1999 - 2001
Sing When You're Winning and Swing When You're Winning: Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, a Robbie Williams hero and occasional collaborator, as well as one of the sharpest minds in British pop, refers to it as the Imperial Phase – the period in a major star’s career when he simply can do no wrong. David Bowie and Elton John enjoyed Imperial Phases in the Seventies. George Michael and Tennant himself lived through theirs in the Eighties. And Robbie’s own Imperial Phase, straddling the years either side of the turn of the century, was at its peak in August 2000, when he released his third studio album as a solo artist, the bracing blast of controlled euphoria that you hold in your hands: the triumphant Sing When You’re Winning. Outside America – a country and a market destined never to quite appreciate his quirkily English combination of hilarious and heartfelt, sentimental and sardonic, silly and sublime – Robbie was now perhaps the biggest pop star in the world.