Take That bounce back with “These Days”
Crisis management is a key ability for a leader of an organization. It appears to also be a key ability for an arts and entertainment brand. There are two elements to “damage control” for an entertainment brand – a sense of urgency and potentially the ability to surprise. Our favorite example of this phenomenon is Madonna. Back in 2003, she released a lackluster album titled “American Life“. This album was the successor to another “not so impressive” album of hers titled “Music“. It felt like her star was waning and if she did not do something stellar she would become irrelevant very quickly. Quite unsurprisingly, she triumphed and went on tour but NOT to promote “American Life“. Instead, her “Reinvention Tour” showcased almost all phases (except the early 90s era) of her stellar legacy and it reminded people of the unstoppable force she was in the music industry. “American Life” was forgotten but Madonna was back in the limelight. Two weeks ago, Manchester boyband-turned-manband Take That faced a similar challenge when member Jason Orange unexpectedly (at least to the public) left the band after two successful stints with them – the first being in the 90s and then again from 2006-2011. There were a lot of questions raised about the future of Take That and their commercial viability as a three-piece with Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, and Howard Donald. In our article titled “The implications of Jason Orange’s exit from Take That“, we suggested that the band’s brand value ran the credible risk of dilution with the exit of Jason. The jury is still out as to whether or not this is true. Only time will tell. But as far as the band’s ability to have their finger tightly on the pulse of commercial music, there is no ambiguity there. The Take That brand understands the elements of crisis management and have a strong grasp of its key elements. Less than a month after Jason Orange’s exit, they have returned with a new single titled “These Days” that looks forward musically rather than backward. Fortunately, for Take That, that move works. It is quite the antithesis lyrically and stylistically to “Never Forget” – the single that was released when Robbie Williams quit the band back in 1995.
In 2010, many fans and critics viewed Take That’s “Progress” album as a second stylistic reinvention for the Manchester band. With Robbie Williams back in the fold for that album, it seemed inevitable that there would be a marriage of songwriting competencies and an amalgamation of ideas when it comes to the treatment of the songs. The results were spectacular to say the least. There was also a lingering curiosity as to where Take That would go next stylistically. Many (us included) assumed that they would return to their safe adult alternative sound that dominated albums such as “Beautiful World” and “Circus” but with the new single titled “These Days“, it looks like Take That has 2014 specifically in mind in terms of musical style. This time around, they’re walking the line that divides indie dance music from commercial dance music – and they do so with relative ease.
One of the first observations that comes through is the unusual structure of the song. It opens with a relatively down-tempo take on its Middle 8 section before quickly skipping to its beat-driven verse featuring slightly processed vocals by Gary Barlow and Mark Owen. On “These Days“, the band sings about living in the moment and making memories now as opposed to in the future. There is a sense that the song is sung from the perspective of someone whose love saga has been derailed by circumstance and he wants to go back to where things began and lay the foundation for new memories before it is too late. The lyric isn’t wistful though. Instead, it radiates a sense of optimism and urgency. This shines through best on the song’s insanely addictive pre-chorus:
Take me back
Before we all explode
Before we turn to stone
Before the light is gone
Take me back
To where it all began
To where our memories grow
Before the day goes off
The processed vocals do make it seem like the song could have been performed by absolutely any act – especially the catchy “Oh Oh Oh” bits at the end of the track. There is nothing quintessentially “Take That” about this track – especially since nothing they have released in the past sounds even remotely similar to “These Days“. Greg Kurstin’s production has definitely placed the band’s sound comfortably in the context of the current mainstream. This definitely cements the band’s immediate relevance but whether or not this song will be an essential in Take That’s legacy is something only time will tell. Either way, Take That has triumphed over their recent loss of Jason Orange from the band. “These Days” is a great example of swift and effective crisis management. It is also the lead single for “III” – the new Take That album slated for release on December 1. We love the fact that Take That has used their unfortunate reality of being reduced to a three piece and have put a positive spin on it by cleverly naming their new album “III“. One can only hope that this is the beginning of yet another glorious chapter in the Take That story. We have a full-length audio clip of the track below:
STAR RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS
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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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