You say I’m acting like a teenager like it’s a bad thing: the first 24 hours of an album release

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Thursday 10pm: I really should go to bed. The kids will be up early tomorrow but I know that if I stay up until midnight there’s a chance that the new album pre-order will download to my phone. The temptation is huge. Being in New Zealand, it’s one of the only perks of being in the fandom. I get to download first.

11pm: I’m in bed, but I’m still awake…and on Twitter. The excitement of the fandom is palpable. I should really go to sleep. I should really switch my phone off. I’m pretty tired, but excited.

11.30pm: Okay, lights off, phone down. Let’s be grown up and responsible. The download will be there when I wake up. It’s only six hours away until I will be up for the day, I can listen to it then.

2am: I wake up. Shall I look at my phone? It’s not even a question really, there it is…the notification: It has downloaded. Wonderland is on my phone.

I creep out of bed so as not to wake the husband or the kids, avoiding the creaky bits on the stairs and rummage through my bag to find my earphones. In the pitch dark, on the sofa I put my earphones in and begin to listen.

I have been waiting for this for months, I could have waited a few more hours but I seriously couldn’t. I tuck my feet under myself and let the music wash over me. If you haven’t yet listened to on earphones make sure you do, you hear so much detail, all the little neat tricks they have squeezed into each song. I am in love straight away.

It’s the middle of the night so I do a little listen of each song to get a quick overview of what, realistically, will be the soundtrack to my life for the next few months at least. I write a few tweets with my views and chat with a few fans online. Some want to know who is singing what, the overall feel of the album. I gladly answer their questions the best I can.

3am: I finally crawl back into bed. Happy.

6am: Time to start the day, I have a quick read of Twitter so see how the album is being received around the world as the time zones wake up. It is good news. A happy fandom is a happy place to be.

9am: Kids safely at school, I begin excessive caffeine consumption to stay awake and listening on repeat to the album on the living room speakers. I’ve organised my week so I don’t need to be doing anything much today. Being able to mulit-task effectively is my super power. I am glad about it today.

11am: An email from takethat.com – my box set has been dispatched from the UK. Being in New Zealand it will probably take weeks but I’m glad it’s on the way.

1pm: The UK finally gets the download and I see hundreds of other people just like me who stayed up late to hear something we have been waiting for months. It’s good to know it’s not just me. The UK tweeters go crazy for it. It’s brilliant.

Twitter goes quiet as they eventually fall asleep and I get on with my day…with Wonderland as the soundtrack, school pick up, swimming lessons, dinner, bath time, bedtime for the kids, and then it all begins again.

8pm: I chat to friends online who are on their way to London to the album signing. I revel in their excitement and I am happy to see them happy. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must be feeling. I know that when I wake up in their morning my feed will be full of their stories, their pics, their selfies and I am looking forward to it.

9pm: I’m exhausted now. Sleep is calling. Was it worth getting up in the middle of the night? Hell yeah. Is the album everything and more than I was expecting? YES, oh YES. Have Take That still got it? Damn yes, they will never lose it.

I love this fandom. It’s my happy place.

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“The charisma’s non-negotiable…” From H.E.S to Heavy Entertainment Show, how Robbie has done it again.

I’ll start by saying, I know nothing about music other than I know what I like and what I don’t like. What I most definitely like, nay love, is Robbie Williams. Say what you will, but that man is one hell of an entertainer.

It is no secret to those of you who know me as a fan that H.E.S is one of my favourite Robbie songs. It’s up there with Come Undone and Sexed Up as far as songs that I will listen to on repeat daily. So when Guy Chambers let slip on his blog on Sunday that the new album was going to be called Heavy Entertainment Show I was beyond excited at the prospect that we would eventually hear H.E.S live (properly) and that it would have the opportunity to enter the cultural zeitgeist. It’s such a perfectly formed song that to take it from Under The Radar and put it on the new album would not have been a bad idea at all.

Like most of Robbie’s songs I find his lyrics give us the biggest insight into his world. He really is a master of words in his solo work, and it is most definitely evident in his contribution to the Take That album ‘Progress’. He understands the business and views it with cynicism and scorn, often for comedic effect, often very dark. “We are living in the wildest times, lost my mind a while ago,” he sings. He knows this better than most of us and that’s what makes him so good. The slow rhythm of H.E.S, the powerful lyrics, the deepness of his voice resonating from the song make this one of my favourites. I didn’t think it could be matched.

So along comes Sunday, the Apple Music Festival gig, the promo teaser for the new album (finally confirmed as being titled Heavy Entertainment Show) is posted online and boom, the fandom goes wild. Well played to his management and media team by the way, excellent promotion, long may it continue. The song of the new album? Not H.E.S but the newly formed Heavy Entertainment Show, and man, is it heavy. I LOVE IT.


I’ll admit at first there was a little disappointment but we are talking momentarily. As soon as I heard Heavy Entertainment Show I was hooked. I am a “volcano that’s about to blow.” I want the album now, I want my next hit of the new Robbie Williams, who is strikingly like the old Robbie Williams with even more charisma that is non-negotiable and even more magnificent (have you seen him lately? He’s getting even more handsome with age – I think the love of a good woman may be helping there. Family life certainly suits him).

The song is fresh and new but has that friendly familiarity that makes you think you have always known it. The lyrics are catchy and are already sticking in my mind (tends to happen when you listen to something on repeat, I know, but still). It is the antithesis to H.E.S which has a steady cadence, Heavy Entertainment Show is big and bold and makes no secret of that. Just hearing it  you can imagine the glitz and glitter of a live performance of the song. It will be perfect to open a gig, as perfect as it is to open an album. So what are you waiting for Robbie? Announce those tour dates and “shake your ass, come over here”, back to New Zealand for, at least one more date.

And which do I prefer? You can’t compare them. I love them equally but there is clearly a deep connection between the two songs, that’s not brain science. We will “see the world through it’s ancient eyes” and he will “give it all then a little bit more.”

Robbie, I am a child of cultural abandon and you are my saviour. Thank you.

“One day maybe it will hurt no more…” problems of an overseas fangirl.

I am by nature a problem solver. If there is a problem, I look for solutions and if it is possible I will make changes to make things better. I’m that kind of person. I’m not one to moan and complain, honestly. I’m saying that at the onset of this blog post because if it comes across like that I really don’t intend it that way. I’m about to talk about a problem there isn’t an answer to.

I decided to write this little blog post because I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

I have written before about being a fangirl, and my drug of choice is Take That, but I hope that whatever your poison is, fangirl wise, you may be able to relate to this.

My fangirling is made possible by the internet, social media and predominately Twitter. I love the interaction between fans, reading news, seeing photos and even interaction with my idols. The joy of getting a retweet, reply or even a direct message is wonderful, indescribable and some may think this sad but boo sucks to them!

But it is a double edged sword; as much as I love to login and see everyone meeting the band, it is bittersweet. Knowing that you are on the other side of the world and not able to do that truly sucks. I once read on a FB page (which will remain nameless) that maybe fans overseas should follow bands closer to home. I couldn’t believe it. And there is always the constant discussion of what a “true fan” is. Who cares? If you are a fan, you are a fan, regardless of where in the world you are.

So with numerous projects in the pipeline and new music on the horizon I am excited to see my Twitter feed full of photos and news. It is going to be pretty nonstop for the next six months at least, but sometimes it just stops you in your tracks and you feel overcome with envy and jealousy, yep, there I’ve said it. I am so happy people I would consider to be good friends are fulfilling their dreams, but damn, I wish it was me!

See? There is no solution to my “problem”. I live on the other side of the world and I wouldn’t change that but just once I would like it to be me having the chat, taking the selfie and getting a hug. So if you are one of the lucky ones just bear with us overseas fans who are full of mixed emotions. We WANT to see your pics and hear how amazing it was, but we also want to bury our heads in the sand and wish it wasn’t happening! It’s our problem, not yours.

At the weekend I cut down the list of people I follow on Twitter to the people in the fandom I actually converse with, turned off retweets on a few, muted a couple and I have to be honest, it has helped. There is such a thing as too much when it makes you sad.

As for the fandom sadness, the fandom happiness truly outweighs it…I just wish they wouldn’t bicker so much and appreciate how lucky they are. Seriously.

And as for meeting my idols? I will never give up hope because as a certain person once said “what’s the point in giving up?”

“Everybody’s looking for someone that they can adore. Give them what they came here for, always leave them wanting more.” On being a 38 year old fangirl.

The year was 1988, my walls were plastered with posters ripped from numerous magazines, namely Smash Hits and Fast Foward. Alternating around my eleven year old self’s bedroom; Kylie, Jason, Kylie, Jason. Neighbours was big but these two were bigger.

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It had begun earlier than this. I remember my parents saving up tokens from The Sun newspaper for a huge Adam Ant poster which hung proudly on the chimney breast in my bedroom. I remember every Sunday plugging my headphones in to listen to the Top 40 on the radio, and later trying to record my favourite songs without Bruno Brookes talking over them. I remember my friend Maria and I kissing my Rick Astley poster good night when we had sleepovers…yes, Rick Astley. I was destined to be a fangirl. I always was a fangirl, come to think of it.

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Every week I would fastidiously cut out lyrics from Smash Hits glue them on to paper, slip them into plastic wallets my dad had stolen from the stationary cupboard at work and file them away in my red and white heart ring binder that matched my wallpaper (what you could see of it) and my curtains. The late eighties were really the time to be alive! This weekly ritual continued way into my teens and into the nineties. The artists changed so did the posters. Next came Bros (Craig was my favourite), then New Kids On The Block (I liked Jon – I had a habit of liking the least popular member as I felt a bit sorry for them) and then I found Rock music, and then Grunge.

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No time for teeny bopping, I was a lumberjack shirt, Doc Martin, floral skirt wearing grunge girl who could be found at college band nights (getting nits from headbanging – true story!), in garages where my teenage boyfriend’s band where practising, watching Nirvana Unplugged and saving up for Extreme, Guns N Roses, and Little Angels gigs. It was THE BEST. We went to Wembley, Milton Keynes Bowl, Bournemouth International Centre, Southampton Guildhall (Okay, those last two are not so impressive) to see bands…always accompanied by our parents; was usually my dad and my friends’ mums. We were living the dream, the dream of a 14 year old rocker.

As I got older Indie music came into my life. My Saturday job was at HMV. I started on an hourly wage of two pounds and thirty four pence, having turned down a better paid job at British Home Stores. CDs were cooler than towels and clothing, and I was right. I got a 30% discount at HMV and basically every single penny I earnt went straight back in the till, minus some beer money for the weekend. I learnt so much there though from the people I worked with, heard so many different kinds of music and had my ears and eyes opened. The gigs continued but were more small venues with new and up and coming bands. My 17 year old self would follow along with my older colleagues after work on a Saturday. They would buy me drinks but look after me and it was a great time.

So you see, I missed out on Take That the first time round. I knew their music of course, but it wasn’t my time to be a Take That fan. At Uni we would listen to Never Forget loudly, very loudly, at house parties on repeat, and Back For Good was a staple on my excessively large boom box, but I wasn’t a Thatter.

Then just as I was about to emigrate to New Zealand they reformed. I remember watching Take That For The Record and everyone talking about it next morning in the staff room at work. It made a real impact on everyone. The nostalgia was there, even for those of us who thought we had missed it the first time round. Somehow without us knowing Take That had got into everyone’s psyche. They really are a British Institution. That year I got married and one of our wedding gifts, from a friend who I had often drunkly watched the Pray video with, was The Ultimate Collection DVD. The husband laughed ironically, I was smitten.

A million love songs later, listening to TT4 albums in the car, watching The Circus DVD on repeat while breastfeeding  an infant going through a growth spurt, chatting lots to my friend who was a big fan the first time round, I found myself really liking the music, but still not a fangirl.

Then about this time last year I saw the new incarnation of Take That; Take That as a threesome. Everything changed (pun intended).

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Over here in New Zealand, we get The Graham Norton Show a week after it airs in the UK. I saw Gary, Mark and Howard and fell in love. It was at that moment I became a fangirl again. It was like being a kid again. But what was different now? It was the notion of a fandom.

I have been an avid twitter user for seven years now. I didn’t realise the potential on twitter for being a fangirl. A quick search found Gary Barlow’s profile and it was quickly evident that he uses it to engage with fans a lot. The search continued and I found the other band members and then what was actually more interesting is the fans. I started to follow people from all over the world including UK, USA, Canada, Sweden, Holland, Germany…everywhere. Together we share pics, links and chat about the band. I have lived vicariously through them as they have gone to dates on the UK tour, the European Tour, Dubai. I have smiled with joy as they have finally met their idols, got their autographs and their selfies. I have also been slightly jealous, but mainly happy for them!

So, I quickly caught up with what I missed. Being a fangirl on the other side of the world to your favourite band must have been hell before the internet. YouTube is my friend. The technology frustrates me sometimes (like this morning when a live stream failed) but for the most part it makes me a very happy lady.

What I have really loved about the fandom is how accepting they are. They don’t care if you have liked the band since day one or if you have only just found out about them yesterday. A fan is a fan, and any support for their favourite band is good. (A side note here, maybe that is because I choose who I follow on Twitter carefully and make sure I follow positive, friendly people, but that really has been my experience of the fandom.) I would love to meet some of these people in real life, but I know that’s unlikely, as unlikely as it is for me actually seeing Take That live…New Zealand really is the other side of the world.

And what about Take That? Why them? Well, for me it is more than the music and the performances, it is about their story, twenty five years in the making. I find their friendships, the break up, the make up, their chemistry intoxicating. Their engagement with their fans is second to none and they do so much for others. If you don’t know about it all check out Take That For The Record https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoR-SPdMOyo and Look Back Don’t Stare https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpvfSRMJEFg you might surprise yourself.

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So what have I learnt from being a fangirl? Passion. It is good to have passion. Find something you love, and it makes you happy. I know Take That are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for goodness sake, find something YOU are passionate about. I have learnt to not judge other people’s tastes. I stop myself from criticising other people’s tastes. If they’ve got a passion, and it makes them happy, then good on them.

There you go. I was destined to be a fangirl from an early age, maybe it’s in my DNA, but right now I am proud to be a Thatter, so I’m off to listen to the new songs, look lovingly into the eyes of Gary Barlow and read some fanfiction. Isn’t the internet wonderful?

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