Feb 20

DANIEL BEDINGFIELD – “Never Gonna Leave Your Side”

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#957, 2nd August 2003

To make one Westlife-esque ballad may be regarded as a misfortune. To make two looks like… a bad mistake, as it turned out. Songwriting cameos aside, this is the last we see of Daniel Bedingfield, and it’s hard to argue he wasn’t the partial author of his own misfortune. The absurdly extended promotional cycle for his debut album didn’t help – 18 months after “Gotta Get Thru This”, and this isn’t even the final single lifted from it. But more damaging was the shift in image from a jack-of-all-genres bedroom pop savant to just another balladeer.

When Bedingfield did come back with new material – “Nothing Hurts Like Love” in 2004 – it was more soulful and more imaginative than this. But by then, as we’ll see, the market for broad-based ballads was shifting, becoming more industrialised as a reality TV production line settled into place.

“Never Gonna Leave Your Side”, like “If You’re Not The One”, falls between stools, squeezing its author’s idiosyncrasies into the ballad mode like a man putting on a badly-fitting tuxedo, while leaving just enough of his individuality intact for the song to feel a touch off. Bedingfield, as ever, is awkwardly earnest, his song a rubbing together of romance and neediness, the verses’ pile-up of bereft metaphors aligning oddly with the chorus’ pledges of devotion. On “Gotta Get Through This”, Bedingfield’s neurosis played as refreshing, unusual frankness; on “If You’re Not The One” his self-abasement was at least uncomfortably sincere. But here the novelty’s worn off – my main response to this is rolled eyes and a muttered “for God’s sake man, move on!”. He couldn’t, so the public did.



  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 5 Feb 2020 #

    I see a lot of DB’s stuff when I’m panning for nuggets among charity shop CDs so I guess his star has waned. I don’t mind the song but his voice is bland as is the arrangement. I can imagine it sounding better with a C&W type backing and a more expressive singer.

  2. 2
    Chelovek na lune on 5 Feb 2020 #

    After a few quite excellent number ones in a row, it’s now time for a really weak, bland, nauseatingly self-pitying one. Sub-Gary Barlow B-side balladry. And Mr Bedingfield had started out so promisingly, not least in the hint that he could turn his hand with a certain degree of success (not earth-shatteringly brilliantly, but passably for sure) at numerous styles. Dear me, it’s surely over now. I hear he has a sister who sings, though. Maybe he’ll come back and duet with her, but please, not on sometime half as soppy as this.


  3. 3
    hardtogethits on 5 Feb 2020 #

    Maybe somebody’s said this, but doesn’t that passable versatility bring to mind the guy with uncountable recent bunnies?

  4. 4
    ThePensmith on 6 Feb 2020 #

    That this even did get to number one was on virtue of both one of the quietest release schedules all that year and driest spells of weather – this came out just as Britain was scorching in a well timed summer holiday heatwave that wouldn’t be meterologically bettered until fifteen years later. Of that week’s chart, there were only six other new entries, and this only shifted 36,500 to top the chart – one of the lowest totals of that year.

    This is essentially ‘Hero’ redux (the Enrique one) we’re dealing with here. Forgettable and limp. Really I remain unsympathetic to what happened with Daniel’s career hereafter. He was enough of a talent that he could have returned to the style that had got him to success in the first place.

    But his response to the label essentially asking for ‘If You’re Not The One’ over and over – c.f. Innocent Records saying post-‘Whole Again’ with Atomic Kitten that they now had a formula, and I quote from Andy McCluskey, of ‘Whole Again, Whole Again, and more f***ing Whole Again’ – was to become this supposedly ‘mad’ character, going all God bothering on us, especially after his car crash he was involved in in early 2004, to the point that he effectively made himself a target for ridicule. Simon and Miquita on Popworld absolutely roasted him at every opportunity thereafter as I recall.

    He ultimately lost direction musically trying to ‘rebel’ against all that had got him to this point, hence his career on Polydor ended on a disappointing second album, one barely remembered top 5, a modest performing top 20 follow-up, and a third single that failed to make the top 40, and why his sister – who we meet one Popular year hence – is better remembered, although as we’ll discuss she wasn’t exactly good at keeping momentum or direction either. It must run in the family. 1 for this.

    One song that I remember better from this time – it was top 3 for much of that summer – was ‘No Letting Go’ from reggae singer Wayne Wonder. One of three singles that utilised the ‘Diwali riddim’ drum loop also popularised on Sean Paul’s ‘Get Busy’ and a #2 watch on the next bunny, but even now when it comes on in the summer it puts me in a good mood.

  5. 5
    Steve Mannion on 6 Feb 2020 #

    Wayne Wonder certainly would’ve been a great #1, not least because you can segue really well from ‘Crazy In Love’ into it (and indeed the other two thepensmiths refers to). All three Diwali-riddim hits occupying the top 3 at the same time could’ve been the finest chartweek top trio ever.

  6. 6
    AMZ1981 on 7 Feb 2020 #

    Never Gonna Leave Your Side stands as a not so good If You’re Not The One (which of course wasn’t that brilliant in the first place). It’s perhaps worth noting that NGLYS wasn’t on the original pressing of the album but was added as a bonus track on a later pressing. In that context it’s best seen as a stopgap single pending a new album. It’s perhaps a bit unfair to blame Daniel Bedingfield as the author of his own misfortune; after Gotta Get Thru This the record buying public effectively had a choice of three follow up singles they could make a smash hit and they didn’t choose James Dean or I Can’t Read You, both of which were relatively modest hits. If his public wanted wet balladry you can’t blame Daniel Bedingfield and/ or his record company for giving them what they wanted. The fact that the same public very quickly turned their backs on him makes the undeserved success of NGLYS a cruel twist.

    It is also worth noting that if the second album saw his star fade slightly it was a serious car accident and the subsequent recovery that preventing him ever coming out swinging with album number three.

  7. 7
    Lee Saunders on 7 Feb 2020 #

    I’d suggest this was more forgotten than Loneliness. And I can never remember how the damn thing goes until I listen to it, a true beige bore of a single.

    I Can’t Read You I think is a good’un, and nothing about it has aged – the unease that was Daniel’s older style is relaxed because his voice sounds more suited to pop rock of that style, but I think it could be a hit for Ed Sheeran today and make me tip my hat to him for making a song I actually like for once (and then I’d probably get sick of it).

    Similarly this amazingly wasn’t the end of the album campaign. Follow-up single Friday was a return to speedy anxious electropop, but it flopped at #28. Maybe that confirmed to Polydor what the public wanted from Daniel; Daniel’s earlier sleeves tried to make him look street level, but by now his sleeves looked like David Gray, including the re-issued Gotta Get Thru This album from which this was the single (and which had three acoustic renditions at the end).

  8. 8
    Shiny Dave on 7 Feb 2020 #

    Hadn’t realised this wasn’t on the original album pressings; in the 2010s, there’d probably have been an extended re-issue with multiple new tracks, and presumably this would have been the lead-off “new single” to kick off the marketing for that.

    The weird embrace-then-rejection cycle for Daniel Balladfield (and his own apparent inner chaos as it played out) certainly wrecked his reputation, but there were worse things record labels did in this era, including and especially Polydor themselves (Amy Studt’s career-tanking cover of “All I Wanna Do” instead of properly selling her as a British Avril Lavigne who got there first!) – and I don’t know how much Bedingfield as songwriter deserves blame either. Well, apart from the Next Bedingfield Ballad being quite this insipid; normally I’m the one here that goes to bat for this kind of dreary balladry, but even that’s not happening here, Tom’s 3 is right. (And it’s that high because it’s got basic competence multiple levels above “Stop Living The Lie” or “Forever Love.”)

    As mentioned, this topped the charts during a heatwave, but it actually hadn’t peaked yet; that came in this song’s third week, the second on top for the next bunny, building up to the first ever 100F day in British history on Sunday 10 August. I spent that week with my brother on a then-frequent summer holiday trip to Fareham, just far enough inland to be lacking in sea-breeze relief, with my aunt who was dead keen on getting everyone outside… and another relative who was as resistant as I was. Vivid memories of checking an early (?) incarnation of Weather Underground to see if anywhere was threatening an all-time record; the day it actually fell, we were heading back home to Weymouth, our journey slowed up by speed restrictions. So the real “sound of the heatwave” is the next bunny, although if you’re looking for “appropriate soundtrack to the summer” then the diametrically-opposed summer of 2007 is the place to look. More on that when we get there…

  9. 9
    Lee Saunders on 8 Feb 2020 #

    Weymouth is a place I’ll forever associate with summer 2003!, no matter how many times I’ve been.

  10. 10
    PapaT on 8 Feb 2020 #

    I hated everything about DB back in 2003, but a friend bought me both of his albums (no doubt as a result of their very common charity shop sightings) as a joke present a few Christmases ago, and to my surprise I found myself liking both albums mainly unironically. The moral here is…something.

    I don’t really remember the heatwave that summer, sadly. Think I may have been visiting relatives in Belgium at its peak.

  11. 11
    Smilin' Peter on 8 Feb 2020 #

    Funny, I paid attention to the charts in 2003. And I have absolutely no memory of this song.

    Perhaps I should make the effort to find it YouTube before chiming on here. But the feedback here suggests that won’t even be worth the few flicks of the thumb that it would take!

  12. 12
    Edwin on 29 Mar 2020 #

    I always fascinated by Daniel Bedingfield rise to fame, he didn’t have big name backing his back, he’s not that good looking, but somehow Daniel manage to debut at no 1 with his song that he wrote himself”Gotta get thru this” and after that he had another 2 songs debut at 1, for me his journey become the underdog success story.

    “Never gonna leave your side” was a good song, but it was never his style, Daniel never wanted to become just another ballandeer but sadly that was general listener wanted from him, His try to break for that image in His second album to become more mature pop singer but sadly failed. After that he’s never really trying for big comeback.. such a loss, maybe his car accident truly change his way of thinking to become more laid back and enjoying his life.

  13. 13
    Gareth Parker on 12 May 2021 #

    I think Tom’s 3/10 is about right here. Fairly bland stuff from DB sadly.

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