Viva Life On Mars

Album: Rudebox (2006)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song is about Robbie Williams losing faith in religion and turning to conspiracy theories online. Speaking on his website, Williams explained: "For me it is doing away with all I have been taught and instead of investing my faith in a Catholic religion, I decided that the fantasies on the Internet are more interesting than the fantasies at the pulpit."
  • Williams developed a strong interest in UFOs around the time this song was released. Following the relative failure of Rudebox, Williams retreated from the public eye and spent the next couple of years working on a documentary with the Welsh author Jon Ronson called Robbie Williams and Jon Ronson Journey to the Other Side, which followed him to a UFO convention in Nevada. Explaining his desire to make the film, Williams told The Guardian in 2008: "I've been spending so much time at home on the Internet on sites like AboveTopSecret.com. I want to do something. I want to go out there and meet these people. I want to be a part of this. I want to do something other than sit in my bed and watch the news."
  • "Viva Life On Mars" paraphrases "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael: "Love is natural, love is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should." The song also references "West End Girls" by Pet Shop Boys: "Free yourself from liberation, from Lake Geneva to the Freeland Station." Williams is a huge fan of Pet Shop Boys and collaborated with them on two songs on Rudebox: "She's Madonna" and a cover of "We're the Pet Shop Boys" by My Robot Friend.
  • The song is influenced by country music, with Williams describing the song as his "first-ever hoedown." Williams found inspiration in Joel and Ethan Coen's O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Set in Mississippi during the Great Depression, the movie is based on Homer's Odyssey and stars George Clooney, John Turturro, and Tim Blake Nelson as three convicts on the run.
  • The song comes accompanied by a music video directed by Owen Silverwood and James Tonkin. The visual forms part of Rudebox Shorts – a collection of clips commissioned by Williams and created by a variety of upcoming filmmakers. The video is a pastiche of classic Western movies and depicts an elderly cowboy enjoying a night out on the town in the East End of London.
  • This song features on Williams' seventh studio album, Rudebox. According to Williams, it was "the first song written for the Rudebox album, dictating where the album was to go."

    Despite peaking at #1 in the UK, Rudebox sold very poorly compared to the rest of Williams' discography, with fans baffled by the hip-hop-tinged sound of the album.

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