Wonderful Life (Black song)

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"Wonderful Life"
Wonderful life (cover).jpg
Single by Black
from the album Wonderful Life
B-side"Life Calls"
Released1986 (1st release)
1987 (2nd release)
RecordedPowerplant Studios, London, December 1985
LabelUgly Man (1986)
A&M (1987)
Songwriter(s)Colin Vearncombe
Producer(s)Dave Dix
Black singles chronology
"More Than the Sun"
"Wonderful Life"
"Everything's Coming Up Roses"

Sweetest Smile

"Wonderful Life"
(second release)


I'm Not Afraid

"Wonderful Life" is a song by the English singer Black from his 1986 album of the same name. It was released twice as a single and was successful the second time, becoming a top ten hit in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK. Black, who wrote the song while broke, commented: "I was really being ironic... Most people took it at face value."[1]

Single release[edit]

First released in 1986 by Ugly Man Records, it initially peaked at no. 72 on the UK Singles Chart.[2] The label and Colin aka Black then decided to re-release the song with a new record company, A&M Records after the success of "Sweetest Smile". The single then reached a higher peak of no. 8 on the UK Singles Chart in August 1987.[3]


The song was described by AllMusic as a "seductive, bittersweet ballad".[4] The Daily Telegraph said, "Its oddly uplifting lyrics... combined with Black's melancholy croon created, as one critic observed, 'luxuriantly melodic pop that sounds something like a male version of Sade'."[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video was shot in black and white around the English seaside resort of Southport, Merseyside, as well as Wallasey near Black's hometown of Liverpool, and features New Brighton Lighthouse and promenade. The video includes the Looping Star rollercoaster, a ride at Pleasureland at the time, as well as The Galleon fairground ride, the shrimping boat, local shops and residents.[6] It was directed by Gerard De Thame, husband of television presenter Rachel De Thame, and won an award at the New York Film Festival in 1988.[7]

Formats and track listings[edit]

7" single
  1. "Wonderful Life" – 4:49
  2. "Life Calls" – 3:51
12" maxi single
  1. "Wonderful Life" – 4:49
  2. "Life Calls" – 3:51
  3. "Had Enough" – 4:58
  4. "All We Need Is the Money" – 4:23

Charts and certifications[edit]

Mathilde Santing version[edit]

"Wonderful Life"
Wonderful Life (Cover) santing.jpg
Single by Mathilde Santing
from the album To Others to One
Released5 March 1999
FormatCD single
Songwriter(s)Colin Vearncombe
Producer(s)John Tilly
Mathilde Santing singles chronology
"Wonderful Life"
"Come to Me"

Dutch singer Mathilde Santing recorded her own cover version of "Wonderful Life" on her 1999 album To Others to One. It was released as a maxi single and was used in a television advertisement for Interpolis, a Dutch insurance company, in 2005.[29] In addition to the album To Others to One, it is also on the albums 20 jaar hits 1981–2001 (Muziek 20 Daagse 2001) and 100 Love Songs [2008].

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1999) Peak
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[30] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[31] 5

Tina Cousins version[edit]

"Wonderful Life"
Single by Tina Cousins
from the album Mastermind
Released26 July 2005
Songwriter(s)Colin Vearncombe
Producer(s)Louie Nicastro
Tina Cousins singles chronology
"Wonderful Life"
"Come to Me"

British singer Tina Cousins recorded a cover version of the song for her second studio album Mastermind (2005). This version had moderate success, peaking at number 17 on the Australian and Finnish Singles Charts and at number 58 on the UK Singles Chart. In 2005, a dance and a ballad of this cover version were used in the Australian miniseries "The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant" on Channel 10. Since 2007, both the dance and ballad versions of Cousins' cover of the song have been used at the Hoyts cinemas in Australia directly prior to the start of a movie. Now only the ballad version is used.[citation needed] In 2008 the song was featured in a United Nations television advert raising awareness of human trafficking.[citation needed]

Chart performance[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[32] 17
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[33] 17
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[34] 32
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[35] 58
UK Dance (Official Charts Company)[36] 30

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2005) Position
Australia Dance (ARIA)[37] 15

Other cover versions[edit]

Macedonian alternative rock band Arhangel recorded a version of the song for their 1993 album Arhangel 2. Serbian punk rock band KBO! recorded a version of the song on their 2001 cover album (Ne) Menjajte Stanicu ((Do Not) Change the Station). Spanish singer Rosa López recorded a Spanish cover of the song entitled "Bella Vida" on her 2008 album Promesas. It was also released as the second single from the album. In 2009, German techno group Scooter sampled the song on their single "The Sound Above My Hair". In 2011, Kim Wilde covered the song in the album Snapshots. The same year, the song featured on the Christmas album Funny Looking Angels by Smith & Burrows, a collaboration between Tom Smith (Editors) and Andy Burrows (We Are Scientists and ex-Razorlight).[38] Slow Moving Millie covered the song on her album Renditions.

Various other cover versions have been produced, by artists including Seeed, TJ Davis, Tony Hadley, Giuliano Palma & the Bluebeaters, Ace of Base, Lara Fabian (2004 A Wonderful Life album), Myslovitz, Zucchero, Csézy, The Hoosiers, Julio Iglesias, Jr., Perturbazione, Rob de Nijs, Kirka, Saule, Perry Rose, Kate Ryan, and Stefan Gruenwald, Lokee & Pearl Andersson in 2016, after Colin's death.

A version by Katie Melua was originally included on the BBC Radio 2's Sounds of the 80s compilation album, and was subsequently released as a single in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital and The Children's Hospital Charity.[39]

Use in the media[edit]


  1. ^ Leigh, Spencer (28 January 2016). "Colin Vearncombe: Singer known as Black whose 1987 song Wonderful Life was a hit around the world". The Independent. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  4. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Black – Artist Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  5. ^ "Colin Vearncombe, singer-songwriter – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 27 January 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  6. ^ Brown, Andrew (10 July 2015). "How many Southport landmarks can you see in 1987 hit Wonderful Life by Black?". Southport Visiter. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Gerard de Thame Films". Gerarddethame.com. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Top 50 Australian Singles Chart – Week ending 5th June, 1988". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  9. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Black – Wonderful Life" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Ultratop.be – Black – Wonderful Life" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Lescharts.com – Black – Wonderful Life" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  12. ^ a b "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Wonderful Life". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
  13. ^ a b "I singoli più venduti del 1988" (in Italian). Hit Parade Italia. Creative Commons. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Black - Wonderful Life" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Black – Wonderful Life" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  16. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  17. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Black – Wonderful Life". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Black – Wonderful Life". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  19. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  20. ^ "Tedenska lestvica" (in Slovenian). SloTop50. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1987" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  22. ^ "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1987" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  23. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1987" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  24. ^ "Jahreshitparade 1988" (in German). Austriancharts.at. Hung Medien. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  25. ^ "TOP – 1988" (in French). Top-france.fr. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  26. ^ "Les Singles en Or" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  27. ^ "French single certifications – Black – Wonderful Life" (in French). InfoDisc. Select BLACK and click OK. 
  28. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Black; 'Wonderful Life')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  29. ^ "Mathilde Santing Officiële Gambling". Mathildesanting.info. Retrieved 7 October 2008.
  30. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Matilde Santing And The Oversoul 13 - Wonderful Life" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Matilde Santing & The Oversoul 13 – Wonderful Life" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  32. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Tina Cousins – Wonderful Life". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  33. ^ "Tina Cousins: Wonderful Life" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  34. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  36. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  37. ^ "ARIA Charts – End of Year Charts – Dance Singles 2005". ARIA. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  38. ^ "Smith & Burrows". Archived from the original on 3 December 2011.. Smithandburrows.co.uk.
  39. ^ nero (3 September 2015). "Katie Melua – Wonderful Life Single". Colinvearncombe.com. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  40. ^ "Fleury Michon + Black" (in French). Musiquedepub.tv. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  41. ^ Emirates Wonderful Life Dubai on YouTube
  42. ^ Swift, James (1 September 2015). "Katie Melua covers 'Wonderful Life' for Premier Inn campaign". Campaign. Retrieved 14 April 2017.

External links[edit]