Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Robbie Nevil 'C'est La Vie'

Chart Peak: 3
Robbie Nevil is probably the only singer whose middle name is Scott to make the British Top 10 this year. 'Ce'Est La Vie' originally charted at No. 70 on 16th December 1986 and peaked at No. 3 on 27th January 1987. 
I can neither confirm nor deny that claim, my knowledge of pop stars with the middle name Scott being less than extensive. In fact the only other one I can think of is Scott Walker, who certainly didn't have a Top 10 hit in 1987.  I'd misremembered Nevil as being more producer than singer, though with hindsight I must have been mixing him up with the similarly-coiffured Jellybean; in fact he didn't produce this at all, though he went into production after his hitmaking career was over (and indeed appears on Now 42 in this capacity). He did co-write the song, though apparently before he had a record deal in his own right. The song was originally recorded by Texan gospel singer Beau Williams during a secular phase, so Nevil's own version is effectively a cover.

This version ups the tempo a bit and gives it a slightly more mainstream sound, or at least a 1986-7 version of mainstream, and radio lapped it up despite the fact that Nevil is an uncharismatic singer; in fact, the chorus seems to be handled mainly by the backing singers. The most entertaining part is the more ragged backing vocal where it sounds like everybody who passed by the studio was asked to bellow "That's Life!" with no particular concern for tunefulness. It's a rare spontaneous moment in this otherwise by-rote track. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I'd ever heard the phrase "c'est la vie" and I think I may have made up a joke at the time where I deliberately misheard it has "say lavvy"... at least, I hope that was when I thought of it, it'd be a bit sad if I'd come up with that joke as an adult.

Available on: Top of the Pops: 1986

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