The implications of Jason Orange's exit from Take That
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The implications of Jason Orange’s exit from Take That

27 September 2014 11 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

Jason-orange-profileFor anyone that has been a Take That fan since the early 90s, Wednesday evening (September 24, 2014) must have presented its fair share of deja vu moments. In a rather surprising and unfortunate twist in the Take That story, band-member Jason Orange made a formal statement announcing his departure from Take That – one of Britain’s most successful music groups of all time. The moment was probably reminiscent of that time back in 1995 when the group’s official “bad boy” Robbie Williams announced his exit from Take That. Helplines were set up for fans in the UK and there was a lot of shedding of tears for the band. This time, with Jason’s exit, there has been no helpline action despite the levels of sadness and surprise across Take That’s global fanbase. There is no point trying to speculate over the reasons for the departure of the intensely private Jason Orange. For a pop star, he has done an amazing job of being extremely tight-lipped about key elements of his life – which seem to have been shrouded in mystery for what seems like ever. That dynamic is unlikely to change any time soon. The members of Take That are reasonably good at keeping their secrets concealed. The bigger and more pertinent question here is – what does Jason’s exit mean for Take That and their future as a musical and commercial entity?

In the 90s, Jason’s inclusion into Take That stemmed primarily from his competence as a breakdancer and his chiseled good looks. In the band, he was, without a doubt, a healthier alternative to Robbie Williams when it came to mass female adulation. It was no secret that he did not have any creative input into the music. It was well known that Gary Barlow was the heart and soul of the band from a purely musical perspective. But Take That was bigger than their music. They were a pop band composed of classically good-looking men with great voices and who together had an immaculate stage presence. Their live shows were quite the spectacle. But they were still very much a band. While the music was pretty top-notch (especially with the release of the “Everything Changes” album), the commercial power of the band still revolved around the fact that they were a band with a dynamic that had an intensely magnetic lure.  Gary Barlow did all the writing and most of the singing but this did NOT change the fact that the mass adulation was towards the band as a cohesive unit.

Take That started to look a lot less like a “Gary Barlow and the rest” entity when they successfully returned to the pop music landscape in 2006 becoming the biggest comeback act in the history of pop music. What was initially a solo endeavor (i.e. Gary Barlow being the creative nucleus of Take That) had morphed into a musical democracy. All members (sans Robbie Williams) contributed to the songwriting process. The band changed from a pop/soul act to more of an Adult Alternative act. They also donned a style that was well suited to them and that was commercially viable. But they were still a band. They had not necessarily returned with their strongest material to date but they knew how to leverage their “brand appeal” – which stemmed from the band dynamic that the four Manchester lads shared. It was a dynamic that worked well even without Robbie Williams.

takethat-punjaIn 2010, with the release of “Progress” and the “larger than life” stadium tour that followed, Take That appeared more like a supergroup (two huge acts being fused into one) even though they had just returned to their original formation as a quintet which included Robbie Williams. Not only were they riding the wave of a successful comeback but they were taking a true “deep dive” into nostalgia, which while limited in its shelf life has a very strong lure. “Progress” by itself was a fantastic album that showcased quite the creative foray for the band into uncharted territory from a sonic perspective. We personally think this is when the band should have called it quits. They always wanted to exit on a high – and they were fortunate to be one of the few bands (if not the only one) to have two dizzyingly high commercial zeniths.

Now, with Take That being months away from the release of a new album, and them being reduced to a three-piece, it is hard to dismiss the fact that the brand appeal of a diluted band dynamic (sans Orange and Williams) will undoubtedly be diminished. How could they possibly go from being a 5-piece to a 3-piece?

Musically, the band will sound almost exactly like Take That 2.0 (i.e. without Robbie Williams). Jason Orange was by no means a key vocalist. Besides tracks such as “Wooden Boat” and “Flowerbed”, not a single song showcases his vocal ability. Hence, nothing will change in terms of the musical output. That being said, the halo that emanates from the Take That brand will undoubtedly get tarnished. The brand dilution will become obvious when the band starts to do promotional activities such as performance on television and interviews. The “half glass empty” syndrome will be most obvious when the band goes on tour. However great the music is, the fans will have only one thing on their minds – the fact that the band is incomplete. What they will see is a shadow of a band that once was. Going from a 5-piece to a 3-piece in a situation wherein band dynamic is key to commercial success is tough. While we applaud Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, and Howard Donald for being gracious about Jason Orange’s departure, they might be underestimating the forces at play here.

Take That has been successful against all odds in the past. Hence, it is very possible that they might overcome their latest setback but it is highly unlikely that they will do so. While we believe that Robbie Williams infused new life into a Take That sound that was starting to get stale on the “Circus” album, we never believed that Take That needed Williams – not until now. It would be a fine gesture on the part of Robbie Williams if he returned to Take That. His return would eclipse Jason Orange’s departure and the four of them could easily turn this ship around. It might be wishful thinking but it is worth a mention.

Last, but not least, we wish Jason Orange the absolute best for all future endeavors.

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We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades. The music of Take That is a regular staple on our radio station – even though we are an American radio station. We were the first US-based station to feature “The Flood” when it released in 2010. In addition to Take That singles and singles by members such as Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, and Robbie Williams, we also feature album tracks and b-sides by these artists fairly regularly on our 24/7 global broadcast. Right now, “These Days” by Take That is getting 5 plays a day on our station.

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11 Responses to "The implications of Jason Orange’s exit from Take That"

  1. Marie says:

    Good article. Only a factual remark: besides “Wooden Boat” and “Flowerbed”, Jason had lead vocals also in “How Did It Come To This” and “84” (that was a B-side). And to be honest, I think that losing him in the harmonies will change the sound. Not that much, I grant you. But … yeah, just as you say, I’m afraid it won’t “feel” right.

  2. Kerry says:

    Call yourself a Take That Fan? Do you think they should all just retire then even if the music is great (All the musical talent from TT4 remains!)? Robbie’s music isn’t a patch on what it used to be and hasn’t been for at least 10 years and I’ve never heard you suggest that of him. I think you are wrong in expecting the new TT3 material to sound like the TT4 stuff. All evidence points to it being synth driven (Gary mentioned an eighties vibe and that they had been working with Stuart Price)They completely reinvented themselves when they reformed as a four piece. I think they may be more aware of TT3 needing to be a another reinvention rather than TT4 without Jason than you realise. Very disappointed in you!

  3. @Marie: I need to make the update about “How did I come to this”. One of our twitter followers pointed this out to us yesterday too and we were unable to factor in the change – but that is top priority for today. As far as harmonies are concerned, it always seemed that Howard was the one largely responsible for providing the harmonic effect. I completely forgot about “84”. That was a b-side. Thanks as always for the comment. I am glad you enjoyed the article.

  4. @Kerry: Our sincere apologies if the article offended you in any way. The real truth is, we feel very conflicted about TT moving forward. Personally, we NEVER want them to stop. Them coming back in 2006 and remaining entrenched in the pop music landscape was something we viewed as a divine intervention in pop music. We still do. I’ve heard that both Stuart Price and John Shanks are working on this – so it might be a mixed bag. I should have emphasized that vocally, it will sound like TT4 but stylistically probably not – especially if Stuart Price is involved. We have always supported Take That and will continue to do so – how many ever members are left. That does not change for us. As I mentioned earlier, we feel conflicted. Personally, we’d love for them to around forever. From a professional standpoint, we have our concerns. We would love to be proved wrong. Nothing would make us happier.

  5. Kerry says:

    Your article does say that you think they should have called it quits after the progress tour. I understand you saying you feel conflicted. I do too. Its the sheer negativity from some before we have heard their plans or the music that winds me up. I’m not an original Take That fan from the nineties (I was having a bit of a hipster phase at and the time and listened to my Mum’s copy of the Everything Changes Album and became a fan after she made listen to the Beautiful World album) so for me it has always been about the music. I couldn’t care less about whether or not Jason Orange is still in the group (I always wondered what the ‘point’ in him was anyway) I do care about their legacy though and it would be a shame for things to end on a downer. There are rumours now of a name change which would I guess protect Take That’s legacy leaving the group effectively ending with the progress tour (Olympics performance aside)There are also rumours that the next tour will be arenas not stadiums and it was said ages ago that the next tour would be more music driven. This and the more intimate venues may compensate to an extent for the lack of Jason. They may carry less fans with them if they change the name though.

    I also wonder if sticking out the Take That thing is right for Gary. He has finally managed to separate his identity from the rest of Take That (many people when the Jason Orange story broke thought that TT has split anyway) and had a really successful solo stint and could while not maybe having double platinum albums and playing areans all the time could probably be viable even if on a reduced scale.

    On the other hand I don’t want to see Mark and Howard go (Mark would maybe be able continue but unsure after effectively four (albeit unfairly) flop albums. I also can’t help thinking what if they can pull another special reinvention. That would be a fab next chapter to the TT story.

  6. @Kerry: Thanks so much for the comment. The article does say they should have called it quits. That comes from our “business” take on Take That – and NOT our musical take. We obviously would never want them to depart – but if you have read some of our other articles on Take That, you would notice that we tend to weave in the commercial perspective a lot – mostly because TT, for the most part,has managed to succeed on that front despite the odds being against them. I think the arena approach is a good one – and your are right, it puts the music front and center and moves away from the larger-than-life spectacles that their shows typically are. I too care about their legacy and a name-change might not be the worst idea out there – but I think they need to have a branding strategy conversation and not just assume that all can go on as usual. I still think Gary needs Take That. He is a brand in himself but he still builds off the foundation that TT has created for him. I am still hoping for another stunning reinvention. Imagine what a story that would be!!!

  7. Ellie says:

    @radiocremebrulee I’m a little late coming into this one. I wanted to comment last week but the blog you wrote on ‘These Days’ was my primary focus. If it’s okay I’d like to comment on this.
    I see many things I agree with, and a few that I don’t. My own feeling is that the loss of Jason isn’t going to dilute Take That’s brand. I wrote a blog piece about his exit but that was more directed towards the negative backlash on Twitter. In the interest of keeping the peace with the TTArmy however, I didn’t mention in that piece that I’d felt he contributed little to the band creatively. This is in no way a criticism of him, but for me personally he was never more than a back-up dancer/singer. He stood out for the dancing and his looks. He’s wildly intelligent and has a quiet, self-deprecating humour about him when he comes out his shell, but he’s also a deep thinker and an introvert. I think even Gary referred to him once as the ‘philosopher’ of the band. But as a creative force in Take That? No. It was clear to me even in the first incarnation that he was never comfortable with his fame. Until recent years he was never featured vocally, and whilst he did a fine job, he’s not a strong vocalist and it was apparent that he was never at ease with solo bits, let alone backup vocals. During the Progress Tour and in other performances as well there are many moments when the cameras are on him and he isn’t singing when he should. Sometimes he looks like he’d rather be anywhere else. Hearing that he’d wanted out since Progress comes as no surprise, in hindsight. In past conversations with other TT fans on Twitter, several of us had noticed that it looked like Jason had already left the building. When Take That reunited in ’06 it was clear that he had reservations, but he was able to talk himself out of them. He did want to try again, and I don’t think he regrets that decision for a moment. I still believed it was only a matter of time, yet he lasted longer than I thought he would. I wish him well as he moves onto the next chapter of his life. Wherever it takes him. Who knows, maybe in the future he’ll give TT a cameo or two. I’m sure the fans would go mad for it!

    I don’t believe that for any diehard fan of Take That Jason’s exit will dilute their appeal or ‘tarnish their halo’. The creative core of the band is still very much intact. Gary, Howard and Mark seem to have always been the true ‘cohesive unit’ and are committed to staying together as long as they possibly can. There’s an unbelievable amount of passion betwixt the three men for what they do. Would that we all had that level of love and passion for our own jobs! It’s going to be different, certainly. The appearance of the band will be different for obvious reasons but I feel that calling them ‘incomplete’ is unfair. I think it would look far more incomplete if a member stayed in the group when he obviously wasn’t feeling it anymore. For the vast majority of we TT fans, that they are now a 3-piece won’t change our level of devotion, and it shouldn’t be looked at as a ‘step down’ that they went from a 5-piece to a 3. I beg to differ that they should have quit after Progress. That is the first time I think I’ve ever heard that sentiment coming from a fan. Again, the overwhelming majority are truly excited to see the opening of this new chapter. Since the reunion, each tour they’ve done has been different and special in its own right, each tour possesses its own brilliance. It’s a unique gift that this band has, along with their ability to constantly adapt and reinvent. They truly are fan-driven and have their fingers on the pulse of what we want to see from them. I think they’ll smash it again. And if there are fans out there that don’t like it, or decide they just ‘can’t handle TT as a 3’, I’ve no doubt that there will be an influx of new fans that the new record will reach. Such is the unique magic of this band. It would take a truly tragic mistake for them to fall out with the core of their fan base, and I can’t even imagine what that would entail.

    As an aside, in TT’s first incarnation Gary did hold all the creative/songwriting input and credit. When they reformed there was an agreement with all of them that they would share creative credit from then on. Whilst there is increased creative input from the others, that decision was made to make them all fair and equal partners and partakers of the credit. Make no mistake, Gary is the driving creative force behind that group. The bulk of everything they’ve done since the reunion are still his songs, his words, his style. The credit is only equal on paper. I’ve seen very little that doesn’t have his stamp on it. But as a grown man, he’s expressed that he is not as selfish as when he was younger and is more than willing to sit back and share the credit. And the responsibility. The way the remaining three work together as a whole is just another reason they have gone farther this second go-round than they did in those crazy boy-band days of the ’90’s. As for Gary, as a solo artist he is another brand entirely, very true, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him that after 14 years he gave it another go and smashed it like he did. But even after that, he knows how much he needs that band. He’ll be the first one to say that his first priority is and always will be Take That.

    All this to say that maybe it’s a better idea to not project so much until we see the finished product. There has been a lot of speculation, especially since the debut of ‘These Days’. But it’s one song and we’ve not even had a video yet. Speculation in either direction is a bit premature. Even if it ultimately doesn’t suit everyone, I think that another stunning reinvention is not only very possible, but highly likely. Progress suited me the least out of all of TT’s records and tours, but it didn’t change my devotion and look how massive it was. Funny, I remember the same fan freak-out from the anti-Rob brigade that thought the reunion was going to torpedo the band. And now look at how things have changed yet again. Whatever happens, III and TT3 are now reality.

  8. G!e says:

    Too bad, you don’t really promote them in your country. Now wonder…if they can’t reach the American people anymore! The guys have not even started, you criticised them already, especially their new Single. Please, don’t compare the 3 Lads, with with Jason or with Robbie. You can’t blame them, if the other 2 are egoist! As you wrote, better to have TT3 than nothing at all! So, if you’re not convinced about the new TT3, then stop talking or writing about them! You can promote Robbie as you want!But, you slowly destroying TT3! Maybe i’m wrong, but i have not yet read any positive articles you wrote about the 3 Lads. Sorry!

  9. @G!e: We actually really like their new single – which is why we gave the song a 4 out of 5 stars – which is actually a pretty good rating. We are actually quite encouraged by “These Days” and the next juncture to write about them will probably be when the album releases on December 1. So far, we have only written one article on TT3 and that relates to “These Days”. We do not yet have material for another article about them until the album releases – but you can be sure that we will publish something about them real soon!

  10. @Ellie: My sincere apologies for the delayed acknowledgment of your comment. It has been a crazy few days at my end. In terms of brand dilution, there are two components – the creative component and the ancillary celebrity component (which should NOT be underestimated). For me personally, it all comes down to the creative aspect of things. If you listen to our station, you will realize quickly that we are not carried away by the commercial attributes of a pop/rock act. If the music is great, we will feature it regardless of whether or not the artist is in his or her “commercial prime”. I agree that from a creative standpoint, there will be no perceivable difference but from a brand component (whose attributes are not drawn purely from the music), one might not be able to help noticing a missing piece. As I said, this will only be obvious during promo activities. And as you mentioned, to a die-hard Jason’s exit will not detract from the band’s appeal at all. This effect might be felt on the casual Take That fans.

    We’re obviously bummed that Jason quit – but it was probably best for him if he was not comfortable. I always find the “uncomfortable with fame” argument that many pop stars make a little odd. The idea that their fame and wealth are NOT inextricably linked seems a little naive. I remember George Michael making a comment about this naivety in one of his earlier interview with Jonathan Ross – back in the “Faith” era. The financial remuneration structure of the reunited Take That probably benefited Jason much better than the 90s setup did – so monetarily speaking, there was no reason for Jason NOT to do it.

    “These Days” has already revealed hints of a reinvention and this will no doubt win a new audience for the trio. We’re rooting for Take That like we always have!

  11. Ellie says:

    @radiocremebrulee Lately I’ve only time to catch up on things on my weekends, so I didn’t notice the delay. I relate to the ‘crazy’ bit…

    Agree on the strangeness of the ‘uncomfortable with fame’ argument. But with Jay there were times when he was fully engaged with TT as a whole and then others where he just seemed disconnected. Definitely more noticeable when Rob came back into things. Was that part of it? Only he knows, but I don’t know that it factored into his decision to leave, seeing as it was always known that Rob rejoining them wasn’t a permanent situation. Jason’s a serious, deep thinker that spends a lot of time in his own head. An introvert. I really don’t see him as the type that sees his wealth as the be all, end all of everything. With Jay I don’t think naivete enters into it at all. He’d possibly be just as comfortable being an average joe with a paycheck to paycheck existence as much as a former band member who probably doesn’t need to work for the rest of his life. He’s the type that’s always seeking answers and he needs to find his way. Being a part of the band isn’t the best path for him, I guess. That he didn’t feel it anymore and wasn’t always focused was noticeable and I wasn’t the only one. For awhile there was a running chat over Twitter about it. It’s not beneficial for the band if a member simply isn’t feeling it anymore and can’t really keep it from being obvious. I’m not being mean. If you watch for it, it’s definitely there.

    I was messing about on my computer last night and came across my video of For The Record and decided to watch it. It had been awhile and although I’ve seen it loads of times there were some things that really came to light in the wake of his retirement. He made comments in the documentary that hinted at things to come, even before the band decided to reunite. He had some issues with people and the way things had been and to be honest I’m not sure he resolved them all. I could be wrong. Who really knows if any of that factored in at all. Jason is a complex character and in his case I think the discomfort with being in the public eye certainly does apply. I can visualise him trekking with the Sherpas in the Himalayas or some such and being more at home with that than he ever was being a celebrity.

    Whatever the case, when the boys began toying with the idea of reuniting, it was Jason that had to be convinced. If he’d not been on board there would’ve been no reunion. For his choice to give it another go, I’m sure I speak for the hoards of TT fans out there when I say I am profoundly grateful to him for trying because we got them back. I don’t believe he regrets it. His loss is poignant, but the remaining lads are strong enough to stand on their own as a three piece nearly a decade later, and I’m anxious and excited to see where they go from here.

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