Interview about 'She'
Music365, 1999-07-16
- Terry Staunton

 

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Costello Poised For First Number One

ELVIS COSTELLO is being tipped to score the first UK Number One hit of his 22-year career, thanks to his version of the classic ballad, 'She'.

The song was originally a chart-topper for French crooner Charles Aznavour in 1974, but Costello's version accompanies a pivotal moment in the hit Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts movie, Notting Hill.

Grant's last big romantic comedy, Four Weddings And A Funeral, spawned a monster hit for Wet Wet Wet with 'Love Is All Around', which sold in excess of two million copies in 1994. The Costello single is released through Mercury on Monday (July 19).

"Richard Curtis [Notting Hill screenwriter] suggested the song and for me to do it," said Costello, speaking exclusively to Music365 in a West London hotel, near Notting Hill.

"I think it actually came about because test screenings of the film in America showed that people had difficulty understanding the original version of the song, they had problems with Charles Aznavour's diction. I suppose in the States it doesn't have the same romantic, nostalgic association that it has in Britain because it was never a hit over there. Mind you, it's a most unlikely call to have me do it, I'm certainly not everyone's idea of a young romantic crooner, I'm not exactly Harry Connick Jr.

"They're using Aznavour's version for the film in France, which makes sense. I've never had a big market over there, I can't even get a concert booking Paris.

"It was fun for me, because every other love song I've ever sung has had a twist in the tail, but this is more straight down the line. I've worn a black hat all through my career, now I get to wear a white one."

Costello also spoke about his recent appearance as part of the Capital Radio Party In The Park, alongside the likes of Geri Halliwell and Steps.

"That was an absolute gas. People seem to have forgot that I'm in pop music. I've got a lot more to do with pop than I have with rock, always have. I never said I was in rock, never said I was a punk rocker. I went on stage right after Ronan Keating sang his song from the film and it was weird to be confronted by this sea of young female faces - I felt like their Grand-dad! But it got a big cheer at the end because everyone identified with it because of how it's used in the movie. Absolutely nothing to do with my performance."

The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles shows Costello has had 33 hits without reaching Number One, a record that may soon be consigned to history.

"A lot of people think that some of my earlier records were much bigger hits than they actually were. Things like 'Oliver's Army' and 'Good Year For The Roses' were among the biggest, most played records of their respective years, but neither was a Number One. When something's on the radio constantly people assume that it went all the way to the top. Whether or not 'She' will be the one that breaks that, I don't know. I somehow doubt it, but we'll have to wait and see. Ronan has his Notting Hill record coming out a week later, so we've got a seven-day window to see what we can do."

If it does reach the top slot it will have been a long wait for Costello - it's nearly 18 years since he was even in the UK Top Ten, with 'Good Year For The Roses' .

"I've never really paid that much attention to chart placings and what have you, I've never really measured any of my songs that way. Funnily, yesterday I went to Top Of The Pops to pre-record a slot, and the bill consisted of Madness, the Pet Shop Boys, Culture Club and me. So I was flying the flag for the '70s, and everyone else was an '80s act. They managed to shoehorn Blur and Beverley Knight in so that there was still something for the modern world. Oh, and Puffy plus his entourage of 900."

- Terry Staunton