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12 February 2018, 15:26
Robbie Williams has become one of the UK's most successful artists of all time, selling over 75 million records worldwide and sustaining a career for nearly three decades.
To celebrate his 44th birthday this week (February 13), we've gone through the Take That entertainer's jampacked back catalogue and selected our absolute favourite songs to date. Is yours in there? In no particular order:
British band World Party first released this song in 1997, a year before Robbie covered it and took it to number one in the UK. It won him two BRIT Awards, including one for its ice skating-inspired music video.
Co-written with his longtime songwriting partner Guy Chambers, this was the lead single from his 2002 album Escapology, and features most of the vocals recorded in the demo version. "I just couldn't sing it as well as I did on that day," he said.
This song was written about Robbie's feelings about his time in (and departure from) Take That. After reconciling with the band years later, he replaced the final line ‘I guess the love we once had is officially dead’ with ‘officially alive!’. Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys and Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy provide backing vocals for the song.
A top 40 for Robbie in 2016, he said that it is "about positivity and making the most of your life. I have a son called Charlton Valentine and a daughter called Theodora Rose Williams. I have been to rehab twice and had lots of therapy.
"I realised that what happens to you when you become older is because of you when you were a kid. So this song is about hope and spreading positivity instead of negativity."
This was the song that saved Robbie's career, after his first few songs that had lackluster chart runs. Despite only reaching number four, it is his best-selling single, shifting over a million copies after its release in 1997.
Robbie decided to turn this song into a duet, and was written when Kylie approached him to write her some songs for what would be her album Light Years. It was then that Robbie noticed their chemistry and decided to include it on his album too.
This was the second single from his 2009 comeback album Reality Killed the Video Star. In the video, he falls asleep and wakes up dressed as a rabbit in a waistcoat, and explores a fantasy world based on Alice in Wonderland.
The fifth and final single from Robbie's debut album, this song was written a certain homage to The Who, Kiss and The Rolling Stones. To this day, it his is bombastic concert opener.
This song famously samples elements from Gloria Gaynor's iconic disco anthem 'I Will Survive'. Its music video sees Robbie as a 1970s race car driver, in a tribute to Jackie Stewart.
Co-written with his Take That bandmate Gary Barlow, this provided Robbie with his seventh solo number one in 2012. While most of the lyrics are nonsensical, it tells the story of a girl who thinks she’s perfect.
He said: “Some songs take an age to write and some songs just fall out of your mouth completely formed, and you don’t have to think about it. I don’t know why that fell out of my mouth and out of my brain at that particular time – it just did.”
The lead single from his second swing album in 2013, Robbie said that it is a promise to his daughter Teddy. He said: "It was written when she first arrived on the planet and I'd been a selfish popstar for most of my life and then all of a sudden I've been asked to take care of this whole person.
"I still am scared that I'm not up to the task! I'm doing a good job of being dad but it's scary, you have to look after this person for the whole of their life, I'm not very good at even looking after me!"
This song was first offered to Tom Jones, but he turned it down. After Robbie chose to record it, he and Guy Chambers heavily reworked it. Its music video included 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 the public were asked to vote for the winner, with three different versions of the video getting released to various parts of the world including the different winners.
Not as well remembered as some of his other number ones, this was a double-A side with 'The Road to Mandalay'. It was apparently a tribute to Robbie's close friendship with Spice Girls star Geri Halliwell at the time.
Produced by Trevor Horn, this marked the first time Robbie and Gary Barlow worked together since Robbie left Take That in 1995. It revolves around their broken relationship and fixing things up nearly two decades later.
Williams said of their first reunion: “We had that big chat and the most amazing thing happened at the end of it. We both said sorry to each other and we both meant it and that was all we needed.”
This gave Robbie his first solo number one single in 1998, and heavily samples the arrangement of John Barry's 'You Only Live Twice', the title track of the 1967 James Bond film of the same name.