The song “When You Say Nothing At All” was originally recorded in 1988 by Keith Whitley.

by Christopher Smith

“When You Say Nothing At All” was written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schiltz for American Country singer Keith Whitley (1954-1989) in 1988, who took it to the top of the US Country songs chart, selling just under 600,000 copies there. It was the second of five consecutive number one singles for Whitley, who died of alcohol poisoning in May 1989, shortly after his third one.

In 1995 another country singer Alison Krauss recorded the song for a tribute album. Such was the popularity of her version, it was released as a single and made its way to No.3 on the Country songs chart. Unlike Whitley’s original, Krauss’ version entered the US singles chart and reached No.53, selling 470,000 copies. It ‘scratched’ the UK singles chart at No.91.

Four years later the song was revived again, this time by Irish boy group Boyzone singer Ronan Keating for the soundtrack of a new film called ‘Notting Hill’, starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. The film was a huge success taking $364m ($559m in today’s money) at the box office and saw the release of the track as Ronan’s debut solo single. It topped the charts in his home country and in the UK, where it has sold over 600,000 copies. The song had greater global success charting top ten across all of Europe, in Australia and in New Zealand.

But which is best? KEITH’s original, ALISON’s 1995 version or RONAN KEATING?

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