Respectable

Album: F.L.M. (1987)
Charted: 1

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about independence, with a rebellious attitude. "We are never gonna be respectable," the sisters sing.

    It's empowering, but also glossy, framed by a video where the girls do basic choreography on a set that evokes a back alley, but could be on Sesame Street if the trash were picked up.
  • Mel & Kim were an English duo, Mel and Kim Appleby, both former models before being discovered by Pete Waterman of the production team Stock, Aitken and Waterman. It was Stock, Aitken and Waterman's first joint composition and production UK #1. They produced Dead Or Alive's #1 "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)," but didn't write the song.
  • According to 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, Pete Waterman said, "'Respectable' became an anthem, not just for them and their image, but also for the company itself. The lyrics came from an ad we took out in the trade press that used the lines, 'You can love or hate us, you ain't gonna change us we ain't ever going to be respectable.' It was Mike Stock's idea to add the gimmicky, 'Tay-tay, tsy, tsy, t-tay' at the beginning but Mel and Kim hated that bit. Nonetheless, they took the track away with them to a gig they were doing in Holland that evening. Later that night, Pete got a call from the girls saying that the Dutch audience went wild for that intro and it should not be taken out."
  • This proved to be the sisters' only UK #1, though they enjoyed three other Top 10 hits. In 1988 Mel was diagnosed with spinal cancer and she died of the disease in 1990.
  • The video was directed by Simon West, who also did Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" (the first five seconds of which is some of the most-viewed footage in history, thanks to Rickrolling). West went on to direct the films Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Expendables 2.

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