21 January 2011 // Written by Joe Sparrow ~ 11 Comments

Robbie Williams – Song 2

Robbie Williams is trapped in hell. It’s true. He’s trapped in his own, peculiarly comfortable MOR hell, and it’s almost possible to feel pity for him – almost.

Robbie – jack-the-lad-in-chief to the masses – wishes he was a rock star but will absolutely, resolutely never be allowed to be one by his cosy audience who adore him just the way he is.

The worst of it is that he is viscerally, painfully aware of all of this. Inhabiting the equivalent of a musical coma, he is able to see the world he wishes he was in, but is unable to communicate with it beyond dumb, involuntary spasms. His demented tilt at Song 2 is one such twitch at rock stardom.

Whilst performing Song 2, we are privy to Robbie in full eye-swivelling, mouth-gopping, arms-a-flailing look-at-me! mode. They’re the behavioural tics of a man who can’t believe this cheeky-chappy-playing-at-being-a-star-schtick still actually works; a man saddled with the realisation that merely going through the motions, as he is here, will still have the intended hysterical effect on his audience.

By piecing together his RAWK persona from odds and ends, Robbie creates Frankenstein’s monster of bland rock: Liam Gallagher’s most ludicrously crick-necked swagger, the mic-stand grab ‘n’ rush of a Turkish Freddie Mercury impersonator, and the tentative put-upon hyperactivity of a teen-dad, who, unaccustomed to the effects of cheap lager, has been overwhelmed with befuddlement on his first proper night out.

That blank look of disoriented discomfort is all his own, however.

Robbie treats words in the same clumsy manner in which a two year old treats plasticine: something to be stretched beyond natural elasticity, pummelled into uselessness and, ultimately, chewed on without any intention beyond filling both time and the large open void on the front of his face.

Thus, when he gets the lyrics in the right order – which is not a given by any means – simple adjectives like ‘Heavy Metal’ transmogrify horrifically into ‘Heeea-vvvy Meey-a-tayyyll-ah’.

This is proof that Robbie Williams is either paid by the syllable, or that he’s actually a genuine post-modern, art-pop pioneer – inventing the idea of the meta-lyric, where all previously-applied meaning is ruthlessly stripped away, leaving only the sound itself remaining.

Having long departed the realm of mere Pop Performer, he leaps with both feet into the role of Situationist Art Prankster, entertaining himself and his audience with the same physical movements, but each on an entirely separate mental plain to the other.

So by the point where he has his hand firmly thrust down the front of his trousers, he’s perhaps desperately rummaging for his own off switch – and we can all can gravely nod our heads, regarding the flipping of it as an entirely unselfish act.

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11 Responses to “Robbie Williams – Song 2”

  1. Dave 11 February 2011 at 3:37 pm Permalink

    I’ve certainly heard worse, but that’s not a compliment. The only thing that really bothers me about it is (as you mentioned) how artificial and contrived it all is. Nothing sums it up better than the “Awwww shit!” at the end, followed immediately by a glance around for approving looks. Williams is not talentless, but he’s not rock n’ roll, either.

  2. Janara Brown 6 September 2011 at 12:56 am Permalink

    This is one of the reasons why Damon don’t want anybody covering Gorillaz or Blur dude!

  3. pk songs 27 October 2011 at 4:46 pm Permalink

    Robbie Williams was good but not as good so he is not my favorite i have listen some of his songs which were good but not outstanding.

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