First of all, let’s talk about that choice headline being used for this post, amirite?!! I swiped that move straight out of the Buzzfeed/Bored Panda playbook. This is how you clickbait a motherfucker. This is how you bring ’em in, kids!!! [Or so, I’ve been lead to understand].
Before I get into the meat of this thing, I need to confess that, since my son started kindergarten last month, I’ve consistently had the sort of murder porn-style true crime programs that are narrated by Dennis Farina rolling in the background, as I’m working on other things. The other day, I half-watched an episode about a pregnant woman in a marriage that was strained by her jealousy of her own well-behaved 10-year-old stepson. Her trucker husband had split custody of the boy and loved him immensely, but she wasn’t into sharing her man’s time or affection. The woman badgered and finally convinced an old friend to put on a black wig and impersonate a relative so that she could check the 5th grader out of school under the guise of bringing him to see his dad for a road trip. As they were driving and the innocent young boy expressed his excitement, his 22-year-old church going stepmom popped up from under a sheet in the back seat and strangled him to death, while she had another child growing in her belly. As he frantically kicked and struggled right beside the “shocked” accomplice, who claims that she wasn’t fully aware of what she was getting into or facilitating, that friend actually continued to drive and later even helped burn his tiny corpse in the woods with gasoline. Basically, this was some unthinkably horrific shit.
Now, I’m not saying that this upcoming footage of a 90s mega concert, which took place at a UK stadium 3 years later, is on par with a tragedy of that magnitude, because that would be both insensitive and insane (it would be “insane-sitive”) — I just wanted to try out one of these hyperbolic clickbait titles like everyone else is using. It’s quite possible that this, actually, may not be the MOST terrible thing that you’ll see today. I shouldn’t speculate about what type of vile garbage anyone else is likely to penetrate their own skulls with, when there’s stuff like that out there and a bottomless chasm of noxious subreddits continually being generated, but we’re talking poison apples and agent oranges, here. With the unavoidable risk of coming across as minimizing such tragedies only to maximize another, I will say that, in the realm of vacuous, superficial marketing and showbiz filth dancing to the demise of artistic integrity, this video may be the full-blown hedonistic shimmer dick equivalent of a true crime episode. I know that, if testosterone-fueled ego and smug, unwarranted praise could kill, I definitely wouldn’t let my 5th grader anywhere near it. And that’s why I am choosing to view this concert footage through a slightly different lens as an inspired performance piece on another level; something that you’re welcome to join me in. For this re-enactment, British multi-platinum recording artists, Take That will be playing the role of the pregnant strangler, while the 10-year-old stepson will be represented by Nirvana‘s 1991 breakout hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Some of you out there might remember Manchester, England‘s Take That, who scored an international hit with the song “Back For Good” and its accompanying black-and-white video, which, for some reason, features the members somberly strolling through the rain and spinning/dancing in long winter coats that aren’t water repellent. Not familiar? Don’t worry about it. In the UK, however, they were fucking HUUUUUGE — James Corden, for example, eats this shit up. The 5-piece, which was initially formed in 1990 under the wicked sick name of Kick It, was assembled with the intention of offering a British alternative to New Kids On The Block. Although, for most of us in the states who even remember them, they were a 90s group, at best, they are actually still striving across the pond, to this day, although as a trio. In fact, they are not only one of the top performing British recording artists of all time, but in the world. As is usually the case with these boy bands, a member cut and left the group early to embark on a successful solo career. In Take That, the first one to bounce was their bad boy, Robbie Williams, who parted ways with them in 1995, before the rest of the act officially dissolved the following year. I guess Williams was heavy into the drugs and would be documented by the press doing shit like partying with Oasis at Glastonbury, so he had to go. He was basically the Bobby Brown of the lot. The group reformed around 2005/2006 and later even brought Williams back in for a short stint and an album, before becoming the trio that they are today. But none of that really matters, beyond laying context for the following footage, which was recorded in 1995 as a 4-piece, while they continued on with their album promotion and tour plans after Williams left.
Until reading up on them today, I knew next to nothing about these guys beyond that one video and that Robbie Williams — along with looking like my friend Eric, who was mistaken for him while traveling overseas — scored hits of his own; one of which had a video where he inexplicably peeled off his skin and flung bloody flesh at female roller skaters. That being said, in the video clip that I just stumbled across this morning and found so horrendous that I was compelled to provide it with this post, I have to speculate that, 5 years in, these dudes were definitely hitting a crisis. To be fair, I suppose that’s not much in the way of detective work, seeing as they broke up the next year, but there is a bit to dissect here. The concert in question took place in 1995 at London‘s Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, a large 20,000 capacity venue that was thee venues for large acts in the area, prior to the The O2 Arena‘s construction a decade later. It’s professionally filmed and obviously a major event, which they seem to have used as a prime opportunity to demonstrate that they could continue on with one less member, as well as to prove that they were “real musicians.” To [attempt to] accomplish this, they chose to perform one song in their set in the arrangement of a standard rock quartet, as opposed to their typical boy band formation, which the rest of the show appears to have consisted of. That song, of course, was “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” which is credited as being a watershed moment altering the entire trajectory of the music industry forever. Keep in mind that they’re also choosing to bust this one out only a year after Kurt Cobain‘s death. One unique thing about Take That — maybe the only unique thing — is that the group was actually constructed around vocalist, Gary Barlow, who was discovered because of the original music that he was writing himself. Like them or not, he was actually creating his own hits and continued to do so as a solo artist. That’s why it’s such an odd decision to place Gary in a role for this song where he is the only one that isn’t playing an instrument. Instead, we get to watch the other 3 members struggle to man instruments of their own. Member, Jason Orange, does unconvincingly strum a guitar in the “Back For Good” video, so I guess that makes a little sense. As for the sub-mediocre rhythm section of double first-namers, Howard Donald and Mark Owen — the only two members still currently in the group with Barlow — they weren’t even, primarily, recruited for any musical talents in the band. While Orange and Williams were backup vocalists, these two were essentially just brought in to be dancers, and they play their instruments just like it.
Well… that’s enough rambling. It’s probably time to just
enjoy absorb this trainwreck. One thing of note is how, although Williams was pushed out of the group with an ultimatum concerning his drug use, Orange looks tweaked out of his goddamn mind when he steps forward with that guitar in his paws. Unfortunately, the more disgusting reality is that he’s probably just jacked up on his own idea of himself, and it’s one intense buzz. If anyone has forgotten what a great drummer Dave Grohl is/was, because of all of this Foo Fighters malarkey he’s been involved with over the last 2 decades, Howard Donald offers a swift reminder, as he pummels away like a drowning raccoon in his depressing nu-metal “dreadlocks,” which he apparently still has “in a Vidal Sassoon bag.” [He mentioned, in jest or otherwise, that he might auction them individually for charity, and a bunch of “Thatters” lost their shit asking to buy them.] The video starts to take off and exhibit how terrible it truly is once Barlow tears his shirt off like Hollywood Hulk Hogan. But what makes this garbage stand out as something special is that, while most other shitty videos of this ilk begin strong only to become boring once you get the gist of it, this just keeps paying off until the video ends. Think it’s over? Nope, here’s a little ass wiggle, and that guitar solo is really something else (other than good). But what truly provides it with its cringe-worthiness is how fucking proud they are of themselves the whole time, strutting in open silk shirts and skin tight trousers.
The only thing that could ramp the absurdity up more is if they were performing “In Bloom” — guys like this are the reason that Cobain tried to jump off a PA stack in Rome, 6 years earlier, and needed to be coaxed down. Any comments we get will likely assume what Cobain would have wanted or felt about this footage/performance, but honestly, who knows? I’d like to think he’d find the humor in how bizarre and terrible it is as we do, and I think we all know that nothing is sacred, anyway. Better yet, we might get bombarded with defenders and apologists. What’s more interesting to me is the idea that Take That, even now, might not recognize it as the 360 degree disaster that that it so clearly is. This video is taken from the official Take That VEVO account on Youtube and they didn’t even bother to close the comment section, or remove the voting option, which is currently sitting at 352 (thumbs up) to 1,594 (down). The top comment?
But whether they’re simply just that down enough to laugh at their past, or brazen and delusional enough to post this as if it was some sort of artistic triumph, doesn’t really matter, especially when you’re sleeping on piles of quid like Scrooge McDuck. Plus, let’s face it; this probably isn’t even toward the top of the list of embarrassing moves they had to make to sustain that project in the 90s. A simple google image search will verify that much.
Here. That this.