"Perfect" by Fairground Attraction

By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson

"Perfect" by Fairground Attraction, certainly is a song that sticks around in your head, whether you want it to or not! The folk pop song has a timeless quality, still sounding fresh today, unlike many distinctively 80s productions which are dominated by the Yamaha DX7, cowbell, bombastic electric guitar solos and reverb by the bucketload - we do love those too, of course!
The song was penned by the band's guitarist Mark E. Nevin, who also wrote the B-side tracks "Mythology" and "Falling Backwards", the latter only included on the 12 inch and CD singles.
Fairground Attraction formed in London during 1987. The band members performing on the song are Eddi Reader on vocals, Simon Edwards on that unusual Mexican guitarrón bass (which really gives the song a unique edge), Mark E. Nevin on acoustic guitar, and Roy Dodd playing drums.
"Perfect" was released as the lead single from the band's debut, double platinum album The First of a Million Kisses, which reached No.2 in the UK - the album also reached the top 10 in Australia and Sweden.
Contrary to popular belief, the band was not a one hit wonder, as the second single release, the infectious "Find My Love" was also a hit, reaching No.7 in the UK, although it's completely ignored by the majority of radio stations these days. However, after this the hits really did dry up - the third and final single from the album "A Smile in a Whisper" stalled at No.75.
A follow-up album was released in 1990 entitled Ay Fond Kiss, although it would only reach No.55, with the single "Clare" reaching No.49 and "Walking After Midnight" barely scraping into the Top 100, peaking at No.97.
"Perfect" won the 1989 Brit award for "British Single of the Year" and The First of a Million Kisses won "Best British Album".
Despite winning those two Brit awards, just a year later in 1990, the band split-up following their second album's poor performance in the charts - proving how fickle the pop industry is! Eddi Reader went on to launch a moderately successful solo career, and has released 12 studio albums, her most recent being Light Is In The Horizon in 2022.

Chart Performance

"Perfect" entered the UK singles chart at No.86 on 3rd April 1988, and just five weeks later (on May 8th), it reached the No.1 spot, pushing "Theme From S-Express" down to No.2. However, after just one week at the top, Fairground Attraction received the same treatment from Wet Wet Wet, with their cover of the Beatles song "With A Little Help From My Friends" topping the chart, forcing "Perfect" back down to No.2.
The single spent a total of fourteen weeks in the UK top 100. Of course, it has nothing to do with the Ed Sheeran song of the same name, which has spent an incredible 191 weeks in the UK charts!
The song was also a global success, reaching No.1 on the Australian ARIA chart and the Irish Singles chart. It was also a top 5 hit in Belgium (No.4), Germany (No.5), Netherlands (No.5), New Zealand (No.4), Switzerland (No.5) and Sweden (No.2), although only reached No.80 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.


UK 7 Inch Vinyl Single - PB 41845

A. "Perfect" - 3:33

B. "Mythology" - 4:30

UK 12 Inch Vinyl - RCA PT 41846

A1. "Perfect" - 3:33

A2. "Falling Backwards" - 2:25

B1. "Mythology" - 4:30

B2. "Mystery Train" - 1:40

The UK CD single (PD 41846)  features the same tracks as the 12 inch vinyl.


The lyrics describe someone who has learned from their mistakes to form the "perfect" relationship, after previous attempts have been unsuccessful, as in the line "Well, I have been foolish too many times, now I'm determined, I'm gonna get it right".
According to the article "How I wrote "Perfect" in Song Writing Magazine, Mark E. Nevin wrote the lyrics while living in a grotty bedsit in London with his girlfriend, shortly before ending the relationship.