There’s something missing from this blog: it’s ‘sophisti-pop’, the musical style that encompasses Simply Red, Sade, the Style Council and Everything But the Girl. It must have slipped through the cracks, but I think I can reach it down there in the underground YouTube …

Missing is a perplexing title. Is this a song about something that has gone missing? A piece of the jigsaw, a vital part in the flatpack? Or perhaps it’s about a missing page torn from a book or a missing link in the evolutionary chain. No, those interpretations would be missing the point; the singer has lost touch with her former soulmate and she is missing him terribly.

There’s nothing particularly striking about the construction of this song but it conveys a deep sense of something precious lost. There’s a hopelessness in the vocals and an inevitability in the pulsing bass line. The strings speak of a girl with nowhere to go, no way to ease her aching heart. This is as good an example of sophisti-pop as you can get.

Everything But the Girl was formed in 1982 when students Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn met at the University of Hull in the UK. Both had already recorded solo albums on the Cherry Red record label.

As EBTG the duo had a healthy dose of commercial success in the 80s and 90s with nine albums reaching the top 30 in the UK album charts and more than 20 singles entering the lower reaches of the UK top 100. By far their most popular song was the dance remix of Missing by the U.S. producer Todd Terry, which rose to number 3 in the UK. The Crotchety Review Panel, though, suggests you reserve the remix for the wedding reception disco or the end-of-lockdown party that we’re all looking forward to.

Everything But the Girl

  • Tracey Thorn & Ben Watt
  • Active: 1982 – 2000
  • 11 studio albums
  • 31 singles

This track-of-the-week has filled a hole in my genre cloud bubble. And yet it is still Missing.

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