We’re fresh from a recap – a recap that I dubbed the ‘Stock Aitken Waterman Recap’ due to their domination of the past few months’ chart-toppers – and as we crack on with the next thirty those synthesised drumbeats can only mean one thing…
You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You, by Sonia (her 1st and only #1)
2 weeks, from 16th – 30th July 1989
Yes, they’re not done yet! The production team get their sixth (!) #1 of the year, while it’s only July. And while the Euro-disco beat and the tinny synths are by this point very familiar, I do sense that this is a step up from their previous #1s with Kylie and Jason, which were starting to feel phoned-in.
It’s got a cooler, dancier production to it, not the relentless, in-your-face cheese of ‘I Should Be So Lucky’ (though the verses do bear a resemblance), or ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Swap Sonia’s girl-next-door charms for a proper dance diva and this mightn’t have sounded out of place at the Hacienda. Listen to the eight minute extended mix, where there are long stretches in which the beat is left to do its thing and it starts to sound dangerously like a proper dance record.
‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’ also has a great hook in the chorus: It doesn’t really matter what you put me through, You’ll never stop, Me from loving you… with a brilliant key-change tease on the ‘never stop’. It reminds me of the records SAW did with Donna Summer; though Sonia’s voice, as fine as it is, can’t quite compete with the Queen of Disco.
The only thing I can’t quite get behind is the caterwauling ‘solo’, in which the vocals are looped into something of a grating mess. Still, if the sign of a good pop song is that you’re singing along before the first play has finished then this is officially a good pop song (because I was). It was Sonia Evans’ debut single, reaching #1 when she was just eighteen. Between 1989 and 1993 she’d have eleven Top 30 hits, and even represent the UK at Eurovision, though none of her subsequent singles rose higher than #10.
And just like that, we reach the end of SAW’s golden age. They’re still on production duties for two upcoming #1s, but ‘You’ll Never Stop Me Loving You’ was the last chart-topper that they would write. They may well be a bye-word for late-eighties cheese but, while I have found some of their stuff slightly repetitive, their short burst of complete chart domination has been impressive. And when you see the act that’s about to dominate the second half of 1989, Stock Aitken and Waterman might not be such a terrible thing after all…