Angels (Robbie Williams song)

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Angels cover.png
Single by Robbie Williams
from the album Life thru a Lens
Released 1 December 1997 (1997-12-01)
Recorded 1997
Length 4:24 (album version)
3:58 (radio edit)
Label Chrysalis
Robbie Williams singles chronology
"South of the Border"
"Let Me Entertain You"
Music video
"Angels" on YouTube

"Angels" is a song co-written by Ray Heffernan, Robbie Williams, and Guy Chambers. Williams and Chambers were subsequently credited as "joint co-writers" and the song was released as a single in December 1997.[1] It became Williams' biggest selling single and was voted the best song of the past 25 years at the 2005 Brit Awards.

"Angels" has since been covered by many artists, including Jessica Simpson; Beverley Knight; All Angels; Declan Galbraith; Verena von Strenge's latest group, Moon Dust; and American Idol series 7 runner-up David Archuleta. It has been recorded in Spanish (as "Ángel") by Mexican singers Yuridia and Marco Moré, and in Italian (as "Un Angelo") by Patrizio Buanne. In 2009, Williams performed "Angels" at the final of the sixth series of The X Factor with Olly Murs. Williams also recorded a Spanish version of the song. In a 2005 poll, "Angels" was ranked the most popular song that Britons would most like played at their funeral.[2]

Original version[edit]

Chart performance[edit]

"Angels" was the fourth single from Williams' debut album, Life thru a Lens. It has been credited with saving the singer's floundering solo career, and is used to conclude almost all of his concerts. The song was the 38th best selling of 1997 in the UK, and the 26th of 1998. It was the 34th best selling single of the decade. Despite only reaching a peak of No. 4, it is Williams' biggest-selling UK single and according to Official UK Charts Company figures passed the million sales mark in June 2009, with a combination of both physical and download sales. It has sold 1.2 million copies in the UK as of November 2012.[3] It was released in 1999 in the US, after Williams' debut there with "Millennium". A video for the song was released in the US featuring Williams atop a roof, watching the city below.

"Angels" re-entered the ARIA Top 100 at #91, on 5 May 2008.[4] Due to download sales, the song has re-entered the UK Charts on a number of occasions in recent years.

Music video[edit]

The video for "Angels" was directed by Vaughan Arnell,[5] and filmed at Saunton Sands. Filmed largely from the air, Williams walks around a beach, stares at the sky, kicks a football and rides a motorbike with a woman whilst a helicopter flies around them.[6]

In November 2013, English singer-songwriter Olly Murs released a music video promoting his song "Hand on Heart", imitating the video to "Angels". Also directed by Arnell, and shot in black-and-white, the video featured a cameo appearance by Robbie Williams himself. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I am easily flattered, and I love Olly. We always have a good time together and this was no exception," commented Williams.[5]


The writing credits attributed to the song were Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers. However, it later emerged that an unknown Irish songwriter, Ray Heffernan actually composed much of the song a year earlier.[7] In an interview with RTÉ, Heffernan said that he met Williams in a Dublin pub and brought him back to his home where they embarked on a songwriting session.[8] Heffernan played him the basis of what would become "Angels" and they recorded an early version of it. Heffernan acknowledges, however, that Williams and Guy Chambers later added the chorus. Heffernan was paid £7,500 for the use of the song, relinquishing any rights to royalties.[9] He was uncredited as a songwriter but received a cryptic message on the CD, saying: "Even fallen angels laugh last, thanks to Ray Heffernan".

Williams claimed he wrote the song with Chambers in 25 minutes and the song is about his aunt and uncle. Williams and Chambers were sitting outside a cafe watching a water fountain; this is what inspired them for the chorus.[10] Williams is irritated that many people assume it was written by his former co-writer Guy Chambers. In an interview he said; "It pees me off because everyone thinks Guy penned 'Let Me Entertain You' and 'Angels', but they're my songs."[11]

Williams said about the song (when he was at RTL Late Night on 2 November 2016): "Angels is a song that myself and Guy Chambers wrote and it was the first of our songs that we wrote together. We could tell and hoped and prayed that we got something incredibly special. After we wrote the song, Guy got very ill, straight away. I kind of walked back from his house to my flat in the cold and in the snow with this tape in my hand and about a mile and a half in, I hailed a cab down. He played it and said "that is great, that is, Robbie, that is gonne be number 1", and you know what: it never was number one.[12]


At the 2005 BRIT Awards, "Angels" was voted by the British public the best song in the past 25 years of British music, though it had only reached number four on the singles chart. Williams performed the song live with Joss Stone then. In a survey by UK digital TV station Music Choice, it even came in at number one as the song people would most like to be played at their funeral.[13]

Formats and track listings[edit]

  1. "Angels" – 4:24
  2. "Back for Good" (live) – 3:59
  3. "Walk This Sleigh" – 3:01
  1. "Angels" – 4:24
  2. "Karaoke Overkill" – 3:31
  3. "Get the Joke" – 3:03
  4. "Angels" (acoustic version) – 4:27[14]


Chart (1997–99) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[15] 40
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[16] 12
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[17] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[18] 32
Canada (RPM) 18
Denmark (Hitlisten)[19] 20
France (SNEP)[20] 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[21] 9
Ireland (IRMA)[22] 2
Italy (FIMI)[23] 12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[24] 14
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[25] 23
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[26] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[27] 13
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[28] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[29] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[30] 53
US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks[31] 10
US Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks 21
Chart (2008) Peak
Canada Top Digital 40
Chart (2009) Peak
Canada Top Digital 32
Germany (Media Control AG) 85
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 96
Chart (2012) Peak
France (SNEP) 138
Chart (2013) Peak
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 51


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Belgium (BEA)[32] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[33] Gold 187,000[34]
Italy (FIMI)[35] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[36] 2× Platinum 1,200,000[3]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions[edit]

Jessica Simpson[edit]

Jessicasimpson single angels.jpg
Single by Jessica Simpson
from the album In This Skin: Collector's Edition
Released 6 June 2004[37]
Format CD, digital download
Genre Pop
Length 4:05
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers
Producer(s) Billy Mann
Jessica Simpson singles chronology
"Take My Breath Away"
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"

Jessica Simpson's cover of "Angels" was the fourth and final single released from her album In This Skin in 2004. It was produced by Billy Mann.

Music video[edit]

The video for "Angels" opens a visibly anxious Simpson on an empty stage rehearsing for a performance. She can be seen in intercut scenes staring into space, as if she has lost her self-confidence and ability to perform. As the song progresses, however, white roses can be seen scattered around her as a sign of hope, and soon Simpson begins to regain her confidence. The song then shifts into its instrumental bridge to correlate with the emotions of the characters, as Simpson proceeds to climb to the top of the building for her final performance. There she is greeted by a youth orchestra, and finishes the song.

Chart performance[edit]

Simpson's version of "Angels" failed to break into the Billboard Hot 100 (though it did reach number six on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles). However, the song did become a moderate success[clarification needed] on the Top 40 Mainstream and Hot Digital Tracks. Both Simpson, and her father and manager Joe Simpson, had hoped this song would lead to her first Grammy nomination, as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, her 1990s rivals, had each already been nominated as well as winning. The song's downloads were not allowed to help it. Despite this relative failure, the single was featured on Now That's What I Call Music! Volume 17 in the United States.

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Angels"
  2. "Angels" (Stealth Remix)
  3. "Fly" (B-side)
  4. "Angels" (enhanced video)


  • "Angels" (album version) – 4:00
  • "Angels" (Dave Anthony Remix) – 4:53
  • "Angels" (Junior Vasquez World Mixshow) – 6:32
  • "Angels" (Stealth Remix) – 3:12
  • "Angels" (acoustic) – 4:07


Chart (2004) Position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[38] 27
Romanian Top 100[39] 78
US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles[40] 6
US Billboard Pop Songs[41] 23


Single by Yuridia
from the album La Voz de un Ángel
Released 2005
Genre Latin, pop
Length 4:17
Label Sony BMG
Writer(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers
Yuridia singles chronology
"La Maldita Primavera"

In 2005, Yuridia, former contestant of the popular Mexican show La Academia, released "Ángel", a Spanish version of the song which she had interpreted during her stay in the reality show, as her debut and lead single. In Mexico, as well as in other parts of Latin America, "Ángel", became an instant hit, leading her debut album of almost the same name to achieve Diamond status in Mexico and becoming one of the most recent best selling Mexican singers and the best female Mexican seller of the past decade. The singer received two gold certifications for 20,000 copies sold in Mexico.

Chart performance[edit]

"Ángel" reached 32 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart and La Voz de un Angel managed to climb into the top 20 on the Billboard Hot Latin Albums chart, peaking at 16. In Mexico the song became the most successful song of 2005, leading the charts during 13 week.


Chart 2005 Position
US Billboard Hot Latin Songs 32

Beverley Knight[edit]

In March 2006, British soul singer Beverley Knight recorded a live gospel version of "Angels". The track, performed live on BBC Radio 2 with musician Guy Chambers, was included on her Voice - The Best Of Beverley Knight album. The inclusion came after Knight performed the song at the Live 8 concerts in July 2005.

All Angels[edit]

Single by All Angels
from the album All Angels
Released 18 December 2006 (2006-12-18)
Format CD
Genre Pop
Length 4:19
Label UCJ (Universal)
Writer(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers
All Angels singles chronology
"Nothing Compares 2 U"

In December 2006, British classical crossover group All Angels released a cover version of Angels, with a classical touch to the song. Bookmakers put odds of 7-1 on them for getting a UK Christmas number-one single with their cover.

The single is the first ever Christmas single to be released in association with the Royal British Legion and their Poppy Appeal. Incidentally All Angels performed at the Festival of Remembrance (2006).

  • Track listing

CD single

  1. "Angels" – 3:18
  2. "Silent Night" – 3:14
  3. "Fly" – 3:45

David Archuleta[edit]

Single by David Archuleta
from the album David Archuleta
Released 27 October 2008 (2008-10-27)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2008
Genre Pop
Length 3:33 (American Idol studio version)
4:09 (album version)
Label Jive
Writer(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers
David Archuleta singles chronology
"A Little Too Not Over You"

David Archuleta initially covered this song during the 7th series of American Idol, in 2008. A studio version of this cover was produced and made available for purchase as a digital download exclusively via iTunes Store for a limited period.

Later in that year, he decided to re-record the song, with a different arrangement and production, for his debut album. The version is also available for digital purchase since 27 October 2008, when it was released to help promote the pre-order of Archuleta's album.

Formats and track listings[edit]

Digital download
  1. "Angels" (main version) — 4:09
  2. "Angels" (promotional version) — 3:33

Chart performance[edit]

Archuleta's version of the song has become the second highest charting version in the United States after the original performed by Robbie Williams. It managed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at #89 due to digital downloads. On the Canadian Hot 100 the song peaked at #64.


Chart (2008) Peak
Canadian Hot 100 64
US Billboard Hot 100 89


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  2. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Myers, Justin (10 February 2016). "These are the UK's 20 biggest selling love ballads of all time". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Australia's Official Music Charts". ARIA Charts. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Olly Murs Unveils 'Hand On Heart' Video". MTV. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Robbie Williams - Angels". YouTube. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
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  9. ^ Video on YouTube
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  16. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  17. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
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  22. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Angels". Irish Singles Chart.
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  29. ^ "Archive Chart: 1998-02-15" UK Singles Chart.
  30. ^ Top Pop Singles by Joel Whitburn, 12th ed., p. 1063
  31. ^ Chart positions for "Angels" in the United States
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  40. ^
  41. ^

External links[edit]