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Music / Gary Barlow

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"I don't know why people enjoy what I do. I play piano and sing a few songs - and that's about as exciting as I want it to get."

Gary Barlow OBE (Born 20 January 1971) is an award-winning English singer-songwriter who first came to fame as the lead singer of Take That (Band) in the 1990s. He is also known for being Simon Cowell's replacement as head judge on The X Factor.

After Take That first broke up, Gary attempted to launch a solo career that failed to take off. He then focused on being a songwriter and producer before Take That reformed as a four-piece (sans Robbie Williams) to great acclaim. Since the reunion and Gary's reentry into the limelight, the hits and accolades have been non-stop, with Gary even organizing the music for Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012 and traveling around the Commonwealthnote  to compose a commemorative single for the occasion, earning him an OBE (although comedians liked to joke that Gary was practically begging for a knighthood at the time).

He has since relaunched his solo career to great success.

Gary Barlow provides examples of:

  • Happily Married: He has been married to Dawn Andrews, who was a backing dancer for Take That's final tour in 1990snote , for nearly 20 years. Dawn said that she never thought much about Take That's music and that it was just a job for her. Falling in love with Gary and getting married happened to be a fringe benefit.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: He and Elton John are extremely close friends, with Elton being one of the few who stood by him as he was, through no fault of his own, being publicly humiliated. Gary wrote "Face to Face" as a thank-you to Elton for helping him through his depression.
    • Elton John has also said that he views Gary as his successor as a pop singer-songwriter.
  • It's All About Me: He confesses that much of the tension that Take That experienced during their first run together was due to the fact that he believed he was the primary reason for their success and sought to maintain tight control over the band, to the point where he didn't like it when other members sang lead. He's since learned his lesson and happily shares the limelight with his bandmates.
  • Precision F-Strike: From "Since I Saw You Last": I know you heard my shout for help / for those who stood and watched, go fuck yourself. From someone who's generally known, if not infamous, for being composed and reserved, it's genuinely a bit shocking.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Part of the reason why Gary is now viewed so favorably in the publicnote : he maintains himself as a calm and steady presence in the British music industry and is moving forward with dignity when he has every right to lash out at his critics.
  • Take That!: Pun not intended, but his song "Since I Saw You Last" is a rather pointed jab at those who doubted and criticized him simply because it was the thing to do at the time.
  • Technician Versus Performer: This is the constant comparison between Gary and Robbie Williams. While Gary is a truly talented singer-songwriter, his compositions and stage style don't have the same flair as Robbie's. This ended up working to Gary's benefit as he aged because he's now viewed as someone who matured while Robbie is viewed by some people as clinging to his past glories and trying to hold on to something he should have let go years ago.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: seems to be what his relationship with Robbie Williams has settled into after the healing of their feud. They alternate between never, ever shutting up about how much they love each other (what one biography dubbed "an outbreak of soppiness that would be comical if it weren't so touching") and making jibes that make it seem like the feud will break out again at any moment.
    Gary: [before leaving to perform a show in Afghanistan for the troops, on the possibility he might not return] Concert for Gary, Albert Hall. Don't have Robbie on.
  • Weight Woe: Got a reputation for being "the fat one" even back in the early days of Take That (Band). Things got much worse after the disintegration of solo career, after which he turned to binge eating as a coping mechanism. The weight is all gone now, but it still occasionally comes up in interviews that he has to be quite careful about what he eats.