The 90's

Album: Rudebox (2006)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Robbie Williams chronicling his time in the British boy band Take That during the early '90s. It begins with a teenage Williams finding out through his mom that he'd been accepted into the group. The song then proceeds to document Take That's rapid ascent to fame and the struggles Williams faced throughout, including his creative disagreements with his bandmates and his battles with drug and alcohol addiction. "The 90's" eventually concludes with Williams leaving Take That in 1995, with the singer recounting: "If truth be told I wasn't fit enough to stay, so I put my head down and walked away."
  • The remaining members of Take That split up in 1996, but reformed without Williams in 2006, the same year "The 90's" appeared on Rudebox. Their comeback album, Beautiful World, was a huge hit in the UK, outselling Rudebox by several millions. It wasn't until 2010 that Williams finally reunited with Take That, joining the band on their sixth studio album, Progress. He also accompanied them on their subsequent European tour, including performing a record-breaking eight-night residency at Wembley Stadium in London.
  • "The 90's" was the subject of controversy as the original version contained lyrics reportedly accusing Take That's former manager Nigel Martin-Smith of stealing money from the band. Martin-Smith ended up taking Williams to court over the song, resulting in the artist having to pay damages and remove the lyrics from Rudebox. Speaking at the time, Martin-Smith said: "I told him I didn't want damages and would happily waive them if he would meet me to chat and put all this negativity behind us. I said we should be friends again, but he refused to meet me. So now he has to pay me damages. Did I lock him in a cage or stick pins in his eyes? I'm not bitter, but it still hurts. It's funny what fame does to human beings."
  • This song references a time when Take That met Diana, Princess of Wales. On December 1, 1993, the band performed at Concert of Hope – a benefit concert organized by Her Royal Highness to coincide with World AIDS Day. The day before the concert at Wembley Stadium, Take That was invited to Kensington Palace to meet the princess for tea. Williams later said of Diana: "She was an amazing person. She was really funny, charming, witty, and honest. I was a bit in awe of her. She was beautiful, as well."
  • In June 1995, toward the end of his time in Take That, Williams was famously pictured hanging out with Oasis at Glastonbury Festival. This song alludes to that encounter and the concern it caused among his family, friends, and bandmates. Williams was spiraling into drug and alcohol addiction, and his attendance was seen as a reinforcement of his "bad-boy" image. Not long after Glastonbury, Williams was asked to leave Take That.

    Discussing the incident in his autobiography My Take, Take That's Gary Barlow wrote: "We all gave him a hard time about it, and at one point we sat him down in the back garden and said, 'What are you doing? What's going on here? We'd have loved to be at Glastonbury, but we agreed to keep out of the press.' We were worried about the image of the band, worried for each other, and worried for Rob, who seemed to have lost the plot."
  • According to Williams, "The 90's" was originally built around a sample of one of his favorite songs: "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell. However, Williams ultimately preferred "The 90's" without it.
  • "The 90's" appears on Williams' seventh studio album, Rudebox. The song forms part of a two-piece autobiographical suite alongside "The 80's." Despite peaking at #1 in the UK, Rudebox sold poorly and was regarded as a commercial failure, with the hip-hop-leaning sound of the album dividing fans and critics.

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