A Robert WilliamsMillennium does not like much. He considers it to be one of his ‘B-class’ songs. It is not known if his letter has any meaning. But it doesn’t matter because “it’s fun”. It is inspired by james-bond, on the theme created by John Barry for ‘You only live twice’, the fifth installment of the saga. Unfortunately Millennium it was also not to the liking of the late British composer. These are just some of the curiosities of the song that became the first nº1 of the former Take That on the UK charts.
-Surprisingly, what Robbie Williams hadn’t achieved with the songs on his first album, not even with the emblematic Angels, he did it with Millennium. The first single from I’ve been expecting you (1998), became also at his first solo #1 on the UK charts in September 1998. The first of many others to come later.
-It just so happened that Millennium dethroned the All Saints, which led the list with Bootie call. And it happened that, at that moment, Robbie Williams had a somewhat turbulent romantic relationship with Nicole Appleton, one of the female group members. The former Take That just said: “Someone had to be overthrown and it could be the wife too!”
-Millennium is inspired by You only live twice (‘You only live twice’), a song performed by Nancy Sinatra and composed by John Barry for the homonymous film of the James Bond saga. Released in 1967, the fifth installment of the adventures of the famous 007 spy, starring Sean Connery.
-Included a sample of Barry’s creation, but the original was not used as it was much cheaper (reduced royalty costs) to recreate it in the studio. So a whole orchestra was hiredmade up of 26 string players, four horn players, and a harpist.
-In an interview with Sound on Sound, Guy Chambers recounted: “Robbie came up with the idea of doing something based on James Bond. we wanted to use the string section of You only live twice, but taking it to hip-hop. Once we had it decided, it was a matter of finding a rhythm that worked, something that finally happened by speeding it up.” And the composer adds: “I wanted an iconic ‘intro’and definitely the best choice was You only live twice. It catches you from the beginning… I had it clear. I knew she was going to be magnificent.”
-Millennium was born in a few hours, the co-author of the song told Sound on Sound: “The most interesting thing is that It’s the simplest Robbie song and the simplest song I’ve ever written – just a couple of chords. In the whole process, we spend four hoursat that time we always worked very fast”.
–Williams wrote a lot of the lyrics very quickly, yes, but at that point, the song had no title. Chambers had the idea. “Rob was singing the lyrics and I, behind him, I sang ‘Millennium’. And he turned to me and said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to put the word there.'” In Songwriting Magazine in June 2019 he said: “I had the idea of calling it Millennium. At that time there was a lot of talk about the change of the millennium, it was a bit like what would happen later with the word ‘Brexit’. I thought that was an interesting word.”
Does the song have any meaning? If he has it, Chambers doesn’t know: “I don’t know if the song really means anything, but who cares. The lyrics are funny. Too often when Rob is writing a lyric, all he wants to do is make me laugh.”
– Millennum it was not to the liking of John Barry, the composer from the music of You only live twice (and ten other James Bond films). “A few months after it was published, and it had become a hit, we met John Barry,” says Guy. “We wanted to meet him, but he was incredibly unfriendly, I had the feeling that he thought we had murdered his piece of music. It was a little awkward, to say the least, but I’m still a huge John Barry fan.”
-Robbie is not a big fan of the song either. Guy Chambers confessed in Songwriting magazine: “Rob doesn’t consider this song one of our best pieces. He doesn’t like to sing it live. Think it’s one of our ‘B’ class topics and not one of our class ‘A’ songs. I respect it, we can agree or disagree. We don’t agree on everything, we never have.”
-The video is a parody of James Bond. It was shot at Pinewood Studios in London (where most Bond productions are) and was directed by Vaughan Arnell. It includes all kinds of topical paraphernalia of the famous spy, from the jetpack (from ‘Operation Thunder’ in 1965), to the usual tuxedo, or the Aston Martin DB5 (the car that Bond drove in Goldfinger). Robbie does some very crude recreations of famous 007 scenes and flirts with girls by caricaturing Connery’s facial expressions. After the premiere of the clip (which won a Brit Award in 1999), the media began to point to Williams as a candidate for the next installment of James Bond. At that time, Pierce Brosnan had left the saga. To put an end to all rumours, Robbie stated on Radio 1: “I’ve never been asked or wanted to play James Bond, I did the Millennium video as a parody and that was it.”
-“It was our first #1 in the UK, which was very gratifying. But it was also a minor hit in America… Robbie didn’t want to make it in America,” Guy counted. But Williams thinks differently. As he commented on Billboard: “My sense of humor is very British. Maybe my compositions are also too colloquial. Or maybe Americans just don’t like me.”