

  58. 58
    Erithian on 15 Sep 2013 #

    They throw a lot at this, don’t they? Including, inexplicably, Howard. Sadly the effect is to leave you listening to the straining verses and having your mind wander to how much better it might have sounded if they’d given it to Robbie, who really stands out in the bridge. But the chorus of course is mega.

    Just before this review was posted I was at the year 6 leavers’ performance at my boys’ primary school, and this was the last number. You’re right, this is where it comes into its own as a tearjerker, and not just for the parents – there were a few dabbed eyes among the children too.

  59. 59
    mrdiscopop on 23 Oct 2014 #

    This is a karaoke killer. Everyone assumes it’ll be a knees-up singalong – and it is, but only once every 90 seconds. The problem is those meandering verses, dragging their feet like a schoolkid on the first day of term. Someone like Elton might be able to sell the melody by force of personality alone, but poor old Howard (and our karaoke troop) will never manage it. The chorus gets a 7, the rest of it a poor 4.

    Interestingly, the album version is a lot better, losing the ridiculous choirboy intro and – more importantly – allowing Robbie to vamp all over the coda. Some of his ad-libs are kept for the single edit (which, confusingly, is longer) but they are poor facsimiles, sung by the rest of the band with much less vigor or personality. The group was truly over the day he got his marching orders.

  60. 60
    Musicality on 14 Dec 2014 #

    This was a great song very epic and full on with a nice message to it. Epic and a worldwide hit following on from the global chart topper Back For Good. Different and unique from a boyband doing something a bit different in sound and length.

  61. 61
    AMZ1981 on 16 May 2016 #

    Always good when a statistic randomly occurs to you. For all that the ups and downs of their careers have intertwined and despite countless chart toppers by each and two near misses; as of mid 2016 Never Forget remains the last time Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams feature on a number one single together.

  62. 62
    Gareth Parker on 20 May 2021 #

    I’ve gone with a 6/10 here and I think it is one of Take That’s better singles.

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