Released: 4th October 1999
Writers: Johnny Jam / Delgado / Michael Jay
Peak position: #15
Chart run: 15-26-36-47-57-70
There are many notable moments charted in the history of the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. But in pop music terms, few – if any – are as significant as Everything My Heart Desires. This song, initially released by Adam Rickitt, was later gifted to Mandy Moore for her debut (or second, depending on where you reside) album. Regardless of which version you’re more familiar with, one thing remains consistent: this is a brilliant pop song that forever binds our two nations.
Having taken, well, everyone by surprise with his debut single I Breathe Again, crafting a follow-up was no mean feat. Let’s be honest; how do you consolidate a song like that? Two decades later, we’re still not sure we could definitively answer that question. But we can at least safely conclude that Everything My Heart Desires was a very worthy addition to the ‘90s pop canon. It may seem a little paradoxical to cite the fact that a song is too good as a reason for its (relative) lack of success. But fundamentally that appears to be where it didn’t quite work out as a successor to I Breathe Again.
Immediately, the track pitches itself as a more serious affair with gloomy, stabbing synths and the dejected: “Everything about you baby…oh yeah…alright” intro. Indeed, there is an apparent attempt to showcase Adam Rickitt as a singer, something that the previous single was less concerned with. Curiously though, the track is deliciously angsty in its delivery when there’s little lyrical reason for it to be. It was quite commonplace in the ‘90s pop formula for melancholic lyrics to be delivered with cheery demeanour, but rarely did it go the opposite way. Proclamations such as: “And then you appeared, everything was clear, I just can’t believe that you’re here” seem – on paper, at least – like joyous affirmations. But poor Adam Rickitt sounds tortured for the duration of the song. It certainly complements the melodramatic production, albeit by misrepresenting the track as a solemn affair. That said, we rather like the vocals; the affectations are boyband-by-numbers, but that situates Everything My Heart Desires quite nicely within the pop landscape unto which it was released.
Furthermore, the track is laced with some great moments; none more so than the simple middle-eight breakdown. Adam Rickitt’s voice almost breaks as he reiterates: “Just everything about you baby…oh-h-h-h yeah” atop the yearning synths, while a frantic drumbeat spurs the song back into life. In many ways, the production now feels ahead of its time. This is synth-pop misery at its finest; seven years later and Everything My Heart Desires would be celebrated for all of the things that went against it in 1999. And in case you’re wondering what became of the track when it was later passed ceremoniously from the United Kingdom’s hands into those of the United States, we’re happy to report Mandy Moore’s version is – well – pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be. Her delivery is certainly less tormented, while the beat is a little punchier, the synths are little peppier. It’s all very consistent with the bubblegum pop production of her peers, and at one point the middle-eight even threatens to go a bit ‘90s trance, which would have been quite a tremendous happenstance.
The music video accompanying Everything My Heart Desires takes another perspective on the song again (cohesiveness was not a strong feature of the late ‘90s). In this telling of the song, we join Adam Rickitt the morning after the night before. A woman slips out of the bedroom while he sleeps, much to his dismay when he realises. Now, at this point we need to state the obvious: if Adam Rickitt jumped out of bed and ran down the stairs, he could probably catch this lady. But we’ve got a three and a half minute music video to fill here, so instead he spends ten seconds posing in the door frame, open shirt billowing in the breeze (apparently there’s one heck of a draught in that house). Alas, this unnecessary diversion allows the mystery woman to make her getaway. Cue Adam Rickitt entering detective mode – literally – and scouring London for his runaway lover. It’s quite a smart concept that feels very “Y2K”, with our protagonist using an internal tracking device that scans any potential woman for a match. It might be a little more contentious now, owing to GDPR, but at the time this seemed an entirely rational approach to adopt. Of course, Adam Rickitt isn’t a cyborg, and the whole premise is suggested to be an extended dream sequence because as he wakes up, our mystery woman is arriving back at the house and walks into the bedroom. Although Adam Rickitt never looks anything less than perplexed by the whole thing, which is perhaps the fairest summation of the video that one could offer.
Everything My Heart Desires peaked at #15 in the UK, which is a real shame. That said, we do begrudgingly understand it. We would suspect that fans of Adam Rickitt were looking for something a little more effervescent, whereas fans of moody synth-pop probably weren’t looking for it in Adam Rickitt’s direction. Understandably, that wasn’t the best foundation upon which to release his debut album, which debuted and peaked a few weeks later at #41, spending a single week in the top 75. We would have been more concerned, but the singles were accompanied with a genius marketing strategy: each one contained part of what would eventually form one giant poster of Adam Rickitt. And there is no way that the label would abandon such a great concept before completion, was there?