I’ve been itching to write another one of these ‘put a bunch of top 40 singles from an act in a list of favourites and call it definitive’ type articles for a while now. Since I’m heading off to Liverpool next week to see Take That perform for the 5th(!) time, the band that shaped my early childhood seems like the perfect artist to rank this time around. I’m sticking to top 40 singles once again, so don’t expect to see Hold Up A Light or Once You’ve Tasted Love appear here.
28) I Found Heaven – Take That & Party – 1992
Starting off we have a song so painfully early 90s cheese that there’s nothing else that could take last place in this ranking. The brassy hook, the ‘woah woah woah’s from Howard, Jason and Mark and the general cheapness of it all make the first starring moment for Robbie the most painful Take That track to make the chart.
27) Up All Night – The Circus – 2009
My dislike of Up All Night can be summed up perfectly by the Peter Kay alike dad dancing that the group end up doing whenever they perform it. I’m genuinely amazed that Up All Night isn’t even the most twee track that Take That have ever released, that honor goes to the abysmal upcoming single New Day, it’s just such a damn infuriatingly ‘grandad tapping his foot along’ kind of song.
26) Giants – Wonderland – 2017
Giants probably deserves better than a bottom 3 placing here, but the latest chart hit from the boys feels like massive missed potential. I’d genuinely place it higher if Gary hadn’t replaced every other lyric with the word Giants, which never quite sits well with me as a hook. Giants isn’t a terrible song, but it sounds like a boyband trying to sound like Take That.
25) Why Can’t I Wake Up with You – Take That & Party/Everything Changes – 1993
There’s an interesting contrast in styles on Take That’s first few albums, where half of the tracks are out and out pop and the rest attempt a more 90s RnB style. The single version of Why Can’t I Wake Up With You is one of the latter, and while I’m totally here for the classic Take That backing vocal echoes on every other line there’s something about Gary’s attempts at being sexy that fall flat.
24) I’d Wait For Life – Beautiful World – 2007
I often genuinely forget that I’d Wait For Life exists, it seems that Gary and co have too having left it off tour setlists ever since. On release it broke their run of 14 top 10 singles and while it’s definitely not their worst ballad, it takes far too long to build anywhere worthwhile. On an album full of potential singles, such as title track Beautiful World and opener Reach Out, I’m still baffled this was chosen as the follow up to Shine.
23) Love Ain’t Here Anymore – Everything Changes – 1994
Love Ain’t Here Anymore is Gary Barlow and the Four Seasons, with the boys at their most dreamboat. It’s a bit sickening at times, but that chorus is still sweet enough.
22) How Deep Is Your Love – Greatest Hits – 1996
As the first song, and at the time ‘final’, release from the Take That minus Robbie lineup How Deep It Your Love was a big moment, out-peaking the original when it reached the #1 in 1996. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Take That’s version of the Bees Gees classic, but is there really any need for it to exist?
21) Sure – Nobody Else – 1994
The band’s best 90s RnB moment, Sure is mainly this high thanks to the ‘Isn’t it a shame’ backing vocal moment in the second verse.
20) Promises – Take That & Party – 1991
Take That’s first chart hit, reaching a massive peak of 38, Promises is so damn cheesy. As an introduction to a boyband it’s brilliant though, that ‘Doo Doo Doo’ punchy synth is still undeniably catchy and the the whole thing manages to fall on both sides of camp when necessary.
19) Cry (Feat. Take That) – Wonderland – 2016
Cry is basically Gary Barlow singing along to Sigma’s biggest hit Changing, but given how much I love that track that’s not exactly a bad thing.
17) Love Love – Progressed – 2011
Considering the Progress era marked the long awaited return of Robbie I always found it strange that he’s hardly heard on the third charting single from the extended album release. Love Love sees Mark and Gary trade verses over an increasingly threatening thud of bass that comes alive on stage, but somehow loses some of the impact on record. Still a concert highlight for sure though.
17) Babe – Everything Changes – 1993
Babe might have been the breakout moment for ‘The cute one’ as Mark Owen took lead vocals on a single for the very first time, but he’s not the highlight here. I’ve mentioned the infamous Take That backing vocals above, but on Babe they reach new extraordinary heights. I’d even go as far to say that backing vocals led by Howard’s distinctive voice are the real star. Every echo of ‘Babe’ is better than the last, you’ll never find yourself singing along to the lead vocals.
16) These Days – III – 2014
These Days is probably the closest Take That have come to recapturing the sound of their early records in the post reunion era. It’s tightly choreographed dance routines, brighter and tighter trousers and impossibly full of energy. For a group that have carved a recent sound that kept their ever growing age in mind, it was oddly refreshing to hear them sounding so youthful again, even if they were two members short.
15) Shine – Beautiful World – 2007
It may make you fancy nipping to Morrisons for a bit of shopping whenever it plays, but ‘Shiiiinnnneee’ is one of Take That’s most undeniable hooks. Even people who ‘can’t stand the ones that Mark sings’ find themselves singing along to this one.
14) Kidz – Progress – 2011
Probably the best of the true ‘Progress’ sounding tracks from the big reunion album, Kidz manages to capture exactly what you’d want from Take That+Robbie, it’s equal parts stomping march to sing along ‘La La La’s. It’s thrilling in a way very few of the group’s singles manage to be and of the songs in this list is by far my favourite Mark Owen led single.
13) Relight My Fire (Feat. Lulu) – Everything Changes – 1993
It’s amazing to think that Relight My Fire isn’t even the campest song in this ranking. It’s a track designed for that moment of a wedding party when your Auntie May has had a few too many gin and tonics and starts belting out the Lulu bit at the top of her voice. Worth its place this high if only for those string vests in the video.
12) Could It Be Magic – Take That & Party – 1992
Another disco cover, this time of the Donna Summer version of the Barry Manilow ballad. The boys took it to its highest chart placing yet of #3 and Could It Be Magic was the true moment that ‘Robbie Williams the star’ emerged. It wasn’t until this, the final single from debut Take That & Party that it seemed that there might be more than Gary in Take That after all.
11) Said It All – The Circus – 2009
Said It All was an obvious standout on The Circus, full of the sort of sweeping strings and driving hook that make for the best Take That records. Mark’s appearance to perform the middle 8 makes for a spectacular moment too elevating this very nearly into my top 10 Take That singles.
10) Patience – Beautiful World – 2006
‘This is the song that brought us back after all those years’ is how Gary Barlow has introduced this song over the last decade and it’s crazy to think just how perfect of a comeback Patience was. It certainly sounded like Take That, soaring vocals from Gary, harmonies from the rest of the boys, but it was relevant. It set the tone for Pop’s most impressive comeback in history and still brings the house down across the UK.
9) Back For Good – Nobody Else – 1995
I imagine people expected this to be my favourite Take That ballad, it is a tremendous track after all. It hits pretty much everything in the group’s template I’ve mentioned so far, but the song writing on display here is what truly shines. ‘In the twist of separation, you excelled at being free’ is a lyric of pure class.
8) Rule The World – Beautiful World – 2007
Patience brought Take That back effortlessley, but it was Rule The World that pushed them into selling 1 million concert tickets in 30 minutes territory. Amazingly it never made #1, instead peaking at 2 behind Leona Lewis’s Bleeding Love, but it’s probably the most enduring post reunion hit. You can all but hear the post concert fireworks going off behind the band a the final chorus reaches it’s climax. It’s a soaring ballad that pretty much every boy band has attempted to replicate since.
7) The Flood – Progress – 2010
If Progress was Take That singing on a Robbie album, then the anomaly of an opener The Flood was Robbie singing on a Take That track again. I can still remember hearing that opening line of ‘Standing, on the edge of forever’ for the first time, the band that defined my childhood was finally back the way I remembered them. As a track though, The Flood is one of the most layered and interesting single of Take That’s discography. Full of busy metaphor and contributions from the whole band on the chorus, it quickly became one my favourite pop records of recent memory.
6) A Million Love Songs – Take That & Party – 1992
A Million Love Songs would be my Karaoke song, if I could only hit the notes. It’s hard to explain why I love this waltz time, retro, saxophone solo featuring ballad so much, but I can’t help it. I still feel it’s one of Gary’s most honest and effortless vocal performances and the ridiculously cheesy oohs from the boys only make me love it even more.
5) Pray – Everything Changes – 1994
Performing the Pray dance routine with Take That is literally on my ‘life goals’ list? Should I be ashamed of that fact? When it’s a song this damn euphoric I really don’t care.
4) It Only Takes A Minute – Take That & Party – 1992
Take That and my family go hand in hand. So much so that i have memories of my Mum, Dad and Brother associated with just about every song in this list. The final few are probably placed as high as they are because of my personal connection to them. I can’t hear It Only Takes a Minute without picturing my dad pointing at me while he sings along. Whether that’s at the dining table, in a shopping centre playing the song or at my 18th birthday on an empty dancefloor save for the 4 members of my family, I can’t not get that image out of my head. It’s brilliant.
3) Everything Changes – Everything Changes – 1994
Everything Changes was probably the first song I ever labelled ‘My favourite’. At the time, when I was about 5 years old I simply meant it was my favourite song from their Greatest Hits collection, but it quickly became synonymous with me as a kid. I’ve literally written an entire blog series stemming from how much this Robbie classic means to me. As always though, in the end you simply can’t deny a Gary Barlow written hook as good as Everything Changes.
2) Never Forget – Nobody Else – 1995
Oh Howard, you really are the most underappreciated member of Take That. Thank god for Never Forget. No matter what happens he will always be there to deliver the best moment of one of their gigs, this is a song you don’t mess around with. I imagine it must be baffling for anyone who stumbles into a Take That concert without being a fan, seeing this rally call of arms in the air happening near the end. I love the fact that every member of the band gets their moment in the middle 8, this is the only song on this list to have any lead vocals from Jason. It’s such a career defining record, ironic when it seemingly marked the end of the band. It’s amazing to think Never Forget has taken on a life of own post reunion, and perhaps its fitting that their nearest hit to it has pushed it down to the runner up position here.
1) Greatest Day – The Circus – 2008
Greatest Day just makes me feel at home. It’s a surprisingly obvious choice here, but I hear it and I feel good. It’s as simple as that. Gary is at his best here. Take That sound the most like Take That here than on any other song. It’s perfect.