Millennium (song)

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Robbie Williams Millennium cover.png
Single by Robbie Williams
from the album I've Been Expecting You
Released 7 September 1998
Recorded 1998
Genre Pop, symphonic rock
Length 4:07 (album version)
3:46 (radio edit)
Label Chrysalis
Robbie Williams singles chronology
"Let Me Entertain You"
"No Regrets"
"Let Me Entertain You"
"No Regrets"
Music video
"Millennium" on YouTube

"Millennium" is a song by English singer Robbie Williams from his 1998 album I've Been Expecting You. In September 1998, it was released as the album's first track which became Williams' first single to top the UK Singles Chart. The song also received extensive airplay in the United States and Canada, where it was the lead single from Williams' 1999 compilation album, The Ego Has Landed.

The song borrows heavily from the musical arrangement of John Barry's "You Only Live Twice", the title track of the 1967 James Bond film of the same name, said to be one of Williams' favourite James Bond movies.[1] However, it is a re-recording in a slightly different key instead of a direct sample for reasons of cost.[2]

Recording and composing[edit]

The song that would become "Millennium" started being written in 1997. Once producers Steve Power and Guy Chambers heard Williams' demo, which already had a sample of "You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra, they found potential for a single given it showed a different sound from Williams' debut album Life thru a Lens. As Power explained: "It had the more programming-based feel that we wanted to introduce on the second album in order to get away from the guitar-based feel of the first album, and it already had the chorus hook, the Bond theme sample, on the demo version, which I remember mixing before last Christmas." The lyrics were mostly done, although Chambers felt it lacked "an obvious title for the track," and suggested "Millennium" for being "both strong and topical". Then Chambers asked for a "football chant" which only had a melody before Williams came up with "come and have a go if you think you're hard enough'." The whole writing process took about four hours, and Chambers described "Millennium" as "the simplest song Robbie and I have ever written - only two chords. And it's written in D flat major, which is very unusual in pop music."[2]

Writing and pre-production was done at Blah Street Studios in Hampshire. Trident Studios in London were used for the majority of the recordings, including drums, bass and samples for the backing track, and the backing vocals, which included three female session singers and male vocals by Williams' guitarist Gary Nuttall. Williams' vocals were done at Jacobs Studios in Surrey.[2]

Williams suggested using a sample only accompanied by a hip-hop beat. Guy Chambers found a beat by speeding the sample up. The record label, Chrysalis Records, discovered that a new recording would cost only one tenth of the licensing fee that would be required to sample "You Only Live Twice", so they asked for a new string section that still acted as a recognisable pastiche of the song. Nick Ingman arranged the orchestra, which according to Power "was in the wrong key for 'Millennium', although we did want it to sound like the original sample in the choruses and we did refer to John Barry's original score for that", and conducted a 26-piece string section, plus harp and four French horns, at Angel Recording Studios in Islington to the programmed backing track, with a guide vocal over the top.[2]

Power said the song used most of the 48 tracks offered by the multitrack tape: "We had about six tracks of backing vocals, and nine tracks for the strings. Then there were the programmed tracks; and when you get into programming, you'll layer about four kick drums to tape! For speed, and to keep the creative flow going, we put them all down to separate tracks rather than spend time deciding which one we wanted loudest when recording. So we had a lot of independent outs from the programmed backing track onto separate multitrack channels, like the programmed percussion and sampled noises. Then there were the unused scratching tracks, and the live percussion - all in all, I think we filled maybe 36 or 38 tracks in total."[2]

Music video[edit]

The tongue-in-cheek video for "Millennium", directed by Vaughan Arnell, features Williams parodying James Bond, complete with tuxedo and references to Bond films like Thunderball and From Russia with Love.[3] The video was filmed at Pinewood Studios, home to most Bond productions. During the end of the video, Williams drives away in an economy car, a fittingly chosen Bond Bug, instead of 007's Aston Martin DB5, which later drives past him while he's having car trouble.[4] Future celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale made an appearance in the video as one of the 'Bond Girls'.[5]

At the 1999 Brit Awards, "Millennium" won the award for British Video of the Year.


The song became Williams' first number-one single in the United Kingdom, shipping over 400,000 copies and being certified Gold by the BPI. The song also became an international success; it managed to break into the Top 40 around the world. It also became Williams' first song to chart inside the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 when it was released in 1999. However, neither "Millennium" nor "Angels" (the song chosen as his second single in the United States) charted in the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart; it did chart at #20 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart.

Formats and track listings[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of major single releases of "Millennium".

(Released 7 September 1998)

  1. "Millennium" – 4:07
  2. "Love Cheat" (demo version) – 3:46
  3. "Rome Munich Rome" (demo version) – 3:05

(Released 7 September 1998)

  1. "Millennium" – 4:07
  2. "Lazy Days" (original version) – 4:29
  3. "Angels" (live version) – 5:38

European CD Maxi
(Released 7 September 1998)

  1. "Millennium" – 4:07
  2. "Love Cheat" (demo version) – 3:46
  3. "Rome Munich Rome" (demo version) – 3:05
  4. "Angels" (live version) – 5:38

Charts and sales[edit]


  1. ^ "Robbie Williams's Millenium sample of John Barry feat. Nancy Sinatra's You Only Live Twice". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "GUY CHAMBERS & STEVE POWER: Recording Robbie Williams' 'Millennium'". Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  3. ^ "Millennium: Music Video". 
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ Liz Hoggard (2011-02-11). "Baking hot with new BBC chef, Lorraine Pascale". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  6. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: W". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  7. ^ a b Steffen Hung. "Robbie Williams - Millennium". Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  8. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  9. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  10. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  11. ^ ChartsVentes. "World singles charts and sales TOP 50 in 20 countries: ROBBIE WILLIAMS". 
  12. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". 1998-10-03. Retrieved 2014-04-01 – via Google Books. 
  13. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium" (in French). Les classement single.
  14. ^ " – Robbie Williams Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  15. ^ "Irish Singles Chart – Search for song". Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: W". Hit Parade Italia. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  17. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Robbie Williams" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  18. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium". Top 40 Singles.
  19. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium". VG-lista.
  20. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". 1998-10-24. Retrieved 2014-04-01 – via Google Books. 
  21. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Millennium". Swiss Singles Chart.
  22. ^ "Robbie Williams: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 70, No. 8, December 13, 1999". RPM. 13 December 1999. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  25. ^ "British single certifications – Robbie Williams – Millennium". British Phonographic Industry.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Enter Millennium in the search field and then press Enter.