Wednesday, 20 January 2010

In defence of Robbie Williams

This is a riposte to a comment made about Robbie's latest and greatest BRIT award. The commentator said something like “Robbie Williams being given a lifetime achievement award? What is the world coming to!” Well, let's see.

First of all he's being given an 'Outstanding Contribution to British Music' award, not a 'Lifetime Achievement' award, so if you're going to take pot-shots at someone at least get your fucking facts right. Secondly, he is in fact a highly successful singer and recording artist who has had a career in pop music since he first appeared with Take That in 1990 at the age of 16 . That's nearly 20 years of making a good living and constantly working at what he does, which is much more than can be said for the purveyors of rampant mediocrity that are wheeled in front of the masses on hideous reality television shows like X-factor. I had the severe misfortune to catch about 30 seconds of one episode of the last series and witnessed the Jedward twins ruin an already bland Wham song with a display of ineptitude that would have had them booed off the mic at a karaoke party in Butlins.

Now, I'm aware that not every participant in talent shows is a useless wannabe with delusions of competence and there are some people who do deserve the attention they get - if you sieve through enough turds you will eventually find a diamond so by sheer weight of numbers you're going to get someone who can actually perform. Shows like X-factor are only superficially there to find that diamond, polish it and let the faceless herd enjoy the fact that their favourite won the competition. The existence of these shows is really a combination of other factors, the most important being that they're basically very cheap soap operas. They appeal to the same crowd for the same reason: the audience get wrapped up in the emotional 'journey' of the participants and it is that emotional connection that keeps people's attention, not the talent of the performers. In the case of the Jedward boys (and probably many others who I've never heard of as I'd rather make a sock-monkey out of my foreskin than watch that drivel) it was clearly the rather limp British version of under-dog worship that got them so far.

The Japanese love an under-dog too: the strength of will to keep going in the face of insurmountable odds is an attribute to be admired even if the protagonist loses the 'battle'. In the UK it's more of a voyeuristic schadenfreude where the public likes to see someone who's useless so they can point and laugh at the competitor, applaud in patronising fashion when the talentless turd fails, and sit back smugly thinking that they (the audience member) could probably have done better if only they had been bothered to try. It's typically British to want to drag down successful people – look at just about any tabloid newspaper article for evidence of this – as it's much easier to take a bite out of someone else than it is to face your own insecurities, get off your backside and make a fucking effort to do something good.

But I digress. Rather than allowing the 'does he deserve the award' argument to be made on the fan/detractor level of “I like his music so he does deserve it” versus “I don't like it so he doesn't”, let's take a look at a few facts.

Robbie started in Take That in 1990 at the age of 16. With Take That he shared the success of 3 BRIT awards (they won a fourth for a song recorded when he was in the band but he'd left by then) and record sales of over 19 million. Since going solo he's won another 10 BRIT awards (not including the OCBM which gives him a record-breaking total 15), six ECHO awards (another record) and many others from the UK as well as France, Spain, Germany, The Netherlands, Mexico, Hong Kong and other places.

His first solo single was a cover of George Michael's 'Freedom' which charted at number 2, twenty-six places higher than the original, and his first album went double-platinum. Since then all of his albums have been multi-platinum selling and his total album sales to date are over 55 million. He's had more number one albums in the UK charts than any other British artist, which makes him the best selling British artist in history, and when tickets were released for his 2006 tour he set a world record by selling 1.6 million tickets on the first day. His most recent record was set last year when his BBC Electric Proms gig was broadcast to 250 cinemas in 23 countries, netting him the world record for simultaneous screenings of a live concert. It was also transmitted live to various radio stations around the world for an estimated total audience of 33 million people.

Any negative comments will simply be someone's opinion of his music, not his achievements, or more insipidly their opinion of his character, looks, sexuality, or any other nonsense which doesn't actually bear any relation to his work. Is there anyone who deserves this award more than him but hasn't yet won it? Maybe, but if so they'll get it next year so no-one's actually lost anything.

Does he deserve the award? Yes, he does. It doesn't matter if you like it, if you like his music, or if you like him as a person; he's done the work, he deserves the reward.

Robbie Williams
A British success story
Fucking deal with it

1 comment:

Auburnville said...

That was a very well constructed rant, I really enjoyed it, thank you.