What's new in the land of royals and Radiohead? The editors of Britain's NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS whisk us their monthly report.

By James Oldham
December 13, 2002 at 05:00 AM EST

I’m sure I’m not telling you something you don’t already know: Sometimes life goes beyond being simply unfair and turns into one sick and twisted nightmare. Unfortunately, that moment has just arrived.

This past October, Robbie Williams, Britain’s No. 1 ”entertainer” (the man also dubbed ”the new Sinatra” by the British tabs after he unloaded several ghastly Frank covers last Christmas), signed one of the biggest record deals of all time. EMI snapped him up for a reported [British pounds]80 million ($125 million). This was traumatic enough.

Once known as ”the tubby one” in middling boy band Take That, Williams, has since 1997, been making some of the most annoying music since primitive man whittled flutes out of spare mammoth tusks. It’s a crass mixture of bombast and insincerity delivered with all the warmth of a nuclear winter. Add to that the fact that, whenever Williams is on TV, he looks like he’d rather be pulling wings off of flies, and you begin to see why I’m upset. Still, I thought I could get over it. Until now.

Listening to Escapology, the first CD released under the deal, I’m hit with a dread realization: Williams, whose reign of terror has yet to extend much beyond the British Isles, is now poised for world domination. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

Like his previous solo discs (three have been released Stateside), Escapology is ham-fisted pop awfulness. But this time it’s got Big in America stamped all over it. Recorded in L.A. with a group of session musicians brought in to add a ”spontaneous” live sheen, it sounds like a Billy Joel greatest-hits album. It’s a slick, heartless, MOR mantrap of a record.

On the plus side, if it does take off in the States, it’ll have Williams out of our hair for a bit. On the downside, it’ll confirm that he’s one step closer to pop immortality, the thought of which has me spiraling into a pit of despair.

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