11th Feb 2014

Robbie Williams Blue Plaque Nonsense

Louise Le Prince, founder of modern cinematography, was a great man whose great innovation and expertise justify the blue plaque in his honour, stamped to the wall of the university building in which I teach.

Robbie Williams, famously described as a fat dancer by Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, may be more than just a fat dancer… he’s quite a good singer actually… but does he deserve a blue plaque? Not on your nelly, sunshine!

Angels, surely his best-known hit, was a big-selling, all-embracing anthem for the late nineties, propelling Williams to global fame and recognition. But let us not forget that Williams is no songwriter – the writers of his songs are carefully hidden behind the mythical veneer of individual genius that Williams loves to perpetuate – nor much of a musician, for that matter. He’s entertaining,  funny, a bit of a lad… but his greatness is questionable at best, laughable at worst.

My views on the matter were nicely reported by Andrew Glover in a recent BBC news feature. For once, too, a journalist actually did a decent job representing my views. It’s a really interesting article, raising all kinds of questions about heritage, legacy, historical interpretation and discrimination, and I recommend it to all students of popular culture. Debates of this kind are the very fabric of what we do.

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