Robbie Williams: Reality Killed the Video Star

RIYL: Seal, Pet Shop Boys, the phrase ‘Produced by Trevor Horn’

How did it take this long for Robbie Williams, one of the UK’s biggest pop stars, and Trevor Horn, one of the UK’s most successful producers, to make an album together? Perhaps Horn wasn’t interested while Williams was still getting his freak on – “Rudebox” may be a stone cold jam, but it’s not exactly in Horn’s wheelhouse – and Williams is just now ready to make a grown-up pop record. Whatever the reason, Reality Killed the Video Star, the first Williams album to see a Stateside CD release since 2002’s Escapology (2005’s Intensive Care and 2006’s Rudebox are download-only), is everything you’d expect from a Robbie/Trevor joint venture. It’s flush with perky, if mannered, electronic beats, and Williams is still extremely candid in his lyrics (“All we ever wanted was to look good naked,” he observes in the UK #2 smash “Bodies”). Reality isn’t teeming with potential singles the way, say, Sing When You’re Winning was, but there’s not a duff track in the bunch. Well, there is one duff track: “Blasphemy,” his reunion with longtime collaborator Guy Chambers, which yields a lyric that would make Paul Stanley blush. (“Was it a blast for you? / ‘Cause it’s blasphemy.” Wow.)


While it’s nice to see Robbie get scrubbed down and dolled up, one gets the sense listening to Reality that this whole grown-up thing is just a phase. As phases go, it’s an extremely pleasant one, but it would not be at all surprising to see Williams go full Lady GaGa with his next one. (Virgin 2009)

Robbie Williams MySpace page
Click to buy Reality Killed the Video Star from Amazon