Embarrassed that I remember this
Both guys took a risk by dropping their respective cash cows to strike out on solo careers, which was viewed by most observers as a huge mistake, but both ended up exploding as solo artists.
The major difference is Willams’ inability to “break” in the US, whereas Timberlake has done well for himself over the pond. Beginning in the late 90’s, the music press was touting Williams as the Next Big Thing in the US. He did have a minor hit in the states with “Millennium”, then had that really weird, gross video in which he strips off his skin and muscles while he’s dancing, which seemed to immediately undo any momentum he’d built. It just never happened for the man here.
Not helping here
So here we have “Angels”, which, apparently was as big in England as….I’m not sure there’s an apt comparison. I remember seeing a documentary on Britpop, Live Forever, that speculated that this song was the death blow to that musical era. I happened to come across it through one of my favorite music magazines, England’s Q, when they published a special “1001 greatest songs ever” issue a few years ago. The description sounded interesting, so I gave it a download.
And, look, there’s no way I can really defend this song, It’s cheesy, melodramatic, and calculated, but I can’t really deny the goose bumps at the chorus, and not to get too maudlin, but hearing the lyrics
And through it all, she offers me protection
A lot of love and affection
Whether I’m right or wrong
And down the waterfall
Wherever it may take me
I know that life won’t break me
When I come to call
She won’t forsake me
I’m loving Angels instead
and realizing they are about his late mother really strikes a chord with me, sentimental sucker that I am.
I think this was Robbie Williams' last big gasp at becoming big in America. He must have figured if this song couldn’t do it, it wasn’t meant to be (and thank GOD Jessica Simpson’s version didn’t become a hit. I was terrified that this would happen).
So, flame away if you must. However, before you do, watch him perform this in front of 350,000 at Knebworth and see if you can deny it’s not just a little bit great.