The Circus (Take That album)

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The Circus
The Circus cover.png
Studio album by
Released1 December 2008[1]
StudioSARM Studios, London
GenrePop rock
ProducerJohn Shanks
Take That chronology
Beautiful World
The Circus
The Greatest Day – Take That Present: The Circus Live
Singles from The Circus
  1. "Greatest Day"
    Released: 24 November 2008
  2. "Up All Night"
    Released: 2 March 2009
  3. "The Garden"
    Released: 20 March 2009
  4. "Said It All"
    Released: 15 June 2009
  5. "Hold Up a Light"
    Released: 14 December 2009

The Circus is the fifth studio album by British pop band Take That. It was released in the United Kingdom on 1 December 2008.[2] The album was their second, and also their last, as a four-piece, as founding member Robbie Williams returned for their sixth studio album Progress (2010), before both Williams and Jason Orange departed prior to the release of 2014's III.

The Circus debuted at number 1 on the UK Albums Chart and was the second best-selling album of 2008 in the UK, selling over 1.5 million copies.[3] The album's lead single "Greatest Day" became Take That's eleventh number one. Four further singles were released which failed to match the success of "Greatest Day": "Up All Night", "The Garden", "Said It All" and "Hold Up a Light".


In the United Kingdom, the album was released on 1 December 2008, when Britney Spears' sixth album, also titled Circus, released on the same day.[4] Take That's manager said the album's title choice was a coincidence, and that the band had worked "months in advance" and would not be changing the title. He also elaborated: "The boys have worked on this for months, like Britney, and we certainly won't be changing the title", and that "I doubt there will be confusion. Fans will either ask for the new record by Take That or Britney Spears".[5]


Take That released their first single from the album, "Greatest Day", on 24 November 2008, which peaked at number one in the UK. The second single "Up All Night" was released on 2 March 2009 and peaked at number 14.[6] The third single "The Garden", was released in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia on 20 March 2009, though it also peaked at number 97 in the UK on download sales. The video for the song was shot at the Greenwich Maritime Museum, South London.[7] The fourth single to be taken from the album, "Said It All", was released in June 2009 and peaked at number 9 in the UK.[8] "Hold Up a Light" was the fifth and final single taken from the album, released to promote Take That's first live album The Greatest Day – Take That Present: The Circus Live.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[10]
BBC Music(positive)[11]
Daily Mirror3/5 stars[12]
Digital Spy4/5 stars[13]
The Evening Standard4/5 stars[14]
The Guardian3/5 stars[15]
The Sunday Times4/5 stars[16]
The Times3/5 stars[17]
Yahoo! Music UK(7/10)[18]

BBC Music said: "A stunning album, Take That are the vintage champagne of pop fizzing with playful bubbles and happily maturing with age".[11] The Daily Mirror stated that "they bring a fallible human quality to an album which is all about gilding their strong bond with their original fans."[12] The Sunday Mercury said: "Like its predecessor, The Circus boasts one killer track. Hit single Greatest Day is as pop-perfect now as Patience was back in 2006."[19] Yahoo! Music UK stated that "as with its predecessor Beautiful World, The Circus possesses well crafted pop songs, with faultless production".[18]

The Sunday Times stated that "The Circus will, no doubt, achieve similar sales, with songs as propulsive and swollen with giant choruses as The Garden, Greatest Day, Said It All and the apparently Amy Winehouse-referencing "How Did It Come to This".[16] The Times said "Take That's return is the gold standard: a hugely successful second coming from a band determined not to fritter away their reserves of goodwill."[17]


Following the release of the album, Take That announced plans for their first full-length stadium tour titled "Take That Present: The Circus Live" in 2009.[20] The tour became the fastest selling tour in UK history selling £35m of tickets in one day (600,000 in less than 5 hours),[21][22][23] beating the previous record set by Michael Jackson for his Bad World Tour in 1987 (though Jackson reclaimed the record soon after when he announced his residency at The O2 Arena in London shortly before his death).[24] The Script acted as special guests at their performance at Croke Park.[25] Take That also presented their own TV show Take That Come To Town, a variety show where they performed some of their biggest hits and new material from The Circus, which aired on 7 December 2008 on ITV.[26]

To launch the album's release in Paris, the band performed at a lavish nightclub exclusively for the first time in 12 years in the city on 2 December 2008.[27] The performance included acrobats, trapeze artists, stilt-walkers and jugglers, all in keeping with the circus theme.[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

Prior to the official release of The Circus it was revealed that the album had broken all preorder records and had become the most pre-ordered album of all time.[29]

The album reached number one in Ireland and the UK with The Circus selling 133,000 copies on its first day of release in the UK.[30][31] In the United Kingdom, the album sold 306,000 copies (going platinum) in the first four days of release, making The Circus the fastest-selling album of the year.[32] The album reached the top of the UK album charts on 7 December 2008 with total first-week sales of 432,490, the third highest opening sales week in UK history.[33] The album debuted at #3 on the Irish Albums Chart and a week later rose to number one. On Friday 19 December 2008, the album had sold 1 million copies sold by its 19th day in UK shops, making it the second fastest album in the UK to reach 1 million copies, behind Oasis's Be Here Now in 1997.[34]

The album stayed on top of the UK Albums Chart for five weeks and became one of the biggest selling albums of 2008 in the UK.[35] The album has been certified double platinum in Europe (including the UK and Ireland) for sales in excess of two million copies,[36] and was the 27th best-selling album worldwide in 2008 according to the IFPI.[37][38] Since its release in December 2008, the album has spent 73 weeks (one year, five months and one week) in the top 100 of the UK Albums Chart.[39]

Track listing[edit]

All the tracks written by Take That (Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange and Mark Owen) except where noted. All the tracks produced by John Shanks.

Standard edition
No.TitleWriter(s)Lead vocalsLength
1."The Garden" 
  • Owen
  • Barlow
  • Orange
  • Donald
2."Greatest Day" Barlow3:59
4."Said It All"
  • Take That
  • Robson
  • Barlow
  • Owen
  • Take That
  • Robson
6."The Circus" Barlow3:33
7."How Did It Come to This"
  • Take That
  • Jamie Norton
  • Ben Mark
8."Up All Night"
  • Take That
  • Norton
  • Mark
9."What Is Love" Donald3:27
10."You"Take ThatBarlow4:13
11."Hold Up a Light"
  • Take That
  • Norton
  • Mark
13."She Said" (hidden track) Barlow2:33



  • Gary Barlow – vocals, piano, keyboards
  • Mark Owen – vocals
  • Howard Donald – vocals
  • Jason Orange – vocals, acoustic guitar
  • John Shanks – bass guitar, guitar, keyboards
  • Jeff Rothschild – drums, programming
  • Ben Mark – electric guitar (track 9)
  • Jamie Norton – piano (track 11)
  • Ryan Carline – additional keyboards and programming
  • London Studio Orchestra – strings and brass
  • John Barclay, Mark Nightingale, Owen Slade, Derek Watkins, Andy Wood – brass (tracks 1, 8)
  • Philip Sheppard, Matthew Ward – strings (track 5)
  • Perry Montague-Mason – leader




Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[60] Gold 15,000^
Germany (BVMI)[61] Gold 100,000^
Ireland (IRMA)[62] 8× Platinum 120,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[64] 7× Platinum 2,200,000[63]
Europe (IFPI)[65] 2× Platinum 2,000,000*

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

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog number
Germany 28 November 2008 Polydor Compact Disc B001JCDWAS[66]
Deluxe Edition B001IA46DI[67]
United Kingdom 1 December 2008 Polydor Compact Disc 1787444[68]
Deluxe Edition 1790124[69]
United States 2 December 2008 Universal International Compact Disc B001IA46D8[70]
Deluxe Edition B001IA46DI[71]
Japan 3 December 2008 Compact Disc UICP1101[72]
Brazil 17 December 2008 602517919914[73]


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