Monday, November 16, 2009

Music Monday: Robbie Williams (UK)

Robbie Williams comes out with a new CD tomorrow, but few Americans will care. Why should they? He's a cheeky, self-deprecating bad-boy-from-a-boy-band Brit -- not like a Jonas Brother or Justin Timberlake. But there's something intriguing about Williams, and that's probably why I like him so much. He doesn't sound like he's been run through auto-tune, nor does he look like he's been airbrushed eight-times over. He is handsome, but rough around the edges... not exactly what sells copies of Tiger Beat.

Despite this, he has the potential to be a class act in America. One of my favorite Robbie albums is Swing When You're Winning, which features renditions of old standards from the Rat Pack, Gershwin, Bobby Darin and the like. It also includes a lovely duet with Nicole Kidman.

Yet Williams' lack of success in America is not shocking. Take That, the British pop group from whence he came, only had one hit in the US -- "Back For Good" -- though the group sold 25 million records worldwide between 1991-1996. As a solo artist, Williams declared The Ego Has Landed and released the Billboard hit "Millennium" (1999), but he did not enjoy the stateside career many hoped for him. In fact, I remember reading in college that his label set aside an $8m advertising budget to help him succeed in the States. (I wonder where that money went?).

In 2003 published an interesting piece called "Why doesn't America love Robbie Williams?" and it offers a much better analysis than I could ever provide. But my take on Why America doesn't love Robbie Williams? It's precisely because we love. And with lyrics like "All we've ever wanted is to look good naked / Hope that someone can take it," it is lust that Robbie Williams commands.

For Fans of Madonna, Mark Ronson, boy bands that turn into man bands.

Here's his new single, plus a Fred Falke remix (via Hype Machine)

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