Album Review: Robbie Williams – Reality Killed the Video Star

by Marie Carney on November 19, 2009

Robbie Williams proving once again he is as bad-ass as you can be on a pop record.

Robbie Williams proving once again he is as bad-ass as you can be on a pop record.

Chances are, if you are an American, Robbie Williams is the most famous singer you’ve never heard of.  Not to say you haven’t heard his music, but the name Robbie Williams means nothing to you.  In the UK he has sold more records than any other solo artist.  He is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most concert ticket sales in a single day.  He is the most popular non-Latin artist in Latin America.  In 2009 his net worth is estimated to be 80 million pounds (134 million dollars).  With his eighth studio album Reality Killed the Video Star he proves again what all the fuss is about, and the United States, once again, will probably not notice.  Shame on you America.

Reality Killed the Video Star sounds like a good Robbie Williams record, period.  It brings you the kind of pop that is thoroughly like-able.  Its melodies are catchy, though a bit musical theater-esque at times. There are the slow sweeping ballads like “Morning Sun” and the fun dance numbers like “Difficult for Weirdos”.   Every song is seated perfectly in the now.  Nothing is particularly forward thinking, or too terribly old fashioned.  He doesn’t mess with trends like auto tune but instead gives you a well produced pop album.  Overall the album is a bit more dance oriented than classic Robbie Williams, but it doesn’t sound forced, it just flows like smooth pop bliss.  But this is not your American pop R&B tinged record.  This is you euro-dance-rock pop, which I personally think is a lot more fun than what we normally get here in the states.

What Robbie Williams continues to bring in spades with this album, and part of what I think the Americans don’t understand about him, is his clever, witty lyrics.  On the song “Blasphemy” the chorus uses a  fun turn of phrase by saying “What’s so great about the Great Depression?  Was it a blast for you?  Blasphemy.” Or on the first single “Bodies” he demonstrates his ability to take something obvious and make it sound original and interesting.  “All we ever wanted was to look good naked” the chorus screams and the lyrics continue to weave in and out of themes of vanity and religion.  Is he saying they are the same thing, or does he really think Jesus can save him from himself?  Does one or the other make the song better?  Either way it is a pleasure to listen to.

When I first listened to this album it liked it, but nothing jumped out at me as great, but now that I’m on lucky listen number seven things are starting to move around.  The opening (and closing) track “Morning Sun” is lodging itself in my brain and making a nice little home there.  Strings are always a plus for me, and this song’s opening strains are lovely, while Robbie’s strong voice is showcased by the arrangements.  If there’s one thing this man can do with his voice it is emote.  Every note is dripping in feeling, which probably lends to the musical theater quality (and the gay rumors?).  The third song “You Know Me” is another standout track with the quick paced delivery on the verse sliding into the slow sweeping chorus with 60’s du-wops in the background.  The song is co-written by chanteuse Francoise Hardy and is all the better for it.

So, maybe the album is a little old-fashioned, but I still think it is in a good way.  It’s not like the audience for a Robbie Williams record is looking for cutting edge music.   They should be looking for something with catchy melodies, fun lyrics, and an easy sing-along quality.  Sometimes that’s all I want anyway.

Song to Download:  “You Know Me”

Song to Skip when Shuffling:   “Superblind”

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan November 19, 2009 at 11:09 am
Marie Carney November 19, 2009 at 11:48 am

Lol. Oh, Robbie.

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Caroline Hernandez November 20, 2009 at 12:18 pm

One word. Millennium.

This American knows her stuff.

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Marie Carney November 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I, of course, was not reffering to any of the Spinning Platters staff… or most of our readers come to think of it. whoops!

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