Robert Peter Williams (born 13 February 1974) is a British pop singer, former boy-bander and one-man entertainment machine, known for a song called "Angels" and a fascination with the supernatural. Formerly of the band Take That, he has found a way to a successful and long solo career.
Having successful auditioned for Take That aged just 16, Williams rose to fame as the "cheeky chappie", exuberant dancer and occasional lead vocalist in the band's first run in the early- to mid-1990s. After many disagreements with the management and group members, Williams left the group in 1995 to launch his solo career. Unlike many people who'd been in boy bands, Williams had a keen interest in rock music, particularly Brit Pop inspired by Oasis, and worked with Guy Chambers to create credible songs in this style, starting with the album Life Thru A Lens. Despite this, he had breakthrough success with the ballad "Angels" and the hard rock inspired "Let Me Entertain You". A few months later, his second album I've Been Expecting You came out, with a similar style to the first album but considerably more experimentation and a slightly more mature image. His third album Sing When You're Winning set the tone. At this stage he was so all-conquering it was swiftly followed to the top of the charts and massive sales by a companion album of big band covers, Swing When You're Winning, and performances in front of hundreds of thousands at vast outdoors gigs at Knebworth House in 2003.
Things gradually slipped from this high plateau in the following years, as some less well-received music was coupled with the odd bit of 'personal difficulties' from the often wayward star. Strangely too, after years in which Williams had far eclipsed his former bandmates, he found himself unexpectedly outshone by the other members of Take That after the four got the group back together — still without him — in 2006. On 15 July 2010 however, it was announced that Robbie too had rejoined Take That and that the group intended to release a new album as a five-piece in November 2010. Progress eventually became the second fastest-selling album in UK chart history and the fastest-selling record of the century so far. Williams promptly returned to the top of the charts solo for the first time in several years with 2012's "Candy" (his 7th UK Number One single) and Take The Crown (his 10th UK Number One album, a total that has since increased to 12). He bowed out from Take That for a second time in 2014 due to the birth of his second child, but amicably this time and both he and the band have said he may rejoin at an unspecified future date.
Williams has sold over 75 million records worldwide, which ranks him among the best-selling music artists worldwide. He is the best-selling British solo artist in the UK and the best selling non-Latino artist in Latin America. Six of his albums are among the top 100 biggest-selling albums in the UK. He has also been honoured with eighteen BRIT Awards — more than any other artist — and seven ECHO Awards. In 2004, he was inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame after being voted as the "Greatest Artist of the 1990s." He ended at #77 in One Hundred Greatest Britons.
Williams is married to actress Ayda Field, and they have two young children.
Not to be confused with the late Robin Williams.
- Life thru a Lens (1997)
- I've Been Expecting You (1998)
- The Ego Has Landed (Compilation of above two albums, debut album in America) (1999)
- Sing When You're Winning (2000)
- Swing When You're Winning (2001)
- Escapology (2002)
- Greatest Hits (2004)
- Intensive Care (2005)
- Rudebox (2006)
- Reality Killed the Video Star (2009)
- In and Out of Consciousness: Greatest Hits 1990–2010 (2010)
- Take the Crown (2012)
- Swings Both Ways (2013)
- Under the Radar Volume 1 (2014) (Compilation of demos, B-sides and rarities)
- The Heavy Entertainment Show (2016)
- The Show Off Must Go On (October–November 1997)
- The Ego Has Landed (May–June 1998)
- One More for the Rogue Tour / For a Few Dollars More... Tour (1998–99)
- Robbie Williams North American Tours (1999)
- The Sermon on the Mount Tour (2000–01)
- Weddings, Barmitzvahs & Stadiums Tour / Sing When You're Pacific Rimming Tour (2001)
- Weekends of Mass Distraction Tour / Cock of Justice/Aussie Typo Tour (2003)
- Close Encounters Tour (2006)
- Always Someone Better: "She's Madonna", inspired by how Guy Ritchie told his ex he was leaving her with "Look, you know I really love you, but she's Madonna."
- Ambiguously Bi: Williams for reason enjoys teasing the audience with suggestions that he's bisexual, although he's always had female partners. For instance in "Old Before I Die" "Am I straight or gay?", in "Kids" "Press be asking, do I care for sodomy? I don't know, yeah, probably" and the title of the album Swings Both Ways. And then there is "Shame" which is basically his and Gary Barlow's very own Brokeback Mountain.
- Audience Participation Song: All of his songs.
- Badass Boast: Addressing a huge crowd at his solo concert at Knebworth, we get this gem:"My name is Robbie Williams...This is my band...and for the next two hours, YOUR ASS...IS MINE!"
- Break Up Song: About romantic relationships or his life in Take That, depending. "These Dreams", "No Regrets", "If It's Hurting You", "Man Machine", "Sexed Up".
- Camp Straight: Is considered as such, as evidence in the Take the Crown era.
- Canon Discontinuity: His debut single, a dance-pop cover of George Michael 's "Freedom '90" is considered a post-Take That contract filler which he recorded in order to spend time on his Oasis-inspired debut album "Life Thru A Lens", and thus is not considered part of his solo career proper. It was later included on the compilation "In And Out Of Consciousness", which also included Take That's "Everything Changes". Despite this he has said he has always liked the song, and since George Michael 's death has included it in his setlist in tribute.
- The Casanova: "Cursed", "Feel".
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Dickhead".
- Cover Album: Swing When You're Winning and much of Swings Both Ways.
- Cover Version: Three were big hit singles — his first solo single "Freedom" was a cover of George Michael's Freedom '90, "She's The One" was a cover of a World Party song and his collaboration with Nicole Kidman was a cover of the Frank and Nancy Sinatra classic "Something Stupid". Several B-sides were covers especially in the Life Thru A Lens period.
- Drugs Are Bad: Battled both alcoholism and an addition to prescription drugs.
- Early Installment Weirdness: His vocals on "Old Before I Die" and its B-sides are noticeably Liam Gallagher influenced, something he would not do on subsequent releases.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Kids", his duet with Kylie Minogue, has several, though "Take a ride on my 12 cylinder symphony [organ]" takes the cake.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: "Party Like A Russian" drops a few Russian words.
- Incoming Ham: "Let Me Entertain You" seems to exist for the sole purpose of Robbie being this at concerts, and it works.
- Intercourse with You: "Lazy Days", "Let me Entertain You".
- The Knights Who Say "Squee!": He's a fan of a YouTube channel called True Geordie and appeared on one of their podcasts. According to the man himself in the podcast, he felt a mutual weirdness since both him and the hosts were fans of each other.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Stalker's Day Off", the secret track on I've Been Expecting You, is a minimal piano ballad about a Stalker with a Crush.
- Mr. Fanservice: Provides a lot of this in his music videos and various photoshoots. "Rock DJ" features him stripping down until he is nude, Radio has him shirtless, wet and being fondled by a crowd of cheerleaders as well as giving the audience various pleasing shots of his bulge. He also takes his shirt off in the videos for (deep breath) "Let Me Entertain You", "Millennium", "Kids", "Eternity", "Feel", "Come Undone" and "Shame".
- New Sound Album: Sing When You're Winning. It features a far more mainstream pop sound, with less of the rock influences and more ballads. The only song that really resembles Williams' older work is "Forever Texas", which not coincidentally was written and played live over a year before the other tracks.
- Rudebox was a later confusing left-turn that at least temporarily lost Williams much of his audience. As The Guardian's review put it, it "throws a lot of musical styles at the wall: R&B, 80s cover versions and electro among them", not to mention splodges of reggae and hip-hop. It sold around a quarter of what his preceding half-dozen albums had each shifted.
- Ode to Sobriety/Ode to Intoxication: Often found in his lyrics.
- Power Ballad: Most of his career, though mainly because of the success of "Angels".
- Pun-Based Title: Swing When You're Winning, Swings Both Ways, and in possibly a Self-Deprecation for his Small Name, Big Ego fame, The Ego Has Landed.
- Rearrange the Song: His late-'90s live arrangement of "Back For Good" humorously had the chorus rearranged in a thrash punk style, complete with him shouting "Mosh!". An example of this is on the "Angels" CD2 single. Whilst the verse melody is the same he changed some of the lyrics to highlight his (then) dislike of Take That. Doubles as Crowning Moment of Funny.
- "Sexed Up" was first demoed acoustically in 1998, and released on one of the "No Regrets" CD singles, was recorded as a full song for Escapology in 2002. The rerecording has an orchestra and a few lyric changes. The song was written for Natalie Imbruglia, who declined recording it for either of the two albums she released in this period, so Robbie took it back himself.
- Rock Me, Amadeus!: His 2016 single "Party Like a Russian" features a sample of Sergei Prokofiev's Montagues and Capulets at the chorus.
- Rock Star Song: "Come Undone", "Me and My Monkey".
- Sampling: "Millennium" with John Barry's strings from Nancy Sinatra's Bond theme You Only Live Twice.
- Silly Love Songs: "Heaven From Here", "She's the One", "Grace".
- Shout-Out: It's in his tradition to shout out to something in his songs. For instance, "She's Madonna" is a love song to the singer, and "Advertising Space" is about Elvis Presley with similarities to True Romance.
- "Rock DJ" 's line "Pimpin ain't easy" was the catchphrase of then popular WWE wrestler The Godfather.
- Slut-Shaming: "By All Means Necessary". Somewhat Self-Deprecation since he likes putting on the image of one himself.
- The Show Must Go On: The incident where some maniac pushed him off stage. Robbie tweaked his knee, but continued, just to not give said maniac the satisfaction. And despite the fact that, as he later admits, he's now seriously scared for his well-being.
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Old Before I Die".
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: The video for "Rock DJ". Though Robbie follows the striptease by literally taking off his skin and throwing it around at ladies, leaving only his skeleton visible.
- Even the single's cover is his skinless appearance from the video.