Take That unapologetically revisits the 90s on “Hey Boy”
By this point, we have published plenty of articles on the successful reunion against all odds – that of former Manchester quintet (now a trio) Take That. The more noteworthy observation at this point should be that it has been almost 10 years since the band returned from their decade-long hiatus soon after the departure of British superstar Robbie Williams. Chapter 2 of Take That’s dance in the limelight seems to have been much longer than Chapter 1 in the 90s. Not only has the band connected with a whole new generation of fans, but they have also successfully adapted their promotional activities to the music consumption patterns of today – most notably on social media. Critics and skeptics have always wondered what would spell the end of this second run in the limelight. Many (us included) thought the departure of Jason Orange in the late 2014 would mark the end. Some thought that the “Progress” album with Robbie Williams would be the ending – given that the “full circle” return to the original lineup made for a warm and fuzzy ending. The truth is, given the insatiable appetite for more Take That, and the band’s absolute lack of desire to call it quits anytime soon, it looks Take That could be in the limelight for a pretty long time. The release of their new single “Hey Boy” is yet another indication that the desire for retirement is absolutely non-existent.
Conventional notions suggest that people mellow with age. This idea extends to musicians too. As they get older, many opt for a more downbeat or muted expression of their artistry. There are a select handful that defy age and prove that they have as much vitality and spunk as their younger counterparts. Madonna and Duran Duran are the obvious examples but Take That is increasingly aligning with that defiant strategy. Their return in 2006 after their decade-long hiatus saw them move into “Coldplay” territory with a mid-tempo adult alternative sound. The “Progress” album marked their first true flirtation with a largely electronic pop sound- a path that some attribute to Robbie Williams and the album’s producer Stuart Price. This might have been the first glimpse of Take That’s inclination towards upbeat pop in over a decade and a half. The quintet explored this direction even more on their single “Love Love” (from the “Progressed” extension of “Progress“). “These Days“, the uptempo lead single of their 2014 album “III” saw Take That staking their claim to 2014 in no uncertain terms. The song might have eclipsed several other uptempo hits from that year in terms of appeal. With “Hey Boy“, the first of 4 brand new tracks to be featured on a 2015 version of their album “III“, Take That not only revisits youth, but they unapologetically visit the early 90s.
In fact, “Hey Boy” almost seems like a deliberate emulation of the music that dominated the early 90s. The first example of this musical manifestation is the synth-heavy Eurodisco-like dance intro – which pretty much sets the sonic framework for the song. The second example is the somewhat cheesy and moderately embarrassing “spoken” first verse:
If you want some love
and you don’t’ know how
Gotta tell that girl
gotta tell her now
Gotta give her time
Gotta give her more
If you want that girl,
gotta let her know!
If you want that girl
Gotta let her see
Gotta burn inside
Gotta let it be
If you want that girl
and you don’t know why
Oh it’s only gonna drive you crazy!
The repetitive refrain “get out of your head, get into your heart” is yet another example of a lyrical pattern in early 90s’ dance music.
Lyrically, the song seems more like a sonic equivalent of a motivational speech (as indicated by the lyric “don’t wait for someone, go change your life!”) for a young guy whose inhibitions get in the way of his desired overtures towards a specific girl. Nothing particularly deep or profound going on here.
“Hey Boy” is amusing if not earth-shattering. It probably belongs more on the band’s debut album “Take That and Party” than it does in 2015’s pop landscape. It just might be a great excuse for over-the-top flamboyance at the band’s next gig. While it is unlikely to be an essential in Take That’s stellar legacy, it just might whet the appetite for the other three new songs to be featured on the 2015 variant of their chart-topping album “III“. We are just glad that they are still making music.
STAR RATING: 3 out of 5 stars
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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