Man alive, did anyone else witness the atrocity that was the Take That documentary Look Back, Don’t Stare on Saturday night? X Factor immediately prior to it elicited some screaming at the TV from my sofa, but this?
Lounging around in recording studios, being shot in pseudo-muso black and white, doing loads of smoking while waxing sagacious about either a) life and its multitude of struggles and complexities, or b) the excruciating minutia of the most dreary, self-absorbed, flat, fun-devoid daytime radio nothingness it has ever been anyone’s misfortune to hear? These people need to be stopped!
Everyone gets why this whole Take That thing has happened. It’s a good story. Getting discovered – doing the rounds of the gay clubs in Manchester – teen massiveness – growing their hair long – Robbie leaving at their height – the split – Robbie trouncing all their solo careers thanks to one giant Oasis rewrite – their rebirth coinciding happily with his decline – this album. It’s great theatre, and no denying it.
No matter how many semi-ironic semi-sniggering semi-broadsheet semi-critics go on about how Take That are, like, actually, “no, seriously!” amazing, no-one, no-one, NO-ONE in Take That has been involved in a anything approaching a good record, ever. Their early stuff is as functionally fun as any Stock-Aitken-Waterman tune, and great if you were a pre-teen in 1992. But that’s it.
All the other first period stuff that people go on about – ie ‘Back For Good’ – is just impossibly, astoundingly dreary. And solo-wise? Well, Robbie Williams – despite being as big, monumental a cunt as you might expect someone who released ‘Swing When You’re Winning’ and actually dubbed a tour ‘The Show-Off Must Go On’ to be – was at least repellent. The others, though, were just monumentally, almost heroically dull. Look!
Not surprisingly, then, after the initial rush for people who loved them in ’92, since they got back together, they have simply been a giant colossus of almost heroic dullness. ‘Patience’? ‘Shine’? ‘Rule The World’? Oh please! Boring, boring, boring, BORING horrible adult Heart FM drivel, the lot of ’em!
I just checked, and there’s been 10 singles since they came back – can you even name any of the other ones? Yes, they take a big elephant on tour, but in truth the music Take That make post-millennium is so plodding as to make Westlife seem like… well, like Take That circa 1992.
There was a bit in the documentary where the two who no one cares about – wanting to feel they were contributing while the three “brilliant” songwriters discussed middle eighths and stuff – were joking about how they should have worked up a dance routine or something on their way to the studio. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD FUCKING IDEA, BECAUSE YOU ARE A BOYBAND, NOT FUCKING DEL AMITRI.
And let's be clear: being a serious concern written about by serious music critics is not A Good Thing whatsoever. That’s The National, and who wants to be The National?
Take That used to be fun. That is why people cared about them. They used to have stupid, hyper-energetic dance routines and lark about at the Smash Hits Awards and do interviews about how they “are just looking for the right girl” with a glint in their eyes which told you that, while this might be true, they were doing extensive research during this process.
Now they’re doing grainy black-and-white documentaries in which they sit smoking at mixing desks, talking about how they don’t need drink anymore and endlessly debating individual lyrics of their snore-inducing self-referential bullshit because they’re not sure it’s what they, collectively, “want to say”. Great.
One imagines for Take That fans of old, the experience of going to see them or listening to them in 2010 is akin to going on a first date with someone you were in love with at school, them still being really hot, and just sitting there while they try to convince you of how deep they are thinking, “Jesus Mary Mother Of God, when the fuck is this idiot going to shut up and KISS ME?” And then making excuses because you realise it’s never going to happen.
Below is my favourite Take That-related video ever. One can only hope it is re-enacted, literally and metophorically, very soon.