The video for Williams' new single 'Party Like a Russian' has grabbed headlines in Russia for all the wrong reasons.
Robbie Williams may be in a bit of hot water with Russia after media outlets in the country reacted badly to his brand new music video for single ‘Party Like a Russian’, attacking it for using crude national and cultural stereotypes.
Released less than a week ago to promote his new studio album, Heavy Entertainment Show, the video is said to have angered Russians because of its crude stereotyping of the country’s culture. Some are even suggesting that Williams won’t be allowed to perform in Russia again.
Robbie Williams performing in London in September 2016
One look at the clip does seem to bear out a lot of the complaints. The all-male Russian choirs on backing vocals; the shout of ‘Spasiba’ (or “thank you”) before every chorus; the ballerinas doing back-up dancing in the video; and all to the tune of ‘Dance of the Knights’ from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet… the list of cultural steals is pretty long.
Whether they are tantamount to racism is debatable, but they’re certainly breathtakingly unsubtle – as are Williams’ sing-rapping of cringey lyrics like “Ain’t no refutin’ or disputin’ / I’m a modern Rasputin”.
Russian state TV channel Vesti ran a short segment about the video, and said that using such a theme was an obvious gimmick to gain publicity for a singer whose popularity “in recent years was becoming a memory rather than a reality”.
Magazine Life held a round-table discussion, with a contributor describing it as “shit because it imparts the puny, vulgar Russian elite, which has nothing to do with aesthetics, beauty or romanticism.”
Rather more immediately serious for Williams is the news that the single looks set to underperform in this week’s charts, limping in to the midweek chart at a lowly Number 53. With a lack of radio airplay, this may not be surprising, so he’ll be hoping that the album shifts copies instead when it’s released on November 4th.