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Music / Take That (Band)

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L-R: Howard Donald, Gary Barlow, Jason Orange, Robbie Williams and Mark Owen

Whatever I said, whatever I did I didn't mean it,
I just want you back for good,
Whenever I'm wrong just tell me the song and I'll sing it,
You'll be right and understood.
— "Back For Good"

A British pop group, consisting of members Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Robbie Williams. They had a wildly successful initial run as a cheesy boy band from 1990 to 1996. The band stood out from most of their Boy Band peers because Barlow wrote almost all of their material himself, compared to other earlier and later groups that relied on outside songwriters. The group broke up in 1996, just as they were about to break-through in America and shortly after Williams departed for an extremely successful solo career.

However, after a reunion in 2005 (sans Williams), Take That came back and outdid themselves, with their album Progress (their first album after Williams rejoined in 2010) becoming the fastest-selling album of the century so far and the second fastest-selling album of all time (in the UK).

Robbie Williams has since gone back to focusing on his solo career (calling it a "hiatus" from Take That) and Jason Orange formally announced that he decided to leave the group permanently. Both departures were amicable and both of them are welcome to return whenever they want, with Williams occasionally rejoining the group for special appearances.

Take That are the second most successful British boy band of all time after One Direction.

The stage musical Greatest Days is a jukebox musical of their work. It premiered in 2017, and became the fastest selling musical tour in the UK of all time. A movie adaptation came out in 2023 to mixed reviews.


  • Take That & Party (1992)
  • Everything Changes (1993)
  • Nobody Else (1995)
  • Beautiful World (2006)
  • The Circus (2008)
  • Progress (2010)
  • III (2014)
  • Wonderland (2017)

The band provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay: The group got their start in gay clubs, and were apparently instructed by their manager to remain ambiguous on the topic of their sexuality as a way of appealing to that audience. Of course, they soon started targeting more traditional Boy Band demographics (ie. teenage girls), but rumours that one if not all of them were gay carried on throughout the nineties. Now they are almost all married with children however, this no longer applies (although they still have plenty of Ho Yay).
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Robbie, often described as "the baby of the band", and who was only sixteen when they first formed. Both Jason and Gary have expressed their regret that, given how young he was, none of them looked out for him enough.
  • Big Little Brother: Robbie Williams, both the youngest member of the band and the tallest. Though it's a Downplayed Trope, as Howard and Jason, the two oldest members of the band, are only about an inch shorter than him.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: the post-2014 three-person lineup counts as a male version, with Gary (blonde), Howard (brunette), and Mark (redheadnote ).
  • Boy Band: When the members began the group, Take That was this because they were young men/older teens, but since the group revived when they were grown men/middle-aged, they are now known as a "man band". For the record:
    • The Heartthrob: Garynote 
    • The Rebel: Robbie
    • The Cute One: Mark
    • The Big Brother: Jason
    • The Quiet One: Howard
  • Circus Synths: Their appropriately titled pop album The Circus. Their tour Take That Presents: The Circus Live featured a circus-like set and costumes, with clowns, balloons, and other props as well.
  • Death by Music Video: The band released a cover of "How Deep is Your Love" as the final single of their original run. In the video, a villainous woman had the band tied to chairs and put on the edge of a dock. At the end, she pushes Gary into the water, still tied to the chair, and is implied to do the same to the rest of the band.
  • Dropped-in Speech Clip: "SOS" has a sample of JFK declaring, "Without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed, and no republic can survive".
  • Even the Guys Want Him: It's a bit of a Running Gag within the fandom that all the others seem to fancy Jason. Mark once said that if he was a gay man he'd be most attracted to Jason, Robbie has labelled him one of his man-crushes, and Howard, well, listing all the times Howard has voiced his appreciation of Jason's looks would probably create a Wall of Text. The only one who doesn't seem to make these comments is Gary (he instead is prone to going on about how hot Howard is), but given, well, certain instances...
  • Fanservice: Many music videos the early years of the popularity, such as "Pray", which was Best Known for the Fanservice for many (even the non-fans).
  • Greatest Hits Album:
    • The first was released just before their break-up in 1996.
    • The second, The Ultimate Collection, was released to coincide with the ten year anniversary of the break-up: the massive sales of which (along with the high ratings for the tie-in documentary, For The Record) helped in leading to the band getting back together again.
    • A third, Odyssey, was announced to commemorate the band's thirtieth anniversary in 2019. Although this one will also apparently feature heavy usage of Rearrange the Song (as seen in the Odyssey version of "Pray"), so might also qualify as a Remix Album.
  • He Is All Grown Up: poor Gary had a reputation for being 'the fat one', and generally the least attractive, back in the nineties. Then came the reunion, and well...
    Jonathan Ross: How good does Gary look now? Because for years, we all felt sorry for you because you were the worst looking one ... but now, I think you might be the best looking one! What happened, puberty?
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Just everything Robbie Williams says nowadays about Gary Barlow.
    • Robbie Williams and Mark Owen. They were best friends the first time around, Mark was the only one who kept in regular contact with Robbie after the band split and was the only one who Robbie said nice things about plus Robbie asked Mark to perform with him and the friendship between them is obvious. Since Robbie rejoined, their friendship is still strong and are both very openly affectionate with each other. When Robbie backed out of the reunion, it was Mark who talked him round. Not to mention that the song 'Shine' and supposedly 'Hold Up A Light' are written about Robbie and both sung by Mark. There's even speculation that the Mark Owen solo song, 'Believe in the Boogie' is about him too.
    • Robbie Williams has also listed Jason Orange as one of his man-crushes.
    • Gary Barlow and Howard Donald, as well. They were best friends from the beginning of the band, were among the few members to stay in regular contact after the split, Gary initially asked Howard to be best man at his weddingnote , they performed together in the late 90s when Howard didn't even have a record deal, and during Gary's 'wilderness years', Howard apparently at least once went on an angry rant in his defense in a German newspaper. Gary has said on multiple occasions that if he had to marry another of the band, he'd marry Howard. If nothing else, they're close enough Howard can perform this dance with Gary's wife without a fight breaking out.
  • Hotter and Sexier: compared to most previous boybands (and indeed, many subsequent ones) they could be very explicit. Granted, all boybands peddle sex to a certain extent, but not all perform routines that boil down to humping the stage floor while discussing how they, ahem, give good feeling. Also inverted, in that the post-reunion incarnation of Take That is a lot more buttoned up and respectable.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Elton John and Gary Barlow. Elton has said that he sees Gary as his successor as a singer/songwriter and Gary has repeatedly stated how grateful he is for Elton's friendship during his 'wilderness years'. Gary wrote Face to Face as a way of saying thanks to Elton for being one of the few people in the music industry who didn't turn their backs on him or join in on the vicious ridiculing after his solo career fell apart.
  • Mr. Fanservice: well, it's a boy band, so everyone, but Howard in particular got the nickname "The Body of the Band", and in the nineties was prone to wear the most revealing outfits, up to and including assless chaps (NSFW). This may have something to do with him being the oldest of the group, as well as apparently being well-liked among older women who followed the band, as well as the mothers of younger fans.
    Howard: Fans always come up to me and are like "My mum fancies you!" And I'm like, that's alright. "What about you, do you fancy me?" And they go "No, I like Mark."
  • New Sound Album: Although the maturity progression in the early era was very subtle among the dance-pop and R&B-influenced first three albums (Nobody Else only removed the dance tunes in favour of a mixture of R&B midtempo songs and adult pop ballads), the comeback album Beautiful World and its sequel The Circus saw the band move towards a more mature pop rock sound with all four members jointly taking part in the songwriting.
    • After those two albums, the band decided to move towards music with a stronger electronic influence-a change so dramatic that they even considered renaming themselves to The English. They kept their original name when Robbie rejoined the band, but Progress was a very different album compared to their previous output. Instrumentals were primarily electronic, there were plenty of vocal effects (thankfully no autotune, though), and each track smoothly flowed into the next.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Enforced Trope. Manager Nigel Martin-Smith wanted to recreate the success of New Kids on the Block, but was put off by what he saw as their obnoxious attitudes. Henceforth, niceness and humility were among the major things he was looking for when searching for band members, and he spent a lot of time pressuring them to maintain that image. To paraphrase one journalist, for Take That niceness was not just an incidental attribute, but an aesthetic truth.
    • It's been suggested that this is one factor as to why their reunion was so successful, especially compared to other bands who've tried the same thing, and not had the same success: their sheer bloody niceness led even people who were not and would never be fans to wish them well.
    • Within the band, Mark in particular has the reputation for being "the nicest man in the world", to the extent the others tease him for it.
  • '90s Hair: Mark and Robbie both sported the 'curtains' look at different points during the band's first run. There's also Gary's infamous spiky bleached hair from their early years, and Howard's equally infamous dreads.
  • One Head Taller: Mark Owen and Robbie Williams, the shortest and tallest members of the band (5'5 and 6'1 respectively), as well as Heterosexual Life-Partners who've done quite a bit of cuddling over the years. Aww.
  • Oop North: The group were formed in Manchester. All members (except Robbie) are from the North West.
  • Parody of Evolution: Straight example. The cover of Progress, featuring each of the band as one of the 'stages'.
  • Serious Business: Their breakup in the 90s was so traumatic that the British government had to set up extra suicide hotlines because fans were absolutely devastated.
  • Singing Voice Dissonance: Howard Donald, usually considered the most masculine member of the band (to the extent that in the nineties, they joked about how he was the only one who wasn't allegedly gay), has a very high, soft singing voice. Conversely, Mark "The Cute One" Owen, the petite Pretty Boy, has a much lower, more guttural voice.
  • Step Up to the Microphone:
    • Take That's earlier albums were dominated by Gary both as singer and songwriter, but Howard, Jason, and Mark all got their chance to shine in their first two post-reunion albums. Jason even got his own solo showcase (and the rest of the band got a five minute breather) during their Patience tour. Their Circus album even featured "The Garden", a song where all four current members shared vocal duties and the accompanying tour gave each member multiple opportunities to be the lead.
    • Seemingly undone after Robbie came back. Howard and Jason were pushed to one side, with Jason only singing lead on a hidden bonus track on the Progress album. The accompanying tour was arranged so that Take That's post-reunion incarnation and Robbie's solo material would get equal stage time before the reformed five-piece took to the stage. This meant that songs that probably might have been included if Take That were still a four-piece were cut. Howard only got to sing lead on 'Never Forget' while Jason didn't get a chance to sing lead at all.
  • The Svengali: Robbie Williams has accused their former manager, Nigel Martin-Smith, of being this.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: Whilst the band tend to keep themselves to themselves these days, in the 90s hardly a week went by without one (or all) of them being in the newspapers for one reason or another, right down to whatever clothes they were wearing in a video.
  • Target Audience: 90s manager Nigel Martin-Smith first created the band to appeal to teenage girls and the gay audience. Nowadays the band has a much more widespread, generic appeal.
    • Martin-Smith originally wanted to form a British answer to New Kids on the Block, but changed his mind and decided to go for a slightly older audience when he discovered Barlow first. The fact that Barlow wrote all of his own material was a huge plus, but at 20, he was much older than the singers that Martin-Smith was looking for in his original concept. As a result, he decided to market the group to both British teenagers who had just outgrown NKOTB and the LGBT audience.
  • Those Two Guys: Howard and Jason, the two 'dancers at the back' who get very few vocal leads, and are often confused by non-fans. Although this no longer applies as Jason has left the band, while Howard hasn't.
  • Unreplaced Departed: Robbie Williams split with Take That acrimoniously in 1995 and wasn't replaced before they broke up in 1996. The group reunited in 2005, sans Williams, and worked as a quartet before Williams reconciled with everyone and they reformed as a quintet in 2010note . Williams left again to refocus on his solo career and Jason Orange followed not long after, although everyone made it clear that these departures were friendly and the two were welcome back at any time. The remaining three continue to record and tour together.
  • Vocal Evolution: Gary's voice notably got a lot deeper between the band's split and reunion.

Their videos and tours provide examples of:

  • Affectionate Self-Parody: the video to "These Days" is one of these to their nineties boyband days, complete with choreographed dancing, questionable fashion choices, and latent homoeroticism.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: Shine is a three minute long homage/parody of his work.
  • Badly Battered Babysitter: Mark in the video for "Sure." It doesn't help that the rest of the band are meant to be helping him babysit, but clearly aren't pulling their weight.
  • Concept Video:
    • "How Deep Is Your Love", which is about the band being kidnapped and menaced by a Loony Fan.
    • "The Flood", which is about the band participating in an intense boat race.
    • "Kidz", which is about the band visiting a distraught-looking Eastern European city on a spaceship, dressed in various historical costumes. Whether they're meant to be aliens, time travellers, or alien time-travellers isn't quite clear.
    • "Happy Now", about the band auditioning a cover band of themselves who refuse to go away no matter how many times they're rejected.
    • "New Day", about a Zombie Apocalypse.
    • "Hey Boy", about the band organising a dance-off between various cliques.
    • "I'd Wait For Life" is presumably meant to be one of these, but good luck figuring out what the concept actually is.
    • "Babe" and "Sure" might count as subversions:
  • Bowdlerise: The official upload of "Do What U Like" on their Youtube channel is a censored version that removes the nudity.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: the video for "Happy Now", done for Comic Relief 2011, featuring the boys auditioning a cover band of themselves (played by James Corden, John Bishop, Alan Carr, David Walliams, and Catherine Tate), who recreate several of their most famous (and infamous) costumes and dance routines from across their career, including from Do What You Like, The Flood, Pray and Back For Good.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "Back For Good"
  • Epic Tracking Shot: "These Days"
  • Great Balls of Fire!: On stage, "Relight My Fire" is always accompanied by lots of pyrotechnics and other visual effects.
  • In Da Club: "Relight My Fire"
  • Internal Deconstruction: the "Apache 2006" routine from The Ultimate Tour, a pretty harsh look at the process of their own manufacture, and the extent they were controlled by The Manager.note 
  • In The Studio: "Rule The World"
  • L.A. Rooftop: "Greatest Day"
  • On a Soundstage All Along: "Babe"
  • Fanservice:
    • PVC, leather, whips, mesh shirts and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
    • The Kidz video. They show up, in an awesome space-ship. Dressed as war heroes from different ages. And Robbie rides around on a cute little bike in a chain-mail shirt.
  • Mechanical Horse:
  • Mind Screw: the video for "I'd Wait For Life", which features, in no particular order: shots of Mark, Howard and Jason seemingly drowning in a lake, shots of Gary climbing out of the lake, shots of Jason rushing toward the lake, shots of Mark and Howard playing poker, shots of Howard waiting by the side of the road, shots of Jason blowing bubbles with a little girl, shots of Mark pulling a mask off, shots of Howard washing his face, shots of Howard arguing with a woman, shots of Jason dancing with a woman, all interspersed with Gary sitting in a car, singing. What any of this has to do with the song is anyone's guess.
  • Mood Whiplash: in general, tours combining both old and new Take That hits leads to a lot of this. In particular, the 2009 "The Circus" tour featured a medley of the band's cheesiest nineties hits, performed in clown costumes & makeup, sandwiched between the slow, meditative "What Is Love?" and the intensely sad "Said it All."
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mark's "Junkie's baddy powder" crop top in the video for "Relight My Fire." Apparently he saw the top on a dancer, liked it, and so borrowed it off her. It's pretty fondly remembered by fans, showing males can pull off this trope if they're enough of a Pretty Boy.
  • Mud Wrestling: quite infamously, their very first video "Do What You Like" features them half-naked in leather, wrestling in whipped cream and jelly.
  • Music Video Overshadowing
  • Rearrange the Song: The Ultimate Tour featured "It Only Takes a Minute" performed as a tango.
  • Sad Clown: The aesthetic is heavily employed in the video for "Said It All."
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Jason and Howard in the "Back For Good" video.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: The majority of Take That's 90s videos and stage sets are prime examples of this.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: It would be faster to list the nineties videos that didn't feature at least one of them shirtless (or wearing a see-through/mesh shirt, or wearing a shirt entirely unbuttoned, etc.). To wit: "A Million Love Songs", "Babe", "Everything Changes", "Back For Good", "How Deep Is Your Love?". That's it.

Their songs provide examples of:

  • Age-Progression Song: "Wooden Boat"; childhood, teenage years, adulthood with marriage and a child on the way, and finally old age and death. Each era has its own verse, with all four verses being referred to in the chorus; "We go from green to blue to gold to black''
  • Arc Words: "Progress" for, well, Progress. As well as being the title of the album, it shows up at two particularly important points in the album, during the dramatic build-up of "The Flood" ("there's progress now, where there once was none") and during the joyous climax of "What Do You Want From Me" ("we're making progress here, so where shall we go?").
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • "Never Forget" and "Back For Good" are the most obvious, but on their Circus tour, the band had the audience sing the first verse of "Rule The World".
    • "Hold Up A Light".
  • Author Catchphrase: "Hold on" is this for Gary Barlow since the band reformed. He can't go an album without including it in one of his songs.
  • Break-Up Song: "Back For Good", "Pray", "Love Ain't Here Anymore", "Said It All."
  • Cover Version: The band's breakout hit was a cover version of "It Only Takes A Minute", and they have also covered the Bee Gees' "How Deep Is Your Love". Subsequently, many of the band's biggest original hits have been covered by other artists, with "Back For Good" the most covered of the lot.
  • Creator Cameo: the Odyssey version of "How Deep is Your Love?", featuring Barry Gibb himself.
  • Hidden Track: "Butterfly" on Beautiful World, "She Said" on The Circus, and "Flowerbed" on Progress.
  • Intercourse with You:
    • A few of these, back in the nineties, albeit mostly as album tracks] "Give Good Feeling", "Every Guy", "Lady Tonight", "Sure"note , possibly "Do What You Like" as well... The verses of "Every Guy" in particular are not in the least bit subtle.
      OK so I've stared a little long
      You can take my body, take my fingers and my tongue
      Oh you move like you know what's coming next
      Touching me, touching you, touching all around your legs
    • There's also "Underground Machine", off Progress, which is halfway between this and a Rock-Star Song - seemingly being about a hookup between a rock star and a groupie.
  • Interrupted Suicide: The beginning of "Superstar", off Wonderland:
    Standing on a ledge, looking down
    Somebody shouting "Don't jump, don't hit the ground"
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: from "Babe", when the protagonist finally meets his former lover, the eponymous "Babe", again:
    Just as I looked away, I saw a face behind you
    A little boy stood at your door
    And as I looked again I saw his face was shining
  • Ode to Youth: "Never Forget"
  • One-Woman Song: "Julie", off The Circus.
  • One-Word Title: "Promises", "Pray", "Babe", "Sure", "Patience", "Shine", "Kidz", "Giants"... It seems to be tradition that every album should have at least one single with one of thesenote . There are more if one counts album tracks as well.note  Needless to say, they like this trope.
  • Pep-Talk Song: They wrote "Shine" in response to Robbie Williams' battle with depression.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Robbie Williams' lines in "SOS" may be one to Mark Owen's solo hit "Four-Minute Warning":
      "You'll get a five-minute warning/For divine intervention"
  • Their First Time: Seemingly the subject of "Sure."
  • Vocal Dissonance: Howard is the largest member of the band, but his voice is surprisingly light and he handles most of the high harmonies.
  • X Treme Kool Letterz: "Kidz", presumably titled as such to avoid confusion with the duet Robbie recorded with Kylie Minogue, entitled "Kids."

I guess now it's time, that you came back for good.

Alternative Title(s): Take That