Angels (Robbie Williams song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Angels cover.png
Single by Robbie Williams
from the album Life thru a Lens
Released1 December 1997 (1997-12-01)
Length4:24 (album version)
3:58 (radio edit)
Attributed to Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers (see below)
Robbie Williams singles chronology
"South of the Border"
"Let Me Entertain You"
Music video
"Angels" on YouTube

"Angels" is a song by Robbie Williams. It was included on Williams's debut solo album Life thru a Lens (1997), and released as a single in December 1997.[1] "Angels" was written by Williams and Guy Chambers, based on an earlier song written by Ray Heffernan. It is Williams' best-selling single and was voted the best song of the previous 25 years at the 2005 Brit Awards.

"Angels" has been covered by artists including Jessica Simpson, David Archuleta, Beverley Knight, All Angels, Declan Galbraith and Josh Groban. It has been recorded in Spanish (as "Ángel") by Mexican singers Yuridia and Marco Moré, and in Italian (as "Un Angelo") by Patrizio Buanne. Williams also recorded a Spanish version. In a 2005 poll, Britons voted "Angels" the song they most wanted played at their funeral.[2]


In 2011, Robbie Williams said he wrote "Angels" with collaborator Guy Chambers in 25 minutes about his aunt and uncle. By his account, he and Chambers were sitting outside a cafe watching a water fountain, which inspired them to write the chorus.[3] In 2016, Williams said: "It was the first of our songs that we wrote together. We could tell and hoped and prayed that we got something incredibly special."[4] Williams expressed irritation that some assumed Chambers was the sole author.[5]

Irish singer-songwriter Ray Heffernan asserts that he wrote the first version of "Angels" in Paris in 1996, after his partner had a miscarriage.[6] According to Heffernan, he met Williams in a pub by chance in Dublin. He showed him an incomplete version of the song, and that week the two recorded a studio demo.[7] Williams confirmed that he had recorded a demo with Heffernan but said he rewrote the song significantly with Chambers.[8]

Before the song's release, Heffernan accepted an offer from Williams's management to buy the rights for £7,500.[7] He is thanked in the UK CD2 single liner notes.[9] Williams said: "We could have gone to court, and it all would have been down to whether what way the judge wakes up that day out of bed ... So I gave him some money, and he went away."[8] In 2011, Heffernan said: "For a long time, I was angry about this, but as you get older you see things differently ... the 'Angels' connection has opened doors to publishing companies and earned me a few quid."[7]

Critical reception[edit]

Aberdeen Press and Journal stated that "Angels" is "perhaps the strongest cut" from the Life thru a Lens album.[10] John Bush from AllMusic noted Williams' "crooning" on the ballad.[11] Larry Flick from Billboard described it as a "sweet ballad that never gets sappy". He noted that the production is "first-rate, the lyric is thoughtful and ear-grabbing, and his smoky, crisp vocal is a sheer delight. All that and a chorus to kill for."[12] Daily Record wrote, "The ex-Take That star shows he has come of age with this melodic pop ballad."[13] They also added, "Surprisingly grown-up sounding Robbie on what is his best tune to date."[14] Irish Independent called it an "epic ballad".[15] Music & Media commented that "with songs of the quality of Angels, Robbie Williams is on his way towards extending his audience by drawing in older listeners." They also added that it "distinguishes itself from its indie rock inspired predecessors 'Old Before I Die' and 'Lazy Days' by exchanging their guitars for a more mellow, piano-based arrangement."[16] Dave Fawbert from ShortList called it a "genuinely brilliant song", adding that it has "a pretty understated vocal from Robbie. Nothing too over the top, just sincere."[17] In 2003, Q ranked "Angels" at number 237 in their list of the "1001 Best Songs Ever".[18]

Chart performance[edit]

"Angels" was the 38th-bestselling single of 1997 in the UK, and the 26th of 1998. It was the 34th-bestselling single of the decade. Despite only reaching a peak of No. 4, it is Williams' bestselling 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 1.8 million copies in the UK as of April 2021.[19] It was released in 1999 in the US, after Williams' debut there with "Millennium".[citation needed] "Angels" re-entered the ARIA Top 100 at No. 91, on 5 May 2008.[20]

Music video[edit]

The video for "Angels" was directed by Vaughan Arnell,[21] 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 while a helicopter flies around them.[22]

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 Williams. He said: "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."[21]


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, Britons chose it as the song they would most like played at their funeral.[23]

Live performances[edit]

Williams and Russian soprano Aida Garifullina performing “Angels” at the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony in Moscow, Russia

In 2009, Williams performed "Angels" at the final of the sixth series of The X Factor with Olly Murs. On 14 June 2018, Williams performed "Angels" with Russian soprano Aida Garifullina at the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening ceremony held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.[24] On 23 June 2018, Williams performed the song as a special guest at American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour concert at Wembley Stadium in London.[25]

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[26]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Belgium (BEA)[59] Gold 25,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[60] Gold 45,000double-dagger
France (SNEP)[62] Gold 187,000[61]
Italy (FIMI)[63] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[19] 3× Platinum 1,800,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming 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
Released8 June 2004 (2004-06-08)
Songwriter(s)Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
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 charts. 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.

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) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[64] 27
Canada CHR/Pop Top 30 (Radio & Records)[65] 29
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[66] 78
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[67] 6
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[68] 23

Release history[edit]

Release dates and formats for "Angels"
Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States June 8, 2004 Contemporary hit radio Columbia [69]


Single by Yuridia
from the album La Voz de un Ángel
GenreLatin, pop
LabelSony BMG
Songwriter(s)Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
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
Released18 December 2006 (2006-12-18)
LabelUCJ (Universal)
Songwriter(s)Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
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
Released27 October 2008 (2008-10-27)
Length3:33 (American Idol studio version)
4:09 (album version)
Songwriter(s)Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
David Archuleta singles chronology
"A Little Too Not Over You"

David Archuleta initially covered this song during the 7th season 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

Blessing Chitapa[edit]

Single by Blessing Chitapa
from the album Count My Blessings
Released14 November 2020
Blessing Chitapa singles chronology
"I Smile"

In November 2020, Blessing Chitapa, winner of the ninth series of The Voice UK, released a cover version of "Angels" as her winner's single. The song is included on Chitapa’s debut album, Count My Blessings.

On 14 November 2020, Chitapa performed the song "Angels" live on The Voice UK grand final, with the single being released after the show was finished as a digital download.


Chart (2020) Peak
UK Download (OCC)[70] 50

Release history[edit]

Country Release date Format Label
United Kingdom 14 November 2020 Digital download


  1. ^ "Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Brits25 - Angels - Robbie Williams". BBC. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  2. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Home". Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  4. ^ "RTL XL".
  5. ^ "Take That! Robbie joins top songwriters vying for special Brit - News, Music". The Independent. 2 January 2005. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  6. ^ brunolavelle (1 December 2006). "Ray Heffernan talks about Angels". Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  7. ^ a b c "I played Robbie this song I'd been working on. It was called Angels". Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b True Geordie (11 December 2017). "ROBBIE WILLIAMS - True Geordie Podcast #74". Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via YouTube.
  9. ^ Angels, UK CD2, liner notes
  10. ^ "ROBBIE WILLIAMS". Aberdeen Press and Journal. 7 November 1997. page 14. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  11. ^ Bush, John. "Robbie Williams – Life Thru a Lens". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. 18 September 1999. p. 26. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
  13. ^ "Chart Slot; TOP 10 SINGLES CHART". Daily Record. 20 February 1998. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Chart Slot". Daily Record. 12 December 1997. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  15. ^ "A showbiz tart finger in every". Irish Independent. 28 August 1999. page 32. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  16. ^ "Airborne" (PDF). Music & Media. p. 17. Retrieved 23 December 2019.
  17. ^ Fawbert, Dave (1 December 2017). "Old Music Friday: reviewing all the tunes released 20 years ago today". ShortList. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Q - 1001 best songs ever (2003)".
  19. ^ a b "British single certifications – Robbie Williams – Angels". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 9 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Australia's Official Music Charts". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  21. ^ a b "Olly Murs Unveils 'Hand On Heart' Video". MTV. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  22. ^ "Robbie Williams - Angels". YouTube. Retrieved 1 December 2013.
  23. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  24. ^ "World Cup 2018: Ronaldo and Robbie Williams star in opening ceremony". BBC. 14 June 2018.
  25. ^ Kreps, Daniel (24 June 2018). "Watch Taylor Swift, Robbie Williams Perform 'Angels' in London". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 15 May 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  26. ^ "Robbie Williams - Angels CD Singles, Robbie Williams - Angels CDs, Buy Rare Robbie Williams - Angels CDs". Retrieved 10 August 2014.
  27. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  28. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  29. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  30. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  31. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 9992." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  32. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 9971." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15 no. 9. 28 February 1998. p. 10. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  34. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in French). Les classement single.
  35. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  36. ^ "Íslenski Listinn NR. 253 Vikuna 25.12. 1997 – 01.01. 1998". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 27 December 1997. p. 47. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  37. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Angels". Irish Singles Chart.
  38. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Top Digital Download.
  39. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Robbie Williams" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  40. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
  41. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Top 40 Singles.
  42. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  43. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Singles Top 100.
  44. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Swiss Singles Chart.
  45. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  46. ^ Top Pop Singles by Joel Whitburn, 12th ed., p. 1063
  47. ^ Chart positions for "Angels" in the United States
  48. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1997". Music Week. p. 27.
  49. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1998" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  50. ^ "Year in Focus – Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 1998" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15 no. 51. 19 December 1998. p. 8. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  51. ^ "Tops de L'année | Top Singles 1998" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  52. ^ "Top 100 Single–Jahrescharts 1998" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  53. ^ "Top 100–Jaaroverzicht van 1998". Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  54. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1998". MegaCharts. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  55. ^ "Årslista Singlar – År 1998" (in Swedish). Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  56. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1998" (in German). Retrieved 8 March 2020.
  57. ^ "Best Sellers of 1998 – Singles Top 100". Music Week. 16 January 1999. p. 7.
  58. ^ "RPM 1999 Top 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  59. ^ "Ultratop 50 Albums Wallonie 1998". Ultratop. Retrieved 5 January 2012.
  60. ^ "Robbie Williams "Angels"". IFPI Denmark. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  61. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Certifications (Singles) du SNEP (les Singles en Argent)". Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  62. ^ "French single certifications – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique.
  63. ^ "FIMI". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014.
  64. ^ " – Jessica Simpson – Angels". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  65. ^ "R&R Canada CHR/Pop Top 30" (PDF). Radio & Records. No. 1568. 13 August 2004. p. 25. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  66. ^ (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100 Archived from the original on 10 May 2005. Retrieved 29 September 2011. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  67. ^ "Jessica Simpson Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  68. ^ "Jessica Simpson Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 15 October 2020.
  69. ^
  70. ^ "Official Singles Downloads Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 21 November 2020.

External links[edit]