Feb 14

GARY BARLOW – “Love Won’t Wait”

Popular82 comments • 8,268 views

#766, 10th May 1997

gblww Few figures from 80s pop could match Michael Jackson for popularity and cultural weight. Perhaps only one, and she had also found the 90s harsher going than anticipated. Madonna’s apparent decline was more respectable than Jackson’s, but less interesting: intriguing grapples with R&B, pleasant soundtrack ballads, sales drifting downwards, and finally a solid, unrevealing, turn on a revived Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. “So what happens now?” her final single from that project asked. The answer, in 1997, was cloudy. Meanwhile one of her demos from a scrapped LP ended up in Gary Barlow’s hands, giving Madonna her first number one song in seven years.

“Love Won’t Wait” is a massive step up from “Forever Love” in quality – but it’s also easy to hear why Madonna ditched it. Listening to her demo version, with co-writer Shep Pettibone producing, doesn’t necessarily tell you what a finished version might have sounded like. But vocally, it feels like a return to the confident pop tourism of True Blue – a shot of unreturned devotion in wide-eyed Brill Building style. There’s not much wrong with it, but not much point to it either: her dips into old styles had shown her mastery of girl-group melodrama, and she’d then gone on to reinvent it. Why go back? So “Love Won’t Wait”, and Pettibone himself, were dumped and Madonna turned to Babyface and contemporary R&B. Gary Barlow saw the song’s potential, and got hold of it.

Gary’s take replaces the tentative pop backing with cruise ship disco presets, speeds it up, and immediately makes it sound like an early Take That track he’s brushing down, not a Madonna one. You can almost see the breathless, fixed-grin hoofing of the other four as Barlow takes the lead. It’s not, by any means, an awful single: it’s unimaginative but pleasant, and it has a tune a milkman might whistle, if his route lasted several years and he’d run through everything else. But in adapting “Love Won’t Wait”, Barlow makes a couple of decisions that I find quite revealing about how he understands and thinks about songs.

The first is choosing a Madonna song in the first place, and giving it a straightforward genderflip. “Love Won’t Wait” is about kicking aside a time-wasting lover, and there’s no reason Gary shouldn’t sing about that. But lyrics about how someone is wasting time, how you won’t wait any longer, how you’re going to leave if you don’t get what you want feel a bit different coming from a male singer. On paper, we’re nudging towards “if you really loved me you’d sleep with me” as a message. Luckily, this isn’t how the song comes across, because Gary Barlow is always going to sound petulant and mealy-mouthed rather than aggressive. Still, the outcome is the same – he’s tough to sympathise with.

The second decision is a tiny one. As she leads into the chorus, Madonna sings “you think I’m not that strong, you know….” on the first two go-rounds. Then on the third, she switches it: “you think I’m not that strong, you’re wrong!”. Barlow, on the other hand, picks “you’re wrong!” every time. If he thinks it’s a tougher, stronger hook, he’s right – but in the original it’s also a payoff. It gives “Love Won’t Wait” a storyline – a woman assessing her situation, then building up the strength to asset herself. Barlow’s version makes the song more static. It’s the slightest of details, but details are what often make a pop song live, and this one makes me suspect that Gary Barlow has no great feel for the material he’s working with. “Love Won’t Wait” is a cast-off that had a shot at being something more: Barlow wastes that chance.



  1. 1
    Cumbrian on 28 Feb 2014 #

    Blimey – a free limited edition poster. Sign me up.

    This is, indeed, a lot better than Forever Love but that is not a difficult hurdle to clear. It does seem a bit like a return to TT form – with the crucial point there being that I liked the TT stuff that had other people involved in it, rather than being more pure Barlow productions. So using a song from someone else is going to win him some favours from me. That said, as a return to TT form, it also strikes me as suddenly quite dated – an early 90s sound which seems to have been supplanted by this point in the decade. It’s not a pleasant throwback either, I think.

    I hadn’t noticed the bit Tom mentions in the last paragraph there but I noticed the stuff in the second to last paragraph, because I had a similar problem with Back For Good. He strikes me as someone who would not be an ideal partner judging by those two songs at least – and thus difficult to warm to. All in all, not a one for me.

    I thought that Another Suitcase In Another Hall was performed by Peron’s mistress. What do they do to the story in the movie to have it come out of Evita’s mouth?

  2. 2
    iconoclast on 28 Feb 2014 #

    This glides along inoffensively and mildly catchily, but it’s nothing to get excited about, especially since he doesn’t seem to believe the words he’s singing. More of a B-side than anything else, really. FIVE.

  3. 3
    mapman132 on 28 Feb 2014 #

    Certainly much better than “Forever Love”, even borderline catchy. I’ll go 5/10. Video was mildly interesting. Is it based on a real location? Looks like a low tide road somewhere (Wikipedia says France, but maybe that’s just the soundstage).

    Just like its predecessor, this didn’t chart in the US. But interestingly its followup “So Help Me Girl” made #44. I have no memory of it but apparently it was a remake of a country song by Joe Diffie. I’m not interested enough to seek out either version though…

  4. 4
    Ronny on 1 Mar 2014 #

    @1 Indeed, but “Back to Good” knows it and exploits it, making him sound somewhat desperate and more sympathetic, even though you’re not exactly rooting for him.

    I’ve never heard this song before, and I doubt I’ll be listening to it again. Not interesting enough to really even be called “pleasant.”

  5. 5
    Tom on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Re the sleeve (and ‘featured’ picture) – seeing solo GB without his permascowl and permastubble is rather odd.

  6. 6
    Chelovek na lune on 1 Mar 2014 #

    I am really not convinced it’s better than “Forever Love”: while “Love Won’t Wait” is less sappy, and less incoherent lyrically, and a little less forgettable, than his debut, it is instead overwhelmingly, mindnumbingly bland – Tom’s point about GB appearing to have little feel for his material is an astute one, too. Not surprised Madonna turned it down – it is hardly a classic song in the first place. But in this version, the musical accompaniment and production is characterless, mass-produced, guff. It’s just horrible, seemingly intended to be heard primarily through car-based not-very-loudspeakers. Its chart run (1-6-19-28-37) pretty much puts this in the fanbase buy category too. Although it seems here, just as with its predecessor, GB was looking, prematurely, towards the Radio 2 audience more than Radio 1. But they were not yet ready (or yet Radio 2 listeners), and his material simply wasn’t up to scratch. So double fail. And what was he thinking.

    Apart from the previously much discussed “Open Road”, “For All That You Want” is about the only GB Mark I solo single I’ve any time for, even if that one, too, has it, and its performer’s limitations on open display, it has a certain non-scowling charm, and a certain joie de vivre pretty much absent here.

    Above all, this record serves as a useful reminder that Take That released a lot of rather mediocre singles before they really started to hit the mark. 2

  7. 7
    thefatgit on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Gary turns LWW into the archetypal friendzone record. And that’s the problem, because “friendzone” is indicative of male privilege and entitlement. The woman’s personal preference is secondary to the man’s needs. Awful as it may seem, this assumption didn’t register to most people back in the ’90s as a problem worth addressing. If the internet was worth shit in the 21st Century, as far as I was concerned, it was reading information that broke down just exactly what male privilege meant. Being brought up in a male dominated world with male needs prioritized above all else, meant a great deal of re-education. I can’t accept this song sung from a male perspective now.

    Listening to Madonna’s version sounds like a woman who’s been strung along by a guy who’s either cheating on her or not willing to commit. Classic guy traits both, and you can’t help but sympathise with her. It’s a double standard. It’s how we’re conditioned to react and it’s a trap. One way or another a guy gets found out. There’s no happy ending here if you’re born with the XY chromosome.

    The video just underlines Barlow’s predicament. As the object of his desire loses one button at a time on her shirt, she becomes more distant, more unobtainable, as if she were a prize to be won. Not once are we reminded that she is human and able to make her own choices. Love won’t wait? I see no evidence of love here.

  8. 8
    swanstep on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Haven’t had a chance to listen to Barlow’s version yet, but my understanding (which wiki supports) is that ‘Love won’t wait’ was a 1994 Madonna demo, i.e., a cast off from the sessions for the (excellent) Bedtime Stories album (it even ends with same ‘Goodbye’ cadence as ‘Take a Bow’) not from any scrapped album between Bedtime and Ray of Light. Also the idea that there was anything like decline/decay from Madonna at this point seems wrong. At least in the US, people were very burned out on the over-exposing/Cultural Studies Madonna of Like A Prayer/Vogue/Sex/Erotica (Madge 2.0), but she’d bounced back nicely with Bedtime as a more comfortably adult/middle-aged persona, and by 1997 we’re kind of midway through that middle-aged Madge 3.0 period that climaxes with Ray of Light and Music, and the comeback/transition to middle-age had already been made.

  9. 9
    Ed on 1 Mar 2014 #

    That wasn’t how most of us saw Madonna in Britain, I think. Bedtime Stories did not do great business over here: it peaked at number 2, and none of the singles topped the charts. In particular, Britain *hated* Take A Bow, which I know was a huge hit – her biggest? – in America, but only made it to number 16 in the UK.

    So when she came back with her bunny in 1998, it was seen as a real break from what she’d been doing for the past few years, and a genuine and successful reinvention. One of those often claimed “returns to form” that actually was a return to form.

  10. 10
    Tom on 1 Mar 2014 #

    #8 my understanding is that she started work on the album that became Bedtime Stories with Shep Pettibone, realised it wasn’t working, and junked the song(s) in favour of Babyface and what then became the Bedtime Stories album. So the “scrapped LP” is simply the first incarnation of BS not anything from after it. “Scrapped sessions” would be more accurate, though.

    And Ed’s right – this is one of those entries where the UK ness of the blog unapologetically shows. She was a steady but gently declining presence here and 1998 was seen as a comeback.

  11. 11
    Tom on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Global sales: Like A Prayer 15m, Erotica 6m, Bedtime Stories 7m, Ray Of Light 16m. In between BS and ROL you get Something To Remember (10m but mostly compilation) and Evita which Wikipedia is coy on.

    Which supports Swanstep’s and my positions both – this was indeed a mid-career slump with ROL as a definite comeback, but worldwide there were signs of recovery rather than continued decline.

  12. 12
    Auntie Beryl on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Like A Prayer had gone 4x Platinum in the UK, Erotica double, and Bedtime Stories just single platinum. So the sales awards for albums as well as singles paint a picture of decline.

    The next album ended up hextuple!

    See how we’ve already veered away from discussing Barlow on this thread? Love Won’t Wait is the second consecutive Popular chorus I couldn’t freely call to mind before revisiting on YouTube, and I haven’t been missing much. THREE.

  13. 13
    swanstep on 1 Mar 2014 #

    One of the joys of Popular ’97 so far is seeing lots of classic pop lexemes pop up: we’ve had a “mama” song, an “ain’t no” song, a “don’t” song, and now a “wait” song. ‘Waiting’ is such a succulent topic for pop music; I have at least 60 “wait”-songs in my iTunes including convincing recent entries from Savages – one of their best in my view -, Grimes, London Grammar, and Holychild. And pop is richly contradictory on the topic: there are as many proclamations of willingness to wait (offered perhaps as a criterion for love, e.g., ‘True Love Waits’) as announcements of refusal to wait.

    So, what does Gary Barlow have to offer (even relative say to the 3 previous Popular items on the theme from Diana Ross, George M. & Aretha, and, especially, The Kinks)? Not much as it happens. The track burbles inoffensively along without ever quite making the case for its own existence, and losing some of tenderness and winning tentativeness of Madonna’s demo. I appreciate some of Barlow’s departures from Madonna’s template, esp. the exciting repetition of the ‘Don’t wait too long/or I’ll be gone’ couplet at the end of the second chorus. It’s as though the massed vocal of ‘Never Forget’ (which retrospectively is sounding better and better) is going to burst through through the surface of LWW and kick things into another gear. Alas not. I guess it has to be said that Madonna’s lyrics aren’t her strong-point. At their best they’re optimized for her particular voice and personality, so they’re actable by *her*, which often poses real problems for other interpretations unless the interpreter leads with some banzai new arrangement. Barlow hasn’t done the latter here and the underlying song just doesn’t do him many favors, so, yes, agree:

  14. 14
    lonepilgrim on 1 Mar 2014 #

    I began to feel somewhat uncomfortable that much of the appeal of Blood on the Dancefloor was interpreting to it as evidence of MJs pathology and wondered whether I should be more charitable towards everyman Gary Barlow. The problem is that GB wants to present himself as a wounded soul in this song and fails – as nothing about it speaks of any depth of feeling. The vocal is laboured and the music sounds like a bedroom demo – all preset rhythms and tones. More money and imagination seems to have been spent on the video – although its undercutting of an illusion of depth serves as an unconscious(?) commentary on the song itself.

  15. 15
    mapman132 on 1 Mar 2014 #

    #9 In terms of chart performance (7 weeks at #1), “Take a Bow” was technically Madonna’s biggest US hit. However, this is severely skewed by the Hot 100 methodology switching to Soundscan in 1991, yielding much longer stays at #1 that we still see today. Certainly, her two “Like A” hits as well as “Vogue” and many others had a much bigger US impact overall.

    As to the larger point, I’m going to disagree with #8. I can’t say how far Madonna’s star fell in the UK vs. the US, but she still seemed at a low ebb in the US in 1997, at least in my mind. There might have been slight rumblings of a comeback but it really didn’t happen until the following year.

  16. 16
    taDOW on 1 Mar 2014 #

    she had been omnipresent in that second imperial phase after like a prayer in a way she hadn’t been even during the madonna wannabe era – there was a cultural importance afforded to her that hadn’t been in 84 and she didn’t have mj/prince/springsteen stealing the spotlight. there was also a political aspect to her being that wasn’t there in 84 either, and this probably played a part in the backlash circa sex/erotica/body of evidence (a kind of negative synergy at work there) and erotica in particular underperforming. adult contemporary had always been a huge component of her success and survival past initial bellybutton phase when alot of ppl assumed surely she was a flash in the pan and bedtime stories allowed her to regroup via that aspect of her work and she managed to not capitulate entirely to the reactionaries (she wasn’t sorry as she let us know) by mixing it w/ r&b and aligning her self w/ the dominant hit formula in the us during the 90s – r&b/ac crossover. bedtime stories did well, better than erotica but really ‘take a bow’ did phenomenally and the other singles performed comparably to the erotica singles. by 97 there was definitely a sense that she might be over as an interesting pop figure – the courtney love incident at the vmas made her seem a bit old guard and the cw was that she would become a straight up ac artist if she wasn’t one already. alot of ‘the kids don’t even listen to madonna yknow’ pieces and when ray of light came out spin did a jukebox jury w/ ‘the youth’: http://bit.ly/ME2sJF. anyhow r&b has never done particularly well in the uk, marginally better than gary barlow has done in the us, so it’s predictable that it wouldn’t work as a way of stabilizing her chart presence there. as for the actual record here 4 seems fair.

  17. 17
    flahr on 1 Mar 2014 #

    Hasn’t R&B been the dominant musical paradigm in the UK for at least the past ten years?

  18. 18
    taDOW on 1 Mar 2014 #

    has it? can’t find a top chart artists of the decade lists for the uk for the 2000s but looking at the best selling albums there isn’t a single r&b album in the top 25 (vs robbie williams albums) and only one r&b single (maybe two – have no idea who alexandra burke is) in the top 25 best selling singles. that could be misleading though cuz looking at best selling albums for the us for the 2000s there’s only one r&b album in the top ten and on a year by year basis generally only one or two r&b albums in the top ten. in billboard’s decade end top artists list however you have four r&b artists in the top ten. the top singles (us) of the decade has four r&b in the top ten (vs six in the top ten for the 90s). ftr nearly halfway thru this decade there is only one r&b single in the top ten (guess who), and that single is almost perfectly engineered to be the exception that proves the rule in terms of the general vanishing of r&b from the charts in the us this decade. my impression is that the pop model currently dominant on us charts/radio has been the dominant model in the uk for awhile but i’m not nearly as familiar w/ the data as some of you.

  19. 19
    taDOW on 1 Mar 2014 #

    and obv in the us where there has been a strong r&b presence on the charts from ray charles/sam cooke until somewhat recently r&b tracks generally required some degree of pop compromise to crossover hence erykah badu’s greatest pop success coming when she briefly crossed over to ac, rick james being a giant in r&b but a one or two hit wonder viewed thru a pop prism, and the gulf between james brown’s success on the r&b chart and the pop chart. when madonna ‘went r&b’ she was meeting something halfway that had already met pop halfway to begin with.

  20. 20
    AMZ1981 on 1 Mar 2014 #

    I must admit I’d forgotten the context of Madonna’s involvement; namely that she was coming out of an artistic slump but her 1998 rebirth wasn’t yet obvious; but it was obvious then that the great hope of British pop was relying on a Madonna hand me down. Still, at least it got to number one, it would have beaten Old Before I Die in a head to head and had the highest sales for a number one since WDYTYA’s second week. There was a fanbase which dissipated shortly after – was this the last time Take That fans rallied around their hero?

    A few stats. The 1-6 drop has been mentioned; Love Won’t Wait was the second number one in a row to drop out of the top five after a week, the third in four number ones to do so and the fifth in 1997. It was the eighth one week wonder in 1997 from eleven chart toppers. I mention this because, after this – against all odds – the chart stabilises. There are only four one weekers left in 1997; all otherwise strong crossover records and a year would elapse until the next record to drop straight out of the top five.

    Also the chart when LWW was at the top set what I think is a new record thus far; the top three were all new entries. All were fanbase records; George Michael (still Barlow’s closest comparison point) was at two with Star People and John Squire’s new band the Seahorses were at three with Love Is The Law.

  21. 21
    Izzy on 2 Mar 2014 #

    Oof, The Seahorses.

    Is George Michael really a fan base artist? I’ve never thought of him as such; rather I’d’ve said he transcended fanbase by the sheer scale of his success with Faith. Certainly I couldn’t think of what a group of ‘George Michael fans’ might look like – whereas with Barlow and Squire it’s easy.

  22. 22
    Paulito on 2 Mar 2014 #

    @9 “Britain *hated* Take A Bow” is a rather dramatic way of saying that the single was only a moderate success, no?

  23. 23
    flahr on 2 Mar 2014 #

    18 surely ‘pop’ is the dominant musical paradigm in uk pop music by definition!

    (actually i suspect this is a purism thing – you are actually informed and therefore go ‘what do you mean emeli sandé fool she is NEO-SOUL not R&B’, but i used the word ‘paradigm’ deliberately: for at least the last decade most pop music has been influenced by R&B* even if perhaps little of it fits the strict definition of R&B)

    *moreso than by boyz-wif-guitarz or, uh, germanz-wif-synthz

  24. 24
    swanstep on 2 Mar 2014 #

    Interesting for me to hear others’ perspectives on mid-’90s Madonna. I thought her putting out a solid album with four pretty good singles (mainly top ten- and specialty-chart bothering rather than #1 smasheroos) wasn’t a decline or a retreat as such, but a good long-run move to be (at least for a period) a less culturally commanding/exhausting, more sustainable presence. I tend to think that having ascended so quickly to “cultural studies Madonna 2.0”-type commanding heights of the cultural economy, Gaga now needs her own Bedtime Stories-type detox/relaxation/austerity period, but maybe my sense of the ebbs and flows of these matters is eccentric.

  25. 25
    Carpenter Studios on 2 Mar 2014 #

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  26. 26
    AMZ1981 on 2 Mar 2014 #

    #21 George Michael hadn’t been a fanbase artist up to that point but Star People’s 2-14-32 chart run suggests it wasn’t bringing in many new fans.

  27. 27
    Mark G on 2 Mar 2014 #

    Well, I don’t recall it at all, it would presumably render as a ‘pointless answer’ to all but the fanbase.

  28. 28
    wichitalineman on 2 Mar 2014 #

    When I heard the bridge I thought “Ahh, I remember this…” but then realised it sounded exactly like the Coca Cola “Holidays are coming” jingle, which is what I actually remembered.

    I’m still humming it to myself ten minutes after listening to it. The definition of a 4.5, if such a mark existed.

  29. 29
    Rich on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #20 Possibly worth noting the week after this one (17/5/97) saw 20 new entries in the top 40, which I do not recall being matched or beaten.

  30. 30
    Mark G on 3 Mar 2014 #

    #27, for clarity’s sake I should add I mean “Star People” not Gary’s tune which I do recall but am unmoved by.

  31. 31
    Weej on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I can hear there’s a nice enough tune buried down there, but getting past The Barlow and the breakfast television production is too hard. 3.

  32. 32
    Steve Williams on 3 Mar 2014 #

    This song was also responsible for a chart stat I found incredibly pleasing at the time as, post-Take That, Gary Barlow’s first two solo singles both got to number one, Robbie Williams’ first two solo singles both got to number two and Mark Owen’s first two solo singles (the wimpy Child and the rather ace Clementine) both got to number three. I was willing Howard and Jason to release some stuff just to keep that pattern going.

    As for Madonna’s decline, I can’t remember who pointed it out but Human Nature was released in the same week as Country House and Roll With It and someone said that they thought it was amazing there was a new Madonna single out and nobody was that bothered.

  33. 33
    Rory on 3 Mar 2014 #

    I could go a 4 for this if not for the distracting lyrical gender swap, reinforced by the irritating video of Moody Gary glancing at models’ torsos and occasionally faces. The subtexts are all wrong. 3.

  34. 34
    Tom on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Excellent brand synergy here. https://twitter.com/ActimelUK/status/440444469020594176

  35. 35
    Cumbrian on 3 Mar 2014 #

    Re: Gary Barlow’s cover of Cuddly Toy on the Not So Popular tumbler. I have listened to it and it raises one pertinent question. Why do I do this stuff to myself?

    As it is, I quite like the Roachford version and he can’t totally ruin it. Still, it’s not much cop; like I expected anything else.

  36. 36
    AMZ1981 on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #32 As we’ll never get a chance to discuss Mark Owen’s solo career on here I don’t think I’m the only one to consider his solo efforts underrated. Had he dodged the 1996 Christmas market (he didn’t have the commercial clout and his album tanked) and launched his solo career with Clementine in the new year things might have played out differently.

  37. 37
    Steve Williams on 4 Mar 2014 #

    #36 Clementine is a great song and did really well for him, though the follow-up to that, I Am What I Am, is virtually the same song. But he did some interesting stuff and is clearly a lovely guy.

    In fact around this period we had a rather curious trend (three records, therefore it’s a trend) of teen pop stars releasing sub-Britpop light indie efforts, as well as Owen you had Ant and Dec releasing the fantastic Shout (with Dec on guitar!) and even boring old Sean Maguire did Today’s The Day which wore its Britpop influences very much on its sleeve, clearly “inspired” by the likes of Country House and Alright (although it was terribly unconvincing and is now best remembered for being the theme to GMTV’s charity appeal). Funny how they all jumped on that bandwagon at once though I suppose it’s fairly common that manufactured pop will leap on any current fad.

    The other thing I remember about Mark Owen’s first album is that he appeared on The Show, the like-Larry-Sanders-but-real show which interspersed “The Bob Mills Show” with footage from behind the scenes, and during his performance it cut to the gallery and someone pointed out there was a bit of a problem with the sound and it was going a bit wobbly, and the director said, “Ah, never mind, they’ll think it’s supposed to sound like that.”

  38. 38
    Tom on 4 Mar 2014 #

    “Four Minute Warning” was a BIG Club Poptimism song for a while.

    Agreed on “Shout” – a very odd record, “everybody wants to see the freaks explode” etc. I dunno if indie/britpop is exactly what they were going for on that as much as a (doomed, probably) attempt to shift the existing matey/lads-together boyband vibe of Ant & Dec into a slightly more evolved place. (You can imagine 5ive releasing it, maybe).

  39. 39
    Kat but logged out innit on 4 Mar 2014 #

    I have just remembered that I MET Little Mark just after 4 Minute Warning came out, during my Island stint. If I achieve nothing else in my life, at least I will have made a cup of tea for Mark Owen (no such luck w/ PJ Harvey who only stayed in the office for 5 minutes before skidaddling).

  40. 40
    Will on 4 Mar 2014 #

    Another vote here for Little Mark’s Clementine. I certainly rate it above anything GB has ever produced, including this.

  41. 41
    Cumbrian on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Gary Barlow now joining such luminaries as Fat Les, Embrace and Ant and Dec in recording an approved England song for the World Cup. How much Latin influence do we reckon there will be on it?

  42. 42
    punctum on 6 Mar 2014 #

    In the distinguished lineage of Simply Red’s “We’re In This Together”? I think it’ll be yet more tankard-banging, banjo-wielding gurners. After last night’s shambles it’s no more or less than what England deserves.

  43. 43
    tm on 6 Mar 2014 #

    #41 wasn’t Fat Les the unofficial single opposite Three Lions?

  44. 44
    Cumbrian on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Got my info from here:


    Fat Les was the official one in 1998 – 3 Lions in 96. The bunnied remake/release was done of their own accord. Two official songs in 98 too – their was the Ian McCulloch/Spice Girls/Space/Ocean Colour Scene collaboration too.

  45. 45
    Andrew Farrell on 6 Mar 2014 #

    Quite disappointed that it’s not actually Barlow + Fat Les + Embrace + Ant and Dec.

  46. 46
    AMZ1981 on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Firstly – my thoughts on Mark Owen’s solo career http://amz1981.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/mark-owen-the-return-of-the-king/

    #37 In the nineties I’d be very surprised if most pin up pop stars actually listened to the type of music they were being asked to sing. Being lads in their late teens/ twenties they would have listened to Britpop and having reached a stage where they had a bit more control over their output it’s not surprising their late songs were Britpop influenced. Of the acts you mention `Good Day` was Sean Maguire’s last single before he went back to doing what he was actually good act and Ant and Dec would only have one more release during their pop star phase (a later single would follow, just to save somebody mentioning it) before focusing on their TV work.

    I think the standard here was already Robbie Williams whose three pre Angels singles (Old Before I Die, Lazy Days, South Of The Border) were all Britpop lite. Mulling it over there’s never really been a market for an indie boy band; the girls seem to prefer their boys sitting on stools crooning some well worn cover. Which is of course a disgustingly sexist thing to say and not true either as plenty of young women do enjoy indie/ rock and the scene that goes with it; however a bridge between the two never translates into record sales we will shortly be meeting one of the most anodyne boy bands of them all who killed their career with a really good guitar record.

  47. 47
    Tom on 7 Mar 2014 #

    “Mulling it over there’s never really been a market for an indie boy band”

    Maybe we’ll have to wait until THE YEAR 3000.

  48. 48
    Rory on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Here’s yer indie boy band. Six UK top 20 singles to date, three of them top 5.

  49. 49
    Steve Williams on 7 Mar 2014 #

    #44 Fat Les wasn’t the official song in 1998, that was On Top Of The World by England United. However their pointless cover of Jerusalem was the official England song for Euro 2000.

    And of course We’re In This Together was the official song for the whole Euro 96 tournament.

  50. 50
    AMZ1981 on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Just to clarify – by an indie boy band I meant a group that an indie band would recognise (albeit grudgingly) as one of their own and which draws fans more or less equally from both camps.

  51. 51
    Ed on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Indie boy bands: The Libertines, Suede, The Beatles.

    (“Indie” here =/= “on an independent label”, obv.)

    And more than any of those, there is a band that played its own instruments, wrote its own songs, and recorded a couple of albums on an independent label. Scroll up to find them.

  52. 52
    iconoclast on 10 Mar 2014 #

    The fact that nobody knows what “indie” really means isn’t a problem here, obviously.

  53. 53
    punctum on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Not “fact” but perspective. I know perfectly well what indie means, as opposed to what other people would like it to mean.

  54. 54
    iconoclast on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Perhaps you could explain what it means then, and see how many people agree with you? Or is this going to devolve into the meaning of “meaning”? :-)

  55. 55
    punctum on 10 Mar 2014 #

    It’s a really nice day. Sunny and reasonably warm.

  56. 56
    Tommy Mack on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Not here it’s not. I put some shorts on and then it got cold as fuck. Or is that your definition of indie? Covers a lot of the key bands but leaves lots of others out, literally in the cold!

  57. 57
    Tom on 10 Mar 2014 #

    The clouds have gathered over central London too, as if in anticipation of a fruitless debate on the meaning of indie….

  58. 58
    iconoclast on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Do I detect the merest hint of a suggestion that, just maybe, Popular might have trod these paths at least once before before my time?

  59. 59
    Tom on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Nah, I think Popular has been pretty free of it – but the debate itself is a greybeard. When I started reading the NME the cover story was about whether the Darling Buds and the Wonder Stuff had SOLD OUT by signing to a major and you turned the page to find “AHHHH but what is indie anyway?”. Despite Punctum’s suggestion that the issue has been settled I suspect yr post at #52 is still largely right – or it’s not quite “nobody knows” more “nobody can be bothered to agree”.

  60. 60
    iconclast on 10 Mar 2014 #

    @59: Ha, I remember reading the NME a few years before that and getting the very definite impression that there were thick black lines between “indie” and “non-indie”, and anyone who gave the slightest impression that he or she regarded anything on the “non-indie” side with anything other than the requisite amount of contempt had no right to expect his or her opinions on anything to ever be taken remotely seriously again. And it’s not that long ago that I can remember encountering people who expressed the opinion that you were similarly irrevocably tainted if you made music for a living and expected to earn any money at all from it.

    Anyway, clearly there’s little to be gained from reviving the debate, although I can’t let it go without saying that any context in which “indie” and “boyband” have any significant overlap requires too much simultaneous stretching of both concepts for either of them to be of any meaningful use.

  61. 61
    Ed on 11 Mar 2014 #

    Notes on Indie, in three parts:

    1. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    2. ‘The problem is that there is no property common to all games, so that the most usual kinds of definition fail. Not every game has a ball, nor two competing teams; even, sometimes, there is no notion of “winning.” In my view, the explanation is that a word like “game” points to a somewhat diffuse “system” of prototype frames, among which some frame-shifts are easy, but others involve more strain.’

    3. “I know it when I see it”

  62. 62
    punctum on 11 Mar 2014 #

    1. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.
    2. What has Wittgenstein got to do with indie?
    3. Nah, that’s a Daily Express level of thinking.

    I didn’t say the issue had been settled. I said I knew perfectly well what indie was. Think about it.

  63. 63
    Mark G on 11 Mar 2014 #

    Indie is as indie does, and thinks about it.

  64. 64
    Ed on 11 Mar 2014 #

    On the Wittgenstein, try this: ‘The problem is that there is no property common to all indie, so that the most usual kinds of definition fail. Not every band is influenced by the Velvet Underground, or composed of serious young men, or on an independent label. They sometimes don’t even play guitars. In my view, the explanation is that a word like “indie” points to a somewhat diffuse “system” of prototype frames, among which some frame-shifts are easy, but others involve more strain.’

    I guess by the time the NME was covering the Darling Buds and the Wonder Stuff, you no longer needed to have read Wittgenstein to work there, which was why they got into that kind of philosophical confusion.

  65. 65
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 11 Mar 2014 #

    wittgenstein is indie bcz of the deck chair thing

  66. 66
    weej on 11 Mar 2014 #

    Anyone for backgammon?

  67. 67
    Tommy Mack on 11 Mar 2014 #

    Do you think indie is harder to define than any other genre of popular music? Sub-genres are easy enough because you can get into specifics: I could have a stab at rock, reggae and dance but I’d struggle to come up with a satisfying definition of pop or jazz or maybe even soul.

  68. 68
    punctum on 11 Mar 2014 #

    #64: I like the Darling Buds, who initially were championed by and featured in Melody Maker rather than the NME (the New Blonde and all that), and incidentally were signed to Epic Records. I don’t see what indie has to do with MGM recording artists the Velvet Underground.

  69. 69
    Izzy on 11 Mar 2014 #

    It’s almost as if the word has more than one meaning

  70. 70
    Lazarus on 11 Mar 2014 #

    Didn’t the old Indie Chart, as published in Record Mirror, use to feature the likes of Renee and Renato? If you released a record on an independent label and it charted, you were in, whatever genre.

    “Save your love my Darling Buds, save your love … “

  71. 71
    iconoclast on 11 Mar 2014 #

    I remember seeing “I Should Be So Lucky” in the NME’s Indie Chart, too.

  72. 72
    Tom on 12 Mar 2014 #

    Kylie being Indie was (as far as I knew) the source of the great schism between “it’s an aesthetic” and “it’s a distribution method”

  73. 73
    sükråt tanned rested unlogged and awesome on 12 Mar 2014 #

    The (often bitter and exhausting) editorial squabbling at NME in 1987-88, about who to cover and how much to cover them (and who got ON the cover), was as much as anything an argument about HOW you urged who mattered, when straight sales were plainly misleading (no inkie simply covered the most successful chart acts and no others: the entire argument was that value in rock or pop was to often be found in the music that hadn’t quite hit). The independent charts were a metric of this for some (of local hits as opposed to global hits, if you like): stringers would routinely be dispatched to cover bands that jumped to the top of it. But, its purpose thus co-opted, the means of its compilation (as it appeared on the charts pages of the paper) quickly became a gameable bone of contention, the debate merely fuelled by Pete Waterman’s deft trolling (viz “Roadblock” as a white-label cratedigger find for the Rare Groove crowd).

    Essentially the ruinous dynamic of the argument — I’d suggest that its effect was still being felt in rock-press squabbles a decade later, especially in the arguments pro and con Brit Pop — derived from the fact that the entrenched ideologues at both extremes actually refused to accept the values of their opponents. And so both sides — each every time attracting and expecting a barrage of scornful challenge, to justify whatever new item was to be heavily featured — felt continually under pressure to reach for killer justifications for space, interest, excitement. Utterly split on who mattered right now and why, utterly intransigent, we relentlessly contributed to (i) the nostalgic (and I suspect false) belief that once upon a time our sub-world had at least shared some political or aesthetic perspectives, and (ii) the angry insistence that this comity was now entirely splintered and dispersed (because of THOSE TWITS OVER THERE ect ect). One effect was certainly that any term that found itself thrown around in these quarrels was quickly forced to take not just two meanings (one for each camp) but two seemingly incommensurable meanings. Naturally “indie” was one of these words.

  74. 74
    iconoclast on 12 Mar 2014 #

    #73: Most enlightening!

  75. 75
    swanstep on 18 Mar 2014 #

    This track was basically new to me when it Popular-ed up a few weeks ago, and I gave it a 4 (agreeing with Tom). Well, I want to report it’s strange behavior in my consciousness since then. I find the melody hasn’t consciously stuck with me in that I can’t, right now say, recall how it goes (indeed when I try to actively recall it I always find myself sliding into M’s ‘Take A Bow’). Yet, on multiple occasions I’ve found myself humming something, wondered what the heck it is, only a few seconds later to recognize that it’s LWW. So the damn thing’s unconsciously catchy, or an unconscious earworm, at least for me. That’s an interesting phenomenon and achievement. Maybe I can and should stretch for a:

  76. 76
    Another Pete on 22 Mar 2014 #

    Just heard his World Cup song on a tinny bedside radio first thing this morning. Even if England’s only highlight this year is a scrappy draw against Costa Rica they still wouldn’t be as gutless as that. Gary it’s for the World Cup not a John Lewis ad.

  77. 77
    Tom on 8 Jan 2015 #

    Fans of they-really-shouldn’t-have-genderflipped-those-lyrics may “want” to listen to this cracker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czb_CZfWko8

    #76 Another Pete I hope you put money on that World Cup prediction!

  78. 78
    Another Pete on 8 Jan 2015 #

    I didn’t , though I did come third in the office sweep-stake.

  79. 79
    Rufus Headroom on 14 Jul 2016 #

    The song starts off great, runs out of steam around 1 minute in for me. Gary’s always seemed very flavorless on most of his solo work. Meanders a bit, ideally this would be around 2 minutes long. But that opening “OOOOH!” is never going to stop being very satisfying! My usual 1:33 minute edit of this gets a 5, as is, 4.

  80. 80
    Gareth Parker on 6 May 2021 #

    I could go up to a 5/10 I think. Barlow drastically improves on Forever Love, in my opinion.

  81. 81
    MUSICALITY on 31 May 2021 #

    A bit too sugar pop, a step backwards from some of his Take That efforts.

  82. 82
    Mr Tinkertrain on 30 Mar 2022 #

    Eh… it’s pleasant and inoffensive enough to get a generous 5. At least, unlike his previous number 1, it sticks in the memory a bit. I had no idea of the Madonna connection to this (although that said, I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone talk about this song in any context in 20-odd years).

    Other chart highlights: The Seahorses, as mentioned above, debuted at #3 with Love Is The Law this week. I’d never heard the Stone Roses at the time, but I loved Love Is The Law and their subsequent singles – shame they didn’t last very long either.

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