Louise – All That Matters

Released: 23rd March 1998

Writers: Jeff Franzel / Nina Ossoff / Terry Silverlight

Peak position: #11

Chart run: 11-17-32-39-58-X-X-X-X-X-X-73

With her second album Woman In Me, Louise had established a bit of a niche in the charts. Her brand of radio-friendly pop music was politely suggestive but not overtly-sexual and in the literary world, she was incredibly popular with the discerning readers of FHM. It was a unique synergy, and – off the back of her biggest selling single Let’s Go Round Again – one that clearly worked. But could that symbiotic relationship endure when Louise slowed things down and bared her soul rather than her body?

All That Matters as a single has always felt more consistent with Louise’s persona away from the lads’ mags. ‘Pleasant’ may not be the most complimentary adjective when it comes to pop music, but that’s exactly what this song is. And sometimes that’s not a bad thing.

It’s often not a glowing endorsement to say the best bit of a song is the intro, but the first 10 seconds of All That Matters – where it briefly teases itself as a glossy ‘90s ballad – is rather special. The shimmering melody soon surrenders to a mid-tempo beat, for obvious reasons. It was sensible for Louise not to try and emulate Whitney and Mariah, but it’s a nice nod to the genre nonetheless, and one that does raise a question about what might have been…

In the dark, in the dark of night
I am wide, I am wide awake
Thinking about all the things we said
Anger, hey hey

Instead, this is very much Louise in MOR territory, which is somewhere she looks and sounds very comfortable indeed. Rejecting the “girl power” movement of the late ‘90s, All That Matters is more of an exercise in passivity than anything else. The song finds Louise in the midst of an argument with her beau and rather than apportion blame, she’s simply offering the hand of forgiveness, even though it’s never really clear who’s in the wrong. By today’s standards, a chorus of: “Don’t care who’s wrong or right, don’t care too much for pride, the love between us is all that matters” may feel a little docile, but there’s an earnest sincerity about the delivery that makes it very hard to take objection to.

As is commonplace with most of Louise’s songs, she’s ably assisted during the chorus to the point where she’s sometimes barely audible. Nonetheless, it’s an approach that helps flesh out the chorus and give it some oomph. And, if you’re going to employ a choir of additional singers, you may as well make good use of them and there’s no doubt that they earn their crust on All That Matters when lifting the song to a key-change at its climax. The moment arrives in typically non-subtle ‘90s fashion via a transitional “YeeeeEEEEEAH” that you can see coming from a mile off, but which is no less satisfying as a result.

If there was any remaining doubt that sex kitten Louise had most definitely left the building for this single, the music video for All That Matters firmly underlined the point. Tastefully shot in black and white, it’s the complete antithesis to previous releases from Woman In Me. The video concept implies Louise is travelling with a circus troupe (although it’s not entirely clear what role she fulfils within the ensemble). What is evident though, is that Louise is having man troubles and wants to fix things…by gazing wistfully into the distance whilst a spinning acrobat performs in the background. It’s all nicely shot – and it goes without saying that Louise looks flawless – but it’s not hard to see why the video might have gotten lost in 1998 when pop music was at its brightest and bubbliest. Amidst a sea of flamboyance sweeping the charts, All That Matters exercises considerable restraint and perhaps suffered as a result.  

The single eventually peaked at #11. It wasn’t the first time Louise had missed the top ten, but it was slightly jarring for her to release one of her lowest-selling singles just months after scoring her biggest (even if Let’s Go Round Again undeniably benefitted from inflated festive sales). The Woman In Me campaign was thus rapidly curtailed, somewhat unexpectedly leaving All That Matters as Louise’s final release of the ‘90s. Even if – as gloopy mid-tempos go – it’s a rather lovely swansong to the decade.       

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