Escapology (album)

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Escapology
Studio album by Robbie Williams
Released 18 November 2002
Recorded 2002
Genre Pop rock, soft rock
Length 73:51
Label EMI
Producer Guy Chambers, Steve Power
Robbie Williams chronology
Swing When You're Winning
(2001)
Escapology
(2002)
Live at Knebworth
(2003)
Singles from Escapology
  1. "Feel"
    Released: 2 December 2002
  2. "Come Undone"
    Released: 14 April 2003
  3. "Something Beautiful"
    Released: 28 July 2003
  4. "Sexed Up"
    Released: 3 November 2003
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2/5 stars[1]
Blender 2/5 stars[2]
Entertainment Weekly (B-)[3]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[4]
NME (4/10)[5]
PopMatters (negative)[6]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[7]
Stylus (C+)[8]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[9]
Yahoo! Music UK 8/10 stars[10]

Escapology is the fifth studio album by English singer-songwriter Robbie Williams.

Background[edit]

In 2002, Williams signed a record-breaking £80 million contract with EMI.[11] The contract featured a number of provisos, including the label ceding greater creative control to the artist and a commitment to breaking Williams in the American market. In return, EMI affirmed they would benefit from a cut of Williams' non-recording activities, including touring, publishing, and merchandising, thus protecting the company from any commercial downturn in the singer's album sales.[12] So far it has become the biggest music deal in British history.[13]

After a year out from recording, Williams began working on what would be his fifth studio album. The album heralded a new era for Williams, as he had taken a more active role in the making of the album, giving an indication of his growing confidence in the studio. "One Fine Day", "Nan's Song" and "Come Undone" were the first three songs that Robbie wrote without Guy Chambers' input. The majority of the album was recorded in Los Angeles. "Escapology" was arguably conceived as a concept album, due to its lyrical content being totally reflective of Williams' life as a popstar. The album focuses on his hopes and fears. Williams stated: "Half of the album it is written from the standpoint of 'Look, this is really me with my tears of a clown. Do they love me or hate me?' The rest of it is about somebody that I have to think I am to get up onstage. Because little me wouldn't get up there. It's too scary!"

As the contract stated, EMI attempted to break Williams in the American market, and such, asked him to tweak Escapology to suit the market. The American release shuffled the song order, removed "Song 3", "Hot Fudge", "Cursed" and one hidden track, added "Get a Little High" and "One Fine Day", and made "How Peculiar (Reprise)" a main album track instead of a hidden track. Williams promoted the album on shows such as Good Morning America, Last Call with Carson Daly and The Tonight Show. This version of the album won the award for Best Album by a Solo Male in the International Category at the Premios Oye! in Mexico.[14]

Reception[edit]

Initial critical response to Escapology was generally mixed. Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 53, based on 11 reviews.[15]

Success[edit]

When Escapology was released in late 2002, it hit number-one in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Austria. It also reached the top ten in other European countries. However, it failed to make an impact in the United States, only reaching number forty-three on the Billboard albums chart. Escapology became the best selling album of 2002 in the United Kingdom, selling 1.2 million copies,[13] and being certified 6× Platinum by the BPI in December 2003,[16] becoming the sixtieth best selling album of all time in the UK. The album sold over 6.5 million copies.

Singles[edit]

  • "Feel", a track written by Williams and Chambers, was released as the album's first single. Originally only recorded as a demo in 1999, Williams attempted to re-recorded the vocals in 2002, however, felt unsatisfied with the result, and thus decided to issue the original demo version instead.[17] When the single was released in late 2002, it became Williams' biggest international hit, selling over 4 million units worldwide and reaching the top ten in every European country. It also topped the charts in Argentina, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Mexico, and the Netherlands. The success of the song was so massive that it spent 54 weeks inside the Canadian charts. The video for the song received attention in the United States, due to Hollywood actress Daryl Hannah featuring as his love interest, leading radio stations to play the track.
  • "Come Undone", the album's second single, became a top ten hit around the world. However, the video for the song was heavily censored by MTV Networks for depicting Williams having three-way sex with two women.[18] The video also highlighted graphic images of people vomiting and fist fighting, a cockroach crawling out of a person's mouth, and close-up shots of maggots, snakes and insects in close contact with the party goers in the video.[19] The uncensored version of the video was released via a DVD single in Europe, and was also included on the Enhanced CD single.[20] BBC Radio 2 also banned the song for its explicit content.[21] During such furors, it was confirmed that Williams and Guy Chambers were to officially part ways.[20]
  • "Something Beautiful", a song which was first offered to Tom Jones, was released as the album's third single. After given to Williams, it was reworked and heavily remixed.[22] The single was released in the summer of 2003, and while it hit the top ten in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland and Denmark, it failed to make an impact in the world charts. The video featured a casting in which people from all over Europe contested to win the chance to perform as Robbie Williams at the end of the video. The three winners had the chance to meet Robbie, and three different versions of the video were released to different parts of the world featuring a different winner.
  • "Sexed Up" was released as the album's fourth and final single, becoming another top ten single for Williams in the United Kingdom. However, it failed to make an impact in the charts elsewhere, the exception being Brazil where it became very popular and gained massive radio airplay for being part of a soap opera soundtrack.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "How Peculiar"   Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers 3:13
2. "Feel"   Williams, Chambers 4:22
3. "Something Beautiful"   Williams, Chambers 4:48
4. "Monsoon"   Williams, Chambers 3:46
5. "Sexed Up"   Williams, Chambers 4:19
6. "Love Somebody"   Williams, Chambers 4:10
7. "Revolution" (featuring Rose Stone) Williams, Chambers 5:44
8. "Handsome Man"   Williams, Chambers, Adrian Deevoy 3:54
9. "Come Undone"   Williams, Ashley Hamilton, Daniel Pierre, Kristian Ottestad 4:38
10. "Me and My Monkey"   Williams, Chambers 7:12
11. "Song 3"   Williams, Chambers 3:48
12. "Hot Fudge"   Williams, Chambers 4:05
13. "Cursed"   Williams, Chambers, Deevoy 4:01
14. "Nan's Song"   Williams 3:52
15. "How Peculiar (Reprise)" (hidden track) Williams, Chambers 2:08
16. "I Tried Love" (hidden track) Williams, Chambers 3:38

Charts and certifications[edit]

Decade-end sales[edit]

2000–2009 Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 23
German Albums Chart 5
2002 Peak
position
UK Albums Chart 1
Preceded by
Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Volume 1 by Westlife
Magic and Medicine by The Coral
UK number-one album
30 November 2002 – 10 January 2003
16 August 2003 – 22 August 2003
Succeeded by
Let Go by Avril Lavigne
American Tune by Eva Cassidy

References[edit]

  1. ^ Escapology (album) at AllMusic
  2. ^ Blender review[dead link]
  3. ^ Entertainment Weekly review. Ew.com (31 March 2003).
  4. ^ The Guardian review. Guardian (15 November 2002).
  5. ^ NME review. NME.(21 November 2002).
  6. ^ PopMatters review. PopMatters.
  7. ^ Rolling Stone review at the Wayback Machine (archived February 5, 2008). Rolling Stone.
  8. ^ Stylus Magazine review. Stylusmagazine.com.
  9. ^ Slant Magazine review. Slantmagazine.com.
  10. ^ Yahoo! Music review. Uk.launch.yahoo.com (20 April 2011).
  11. ^ "£80 Million Contract with EMI Music". Britandgrit.wordpress.com. 15 February 2007. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  12. ^ Robbie Williams and his record-breaking music contract with EMI. Rtl.musicbrigade.com.
  13. ^ a b "Escapology | RobbieWilliams.com". robbiewilliams.com. 2011. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  14. ^ Oye! 2003 at the Wayback Machine (archived January 22, 2008)
  15. ^ "Robbie Williams:Escapology (2003): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved 2009-04-02. 
  16. ^ a b "British album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Escapology in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  17. ^ "Discography>Singles>Feel". Robbiewilliams.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  18. ^ "Robert Peter Williams". famous.y2u.co.uk. 
  19. ^ "YouTube 'Come Undone'". YouTube. 
  20. ^ a b "Escapology". Famous.y2u.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  21. ^ "Discography>Singles>Come Undone". Robbiewilliams.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  22. ^ "Discography>Singles>Something Beautiful". Robbiewilliams.com. Retrieved 2009-10-11. 
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "portuguesecharts.com - Robbie Williams - Escapology". portuguesecharts.com. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  24. ^ http://www.oricon.co.jp/prof/artist/188736/ranking/cd_album/
  25. ^ "OLiS: sales for the period 16.12.2002 - 05.01.2003". OLiS. 
  26. ^ "Argentinian album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology". Argentine Chamber of Phonograms and Videograms Producers. 
  27. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2006 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. 
  28. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Robbie Williams in the field Interpret. Enter Escapology in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  29. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology". Music Canada. 
  30. ^ "Danish album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology". IFPI Denmark. 
  31. ^ a b The first web page presents the sales figures, the second presents the certification limits:
  32. ^ "French album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. 
  33. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Robbie Williams; 'Escapology')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  34. ^ "Greek album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology" (in Greek). IFPI Greece. 
  35. ^ "Adatbázis – Arany- és platinalemezek – 2003" (in Hungarian). Mahasz. 
  36. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  37. ^ "New Zealand album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. 
  38. ^ "Polish album certifications – Robbie Williams – Escapology" (in Polish). Polish Producers of Audio and Video (ZPAV). 
  39. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 2002" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. 
  40. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Robbie Williams; 'Escapology')". Hung Medien. 
  41. ^ "IFPI Platinum Europe Awards – 2003". International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.