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Angels by Robbie Williams

Album: Life Thru A LensReleased: 1997Charted:
  • Williams wrote this with his longtime songwriting collaborator Guy Chambers in less than 25 minutes.
  • Williams had previously been a member of boy band Take That, but quit the group in 1995. His solo career had stalled until this song was released on Christmas 1997. The main songwriter and fronton of Take That was Gary Barlow. His solo career started well, (his song "Love Won't Wait" being co-written with Madonna), but it soon dried up, which is sort of the opposite of what happened to Williams. Barlow went on to become a professional songwriter and wrote songs for other artists.
  • Although it only reached #4, "Angels" spent 27 weeks on the UK chart and is by far Williams' biggest-selling song. He quickly cemented his stardom in Britain, scoring a series of hits, including the #1 duet with Nicole Kidman on "Somethin' Stupid." He has also dueted with Kylie Minogue, Neil Tennant (from The Pet Shop Boys) and Neil Hannon (from The Divine Comedy).
  • This is regarded as a classic in the UK and is a massive karaoke favorite. It's one of those songs that is constantly played on pub jukeboxes. A review of it said that it "taps into the sentimental old git in all of us."
  • There was a lot of press rivalry with Williams and the Gallagher brothers from Oasis, one of their more printable insults of Williams being "That fat dancer from Take That." Many Britpop fans felt that "Angels" was an attempt to cash in on the then huge Britpop craze by writing a mainstream song in a similar style.
  • After this song, Williams became a huge star in the UK despite criticism that he is a glorified cabaret singer. He has tried many times to break the US market, all attempts being unsuccessful. He eventually said that he gave up and "couldn't be arsed."
  • As "Angels" was unknown in the US, Jessica Simpson covered it in 2004. In the UK, most reviewers were less than impressed with her take on it.
  • In a UK based VH1 poll of best #1s, worst #1s and songs that should have got to to #1, this was voted the top song that should have topped the charts. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adam - Dewsbury, England, for all above
  • Williams co-wrote this with Irishman Ray Hefferman, then Guy Chambers transformed it into Williams' biggest worldwide selling single. Hefferman recalled in an interview promoting the 2006 Manchester Irish Festival how he earned a paltry £7,500 from the song: "We (Hefferman and Williams) met in a Dublin pub during the Christmas holidays of 1996, and proceeded to go out and have a few beers etc. He ended up staying in my place, as we had said we would try to write some songs together. I had one that I had written in Paris called 'An Angel Instead,' which he liked, and we worked on it together. He called Louis Walsh, who organised a studio for us, and we recorded a version of it here in Dublin. He went back to England after that, and we lost touch. I was therefore very surprised to hear that 'Angels' was on his new album. I got in touch, and essentially signed a waver of my rights to the song for just £7,500 and the rest is musical history, I'm still writing songs and selling albums independently and he is a corporation."
  • Williams told his biographer Chris Heath that this song is about his fascination with the paranormal: "I believed that stuff when I wrote Angels – that's why I wrote Angels. Angels isn't about anybody, it's about the thoughts that loved ones that have passed on come back and take care of you." (Source The Daily Telegraph November 6, 2009).
  • The drummer on this song, Chris Sharrock, went on to become a founder member of Liam Gallagher's post-Oasis band Beady Eye.
  • Samuel Bayer, who did Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit," also directed "Angels."
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Comments: 32

Thanks go to Rowland in Brussels for posting the link. I had seen the interview with Heffernan as well. Evidently, a stillborn child, in Irish parlance, is "born an angel", which makes the line "I'm loving angels instead" especially poignant. Heffernan says he wrote the song from that emotion where you feel all alone on the earth after processing the loss of your descendant. Heffernan said he had just gotten fired from his job, his girlfriend had dumped him, and they had just lost the baby, which was in actuality a source of relief since he was only 23 years old and not in a serious relationship with the mother. As a 23 year old with no expectation that the song would become as big as it did, Heffernan sold the rights for $7,500. It was estimated in 2010 that the song had earned over $9 million.Aj - Newport Beach
There is a Facebook and twitter campaign aiming to get Angels to No. 1 for Robbie Williams' 40th birthday in 2014. www.facebook.com/angels4no1 @Angels4RW40 #angels4no1 just download between the 3 - 9 February 2014 to make it number 1 in time for his big day!Lucy - Horley, United Kingdom
You can hear the truth about this song from Ray Hefferman himself here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT8YcCRRlvARowland - Brussels, Belgium
Nobody posted it, but I think its an very important fact for the very Beatelesque and britPop-feeling of the Song: Andre Barreau of the Bootleg Beatles was asked to play this marvellous Slide-Guitar on a session for "Angels". Beneath the SOLO you can hear the lines in the Right Channel throughout the verses an the Refrain. VERY Fine Work in the right feel!

-Axel, the Lonely Hearts Club Band, Germany
Axel - Darmstadt, Germany
I have just returned from "Clouds" re-hab and Robbie sang this there 13th june 1997 with "mustard seed" .... he sang it in the downstairs chapel.Lionsingh - Coventry, United Kingdom
Robbie is the man, Jessica Simpson can go homeGeorge - Palmy, New Zealand
The British group "All Angels" also sings this song...really well imo.Perry - San Diego, Ca
This song was recently recorded by David Archuleta and released 11/11/2008 on his self named debut album.

Archuleta's version ...outdoes any previous recording.

Archuleta's voice is a gift...there's no way practice and training can create such a smooth sound and phenomenal range. He's done this beauty of a song true justice.
Dawn - Newjersey, Nj
Ok, I have to disagree with the comment that 'Angels' was in unknown song in America until Jessica Simpson sang it. I heard Angels played at weddings, clubs, graduations, and on the radio in the US (and I live in Iowa which is the last place anything new or current is played). Also the Jessica Simpson verison sounds like a cat puking. If I was Robbie Williams, the next time Jessica tries to sing the song I would come on stage, hit on the head with the microphone and walk off the stage. She ruins this song.Ang - Coralville, Ia
robbie williams didnt write this. my teachers brother did, its about him and his girlfriends losing their baby because of misscarrige! xxxEmi - Dublin, Israel
great tune, but the lyrics are poor. They don't make much sense and don't fit the flow of the music well.Mary - Oxford, United Kingdom
I love this song!!! Always have... Just yesterday it was played at a good friend of mines funeral. Breast cancer took her life and I will never get over that. She was smart, funny, loved music and this song suits her to a tee!!!! Love it and thank-you x x x x xLauren - Victoria, Australia
this song was played at my best friend charlotte's funeral. she died 9th november 2007, i miss her very much, i love you charlee xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxFrankie - London, Europe
The song angels was written by a Dublin and he has the original Dictaphone to prove this. It was written about his daughter who died at birth and he wrote it in hospital in Dublin. He was on tv3 morning program admitting that he sold the song and received a few thousand for this song.What he was complaining about was that he should have got the credits for writing the song even though he had sold the rights to it. However he only gets a brief mention on the cd being thanked for his help. The song was exactly the same except for Im loving an angel instead which was a reference the writers daughters passing. He said it hurt him in many ways but the recognition it would have given him as a writer would have been huge and it had deep personal meaning to him.He said he sold the rights but he never thought that this mean that he would never be accredited with writing the song. The credits show Robbie and his co writer Chambers as the writers of the song. This is incorrect according to the actual writer of the song. he made this public on TV3 morning show last year.He seemed annoyed that he will never be accredited for this song which mean so much to him and his little child.He said and I must agree with him that buying the rights to a song doesn't mean that you should be allowed to put your name as in having created it. If you listen to the original on Dictaphone you will hear Robbie sing I'm loving an angel instead which was the more correct line since it was a bout the writers daughter who was in his eyes floating up to heaven.When people actually realize what the song is about it makes more sense.Robbie he claimed was in concert in Dublin at the time and he approached him with his demo and both of them sat down and sang it through. Its on Dictaphone and it is clearly Robbie Williams singing I'm loving an angel instead along with the other lines which remain the same.He bought the rights for the song and that was that. The writers name gets a brief mention he said on the attached literature that accompanied the single. However the writer felt he would have been accredited with the writing the lyrics.Gerard - Cork, Ireland
pure beauty. god bless you robbieJason - Dublin, Ireland
This song WAS big in the US! I remember this being all over the radio in 1999!Delly - New York, Ny
In 2005 this song was voted greatest British pop song ever... Obviously the judges had never heard Joy Division's 'Love Will tear Us Apart'...Troy - London, England
I also love Robbie Williams. He is the bomb. I agree with The Prynce, his spot on MTV's Cribs was a real crack-up. I can't wait until he tours Australia in December this year (2006)Katie - Melbourne, Australia
robbie lives in Los Angeles now to get away from the english papratzi he loves it there coz no one knows who he isStacey - Nowra, Australia
robbie does an excellent concerts and he is a top notch entertainer but its the way he sings his songs, his honesty that makes him the BEST!!!
also in an interview he said he is more interested in breaking into the french market then the US
Stacey - Nowra, Australia
Best performer in the world to date. by far his best song. Everyone knows the words and they dont even realise itPaul - Galway, Ireland
Robbie Williams is the best singer ever. You can see in his concerts that he really feels what he's singing. No one can say he's bad..he's perfect. ("_)Carmen - Valencia, Spain
Robbie Williams was born Robert Peter Maximillian Williams and Robbie is his stage name (he actually despises it). He stated on one of his interviews that he 'stole' the line 'and as the feeling grows she breathes flesh to my bones' from his older sister SarahStacy - Sunbury, Australia
Angels is an amazing song...holds so many memories for me happy and sad, its one of those songs that means something different to everyperson that listens to the song and when a group of people hear it they can all feel different things...a truely nice song...Jen - Wrexham, Wales
robbie rocks! been to two of his concerts; he might not be a briliant songwriter like john lennon or a fabulous singer like jeff buckley but boy oh boy is he an entertainer!Simon - Montpellier, France
Personally I have a depp irrational hatred for the man, but this is a good song (the first million times you hear it), it was inspired by the death of his grandmother, who was his best friend and he feels that she looks over him like a guardian angel. Mark my words though he will one day come out of the closet, I can't wait because all the girls will stop longing for him then.Troy - London, England
Robbie Williams has a song called Angel and it's in spanish. It is the same version as Angels but in spanish. There's this really famous reality show in Mexico called La Academia which is a version of American Idol but better. This girl named Yuridia Gaxiola sang this song and well she became extremely famous with it. She is an excellent singer and well it was just GREAT. Unfortunately she didn't win the show, she got 2nd though. I really recommend this song with her, it's just great. It's the way a song just be covered. I didn't like Jessica Simpson's cover. Anyway try to download the song, I know it's in spanish and some of you don't speak spanish but just listen to it, it's just GREAT. If you want to check out her website it is www.yuridiagaxiola.com . LatersYesenia - Canadian, Tx
the only good robbie williams songKieran - Essex, England
This song is so beutiful and yet it took only 25mins to write. It just shows you what a great team Robbie and Guy made. But i think that it was not only the words but the way it was presented that meant it was and still is a hit. I personaly don't like Jessica Simpson so i am biased in my veiw but i have heard many covers of the song but nothing ever comes close to beating the origional. If you ever see a performance of it on Top of the Pops (UK Chart Show) you can see he is totally dedicated and relly means what he is singing. You can tell he means every word he sings, and you can almost see the music coming from his heart.
I didn't even know Jessica Simpson had done a cover version and there are 5 different radio stations all blasting at once around our house including 2 american ones, and yet the original has touched the hearts of people all over the world.
Every my local radio station does a countdown of the top 500 songs of all time and Angels always comes first. bearing in mind that you can vote for 5 different songs, that birmingham is england's second city, this radio station reaches about 50 miles outside of birmingham and on-line, this is Brum's most listened to station (FACT), and that the british chart is usually made up of american imports, this is an amazing acheivment. I forgot to mention this chart has been happening for 7 years.
This is one of the best wriiten and beat performed songs i have ever had pleasure of seeing and it has already become a legend.

N.B. Guy Richie and Robbie Williams are no longer working together. Reports say Guy was sacked.
Indie - Birmingham, United States
Here in Italy RW is an idol almost as in UK. Excuse my English, if you'll do, I'll excuse ur italian.. lol.. This song won the award most beautiful british song of ever at the brits 2005, against songs as will young - leave right now, kate bush - wuthering heights, everything of the beatles and so on. Surely, there'll be a reason no?Marco - Brescia, Italy
I don't know too many of his songs, since it's hard to come across his CD's in the US, but I love Angels. I have to say that Jessica Simpson's version is very good. They don't sound too much alike, which is something I like when she remakes a song. She holds a great note during the song, and I don't see why the Brits didn't like her take on it.Matt - Boston, Ma
I love Robbie Williams and I'm American! In my opinion he's tops! I wish he wouldn't have pooped out on America he could have blown up here. He was a funny one, too. 'Rock DJ' is a terribly funny video and his spot on MTV's Cribs was the funniest I've ever seen (I admit I don't watch the show but I have seen it a few times).

This is one of my favorite songs ever. Robbie Williams is brilliant. I loved him since I saw the Millenium video and later found out that he was in Take That and I used to love their song 'Back For Good'. I passed my taste for him off to my girlfriend and she's now also a fan and she thinks he's hott, lol. Well she said 'pretty' but ya know how that goes...

GREAT song.

-=The Prynce
The Prynce - Dillon / Hamer, Sc
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