Never Ever (All Saints song)
|Single by All Saints|
|from the album All Saints|
|Released||10 November 1997|
|Studio||Metropolis (London, England)|
|All Saints UK singles chronology|
|All Saints Japan singles chronology|
"Never Ever" is a song by English-Canadian girl group All Saints. Written by All Saints member Shaznay Lewis along with co-writers Robert Jazayeri and Sean Mather and produced by Cameron McVey and Magnus Fiennes, it was released on 10 November 1997 as the second single from their debut album, All Saints (1997). The song later appeared on their compilations All Hits (2001) and Pure Shores: The Very Best of All Saints (2010). Lyrically, the song talks about the girls' feelings about their first expressions after a sudden break-up, where the girls' query what they did wrong in the relationship.
"Never Ever" is All Saints' highest-charting single to date, peaking at the top of the charts in countries including Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, while it peaked in the top 10 in countries including Ireland, Sweden, Canada, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Norway, Austria and the United States. As of June 2019, it is the third best selling single by a girl group of all time in the United Kingdom, only behind "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls and "Shout Out to My Ex" by Little Mix.
Two music videos were shot for the single: the European and Australian version, and an American version, due to the mass success in those countries. The North American featured the group in a church, while the European/Australian version featured the group near a swimming pool and in their homes. At the 1998 Brit Awards, "Never Ever" won British Single of the Year and British Video of the Year.
After the success of their debut single "I Know Where It's At", the group decided to record and produce their debut full-length studio album. "Never Ever" was released as the second single from their first album All Saints. The song was written by All Saints member Shaznay Lewis along with co-writers Robert Jazayeri and S. Mather, and was produced by Cameron McVey and Magnus Fiennes. Lewis wrote the song after splitting up with a boyfriend, but the music conveyed the impression that all would be well. Soon after they signed their first major label deal with London Records, she discovered that the rest of the group—Melanie Blatt and Canadian sisters Nicole and Natalie Appleton—had presented the label head with a tape of vocal recordings they had made without her. It was their version of Lewis's own song "Never Ever" that made him pay attention to the music. "He asked who had written it, so then they were forced to come back and get me. Looking back on it, that was pretty low. I think that's why the whole time I knew that if I didn't write I'd be out on my ear", Lewis commented.
All Saints flew to the United States, where the song was recorded and produced by Mather and Jazayeri. Due to control issues, London Records brought in Cameron McVey to do additional production on the track because of time/distance constraints and Cameron's relationship with Lewis. Lewis was in tears over the success of "Never Ever", since it was written about a personal broken relationship, and said, "I never believed that so much good could come out of such a bad situation." All Saints recorded the vocals in Washington, D.C., except for the intro, which was recorded at Battery Studios in London and was kept from the original demo. This was because the mood could not be replicated and everyone agreed to keep the demo vocals.
However, the song's producing and writing caused controversy. Robert Jazayeri, who wrote the song, issued a writ against All Saints, and they were granted 40% of the publishing rights to the track. After he was not satisfied, Jazayeri filed a lawsuit towards the group's record label London Records and All Saints' management, which was settled amicably by the parties.
The song is set in common time at a tempo of 67 beats per minute and uses the melody from the British folk song “Amazing Grace” as its main hook. The lyrics are about the girls' first expressions after a sad break-up, and the girls ask what they did wrong in the relationship.
"Never Ever" received positive reviews from music critics. Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic named the song as a highlight on its album, and said it "lead[s] the way" for All Saints' career. He then reviewed the All Hits record and said the track was a "basic hit", but called it a standout. Billboard placed it at number 47 on their list of 100 Greatest Girl Group Songs of All Time. Daily Record described it as a "cool slice of soulful pop." Paul Martin from The News Letter wrote, "The opening track to the album, Never Ever, has already made an impact on the charts, but those listening to the album version will be in for a bit of a surprise. Unlike the more upbeat chart version, they slow the song down to great effect and allow the lonesome mood of the song to prevail." Nick Butler from Sputnikmusic stated, "'Never Ever' is a fantastic song; quite rightfully, it still gets a fair bit of airplay today, and I still enjoy it whenever it appears on one of those VH1 Power Ballad days or whatever."
"Never Ever" debuted at number three on the UK Singles Chart, before rising to number one for a sole week. The song remains the group's longest single on those charts and stayed in the top 10 for 15 weeks, but charted for 26 weeks. It has sold over 1.6 million units in the UK as of July 2021. It is also the third best selling single by a girl group of all time in the UK, only behind "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls and "Shout Out to My Ex" by Little Mix.
The song debuted at number 30 on the Australian Singles Chart and rose to number one, staying there for seven consecutive weeks and stayed in the charts for 22 weeks. It was successful in the charts and was certified 2× Platinum by Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), with sales of 140,000. The song was successful in New Zealand as well, debuting at number one and staying there for five consecutive weeks. It was the group's only number one single in that country. It stayed in the charts for 13 weeks in total.
The song was very successful in European markets. It debuted at number 10 in the Swedish Singles Chart, peaked at three for one week and stayed in the charts for 20 weeks. It was certified gold in that country. It debuted at number 27 on the French Singles Chart, and peaked at number four for one week. It stayed in the charts for 21 weeks. The song peaked at number four in the Netherlands for three consecutive weeks, and lasted 24 weeks in the chart. The song debuted at number 29 on the Austrian Singles Chart, and peaked at number seven for two consecutive weeks. It lasted for 19 weeks in the charts. The song debuted at number 15 in Norway, and peaked at number six, staying in the charts for 12 weeks. It was not as successful on the Finnish Singles Chart, peaking at number 12 and staying in the charts for two weeks.
"Never Ever" was successful in North America as well. The song debuted at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and peaked at number four on the charts, becoming the group's first top 10 and their highest-peaking single on those charts. The song peaked at number four on the Canadian Singles Chart.
For the United States, the video was re-shot and re-edited in a church. When All Saints – The Video was released, it was decided to release both versions on the video, because the European audience hadn't seen both. In Canada, MuchMusic played both versions.
The song was featured on the Guinness World Records for Top British Singles. A total of 1,263,658 copies of the single were sold in the UK, making it All Saints' biggest hit; 770,000 copies were sold before it reached number one; this is more than any single ever before in the UK chart history. At the 1998 Brit Awards, All Saints won two Brit Awards for this single: Best British Single and Best British Video, beating strong competition from the likes of "Bitter Sweet Symphony" by The Verve, "Song 2" by Blur, "Paranoid Android" by Radiohead and "Something About the Way/Candle in the Wind 1997" by Elton John.
The melody of the song is based upon an overlay of the hymn tune "New Britain", the most common setting for "Amazing Grace", which according to Ger Tillekens is the reason it became so successful. Although the lyrics and music are very different, "Never Ever" is based on a familiar and popular song.
Formats and track listings
CD 1/Australian CD
- "Never Ever" – 5:15
- "Never Ever" (Nice Hat Mix) – 5:13
- "I Remember" – 4:08
UK CD 2
- "Never Ever" – 5:15
- "Never Ever" (Booker T's Vocal Mix) – 6:19
- "Never Ever" (Booker T's Down South Dub) – 6:28
- "Never Ever" (Booker T's Up North Dub) – 5:55
UK cassette/Two track
- "Never Ever" – 5:15
- "I Remember" – 4:08
- "Never Ever" (All Star Remix) – 3:59
- "Never Ever" (Booker T's Vocal Mix) – 6:19
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||5,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Gold||25,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,600,000|
* Sales figures based on certification alone.
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