“Elvis is so beautiful that although bits and bobs of [the video] were fun, you feel yourself at all times paling in comparison to anything that the King can do, or radiate.”
— Robbie Williams
I’ve written a bit about Robbie Williams before. He’s up to something very unique and yet also classically entertaining, and I’ve been a fan for a long time. Even with the tats and the bad-boy stuff, he’s old-school in terms of his understanding of what his celebrity is, and what he should be doing with it. I’m always on the lookout for him.
Williams has covered a bunch of Elvis stuff, not always successfully, although I appreciate his efforts. I particularly like his filmed version of “Trouble”, a direct reference to the startling opening of Elvis’ 1968 comeback special.
Stupid? Yes. But being unafraid of seeming stupid, self-referential, or unoriginal is one of Robbie Williams’ greatest and most entertaining qualities.
His song “Advertising Space” is not one of my favorites of his (although I love the repeated line about Marlon Brando), but the song is a tribute to Elvis (Robbie Williams’ hero, I mean check out that tat!), and the video – directed by David LaChapelle – is a beautiful and kind of haunting evocation of Elvis Presley hanging out in a hotel suite, combing his hair, getting ready for a show, putting on the gold-leaf suit, etc.
Williams’ quote above, about the filming of the video, was very interesting to me and reminded of what my brother said in the piece he wrote for my Elvis series about what it feels like to imitate Elvis Presley:
Now, I am a good mimic. I am a good singer. I am a good dancer. But the moment before I began I was filled with existential dread. Because it is one thing to imitate Elvis Presley alone in your room. It is another thing altogether to try and pull it off in public. IT ISN’T EASY TO SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL. It is potentially very embarrassing. And in order to pull it off, you have to inherently believe that you are worth watching, that what you do will excite the ladies, and that you won’t be laughed off whatever stage you are on.
The video is like a dream. A dreamspace of communion with a hero.