Bob Sinclar feat. Robbie Williams – Electrico Romantico

“Fingers crossed.”

Tom: You know that thing when you see that two artists are collaborating, and you think “this is either going to be really good or really bad”?

Tim: Frequently.

Tom: Well, look: this is either a track that combines “Let Me Entertain You” and “Love Generation”, or it’s a track that combines “Rudebox” with literally any song Bob Sinclar has made since Love Generation.

Tim: Fingers crossed.

Tom: Unlucky.

Tim: Nice first few seconds, though.

Robbie Williams – Mixed Signals

“When that first chorus hit I let out out an ‘ooh, YES’.”

Tom: The Heavy Entertainment Show is a brilliant 5-track EP that unfortunately has 11 other tracks in the middle of it. One of the good ones, though, is this.

Tim: Oh, that’s a fabulous track – quite a bit rockier than most of his previous stuff, and when that first chorus hit I let out out an “ooh, YES”. An absolutely perfect track 3 from an album – and looking up the album details showed me who this was written by, and suddenly it makes complete sense.

Tom: It also shows how distinctive Brandon Flowers’ voice is: because this is really obviously a Killers track in hindsight. The guitar style, the switching into harmony for the big notes in the final chorus, everything.

Tim: Beyond the rock sense I hadn’t particularly thought “this sounds like The Killers” – but playing it back that’s exactly what it sounds like, and it sounds like a great Killers track at that. To be honest, if they were happy to hand this over to him I can’t wait to hear what the rest of their fifth album will sound like.

Tom: That was my thoughts exactly: this is a really, really good track — lead or second single, I’d say, so if this is the quality of material they’re giving away, let’s hope that’s not because they’ve got a “new direction” to pursue.

Tim: This is one of my favourite Robbie tracks in quite some time, and oh, it deserves to do so so well.

Robbie Williams – Love My Life

Tom: It’s time to follow the pattern of Robbie singles! Bash out the weird one to get attention first, follow it up with a regular affirming ballad that’ll play on Radio 2. Bodies, then You Know Me; Candy, then Different. Party Like A Russian, then…

Tom: Yep. Boxes ticked.

Tim: Boxes ticked indeed, and that’s a song I want to sing to my parents every time they tell me I should get a better job.

Tom: Of course, they’re very good boxes, and this’ll deserve its inevitable playlisting on Heart. That said: could that chorus not get kicked up another notch or two?

Tim: Ooh, I don’t know, it’s bigger than I thought it’d be in the lead up to it. You really want more from it?

Tom: It’s a tough balance to get: add more distance between the verse and chorus, and you could find yourself losing the listeners during the quieter parts. But here, his voice seems a bit buried in the mix.

Tim: Hmm, possibly – but those two combined are an argument for tonight down the instruments, so I’d avoid that. It’s interesting that he switches the reassuring vocals from second person in the verses to first person in the chorus; yes there’s the initial “you’ll say to me” so narratively it makes sense, but it’s still a tad jarring. Mind you, it’s the chorus that people will remember and sing. Well, if it hangs around, anyway.

Tom: Lose those weird ethereal synths, give the vocals a boost, add… I don’t know, maybe a brass section for the final chorus? It’s close, it’s just not a classic.

Tim: Well, I’d never turn down a brass section, but I think it works as it is, particularly when he jumps up an octave in that last chorus. That bit’s lovely.

Robbie Williams – Party Like A Russian

“The Apprentice starts tonight, and Robbie’s put this out to celebrate.”

Tim: Hooray! New season of The Apprentice starts tonight, and Robbie’s put this out as the first single from his next album to celebrate that.

Tom: Can I just say the “The Heavy Entertainment Show” is a great title for an album?

Tim: You can, and I’ll agree with you.

Tim: I say celebrate, the timing of this Prokofiev-sampling track is probably coincidental, but it’s a nice coincidence anyway. So, he’s followed in the footsteps of Georgia and Ukraine at Eurovision by choosing to have a go at Vladimir Putin – here we’re apparently getting slightly toned down lyrics, after the studio told him to back off a bit in case, I don’t know, maybe he’d end up on the FSB’s hit list. But what a great track to launch an album off, no?

Tom: See, I’m wary about this. The last time he brought out a ‘weird’ single like this, I said it was going to be a disaster, another Rudebox. But years later, Bodies is one of my favourite Robbie tracks.

Tim: I can understand the wariness – for starters, I would question the use of that sample. For me, that quickly took the focus away from the rest of the song when I recognised it and started humming it the first time I heard the song. Second time and beyond, though, I focus on the rest and it is great.

Tom: Yep. By the final chorus I’d started to hear it as a backing track rather than a sample — although I’m still annoyed that it never actually resolves. I’ve just finished reading Once Upon A Time In Russia, so this feels like a bit of a simplistic critique (Russian / discussion / concussion? Really?) but it’s still catchy.

Tim: Yeah – the rhythm, and simplistic rhymes, in those verses turns it into the sort of thing people might want to memorise as a party trick (and yes it’s a thing, next time you see me I’ll do the Wannabe rap at you); the chanting in the middle eight is something that can’t go wrong; and last but not remotely least, what a suit in that video.

Tom: It is a great suit.

Tim: All very good indeed.

Avicii – The Days

“Can you tell me: who’s singing this?”

Tom: Without looking up anything about this song, or looking at the comments, can you tell me: who’s singing this?

Tim: And that is…Robbie Williams?

Tom: And he’s not even credited! I mean, officially he is, but not on the YouTube video or in most of the track listings. I wonder what financial arrangement made that possible?

Tim: I’m guessing something like ALL OF THE MONIES.

Tom: Indeed, this is such a lovely Robbie 90s jangly-pop song during the first parts, that I sort of forgot this was Avicii. There’s a heck of a difference between that first verse and the final, instrumental outro.

Tim: I think there’s that, and also that Avicii has in recent tracks been getting gradually less Aviicii-like, cutting back of the heavy dance beats.

Tom: But you know what? It still works. He’s still got it. And I still expect this to reach the charts.

Tim: It does work, and I hope you’re right. Also, I think one of my favourite lyric videos: creative, fun, no typos, everything it needs.

Robbie Williams – Be A Boy

“This feels more like it should be an album track.”

Tom: Sound the ROBBIE KLAXON. And the “FEELS A BIT LIKE COLDPLAY” KLAXON. And, oddly, the SAXOPHONE KLAXON. Look, basically just sound all the klaxons, OK?

Tim: Does that include the JEDWARD AT MELODIFESTIVALEN KLAXON? Because that’s a good one to sound.

Tom: I say that the Saxophone Klaxon is odd because Robbie Williams is quoted as saying “If you ever put a saxophone solo on one of my tracks, I will kill you”.

Tim: That was a while back, though, and since then he’s put out an album of swing covers – I think we’re safe to assume his tastes are somewhat fluid.

Tom: It’s out as a single, but to be honest this feels more like it should be an album track. I think I’ve worked out what feels odd about it: Robbie’s vocals – and they are good vocals – are buried in the mix behind a wall of sound that doesn’t really add anything.

Tim: Yes, you could be right. It’s decent enough, although I should confess to think “Christ, is it still going?” when then were still ninety seconds to play. Not really a single, though since I’ve not heard the album I can’t compare to the rest of them.

Tom: There’s nothing obviously wrong with it… it just sounds like an album track that the fans would appreciate rather than a Big Robbie Single. But perhaps our expectations are just too high.

Robbie Williams – Candy

A song built around a chorus.

Tom: It’s a new Robbie single, from a new album, backed up by some surprise gigs booked for the O2 next month. Yep, he’s still big enough that he can sell out the O2 on short notice – and, apparently, big enough that I can refer to him just by his first name there.

Tim: On Saturday, a song with a list of ways to be killed. Today, a video with a collection of ways to commit suicide. What an uplifting site this is turning into.

Tom: Now, the last big single – excepting the one with Gary Barlow – was “Bodies”, which was a grower. I hated it the first time I heard it, and now it gets stuck in my head. Out of deference to that, I listened to this a couple more times before writing this. And my opinion is this: it’s a song built around a chorus.

Tim: Okay…

Tom: The verses are awful. He rhymes “roses” with “roses” at one point. The middle eight is uninspired. The video is incomprehensible, high-budget nonsense. But that chorus is absolutely brilliant, and perfect for him: it’s catchy, it’s danceable, and it’ll be a big hit live.

Tim: Hmm. I can agree with most of that, though I wouldn’t say awful for the verses – yes, the roses bit is a low point but the rest is okay, and they’ve a decent tune which resonates nicely with the chorus. Your main point, thought: yes, absolutely.

Tom: It also suffers the curse of Robbie, which can be summed up in three words: “It’s no ‘Angels’.”

Tim: What is? (Aside from Year 3000, obviously.)

Tom: Let it go, Tim.

Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow – Shame

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say: I think this song is perfect.

Tom: How did we miss this? Robbie Williams’ new single, featuring Gary Barlow, is coming out on October 4th and it completely passed us by.

Tom: First of all, let’s be clear: this is not the Take That we’re-friends-with-Robbie-again new single. This is a Robbie Williams track that Gary Barlow’s featuring on. Which is fine, because it turns out really quite nicely. It’s a slow one, and while I always preferred ‘Let Me Entertain You’ to ‘Angels’, I still have a soft spot for ‘Feel’, ‘Come Undone’, and so on. Is ‘Shame’ of that calibre? Well, no. But it’d be difficult for these two to turn out anything that wasn’t at least ‘rather good’, and sure enough this one’s a really nice bit of pop.

Tim: That is lovely. And not lovely like Sha-la-lie lovely, but lovely like end-of-a-Richard-Curtis-film lovely. It began at the first chorus, the second chorus was when I really thought ‘oh, yes’, and from then on it just snowballed to glacier-size by the end.

Tom: As for the video – well, I get the feeling that’s going to be more your domain.

Tim: Well, as long as you don’t mind enough homo-eroticism to fill a Russell T. Davies drama with enough left over to drown John Barrowman, you’ll be loving it. Particularly Robbie’s gaze at 2:25. The slightly sad part of me also liked the timing of the shot glass on the table and pointing the finger about 85 seconds in.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and say: I think this song is perfect. As a song celebrating a reunion between two friends who broke up (which is exactly what it is and should be), there’s nothing it should have that it doesn’t. And it also fits in Toys R Us, which adds at least five bonus points.

Tom: Whoa, hang on. There’s no way this song is perfect. The Toys R Us reference grates like hell, the comedy ending will get old very quickly – they are not Me First and the Gimme Gimmes – and it’s really all that memorable. Does it tick all the boxes? Yes. Is it perfect like the medley off the end of the Beatles’ Abbey Road? No. No it’s not.

Tim: I’m not saying the song’s perfect in a best song of all time way, just in a sense of being absolutely and entirely appropriate for the current stage of their music careers. It’s a song about friends getting back together and forgetting old differences, and in that setting I think it’s brilliant.