New Tune on Monday: Robbie Williams ‘Candy’


I am a big fan of Robbie Williams and his musical output is generally pretty good but I am always a bit wary of any new releases from him. His last album, ‘Reality Killed the Video Star’, as well as having a terrible title, featured three singles to which I had a mixed reaction.

I initially really liked ‘Bodies’  and thought it was pretty catchy, especially the chorus with its “All we’ve ever wanted is to look good naked / hope that someone could take it” lyric. My main memory of Bodies was getting drunk with a friend on Estonian strawberry liqueur that I won on a village tombola, when Bodies had one of its first plays on the radio. This song coming on and me saying “This isn’t bad” is my only memory of the whole night. Who knows what was in that bottle. So, the first pre-chorus after the middle eight with the BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM was great. The final euphoric chorus was also great, as was the big choir backing. I know it’s a bit cheesy to have a choir backing but I love it, it’s almost an admission that the singer doesn’t take himself too seriously (and in the case of Dappy’s ‘No Regrets’, it proved a hilarious addition for someone who usually tried to act cool.

So after its initial radio run, Bodies basically disappeared. The next single, ‘You Know Me’, with Robbie dressed as a rabbit in the video, was played to death on Heart, so naturally I came to really hate it and still skip it when I listen to his Greatest Hits album. Finally, ‘Morning Sun’, was pretty forgettable, but I’m always pleasantly surprised when I actually listen to it. All in all these singles didn’t really change my life, except perhaps the Estonian liqueur incident.

When Candy hit number one this weekend, the papers exclaimed that it was “Robbie’s first number one in eight years!!!”. I checked to see what his last one was and saw it was ‘Radio’, which was pretty terrible (but then I have a theory that most songs about radios are awful). Even the almost flawless four single streak of Feel, Come Undone, Something Beautiful, Sexed Upfailed to hit number one, but chart position is of course not an indication of song quality.

So, onto the actual song: It is co-written with Gazza B, which is immediately off-putting. I do wish that Robbie would stop working with Barlow and get back together with Guy Chambers though, as that’s where his best work was born and with Barlow he seems to be clinging onto the past and churning out dross (see: ‘Shame’). In short they are better apart (GB with Take That, obviously). Second point: I really hate any infiltration of American language into British English, so the title, for a start, annoyed me a little, but the song starts with a nice bit of brass, so all is forgiven. Candy’s strength lies in the infectious melody, it is definitely hummable, and in pop music that is a necessity. The chorus has a nice HEY! HO! sing-along, which is a welcome addition.

 This song sounds great on the radio and stands out among the current chart music. I can’t help feeling, as I sit with the sun shining in my eyes, that the song would have benefited from a summer release. Car windows wound down, blasting Candy out in a traffic jam is how it would sound best. So a late October release doesn’t seem right. If you take the song at face value, as a hummable pop song that is catchy and summery, it’s not so bad. Unfortunately, I have an annoying habit of listening to lyrics, which in pop music can make or completely break a song. My housemates always used to tell me to be quiet when I told them that Muse’s song lyrics were always the same; they had never paid attention to the lyrics and focused mainly on guitar solos, but for me the lyrics are key and this is where Candy is not only let down, but completely deflated. Robbie was on TV this week and pointed out that the lyrics were nonsensical, laughing, but he could have done something about that. Perhaps the worst offender, aside from the weird horses line is:

“Ring a ring of roses/ Whoever gets the closest/ She comes and she goes /As the war of the roses”

He’s just listing things that rhyme, it means nothing! If you’re having difficulty rhyming subsequent lines with your first line, change the first one, especially if it is meaningless anyway. There is no need to desperately keep rhyming more rubbish  until you have completed your verse and ended up with a nursery rhyme, when in the first line you could have nipped the nonsense in the bud (excuse the pun). And rhyming roses with roses… the unforgivable same-word rhyme, the less said on that, the better.

Anyway, I shouldn’t rant when it’s good old Robbie. He’s a good chap, always pleasant on the telly. I best get used to the song as I’m sure we’ll see plenty more performances on prime time shows soon, with Robbie standing on the stage and pointing the microphone at the audience and making them sing the song while he gets paid.

His classic move.