The Infinite Jukebox: Let Loose’s ‘Best in Me’

I know nothing about Let Loose, have no memories about them and about when they were around. If it were not for Wikipedia, I would assume them to be another boyband in the popular mode kicked off by Take That, but they weren’t, not really. I don’t even remember hearing ‘Best in Me’ when it had its hour of glory, taking the band to a number 8 slot in 1995. I don’t even remember where or when I did hear it first. I just know that for a long time now it seems to have been there, and that every time I listen to it, it delivers a kick to the back of the emotional knee.
I can’t gauge how ‘serious’ Let Loose were as a band, whether they were into it for the music or whether they wanted to catch their share of the teen market. The video for ‘Best in Me’ is frankly risible: an Ultravox-esque piece of pretention, divided into quarters showing the same image multiplied, slick and portentous, the band dressed in high-collared Russian greatcoat-length coloured coats, with military buttons, giving the impression of being shoegazers. They look dodgy as hell.
Which makes the song even more amazing. It’s a sweet, upmarket pop ballad, a hazily strummed acoustic, a tinkling piano and masses of strings built around a husky, near-hoarse vocal that bleeds into a power ballad chorus with the band executing note perfect harmonies with an angel’s choir falsetto. What is there to like about this? It’s the template for any boyband, Westlife with less drippiness. What is it doing here?
Because underneath all this calculated wrapping, singer and songwriter Richie Wermerling surpassed the commercial crap this might so easily have been. I think I read once that this song was to be taken seriously, one of those songs that bands write when they want to be thought of as musicians, though apparently he was supposed to have recorded it in his bedroom when he was fifteen, a dozen years before its commercial release. But if that was all hooey, it didn’t change the effect, for ‘Best in Me’ proves that long after the Sixties died on us, it is possible for something created solely for commerce to be true art.
There is a simplicity to the music, and a sincerity in the words that very well might be the work of an earnest fifteen year old. But there is a truth to them that I recognise instantly. Wermerling sings that he doesn’t care if he’s some kind of foolish and some kind of weak, he’s not ashamed to say that he’s fallen head over heels, because, and this is where the song goes through the superficiality it might otherwise display, because you bring out the best in me. And how Wermerling sings it makes it not a line, not a thing to say to a girl, but it’s the truth and it’s the whole of him.
I know what that feels like. It’s happened twice for me, twice I met women I loved deeply, who loved me, and these times were not just the best of my life, they were the best in and of me. I was transfixed and transformed. I became everything I could be, I was more than I’d been. I learned more about what I could be and do, and what strengths I had. The best in me was indeed brought out, and I can hear in Wermerling’s voice that he has been there too, and it doesn’t matter how concocted the song is, it’s chorus soars and I am filled with memory and regret.
Like the best of songs, during the moments that this plays, I am taken out of the world in which I live, and like such things I don’t want to return to where I am. Such, whatever the attention, is Art and high beauty. There are many things with more serious intent than this track that I would not care to listen to even once.
And a quick listen on YouTube confirms it was indeed a fluke.

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