2009 album from the British superstar (and former member of Take That). Reality Killed The Video Star, his eighth album and first in over three years, was produced by Trevor Horn and features 12 brand new tracks (plus one reprise.) Songwriting collaborators … see full wiki
"Don't call it a comeback; look at what I've created" proclaims Robbie Williams in "Last Days of Disco", a track off his new release 'Reality Killed the Video Star'. At the end of listening to this 13 track disc, I wouldn't call this album a comeback. That being said, it's far better than his previous release 'Rudebox' and more engaging than 'Intensive Care'. In a way, 'Reality...' is a return to his roots. Instead of complicated songs, dull tracks and interference, the tracks of this new release feature all of what made Williams such a fun artist to listen to and follow; you have the unusual use of strings and piano in the backing instrumentals; you have heavy influences of disco; you have music that's rather autobiographical and not truly 'pop'. In all, the music of 'Reality Killed the Video Star' is fitting for Williams. Yet, it's nothing new and there isn't a track that really leaps out from the others. There is some good music but 'Reality...' feels somewhat grounded and tame, as if Robbie Williams' return to the scene comes with a bit of a hesitation and trepidation.
The Good: The best part of 'Reality Killed the Video Star' is that it features a nice spread of music. You have your fair share of slow tracks that Williams seems to prefer and a few upbeat tracks. He experiments a bit with various forms of pop music, going from doo-wop on "You Know Me" to dance/disco on "Last Days of Disco". Even with the variety of genres and styles featured on the album, it was not as distracting as with his previous release 'Rudebox' and the album had a much better flow than 'Intensive Care'. Like in his earlier albums, this felt like a euro-pop album that screamed Robbie Williams: there as depth and emotion packed into tracks like "Deceptacon" and there were tracks that felt revealing and confession-like, such as "Difficult For Weirdos". 'Reality Killed the Video Star' is not really a concept album but it does feel more personal than his past few efforts. There's a lot of focus on 'me' in this album; each song in some way focuses on him and his feelings or experiences. While that may feel tiring or uninteresting for some artists, considering Williams' turbulent and tabloid-fueled past few years, it made for good music. No track jumped the track on this release though; there's a low-key vibe running throughout that makes this album feel like it belongs to his earlier catalog of music rather than a follow-up to 'Rudebox'.
The Bad: Even with the return to pop music and radio-friendly tunes, there's something absent or missing from this album. Perhaps it's confidence; there's no vocal performance that really makes a lasting impression like his pop hit 'Rock DJ', nor is there a moving/emotional song like 'Angels' or 'Better Man'. I was waiting for a sweeping song that had depth, scope and emotion like 'Millennium' or 'Let Love Be Your Energy'. After all, this album has been billed by many as Williams' 'comeback'. Yet, just as he proclaims in the album, perhaps that expectation is too much to live up to. The weakness of the album is that the old Robbie Williams whose strength lay in his personality and unabashedly honest attitude seems absent and is replaced by this mellow, low-key, very well-mannered and reserved carbon copy. Yeah, he's good, but he's not as good and interesting as an artist as he was in his glory days. 'Reality Killed the Video Star' has a good flow and easy-listening vibe but it's somewhat boring in that there was never a moment where Robbie raised to the occasion and knocked one track out of the park. It took me two or three listenings to detect and appreciate the quality of the music and album but still, it lets you down in that Williams felt very held back and not as sure and confident in himself as an artist as he used be.
In all, it's okay. It's leaps and bounds better than 'Rudebox' and carries the vibe of old-school Robbie Williams in that the tracks are pop-orientated and definitely written and produced to appeal to all the audiences, but it's not as daring or groundbreaking as previous efforts. Yes, it's somewhat boring and dull in parts and feels a bit therapeutic on Williams' part, but it's not a bad release. Worth a listen.
Listen to These: "Difficult For Weirdos", "Last Days of Disco", "You Know Me", "Superblind"
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