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"
ReleasedJanuary 1986
  • Michael Ward
  • Rob Clarke
Producer(s)Don Was
Floy Joy singles chronology
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
"Friday Night in This Cold City"

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty" is a song written by Michael Ward and Rob Clarke, and originally recorded by their band, Floy Joy. It was released in 1986 as the lead single from their album of the same name. In 1987, English singer Alison Moyet released a version of the song which was a hit across Europe and Australasia.

Floy Joy version[edit]

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty" marked a new beginning for Floy Joy as the band had undergone line-up changes since the release of their 1984 debut album Into the Hot. Both lead vocalist Carroll Thompson and founding member Shaun Ward left the group in 1985. Michael Ward decided to continue as Floy Joy, with the band's percussionist and backing vocalist Desy Campbell becoming the lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Rob Clarke joining the group.[1]

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty" was released in January 1986 as the lead single from their upcoming album of the same name. The song reached No. 85 in the UK Singles Chart,[2] but was a bigger success in Australia, reaching No. 29 on the Kent Music Report chart.[3] In Canada, it reached No. 68 on the RPM 100 Singles chart and No. 14 on the RPM Adult Contemporary chart.[4][5]

Speaking to The Face in 1986, Michael Ward revealed the song's title was inspired by a conversation he had with a girl. He said, "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."[6] 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."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

On its release, Billboard wrote, "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."[8] Anna Martin of Number One commented, "The reslease of 'Weak in the Presence of Beauty' sees Floy Joy adopting a slightly more melodious sound. Less thrash and more dash. One to watch."[9]

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


Chart (1986) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[3] 29
Canada RPM Adult Contemporary[5] 14
Canada RPM 100 Singles[4] 68
UK Singles Chart[10] 85

Alison Moyet version[edit]

"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
Single by Alison Moyet
from the album Raindancing
B-side"To Work on You"
ReleasedFebruary 1987
LabelCBS, Columbia
  • Michael Ward
  • Rob Clarke
Producer(s)Jimmy Iovine
Alison Moyet singles chronology
"Is This Love?"
"Weak in the Presence of Beauty"
"Ordinary Girl"

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.


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.[11] It was released as the second single from Raindancing in February 1987,[12] and was also the second and final single from the album in the States, where it was released in August that year.[13]

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."[14]

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!"[15] 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!"[16]


A music video was filmed to promote the single. It was directed by Pete Cornish and produced by Front Row Films.[17]

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."[18] 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!"[19] Bobby Lynch of The Kerryman wrote: "A cover of the brilliant Floy Joy song which should have been a hit for them. Not an obvious single for Moyet to record but the production is pleasant and its different."[20]

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."[21] 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."[22]

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"."[23] 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."[24] 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"."[25] 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."[26]

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
Australian Singles Chart[3] 30
Belgian Singles Chart 16
Dutch Singles Chart[27] 25
French Singles Chart 9
German Singles Chart[28] 18
Irish Singles Chart[29] 4
Italian Singles Chart[30] 33
New Zealand Singles Chart[31] 7
Norwegian Singles Chart[32] 4
Swiss Singles Chart[33] 23
UK Singles Chart[34] 6

Other versions[edit]

The American band Eddie & the Tide released a version on their 1987 album Looking for Adventure.[35]


  1. ^ White, Chris (25 January 1986). "Talent: Bringing new tidings of joy" (PDF). Music Week. p. 8. Retrieved 10 June 2021 – via World Radio History.
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference Official Charts was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ a b c Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 978-0-646-11917-5.
  4. ^ a b "RPM 100 Singles". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  5. ^ a b "RPM Adult Contemporary". Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Floy Joy, The Face Interview | Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter". Desi Campbell. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  7. ^ "The Times-Malta - Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter | Desi Campbell Singer, Songwriter". Desicampbell.com. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  8. ^ Billboard - Google Books. Nielsen Business Media. 18 January 1986. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  9. ^ Martin, Anna (18 January 1986). "Singles". Number One. No. 135. p. 36.
  10. ^ "FLOY JOY - full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  11. ^ Raindancing – 2016 deluxe edition CD booklet liner notes
  12. ^ "Alison Moyet - Weak In The Presence Of Beauty / To Work On You - CBS - UK - MOYET 2". 45cat. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Alison Moyet - Weak In The Presence Of Beauty / To Work On You - Columbia - USA - 38 07365". 45cat. 30 November 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Alison Moyet - Voice interview". YouTube. 10 June 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  15. ^ "Features | A Quietus Interview | Changeling: Alison Moyet Interviewed". The Quietus. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  16. ^ "ALISON MOYET Interview". The Electricity Club. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  17. ^ Billboard magazine - Video music: new videoclips - August 29, 1987 - page 74
  18. ^ Simper, Paul (7 March 1987). "Single reviews". Number One Magazine.
  19. ^ Clark, Pete (25 February – 10 March 1987). "Single reviews". Smash Hits.
  20. ^ Lynch, Bobby (20 March 1987). "Single preview". The Kerryman.
  21. ^ http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/80s/1987/Billboard-1987-08-22.pdf
  22. ^ Cash Box newspaper - 15 August 1987 - Reviews: Singles - page 9
  23. ^ Media, Spin L. L. C. (July 1987). "SPIN - Google Books". Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  24. ^ "Musician - Google Books". 15 January 2010. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  25. ^ "Album review | Alison Moyet: 'Alf', 'Raindancing', 'Hoodoo' & 'Essex' Deluxe Editions | Attitude Magazine". Attitude.co.uk. 25 November 2016. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  26. ^ Classic Pop - Alison Moyet by Paul Lester - November 2015 - page 45
  27. ^ Steffen Hung. "Dutch charts portal". dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  28. ^ "Die ganze Musik im Internet: Charts, News". musicline.de. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  29. ^ Jaclyn Ward - Fireball Media Ltd. "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  30. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: M". Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  31. ^ Steffen Hung. "New Zealand charts portal". charts.nz. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  32. ^ Steffen Hung (15 June 2006). "Norwegian charts portal". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  33. ^ Steffen Hung. "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". swisscharts.com. Retrieved 8 January 2012.
  34. ^ "ALISON MOYET | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  35. ^ "Looking For Adventure". Eddie and The Tide. Retrieved 8 January 2012.

External links[edit]