Single Review: Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow – ‘Shame’

Oh, well now, isn’t this a surprise.

To quote one of my favourite lyricists in pop music, Neil Tennant, “There’s a lot of opportunities […] Together let’s make lots of money”, I fear there is a reason for behind the release of ‘Shame’, that would make Neil proud. Releasing this song is basically grabbing hold on an opportunity that just so happened to be drifting by. And whilst it could be classed as the kind of opportunity that comes “once in a life-time”, Polydor are like… LOADED, so they don’’t really need it, do they? No. PUT DOWN THAT OPPORTUNITY. IT WILL MAKE YOU FAT.

As is common knowledge by now, Robbie Williams has rejoined Take That following his ermm… ‘comeback’ (Which actually only spawned one good song – ‘You Know Me’), and of course, Polydor felt that selling that story to a gazillion newspapers wasn’t enough stinge; apparently it wasn’t enough proof for us lot either, so they’ve come up with this “idea” that is going to prove to us once and for all that tensions between Robbie and Gary have diminished by releasing a single that discusses how naughty the two of them were, and how jealousy and anger led them to hatred, and how Robbie laughed when Gary tried to crack America, and how Gary laughed when Robbie released ‘Rudebox’. Ahh yes… good times for all.

‘Shame’ is just to let the public know that all is right and resolved between the two, even if we did know that already. But now Polydor can make more money from it.

The song itself presents quite an problem: do I hate it for being the kind of song that will sell well thanks to the artists singing it, á la Cheryl Cole, JLS, or Olly Murs? Or am I indifferent because I know it’s only a stop-gap release until the real comeback single ‘The Flood’ which will be out at the end of November with the full Take That line-up, and be reassured by the fact ‘The Flood’ will be so ground-breakingly amazing that it will be #1 for fourteen years, give or take a week? Puzzling.

Notice there’s no mention of the phrase “Do I like it?” buzzing around my head because it is, in all honesty, a bit on the naff side. Like I said: this will sell because of the artists’ story – a bit like X Factor only… not X Factor related – and will chart well not because of the quality of the song, but because plenty of now-grown up women will drool over the very thought of ROBBIE WILLIAMS and GARY BARLOW releasing a single, and plenty of others will be intrigued by the thought of ROBBIE WILLIAMS and GARY BARLOW bumming on a mountain. No doubt they’ll be getting their kids to show them how to download it, though.

The song itself has a country tinge to it; the kind of song that Radio 2 would love to play, and the kind of song Radio 1 would be forced to play. It trundles through it’s dubiously boring introduction, before Robbie and Gary take it in turns to sing lyrics that have two settings: ‘alright’ or ‘absolutely awful’. Let me explain: “I wrote a letter in my mind/But there words were so unkind/About a man I can’t remember”, would be a good lyric, but a bad one would be… the entire chorus. And it just packs no punch, it’s like it’s another verse with worse lyrics: what does “I told you through the television” mean? Hmm…

And now onto the important part: that video. Clearly a mickey-take of a film that broke so many preconceptions of forbidden love and knocked down homophobic barriers in many, but I can’t help but think they’ve completely bastardised the film. Taking two clearly bisexual characters and making them into two men we are to believe are gimmicky lovers. Robbie’s idea, it shows the two as random strangers who meet and give each other some discrete looks before stripping off and running up a rock. Soz peeps, the rumours aren’t true – they don’t have sex, but THAT would’ve been entertaining… I wonder who’d have been on top?

Whilst it may be “‘Brokeback Mountain’ influenced”, it’s actually rather crap too, purely because nothing happens, and no-one wants to see two middle-aged men with their tops off for no reason. Perhaps a little more sincerity and respect for the actual film would’ve sorted this, but it does leave you wanting to see them kiss, doesn’t it?

Oh dear. Those microphones just cheapened EVERYTHING. I feel like I’m at a karaoke night at some American greasy spoon when they pull those out (Ooer!).

‘Shame’ is the result of a clever selling point. A big one. Robbie’s re-union meant Polydor could release a single, no matter how poor, and guarantee it would sell well, thanks to many middle-aged woman thankful that the five-piece of their teenage dreams have now reformed. Others will like it too, obviously, but you cannot say that if this were released by a two new artists – even if it was given the same promotion – that it would even touch the Top 10; it’s not a pop single; it wouldn’t sell well. There’s no chorus; the lyrics are cringe-worthy, and the video is an absolute disgrace.

But don’t fret: they’ll be back with a stonker come November.

Rating: 1.5 STARS

Download: October 4, 2010

Featured Album: ‘In & Out Of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010’

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