Because, you know, they performed at the Brits yesterday.
I’m not sure this song could sound any more early ’90s - the faux scratching, the tinny piano, the mentions of Crystal Pepsi and shadow plaid. Okay, not those last two things. But still.
10. Could It be Magic
A completely unnecessary remake that couldn’t sound more early-90s if it tried: you can almost hear all of English dance music trying to figure out what to do after Stock, Aiken and Waterman. Still, Robbie’s hair is extremely floppy, so there’s that. I find it impossible not to be swept along by the sheer buoyancy of it: if I had a hairbrush, I’d sing into it, right after brushing Robbie’s hair with it.
9. Everything Changes
Notable for a sepia-toned video in which every member of the band is styled terribly, this song is amazing: it has two separate sax breaks. Screw you Gaga, and eff off M83: Take That were calling back the 80s when doing that still felt gross. Robbie Williams on lead vocals, Howard Donald on lead point-at-the-camera-and-cock-one-eyebrow. I think that the band, in their first incarnation, managed to infuse alost everything they did with an insane level of joy, and nowhere is that more evident than here.
8. Relight My Fire
Take That, high energy dance, the very gayest straight video ever, and guest vocals from Lulu. None of this makes any sense at all, but at this point in their career the band could do no wrong. Look at Robbie’s hat in this video. You’ll see what I mean.
7. It Only Takes a Minute
Started everything for the band. And cemented their early formula, too - Gary does the heavy lifting, but somehow Robbie is more interesting in his ten seconds of oversinging. Take That were the gayest band in the world at the beginning of their careers (and I mean that in the best way possible): playing gay clubs, shirts going on and off like strobe lights. And good for them.
Also, this song can be re-imagined as a sort of gangbang tango.
6. How Deep is Your Love
And so the first stage of their career ends as it began: covering a 1970s disco-era classic when no one asked them to. Still, this song is so excellent that a faithful reproduction in which everyone hits their notes is a decent listen. And hey, it looks like they all die in the video.
5. Rule The World
Take That’s second act is full of songs like this: tight harmonies, vaguely uplifting message about love or life or something. And Mark Owen also decided that when not on lead he has to look to the sky at least twice per song. You’ll see.
5. Greatest Day
This is what I truly love about this band: after they reformed the harmonies got tighter, the songcraft more focused and precise - but the band members themselves shed any pretense of fitting into any sort of tightly controlled boyband mould. Howard Donald’s solo dance style can best be described as modern epileptic; Mark Owen seens to be auditioning for the most theatrical broadway show ever; Jason Orange sometimes appears to have taken a Clorazepam right before filming. Excellent.
4. The Flood
The unimaginable: Robbie Williams rejoins the band. It’s difficult to express exactly what this is like - less like Ginger coming back to the Spice Girls and more like Kurt Cobain coming back from the dead. Except, of course, that I’d actually want to hang out with Robbie Williams. Terrific production here, too.
Take That’s second act is something special. In England, anyway, it’s probably the best of its kind in the history of music. It’s amazing enough that a boyband can find a way to be around 20 years after the start of their career, period - but it’s another thing entirely to have taken a ten year break and then release their three best albums, all of which top the charts, and lead to three record-breaking tours. This was the song that started the comeback, and this is the shiniest version of it out there. Listen to the the crowd go nuts from beginning to end.
2. Never Forget
At some point, every boy band does this - release a song in which they reference their careers or the way that they think the industry perceives them. Sometimes, that means we get New Kids on the Block’s “Games” or ‘NSYNC’s “Pop,” both unconvincing sneers at perceived slights from band members who are, essentially, music’s 1%. If we’re lucky, though, we get this: a giant, wonderful thank you. There’s no posturing here - rather than making ridiculous claims about how tough they are, instead the band reminds us that they’re “not invincible,” an almost unheard-of admission in watch-me-frontin’ pop music. Here it is during their last tour, a rousing singalong in which 60,000 fans all know exactly when to raise their arms in triumph.
1. Back For Good
When Gary Barlow accepts his knighthood in about 20 years, it’s because of this. Perfection.