I know I'm far from alone in my distaste for that supposed classic Christmas movie Love Actually. In fact, I'd wager there are at least as many people for whom it triggers a particular rage as there are superfans of the film! (Perhaps more?) If you like it, great, I'm not here to rain on your parade, and if you don't, I'm sure you already understand my aversion to the film. So don't worry, this is not some clickbaity "Actually, here's why this beloved pop cultural thing sucks"-type post.
Instead, continuing my theme of "not quite Christmas music" posts, I wanted to share a lost song cut from the film, and the only good thing I associate with it! It's a treat especially for anyone made to sit through the movie at this time of year, or for any of you for whom even seeing the endless ads for it sets your teeth on edge!
A Girl Called Eddy (Erin Moran) is a name known to many who appreciate classic songwriting and vintage-inspired pop. In 2003, she released a superb self-titled album, which I truly recommend giving a spin if you've never heard it. There's something just so warm, cosy and inviting about this very special set of tracks. The album was her only one until this year, when she released her wonderful comeback Been Around.
Erin recorded a beautiful title track for the film, a song as comforting, heartfelt and gorgeous as those on her debut album. In yet another bad decision made by the filmmakers, it was for some reason ultimately not included in the movie. This is not only puzzling, because it's such a lovely song and certainly would be accessible to a broad audience, but unfair to Erin, who deserved the wider recognition that having the song in the film would have brought.
I'm curious about the story behind its rejection, but wasn't able to find out anything. I suspect it's one of many pathologically 'safe' choices that really started to become the norm by the early 2000s, where film and music executives deeply underestimated the intelligence and curiosity of their audiences, and consequently blanded out mainstream pop culture more than ever. I mean, we're talking about a flick that saw the creator of Blackadder cement himself as a filmmaker happy to serve up such sentimental cheese... so I guess it makes a certain sense they were afraid to go for anything other than guaranteed mass appeal. (OK I'm definitely doing a little parade-raining now.)
While I didn't find a backstory, I did find a couple of blurbs from books whose authors found this decision as strange and foolish as I did. In Hang The DJ: An alternative book of music lists, Angus Cargill writes:
There was a film called Love Actually that needed a theme song. Erin (or Eddy) wrote this song for it. It's beautiful and has the same title. It would have been a huge hit, launched her career and been the only good thing about a bad film. They chose an old cover version by Ronan Keating.
In How Love Actually Ruined Christmas (!), Gary Raymond writes in a footnote about the Keating cover of 'Love Is All Around', which he calls 'a lazy, sleek turd of a song' (!!),
The use of this song is made all the more difficult to reconcile with given that A Girl Called Eddy (AKA Erin Moran) wrote a song called 'Love Actually' for this film, a beautiful Bacharach-esque ballad that ended up as a B-side to Moran's 'Somebody Hurt You' in 2004. Richard Curtis might have presented this worthy talent to the world through his film. But he chose not to for some reason or another, instead rehashing 'Love Is All Around'.
As noted there, the song appeared the following year on the EP for 'Somebody Hurt You', a song from her debut album.
The bright side of the peculiar choice to ditch A Girl Called Eddy's song is that it was at least spared being part of a movie many feel unfavourably about and, aside from the title, is freed from those associations. For me, this song hits tender notes of nostalgia and yearning, in a way that feels far more sincere than the forced sentimentality of a film like Love Actually. I enjoy it as much as I dislike the film – which is to say, quite a lot, indeed!