THROWBACK THURSDAY - VAUGHAN ARNELL x ROBBIE WILLIAMS - TEXT LUKE BATHER
Alright, I’ll concede before we even start this: Rock DJ is an awful song. A foul and lingering smog from the era of all-too-tame bad-boys with damp lyrics sodden with ‘attitude’. Robbie Williams was the absurd emperor of this image and could be accused of being the progenitor of the modern ‘Lad’. We encouraged this. It’s our doing. This was not the year 2000 we dreamed of in the 60s. So there it is - it’s out there and now we can put that fact to one side and focus on some more important truths. Like the fact that the video for Rock DJ is pretty fucking brilliant.
It became almost mythological – this mysterious thing you had to buy on VHS or stay up till 2am to see if you were fortunate enough to have Sky
To describe this video blow-by-blow is almost to do it a disservice. You know it, it’s that one where Robbie Williams strips naked before tearing off his own flesh and muscle in an effort to impress an attractive female DJ in some sort of nightmarish vision of nightclubs that was deemed too gory for TV.
This video was a marvel for me, because at 10 years old it was the first time I’d heard of a video getting removed from TV. It became almost mythological - this mysterious thing you had to buy on VHS or stay up till 2am to see if you were fortunate enough to have Sky. I (or more accurately, my Mum. It was rated 15.) had to buy it on VHS from Music Zone (side note: remember Music Zone?).
Apparently it became the go-to video from some god-awful US show called ‘Dance-Off Pants-Off’ and also scooped up a bunch of awards in Europe and the US. It’s not hard to see why - despite the dated costume and pretty shaky CGI it was a shocking and ridiculous enough concept to keep people talking about it. I honestly don’t think a single commissioner would green light this treatment in 2016 for a star as valuable as Robbie was in 2000.
So sit back and look at this thing with 15 years of hindsight and context. Just bloody look at it.