Saturday, 1 June 2013

Robbie Williams 'Strong'

Chart Peak: 4

You can't get a better recommendation for a place in pop's hall of fame than 3 Brit Awards - in February '99 Robbie scooped Brits for Best Video ('Millennium'), Best Song ('Angels') and Best Male Solo Artist... 'Strong' is due for release on March 15th.
Well, that first point is debatable (what about 4 Brit Awards?) but it does neatly link Robbie who holds the records for both Brit Awards and Now appearances. 'Strong' was the opening track and third single from his  enormously popular album I've Been Expecting You, though if the titles suggest bullish confidence, this one at least is undercut by the self-doubt that was - and presumably still is - always part of his stock-in-trade. "You think I'm strong/You're wrong, you're wrong!" he bellows into the anthemic chorus, which is mildly brave but the effect is somewhat spoilt by the fact that he can't think of a better lyric to follow than "I'll sing my song, my song, my song". In the video, intentionally or otherwise, he's shown performing these lines to a huge stadium crowd who sing it straight back at him, not necessarily taking on board the message. There again, it's always hard with him to be sure how much is a real cri de coeur and how much mere grandstanding; the harder-hearted might argue that even the constant insecurity and self-deprecation is itself as self-centred as his more obvious boastfulness.

Certainly, there's a lot of mugging and acting-up in the rather lazy promo video, compiled from tour and home video footage rather than specially shot, though they have at least lined up the lyric "I dance like me Dad" with a shot of him on stage with his father. This may be part of the reason why the song wasn't much of a hit outside the UK, even in countries where he was generally popular, or perhaps the lyrics about "a thousand fags" and "easy lays" didn't fully translate. Maybe people saw through the rather half-baked nature of the song (it's quite simplistic musically too) but his British fans had to buy the CD single anyway for his Brits performance.

Also appearing on: Now 34, 37, 38, 39, 41, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51 (with Nicole Kidman), 52 (with 1 Giant Leap & Maxi Jazz), 54, 55, 56, 59, 60, 62, 63, 65, 66, 74, 75, 77 (with Gary Barlow), 83
Available on: I've Been Expecting You

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