By Ricky Browne
Robbie Williams has said “take that” to Covid-19 with the release of his new Christmas song, Can’t Stop Christmas.
“Oh what a miserable year, but what a time to be alive // Sadly some friends disappeared // It’s never been like this before // It feels like we’re at war,” are the opening lyrics of the song.
The song comes at a time when many are wondering if there will be anything like a normal Christmas this year, with most of the United Kingdom and world in some form of lockdown thanks to the pandemic.
Divali has already been a damp squib, it looks like Thanksgiving in the United States will follow suit. Can Christmas be far behind?
Williams (46) is an English pop star and songwriter, who first hit fame in the mid 1990s at the age of 16 as part of the boy group Take That. He later launched into a solo career and has outshone his former band mates, with hits like Angels , Candy and Let Me Entertain You. His song Feel has had 238 million views on YouTube.
Williams has sold more than 80 million records worldwide. He has won more BRIT Awards than anyone and is the best-selling British solo artist of all time. Despite all that, and despite tying with Elvis Presley for the most number one albums, he is still relatively unknown in the United States.
The tune of Can’t Stop Christmas is in keeping with many previous modern-day Christmas song releases – quite chipper — but daringly juxtaposed against the bleak lyrics about one of the worst years since World War II, it clashes with the warm, fuzzy feelings that listeners want to hear.
But Williams’s song tries to put as good a spin on Christmas this year as possible. But maybe the light-hearted tune with a few crushing lyrics just can’t be appreciated by many this time around.
It may be an attempt to up people’s mood as they head into an uncertain Christmas, but feedback on the song seems to be generally negative.
Happy tune or not, lyrics like “Santa’s on his sleigh, but now he’s two metres away” seem to be mismatched. And not many people are in the mood for black humour either. So casual mentions of people dying as friends disappearing, fall flat.
Robbie Williams was trending on Twitter in the UK today, but most of the comments were negative about his new song.
Williams himself introduced the song on Twitter with a link to the video.
“Here’s the official lyric video for my brand new Christmas song “Can’t Stop Christmas” x” tweeted Robbie.
The lyric video is clearly not the final product, with simple graphics that match the words but no action shots of Williams singing or people dying or even of Santa trying to work within social distancing rules.
Williams’s tweet got some respectable likes though — 1.1 thousand likes after four hours, with 243 retweets.
But many of the comments were quite negative.
“Normally love your work, but cashing in on peoples misery the past year ? I hope the royalties go to a worthwhile charity which helps the same affected people,” tweeted Peter Vermeulen.
“50,000 people dead in the UK alone, but no worries, according to Robbie Williams’ new song they just ‘disappeared’.” tweeted Irony Chungles.
“Just experienced the new Robbie Williams Christmas song. Don’t… and I can’t stress this enough… DON’T click on it. Just run. Run far, far away. With your fingers in your ears. Screaming. I genuinely didn’t think 2020 could get any worse. But it has,” tweeted Will Buxton.
Some may have taken their dislike a step or two too far.
“Just heard the first 15 seconds of the Robbie Williams Christmas song and currently praying for global thermonuclear war,” tweeted Pete Fowler.
But some people like it.
“Lots of scorn being poured on @robbiewiliams anti-lockdown Xmas song by the usual pro-lockdown luvvies But it made me laugh, a lot – which is much-needed at the moment “Santa’s on his sleigh, but now he’s two meters away!”” tweeted Martin Daubney.
“You’ve misinterpreted the song. The sentiment of the song is that you can cancel things/bad things happen but you can’t cancel christmas spirit. It’s supposed to be a bit of fun to cheer people up,” tweeted no_context_robbie in response to people who didn’t like the song.
“Thankyou Robbie. Just what I needed. Big smile on my face now and maybe just a little bit of hoping Xmas is a Special one for every one,” tweeted Sue Quandt in a reply to Williams.
“Brilliant song. Punchy and Christmasy!” tweeted James Melville.
And some remain undecided.
“Robbie Williams has penned either the greatest or absolute worst lyric ever: “Santa’s on his sleigh, but now he’s two metres away!” tweeted Alex May.