Weak in the Presence of Beauty (song)

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"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
FloyJoyWeak in the Presence of Beautysingle.jpeg
Single by Floy Joy
from the album Weak in the Presence of Beauty
B-side "You and Me"
Released June 1986
Format 7" single, 12" single
Length 3:24
Label Virgin
Songwriter(s) Michael Ward, Rob Clarke
Producer(s) Don Was
Floy Joy singles chronology
"Operator"
(1985)
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
(1986)
"Friday Night in This Cold City"
(1986)

"Operator"
(1985)
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
(1986)
"Friday Night in This Cold City"
(1986)

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty" is a song written by Michael Ward and Rob Clarke. It was first released by their band, the British group Floy Joy, in 1986. The song was later covered by singer Alison Moyet in 1987 and became a hit for her.

Floy Joy version[edit]

Following their 1984 debut album Into the Hot, Floy Joy's lead vocalist Carroll Thompson left the group, along with Shaun Ward. However, Michael Ward decided to continue the group with the new lead vocalist Desi Campbell and keyboardist/bassist Rob Clarke. Together the trio released one album in 1986, titled Weak in the Presence of Beauty, named after the title track which was the album's lead single. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" reached No. 85 in the UK,[1] and was a bigger success in Australia, where it peaked at No. 29. In Canada, it reached No. 68 on the RPM Singles Chart and No. 14 on the RPM Adult Contemporary Chart.[2]

In a 1986 interview with The Face, co-writer Michael Ward revealed the inspiration behind the song's title, which originally came to Ward during a conversation: "This girl was saying that she didn't trust me and I said, just off the cuff, "what can I do, I'm weak in the presence of beauty". I still don't know where it came from."[3] In a later interview with The Times, Campbell was asked if he felt cheated that the song was a hit for Moyet, but not for Floy Joy. He said: "On the contrary, my association with that song has and continues to open many doors for me and I'm very proud to have been part of a little piece of pop history."[4]

Track listing[edit]

7" single
  1. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" – 3:24
  2. "You And Me" – 3:07
12" single
  1. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" (Extended Version) – 5:12
  2. "You And Me" – 3:07

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, Billboard said in a review of the song: "Floy Joy, much praised but barely charted (like Working Week), sound like they have the key to both the U.S. and U.K. charts with "Weak in the Presence of Beauty", a Don Was production that's sort of Shannon-meets-"Every Breath You Take". Addictive."[5]

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1986) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[6] 29
Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart[2] 14
Canadian Singles Chart[2] 68
UK Singles Chart[7] 85

Alison Moyet version[edit]

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
Alisonmoyetweakinthepresenceofbeautysingle.jpeg
Single by Alison Moyet
from the album Raindancing
B-side "To Work on You"
Released February 1987
Format 7" single, 12" single
Recorded 1986
Length 3:37
Label CBS, Columbia
Songwriter(s) Michael Ward; Rob Clarke
Producer(s) Jimmy Iovine
Alison Moyet singles chronology
"Is This Love?"
(1986)
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
(1987)
"Ordinary Girl"
(1987)

"Is This Love?"
(1986)
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
(1987)
"Ordinary Girl"
(1987)

In 1987, "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" was released by English singer Alison Moyet as the second single from her second studio album Raindancing. Her version became a hit in the UK and throughout Europe.

Background[edit]

Following the release of her successful debut album Alf, Moyet decided to move to Los Angeles where she remained for almost a year. Once settled, Moyet's manager hired Jimmy Iovine to produce her second studio album. Aware of Floy Joy's "Weak in the Presence of Beauty", Moyet chose to record the song for the album.[8] It was released as the second single from Raindancing in February 1987,[9] and was also the second and final single from the album in the States, where it was released in August that year.[10]

Moyet later revealed in 2004 that she only recorded the song as she knew it would be a hit single. Appearing on the This Morning show, Phillip Schofield asked Moyet why she disliked the song, to which she replied: "Oh, because I know how cynical I was being when I recorded it. I recorded it 'cause I knew it was a hit rather than the fact that I loved it, and that will teach me, you know? You have a massive hit with something you're not particularly fond of, and it's not a good feeling."[11]

Later speaking to The Quietus in 2013, Moyet elaborated: "What I must say is that it's sometimes very easy to sit there and rescind responsibility, but sometimes I couldn't be arsed. That's the truth of it. We can all make the right choices, but sometimes we're just too lazy to. And sometimes I was just too lazy to do it myself. "Love Letters" and "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" – neither song I enjoy now – they're both my fault. I found them. That was when I was feeling smart, thinking that I knew what a hit was - I don't know what's a fucking hit! But they were hits, and now I'm forever to fucking sing them years later!"[12] Speaking of both songs again in an interview with The Electricity Club, Moyet said: ""Love Letters" was me shooting myself in the foot! That was me being a show-off! That was me showing I had an A&R thing... "oh, I know what a hit is"! I did that twice, I did it with that and with "Weak in the Presence of Beauty"! Two times that I recorded songs knowing they were hits as opposed to the fact I loved them! I say that honestly, that's the only time I've ever recorded anything cynically!"[13]

Promotion[edit]

A music video was filmed to promote the single. It was directed by Pete Cornish and produced by Front Row Films.[14]

Critical reception[edit]

Upon release, Paul Simper of Number One said: "Not an obvious single with its pleasant production and leisurely chorus but at least Alison Moyet's voice is blossoming in a discreetly unexpected way. A million miles from that Erasure buffoon but just one short stop to Carly Simon."[15] Pete Clarke of Smash Hits commented: "Alison Moyet is, of course, the proud owner of a superb voice that can break down doors at a range of 30 feet. Unfortunately, somebody's forgotten to give her a decent song this time around and there's nothing quite as sad as a voice in search of a tune. Blub!"[16] American magazine Billboard said: "Yet another potential hit from one of the U.K.'s most acclaimed vocalists; track's loping melody and feel shouldn't be overlooked."[17] Cash Box wrote: "U.K. sensation and stateside rising star Moyet turns in a powerhouse performance on this, the second single from the recent Raindancing LP."[18]

In a review of Raindancing, Spin stated: "There's a tangible effort to push Moyet into the 'til tuesday camp of semisweet pop, especially on "Weak in the Presence of Beauty"."[19] Musician wrote: "...Moyet's interpretive gifts have grown, and Jimmy Iovine's understated production takes pains not to get in the way. Which is why the likes of "Sleep Like Breathing" or "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" hold such lasting allure."[20] Josh Lee of Attitude retrospectively commented: "Big choruses that demand to be sung along to don't come more insistent than "Is This Love?" and "Weak in the Presence of Beauty"."[21] In a 2015 retrospective on Moyet's career, Classic Pop included the song as one of twenty favourites as chosen by the magazine. They commented: "She disowned it; we loved it."[22]

Track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" - 3:37
  2. "To Work on You" - 4:13
12" single #1
  1. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" (Extended Remix) – 6:04
  2. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" (Single Version) - 3:37
  3. "To Work on You" - 4:13
12" single #2
  1. "Weak in the Presence of Beauty" (Extended Remix) – 6:04
  2. "To Work on You" - 4:13
  3. "Take My Imagination To Bed" - 3:41

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1987) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[6] 30
Belgian Singles Chart 16
Dutch Singles Chart[23] 25
French Singles Chart 9
German Singles Chart[24] 18
Irish Singles Chart[25] 4
Italian Singles Chart[26] 33
New Zealand Singles Chart[27] 7
Norwegian Singles Chart[28] 4
Swiss Singles Chart[29] 23
UK Singles Chart[30] 6

Other versions[edit]

The American band Eddie & the Tide released a version on their 1987 album Looking For Adventure.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "FLOY JOY | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  2. ^ a b c "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Floy Joy, The Face Interview | Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter". Desi Campbell. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  4. ^ "The Times-Malta - Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter | Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter". Desicampbell.com. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  5. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. 18 January 1986. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "Official Charts Company : Search Results : WEAK IN THE PRESENCE OF BEAUTY". Theofficialcharts.com. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  8. ^ Raindancing – 2016 deluxe edition CD booklet liner notes
  9. ^ "Alison Moyet - Weak In The Presence Of Beauty / To Work On You - CBS - UK - MOYET 2". 45cat. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  10. ^ "Alison Moyet - Weak In The Presence Of Beauty / To Work On You - Columbia - USA - 38 07365". 45cat. 2013-11-30. Retrieved 2017-11-03.
  11. ^ "Alison Moyet - Voice interview". YouTube. 10 June 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  12. ^ "Features | A Quietus Interview | Changeling: Alison Moyet Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  13. ^ "ALISON MOYET Interview". The Electricity Club. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  14. ^ Billboard magazine - Video music: new videoclips - August 29, 1987 - page 74
  15. ^ Simper, Paul (7 March 1987). "Single reviews". Number One magazine.
  16. ^ Clark, Pete (25 February – 10 March 1987). "Single reviews". Smash Hits.
  17. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/80s/1987/Billboard-1987-08-22.pdf
  18. ^ Cash Box newspaper - 15 August 1987 - Reviews: Singles - page 9
  19. ^ "SPIN - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  20. ^ "Musician - Google Books". Books.google.co.uk. 2010-01-15. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  21. ^ "Album review | Alison Moyet: 'Alf', 'Raindancing', 'Hoodoo' & 'Essex' Deluxe Editions | Attitude Magazine". Attitude.co.uk. 2016-11-25. Retrieved 2017-11-12.
  22. ^ Classic Pop - Alison Moyet by Paul Lester - November 2015 - page 45
  23. ^ Steffen Hung. "Dutch charts portal". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  24. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News". musicline.de. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  25. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Ltd (1 October 1962). "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  26. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: M". Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  27. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal". charts.org.nz. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  28. ^ Steffen Hung (15 June 2006). "Norwegian charts portal". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  29. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  30. ^ "ALISON MOYET | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  31. ^ "Looking For Adventure". Eddie and The Tide. Retrieved 8 January 2012.

External links[edit]