Robbie Williams is one of those artists you secretly like (or have been forced to like by osmosis) but can’t really admit to it. His music isn’t all that great most of the time, and yet, he’s one of the most successful UK recording artists of ever. Some of his songs are extremely uncomfortable (e.g. “Feel” and “Never Touch That Switch”), but, nevertheless, we keep listening–even if we’re not in Britain.
With a career that began in boy bandom (Take That), Robbie Williams managed that rare feat that maybe only Justin Timberlake after him has been able to accomplish: A more successful solo career. With mushy feel good ballads like “Back For Good” to lead them to the top of the pop charts, it didn’t seem likely that Williams would ever surrender such a sweet meal ticket. However, “creative” and business differences with members of the band and management led to Williams stepping out on his own.
This, in turn, led to a more subtly cheesy series of hit albums. And, obviously, “Feel” would end up in an airline commercial for catering to such a maudlin demographic. Then there is also his brief foray into gay iconography to consider in terms of his prosperity. First, a duet with Kylie Minogue, then a cover of Frank and Nancy SInatra’s “Somethin’ Stupid” with Nicole Kidman. This was all clearly a gateway drug to working with Pet Shop Boys and singing a song about wanting to fuck Madonna.
In spite of Williams’ easy listening style and, at times, wearisome persona, it is still “okay” to “like” him, inasmuch as if you’re in Britain (which you should be), you will invariably hear his music on repeat, be it solo or in Take That form. So, in that respect, you kind of have to be okay with him.