Radio Creme BruleeMark Owen unveils "Stars" - A Single Review
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Mark Owen unveils “Stars” – A Single Review

16 May 2013 11 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

This review is by our highly talented affiliate blogger Sarah Hamilton from Popledge UK. The new single “Stars” by Take That’s Mark Owen has been highly anticipated. Here is Sarah’s take on it!

Mark OwenThe rather surprising resurgence of Take That in 2006 took the music world by surprise. Boybands, by design, are not supposed to have a second go at success. The mass hysteria that propels them to stardom is not supposed to work when they become mature adults. Yet, in the case of Take That, it worked. Three number one singles and three number one albums later (since 2006), it is fair to say that their comeback just might be the biggest one in music history. It was a comeback against all odds – especially since for the first two post-reunion albums, the band’s breakout star Robbie Williams was NOT part of the fold (he joined in on the “Progress” album).  One of the  noteworthy effects of their surprising streak of success was a re-examination of the solo work of band-members Gary Barlow and Mark Owen. Their commercial success as solo artists started to dwindle with their sophomore efforts. A critical re-evaluation of the three band-members that went solo suggested that it was Mark Owen whose material was the strongest – if not the most commercially successful. Mark played all his cards right. Like Robbie Williams, he too reinvented himself (this is probably where Gary Barlow failed despite his competence as a songwriter). He unapologetically embraced the “Indie” in him and did not feel the need to fit the mold of the pop music scene around him at the time he went solo. Today, he is given a lot of kudos for that. Hence, it is not surprising that he wants to give his solo career a second shot – especially since his renewed fame and success as a member of Take That. His new album “The Art of Doing Nothing” is slated for a release on June 10 and the album’s lead single “Stars” definitely does quite the job of creating an appetite for the new album.

In some ways Owen’s single “Stars” lyrically borrows heavily from some of Take That’s ‘Progress’ era tracks which included talk of aliens, rocket ships and traveling through the dimensions. From a personal point of view it is hard not to listen to the lines ‘you want to get away…I’m taking you”  and “If I tell you I’m leaving just hang on” without thinking back to and referencing Mark’s drinking problems and subsequent affairs and difficulties within his marriage.  It also serves up a feeling that all of our lives are finite. He refers to the fact that we all end up where we started as stars.  Therefore lyrically there is a lot to look into within “Stars” and you can take the meanings and thoughts as far as you like.

The sound of the track can be described best as “light electronic pop track”. There are no synths or effects but rather a use of more traditional instruments such as violins and drums which adds a richness and a quality to the track.  The insistent and quite angry beat running through the track is especially noteworthy. Owen’s vocals can be a bit off-putting for some – since they are a bit nasal. But on this track, the  vocals are well-suited to the subject matter. There is also a nice moment near the end of the track where his vocals are ‘echoed’ into several layers.

The question of whether or not commercial radio will pick “Stars” up for rotation is a debatable one. As a solo star, Mark Owen is woefully ignored. He doesn’t have the media presence and ‘national treasure’ PR which Take That band-mate Gary Barlow trades on. Neither does he have the kind of fan-base/popular history that Robbie Williams does. What he does have on his side is the association with Take That which is never to be under-estimated. He will also fit well into radio stations such as Radio 2, Absolute Radio, and of course our own station Radio Creme Brulee!  He also has the opportunity through the art side of the album to pick up interest and critical acclaim from more ‘alternative’ blogs. Regardless of how the single fares commercially, it is still a noteworthy return for Take That’s most criminally under-rated band-member. That being said, here is the full-length music video (below) for “Stars“:

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RADIO ALERT: We might be one of the few American radio stations that plays Take That’ music regularly. We are definitely the ONLY radio station in the world that plays the solo material of Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, and Mark Owen regularly. Currently, “Starsby Mark Owen is getting 5 plays a day on our radio station. You can listen to us online or on your smartphone from ANY part of the world. IF you are reading this on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet etc.), CLICK HERE to listen to our radio station. If not, listen to our station from ANY part of the world by clicking on the button below.


11 Responses to "Mark Owen unveils “Stars” – A Single Review"

  1. daisy says:

    I don’t remember reading anywhere that Mark’s solo material was better than Gary’s. Gary’s solo album, 12M 11D, which is highly underrated (it’s better than any of the TT albums so far), was never re-evaluated and, if my memory serves me right, back in the 90s, experts deemed Lie to Me and All That I’ve Given Away his best work ever, respectively his best work since Back for Good (which is a very high standard). Mark may have improved over time in terms of song-writing (because in terms of singing, there’s not much improvement), but to say that he’s criminally underrated is an exaggeration. His songs usually spiral out of control and they all lack structure and depth. People consider his songs more meaningful simply because he uses symbolism (which, in my opinion, is actually cheap and devoid of real significance)and tries to stir away a little from pop. But his songs are really fractured: there’s no cohesion and fluidity between his vocals and sung parts and the music; it’s like 2 parallel things happening at once on stage/record. As for Stars, the more I listen to it, the more I’m starting to realize it sounds like a song for kids. Not to mention that it’s hard not to think that maybe Mark is trying to copy Gary. There’s no mystery that Gary said, back in the 90s, that his dream was to become an spaceman; since then, he’s proclaimed his love for Star wars, Star Trek and anything space related over and over again. So, to see Mark in an astronaut suit appears like a weak attempt of becoming the new Gary Barlow of music.

  2. Serena says:

    I really love Take That, especially Gary and Mark, but I’m really not sure about this song…I prefer his old solo stuff, like Four Minute Warning. The music sounds cool but the lyrics are a little bit naff, and I really like his quirky lyrics in Take That songs but its a bit OTT here. Also its missing the back-up of 3 or 4 more voices (hint, hint) ; ) I’m basically saying its nice, but him and Gary need to get on with a new Take That album now. PLEASE!

  3. @daisy: @Daisy: Thank you so much for your detailed comment. We think of the comments as being as important as the blog post itself. Gary, Mark, and Robbie were held to a whole new standard once Take That 1.0 ended back in 1996. Gary Barlow was and continues to the best songwriter that emerged from the Manchester quintet. For better or for worse, when the band disbanded, the solo efforts were evaluated more for their ability to reinvent than the songwriting component. This is where Robbie won hands down. Mark did the reinvention thing but could not sustain a commercial onslaught of the type Robbie had pulled off. Our statement about Mark’s material was simply based on feedback we received from casual fans as opposed to die-hards via our facebook fanpage and fanmails from radio listeners. I can’t be sure of this but iTunes USA definitely made a statement about Gary Barlow’s 12m 11D getting a re-evaluation. Needless to say, the American review for the album was a good one. Mark definitely does not stay confined to the standard pop template and that is where his commercial hurdles might arise. Vocally, he does not meet the standards of Gary Barlow either. That being said, he does manage to distinguish himself. Not sure about him trying to copy Gary. Gary’s leanings as a solo artist have been very soul-driven. Mark’s leanings are very Indie-sounding. Thanks once again for the comment. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station/blog?

  4. @Serena: I’d have to echo the sentiment that a Take That album is far more desirable than solo albums by its band-members. I am guessing late 2014 is probably the earliest a Take That album will see the light of day. It will be interesting to hear what it sounds like stylistically. The band definitely hit quite a high point with “Progress/Progressed”. We’re definitely rooting for a 5-piece album and not one by TT4. Thanks so much for your comment. Just out of curiosity, how did you discover our radio station/blog?

  5. Louise says:

    I’m from the Uk and not being funny but if you did research into the background of make owen and listened to his brilliant albumn ‘in your own time’ which also did not get the opportunity of AirPlay here at the time, he is an amazing song writer and that is a brilliant album. Green man wasn’t but this one shown a mature experienced song writer to which my boyfriend at the time, an indie fan, would play it all the time and he hates boybands! In fact, if you listen to that album and then listen to take that’s more recent stuff youll realise the influence Mark has – and may even take the time to study the album cover as to who has written the lyrics – Mark owen features heavily as well as gary b!

  6. @Louise: My sincere apologies for the delayed acknowledgment of your comment. We actually play a bunch of songs from “In your own time”. There are some great tracks on it. I think Mark definitely won a lot of praise from the Indie crowd post “Green Man”. It is quite evident that his creative stamp on Take That’s material is also growing substantially. It is no longer a Gary Barlow dominated creative act at all. We’re definitely looking forward to hearing the rest of his album.

  7. kerry says:

    I’m from the UK and I don’t recall it ever been said that Mark’s solo work was better than Gary’s either! As for all these comments saying how good “In your own time” was I wonder if we forgetting that Gary Barlow was heavily involved in that album and co wrote the only hit single off it!

  8. kerry says:

    Oh and I have to say I was soooo disappointed when I listened online to Mark’s new stuff (I was about 70% going to buy it) I much preferred his earlier solo stuff.

  9. @Kerry: Our assessment of Mark’s solo work wasn’t based on any sort of objective comparison of the solo catalogs of the Take That band-members. Our comments were based on our listeners’ opinions. I actually did not know Gary Barlow was involved in “In your own time’. We actually play a bunch of songs from that album quite often.

  10. G!e says:

    First, Mark Owen wrote mostly his own songs like Gary Barlow. Robbie Willams don’t write his own song, his just co-writer. Candy was written by Gary Barlow and Robbie helps only with some lyrics. Angel isn’t written by Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, This song was written from unknown Singer in Dublin, the title is actually An Angel instead, Robbie and Guy make it into “Angels”. I have that feeling that you try to make Robbie Williams bigger here and criticized the others! Be fair. Thanks!

  11. @G!e: You are right. Mark and Gary are without a doubt more competent in the songwriting department. A lot of Robbie’s initial hits were co-writes. Songwriting is something that he nurtured over time – whereas Gary and Mark undoubtedly had a stronger grasp of it. I think in general, we try and evaluate the end-product as opposed to its individual components. From a songwriting perspective, we have always maintained that Gary Barlow leads the pack!

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