Colors – Never Mind
The thing about pop is that there’s just so ruddy much of it, isn’t there? That makes it very hard to keep track of – just monitoring the UK, America and Sweden is a full time job in itself. But as I’m constantly finding out, pop flourishes pretty much everywhere, and I’ve missed out on a lot of brilliant stuff from other countries. Italy is a prime example.
I’ve always tended to associate Italian pop with slightly hysterical outpourings of angst and/or joy, possibly due to my early exposure to Raffaella Carrà, imploring me to “do it do it again, do it do it again with love” (I always wondered “do what?”, but then I was only five). And then later there was Spagna, who seemed to share a hairdresser with Nick Beggs from out of Kajagoogoo and who desperately wanted you to call her. Even later, I found out that both Dusty Springfield and Laura Branigan had Italian pop to thank for their biggest hits (You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me and Gloria, respectively). None of these records are what you’d call subtle, are they?
After this week I’ve had to rethink everything I thought I knew about Italian pop. Whilst enjoying one of those YouTube ambles that takes you to all sorts of strange and unspeakable musical places, I came across Never Mind by Colors.
Now, I’ve had to do a lot of digging to find out anything at all about this group. The sum total of my research has revealed only that they were Italian, had an output that existed of just a few singles on the fabulously named Discomagic Records between 1985 and 1986, and that their lead singer was called Mauro Santoro. They don’t appear to have charted even in their home country – possibly because they sang in English, which I imagine was quite unusual. All I can say about the matter is that it’s a giant shame that neither a record company boss or John Hughes were holidaying on the Amalfi coast in the summer of 1985, because they’d have snapped this number up immediately had they heard it. Never Mind is a glorious, tender and utterly brilliant sort of new-wave meets brat pack movie meets Every Breath You Take meets Take Me With U thing of wonder. It has so many of the ingredients that I love in a pop song – impossibly sad jangly guitar, rippling synths, a piano melody worthy of the West End, a terrific key change, a slightly indulgent saxophone solo and of course, a female vocal. It does take an awfully long time to get going, but the reward for that minute long intro is a fabulous dj-pausing-the-record moment which leads directly into the vocal. Goosebump-y.
Another bonus with Never Mind is the fact that the lyrics are a bad translation job: “Tonight…it’s hard to stay on my own / I feel like taking a wall”. I’ve listened and listened but try as I hard to hear “walk” it’s definitely wall. Does it matter? Absolutely not. One of the great strengths of pop where the writer’s first language isn’t English is that words just end up going where they fit (“they say to me I can’t get my blood in veins”). Sometimes it’s rather nice not to wonder about the meaning and just revel in the tune. But then of course when a startlingly good and truthful line like “never mind her, we’ll sweep the night away” comes along it’s all the more effective – if you ask me, anyway.
Of course the best thing about all this is that you can take all these disparate elements from 1985 and somehow end up with a record that’s basically a really good Empire of the Sun tune from 2008 – and while it’s more like Half Mast than anything else, it’s thrilling to note the phrase “walk in a dream” in there as well.
It’s always a good sign when I hear a record if I immediately start to visualise Molly Ringwald writing in her diary while gazing out her bedroom window at all the popular kids having fun without her, and that’s just what happened here. Never Mind would sit so perfectly on the soundtracks of Pretty in Pink or The Breakfast Club that it’s tempting to wish for a remake or two just so it could finally get its moment in the sun.
Entered chart: was not released
Who could sing this today and have a hit? There is only one woman for the job and that woman is Ladyhawke.