The first of what could potentially be many Elvis Presley entries in this series, “The Wonder Of You” came at a time in Presley’s career when he was on his way to his last apogee, touring again before things deteriorated hugely. A cover of a Ray Patterson single from 1959, Elvis hit #1 in Ireland for four non-consecutive weeks with “The Wonder Of You” in 1970, and it would become a staple of his late-era concert playlists ever after. It was a time when the man was morphing into a quasi-Liberace as others have put it, playing to older female crowds and being more and more a bit of a parody of himself: “The Wonder Of You” perfectly fits that vision really.
He might have loved it, but it’s far cry from his best efforts. “The Wonder Of You” is a football song really, and has been used for that purpose by multiple clubs: the sort of faux-inspirational crooning ballad that is good to get a cheap emotional reaction in the short-term, and really doesn’t do much for anyone other than that. When you get right down to it, it’s a fairly basic love song, in lyrics and in music: guy likes girl (or maybe God? It could be either), guy tells girl how much he likes her, some strings and we’re done. For some reason Presley employs a very brief bit of back-up singing for one section, and the thing is just replete with soppy lyrics: “Your kiss to me is worth a fortune, Your love for me is everything”. It’s a Hallmark card in song form, and while such things can work in some hands and with better performances, it feels pretty empty here. The thing at least has some decent bridge sections between verses and chorus, but that’s just a brief reprieve for the mundanity of what else happens with it, and the nominally soaring string section is not quite as good as they think it is. At least the song is short, as Elvis’ songs tended to be, and “The Wonder Of You” is gone so fast as to only add to the idea that it is fundamentally insubstantial.
There actually is a music video for this one, made a few years ago for a remastered re-release, that features model Kate Moss lip-syncing to the song as she lounges around the studio where it’s been recorded. It opens with a stunningly stupid close-up of her bottom in frame, and only gets mildly better from there. With a lame attempt at moodiness made with the choice to film it in monochrome and with the odd inclusion of a wind machine, it’s as empty and unsatisfying as the song itself. I suppose in that way it is a good accompaniment. Presley was better earlier in his career when his songs had more thought or a better hook: “The Wonder Of You” is a sign of decline, even if its chart placing indicated otherwise.