Robbie Williams - Reality Killed the Video Star

2009-12-02 08:57
 
Reality Killed the Video Star
 
On his latest album Reality Killed the Video Star, Williams is at pains to point out that this is not a comeback - but how can it be anything but? Much of the album feels like a post-mortem - of his much glorified career, past relationships (both personal and professional) while taking stock of the mess left behind once the party is over. Williams is really too young to be feeling this jaded, but then he has been doing as much hard living as he could squeeze into the last two decades.

The message from the first track on Reality Killed the Video Star is that Williams is done trying to entertain you - or at least in the way you've come to expect him to. That album title is a dead giveaway. He sums it up on "You Know Me": I've been doing what I like/when I like, how I like/It's joyless". Yikes. Trevor Horn's sophisticated production work also lend the album a certain cloying maturity that sap all the fun out of the Williams of old, but he's clearly left that man behind somewhere in the dusty plains of his youth - wistfully recalling the glory days as he does on the telling "Last Days of Disco". Who Williams wants to be now is Elton John - and he's lived a similar life of controversy, but in fast-forward.

That's not to say that he is done with his unique style of plain-talking. "Bodies" declares that "All we've ever wanted is to look good naked", but the sentiment is a flaccid attempt at provocation that sticks out in a song that plays around with funk, Gregorian chants and anthemic rock. Oh, and he'd like you to know that "Jesus didn't die for you". The song's not served well either by EMI's decision to bleep their star performer out while he's trying to resurrect himself with a bit of a bang. Only now it sounds more like a fart in the wind.

Horn's preference for a bank of strings and a measured pace allows for the serious artist in Williams to shine, and the songwriting is strong. "Last Days of Disco", "Somewhere", "Deceptacon" and "Starstruck" form the melodic and emotional core of the album - swaying from weighty regret, to self-help advice on how NOT to be like Robbie Williams, to the realisation that the pop landscape has changed a whole lot in the last couple of years - so he may as well enjoy the ride - while sounding ready to reclaim some of that territory for himself, but only just.

It may alarm Williams' fans to hear how resigned he sounds here, as if he just popped in to say one last thing while they all succumb to the charms of the latest upstart with the X-Factor, or similar pop coronation by public vote. Maybe it's not a comeback, but he could have made more of an effort to entertain, a task Williams once relished with thrilling commitment. The party really is over, so please turn down the music and leave quietly while the host plots his next celebration.


After the chart ubiquity, after the drugs comedown, the constant scrutiny, the three-year absence since the collosal failure of his last album Rudebox (now available in the R20 bargain bin of your nearest CD store), what else has Robbie Williams left to achieve, other than to fulfill his lucrative record deal? And more importantly, does he still have anything to say that's worth listening to?

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Tracy 2009/12/01 9:14 PM
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Hey, I like this album!
Lisel 2009/12/02 7:33 AM
The album is fantastic!!! So what if he's chnaged his style, he's grown up and the brilliance is still there. ROBBIE RULES!!!!!!
LJ 2009/12/02 7:36 AM
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Robbie is the best!! The king lives on!!
SK 2009/12/02 8:18 AM
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I think the album is Great!!! Artists have to change to keep their fans interested - whats the use of bringing out an album that sounds exactly like all the others. You right it is not a "comeback" because Robbie never left.....
Carol 2009/12/02 8:21 AM
The album is great, with the usual sing-along Robbie songs that we have grown to love over the years. Sure the angst is gone and a new maturity is evident, but dont we all have to grow up at some time? He certainly continues to entertain me! Long live Robbie!
Kallie 2009/12/02 10:53 AM
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We still love the King. Its a fantastic album with a sense of new found maturity. Long live Robbie
Liam Doyle 2009/12/02 11:34 AM
Hey, I'm no Robbie Williams fan, but get your facts straight! Rudebox was the fastest selling platinum album in Europe of 2006, and the 18th highest selling album over-all of that year. Makes it hard to trust anything you have to say Shaheema, if you can't even get objective information correct. Blessings
Sean 2009/12/02 3:18 PM
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He shouldnt take himself to serious. Thats what his problem is. I don't know if his trying to appeal to an older audiecence these days but his work with Guy Chambers were memorable at least. His UK fans arent impressed either. Its now at no12 in the midweeks.
Rona 2009/12/02 3:41 PM
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Shaheema Barodien, you obviously don't enjoy Robbie's music or the man himself. He is and always will be fantastic. Do yourself a favour and watch this man live he is one of the best entertainers ever.
Munier 2009/12/02 7:18 PM
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I very seldom find an album where I dont skip any tracks.. but here is one. The latest Robbie offering is awesome..just wish there were more tracks to enjoy!
Gert 2009/12/02 7:24 PM
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Who is Robbie anyway? Jesus did die 4 me and 4 u him......arsehole!
Bra G 2009/12/25 5:05 PM
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Look we always knew he was a mega talent but this latest offering is one of his best ever especially after the disastrous Rudebox? RW has bounced back big time & isn't this the mark of a Superstar? In a world of manufactured pop and overnight & over hyped so called singing sensations, we acknowledge that Robbie is indeed the real deal. So there Take That ..............Peace & Love & Justice, Bra G
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