By guest blogger Mike Brown
With oil bursting forth into the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate, an increasingly bleak outlook in the Middle East and gunmen prowling the Northumbrian countryside, the UK (and indeed the world) needed some good news. Then today, whilst browsing various news websites, it seems it has finally come.
It seems that after years of speculation, rumor and conjecture, it has been officially announced that Robbie Williams is rejoining Take That. Since Robbie left, more than 15 years ago, the dedicated fans have been willing his return. The band themselves decided to split in 1996 and in the UK, helplines were set up to counsel distraught teenage girls up and down the country.
Of course with the second wind that have carried Take That back into the public consciousness again, it was inevitable that an even stronger wind would have come on the back of it. The rumor mill went into overdrive and you couldn’t hear about Take That without a wink and a nudge in the direction of an uncharacteristically quiet Robbie.
Take That released Beautiful World in 2006 and were truly back in the nation’s hearts and minds. When Robbie released his 2009 album, “Reality Killed the Video Star,” it seemed like the two entities were destined to exist, but separately. The rumors of Robbie rejoining the band were never stronger. After such a long wait, the legions of fans began to build themselves into a frenzy at the mere prospect.
During Robbie’s “Rudebox” period, which met some harsh reviews, it was cynically suggested that he should help Take That to reform in order to revive what some saw as a flagging career. Not to mention the suggestions that Robbie’s departure was the definitive factor in the band’s eventual break-up.
When Take That came back onto the scene with a top-selling album, closely followed by an eagerly awaited and enthusiastically received come back from Robbie, it seemed that the two could indeed co-exist. Take That fans had all the original members, just not on the same stages.
The band, and Robbie, remained tight-lipped about a reunion, though both sides would make occasional wry (but warm) comments about it, which was better than outright denial and so the die-hards clung to this.
In 2009, Robbie dangled a golden carrot in front of millions of fans by appearing on stage with Take That at the BBC’s Children in Need concert. Fans were delirious. They couldn’t believe it was actually happening, and they felt that this was the moment they had all been waiting for for so long.
Robbie even added fuel to the fire by suggesting that he was excited about the possibility of performing with the band again. He was reported as saying that he hoped people wouldn’t get bored of the idea before it actually came to fruition. This was the strongest indication yet that there was more meat to this bone.
Then all went quiet. Both parties continued to enjoy their own successes. Then, out of the blue, it was announced that Robbie and Take That had reformed. Not only were they reforming, but they were going to write and record a new album. Not only that, but they were planning to tour this new album. A generation of teenage girls (now grown up, but no less fervent) squealed and shook their hands in unison.
There are the cynical who will claim that it really is to bolster faltering careers on either side. There is no arguing though that in spite of obvious and well publicized blips in their respective careers, the overall trend has been for overwhelming success in both camps. The reunion may collapse under the weight of expectation around them, and make no mistake, whilst there are legions of fans eagerly awaiting their return, there are also equal numbers waiting to screech in delight at the band as they spectacularly flog a very dead horse.
Personally, I’d be happy to see them reform, providing they try and do something a little bit new. Given that they are slated to work with dance-music producer Stuart Price (responsible for “Confessions” by Madonna and “System” by Seal), a “new direction” is quite imminent. There is no doubt that this will be a lucrative reunion for all involved. There is no doubt of a sell-out tour and number one album, and whilst I’m not going to delight in the failings of this undeniably colossal musical group, it has a feeling of inevitability about it which is a little bit sad. Just like when the X-factor or American Idol set forth another embryonic act to shine like starlight and then flicker and fade with all the pomp of a bedside lamp being taken off.
Whatever the result of the reformation of Take That, there is no doubt that there are plenty of both doubters and devotees. Only one camp can get it right, so which one will it be, and more importantly, which one do you fall into?