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Angels (Robbie Williams song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Angels cover.png
Single by Robbie Williams
from the album Life thru a Lens
Released 1 December 1997 (1997-12-01)
Recorded 1997
Length 4:24 (album version)
3:58 (radio edit)
Label Chrysalis
Attributed to Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers (see below)
Robbie Williams singles chronology
"South of the Border"
"Let Me Entertain You"
"South of the Border"
"Let Me Entertain You"
Music video
"Angels" on YouTube

"Angels" is a song originally recorded by Robbie Williams. The song's writing credits are officially attributed to Robbie Williams and Guy Chambers, however this is contested by the songwriter Ray Heffernan, who claims he wrote a significant portion of the song himself. The song was released as a single in December 1997.[1] It became Williams' biggest selling single and was voted the best song of the past 25 years at the 2005 Brit Awards.

"Angels" has since been covered by many artists, including Jessica Simpson; Beverley Knight; All Angels; Declan Galbraith; Verena von Strenge's latest group, Moon Dust; and American Idol series 7 runner-up David Archuleta. It has been recorded in Spanish (as "Ángel") by Mexican singers Yuridia and Marco Moré, and in Italian (as "Un Angelo") by Patrizio Buanne. In 2009, Williams performed "Angels" at the final of the sixth series of The X Factor with Olly Murs. Williams also recorded a Spanish version of the song. In a 2005 poll, "Angels" was ranked the most popular song that Britons would most like played at their funeral.[2]

Chart performance

"Angels" was the fourth single from Williams' debut album, Life thru a Lens. It has been credited with saving the singer's floundering solo career, and is used to conclude almost all of his concerts. The song was the 38th best selling of 1997 in the UK, and the 26th of 1998. It was the 34th best selling single of the decade. Despite only reaching a peak of No. 4, it is Williams' biggest-selling UK single and according to Official UK Charts Company figures passed the million sales mark in June 2009, with a combination of both physical and download sales. It has sold 1.2 million copies in the UK as of November 2012.[3] It was released in 1999 in the US, after Williams' debut there with "Millennium". A video for the song was released in the US featuring Williams atop a roof, watching the city below.

"Angels" re-entered the ARIA Top 100 at #91, on 5 May 2008.[4] Due to download sales, the song has re-entered the UK Charts on a number of occasions in recent years.

Music video

The video for "Angels" was directed by Vaughan Arnell,[5] and filmed at Saunton Sands. Filmed largely from the air, Williams walks around a beach, stares at the sky, kicks a football and rides a motorbike with a woman whilst a helicopter flies around them.[6]

In November 2013, English singer-songwriter Olly Murs released a music video promoting his song "Hand on Heart", imitating the video to "Angels". Also directed by Arnell, and shot in black-and-white, the video featured a cameo appearance by Robbie Williams himself. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I am easily flattered, and I love Olly. We always have a good time together and this was no exception," commented Williams.[5]


The authorship of the song is contested. Williams has claimed he wrote the song with Chambers in 25 minutes and the song is about his aunt and uncle. By his account, he and Chambers were sitting outside a cafe watching a water fountain which inspired them to write the song's chorus.[7]

Despite this, Ray Heffernan asserts that a demo version of 'Angels' was written and recorded by Williams and himself during a drunk night in Dublin in 1996, and that Williams bought out Heffernan's rights to the song for £7,500.[8] Interviewed in a documentary, he plays the demo version of the track on which Williams sings, and states that the two had come up with 'a bit of the verse, and a bit of the chorus, the bones of the song'[9] together, but that the song was originally written a year earlier in Paris, and was inspired by the loss of his and his partner's stillborn child. He says that he was 'very naive'[9] to have agreed to the settlement, given the enormous success the song would go on to have. Besides the financial settlement, Heffernan's claimed role in the song's creation received the following corrobation in the liner notes of the UK CD2 single of Angels, which includes the note 'Even Fallen Angels Laugh Last - Thanks to Raymond Heffernan'.[10]

In a more recent interview, Williams states that Heffernan's claim to have recorded a demo version with him is 'not a conspiracy [...] it actually happened',[11] but that he later re-wrote the song significantly at his first meeting with Chambers, after which 'it sort of wr[ote] itself'[11] and became 'the fully formed version of Angels'.[11] In the same interview, Williams confirms that he received a letter from a lawyer after Life thru a Lens came out, claiming that Heffernan wrote 'Angels' and Old Before I Die. Regarding this lawsuit and the subsequent financial settlement reached with Heffernan, he states that:

It was all down to [...] he said, he said [...] We could have gone to court, and it all would have been down to whether what way the judge wakes up that day out of bed, and goes I believe this guy and he's going to get the publishing. So we were then left with a settling out of court sort of thing because we couldn't have that happen. [...] So I gave him some money, and he went away.[11]

Later in the interview, Williams says that the way the writing credit was previously attributed on this particular Wikipedia page 'pisses [him] off',[11] and that Heffernan 'rode roughshod over [his] career and stole this song' unfairly.[11]

In April 2018, Ray Heffernan provided an in-depth response to Williams' interview on his own podcast, where he expresses that his own life has moved on, and that he no longer has any interest in the controversy, like Williams claims he does. In addition, he states that he feels their story together is unresolved, and proposes that Williams write and release another song in collaboration with him, claiming that 'people will realise the heart in it',[12] that they can donate the money raised to children's charities, and that 'it'll be the best song' Robbie ever wrote.

Williams is annoyed that many people assume it was just written by his former co-writer Chambers. In an interview he said; "It pees me off because everyone thinks Guy penned 'Let Me Entertain You' and 'Angels', but they're my songs."[13]

On RTL Late Night on 2 November 2016, Williams stated that "Angels is a song that myself and Guy Chambers wrote and it was the first of our songs that we wrote together. We could tell and hoped and prayed that we got something incredibly special. After we wrote the song, Guy got very ill, straight away. I kind of walked back from his house to my flat in the cold and in the snow with this tape in my hand and about a mile and a half in, I hailed a cab down. He played it and said "that is great, that is, Robbie, that is gonne be number 1", and you know what: it never was number one.[14]


At the 2005 BRIT Awards, "Angels" was voted by the British public the best song in the past 25 years of British music, though it had only reached number four on the singles chart. Williams performed the song live with Joss Stone then. In a survey by UK digital TV station Music Choice, Britons chose it as the song they'd most like to be played at their funeral.[15]

Formats and track listings

  1. "Angels" – 4:24
  2. "Back for Good" (live) – 3:59
  3. "Walk This Sleigh" – 3:01
  1. "Angels" – 4:24
  2. "Karaoke Overkill" – 3:31
  3. "Get the Joke" – 3:03
  4. "Angels" (acoustic version) – 4:27[16]


Chart (1997–99) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[17] 40
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[18] 12
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[19] 6
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[20] 32
Canada (RPM) 18
Denmark (Hitlisten)[21] 20
France (SNEP)[22] 7
Germany (Official German Charts)[23] 9
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[24] 22
Ireland (IRMA)[25] 2
Italy (FIMI)[26] 12
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[27] 14
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[28] 23
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[29] 2
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[30] 13
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[31] 4
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[32] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[33] 53
US Adult Contemporary[34] 10
US Adult Top 40 21
Chart (2008) Peak
Canada Top Digital 40
Chart (2009) Peak
Canada Top Digital 32
Germany (Media Control AG) 85
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 96
Chart (2012) Peak
France (SNEP) 138
Chart (2013) Peak
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade) 51

Year-end charts

Chart (1998) Position
Germany (Official German Charts)[35] 53


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Belgium (BEA)[36] Gold 25,000*
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[37] Gold 45,000^
France (SNEP)[38] Gold 187,000[39]
Italy (FIMI)[40] Gold 25,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[41] 2× Platinum 1,200,000[3]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Cover versions

Jessica Simpson

Jessicasimpson single angels.jpg
Single by Jessica Simpson
from the album In This Skin: Collector's Edition
Released 6 June 2004[42]
Format CD, digital download
Genre Pop
Length 4:05
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
Producer(s) Billy Mann
Jessica Simpson singles chronology
"Take My Breath Away"
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"
"Take My Breath Away"
"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'"

Jessica Simpson's cover of "Angels" was the fourth and final single released from her album In This Skin in 2004. It was produced by Billy Mann.

Music video

The video for "Angels" opens a visibly anxious Simpson on an empty stage rehearsing for a performance. She can be seen in intercut scenes staring into space, as if she has lost her self-confidence and ability to perform. As the song progresses, however, white roses can be seen scattered around her as a sign of hope, and soon Simpson begins to regain her confidence. The song then shifts into its instrumental bridge to correlate with the emotions of the characters, as Simpson proceeds to climb to the top of the building for her final performance. There she is greeted by a youth orchestra, and finishes the song.

Chart performance

Simpson's version of "Angels" failed to break into the Billboard Hot 100 (though it did reach number six on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles). However, the song did become a moderate success[clarification needed] on the Top 40 Mainstream and Hot Digital Tracks. Both Simpson, and her father and manager Joe Simpson, had hoped this song would lead to her first Grammy nomination, as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, her 1990s rivals, had each already been nominated as well as winning. The song's downloads were not allowed to help it.

Track listing

  1. "Angels"
  2. "Angels" (Stealth Remix)
  3. "Fly" (B-side)
  4. "Angels" (enhanced video)


  • "Angels" (album version) – 4:00
  • "Angels" (Dave Anthony Remix) – 4:53
  • "Angels" (Junior Vasquez World Mixshow) – 6:32
  • "Angels" (Stealth Remix) – 3:12
  • "Angels" (acoustic) – 4:07


Chart (2004) Position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[43] 27
Romanian Top 100[44] 78
US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles[45] 6
US Billboard Pop Songs[46] 23


Single by Yuridia
from the album La Voz de un Ángel
Released 2005
Genre Latin, pop
Length 4:17
Label Sony BMG
Songwriter(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
Yuridia singles chronology
"La Maldita Primavera"
"La Maldita Primavera"

In 2005, Yuridia, former contestant of the popular Mexican show La Academia, released "Ángel", a Spanish version of the song which she had interpreted during her stay in the reality show, as her debut and lead single. In Mexico, as well as in other parts of Latin America, "Ángel", became an instant hit, leading her debut album of almost the same name to achieve Diamond status in Mexico and becoming one of the most recent best selling Mexican singers and the best female Mexican seller of the past decade. The singer received two gold certifications for 20,000 copies sold in Mexico.

Chart performance

"Ángel" reached 32 on the Billboard Hot Latin Songs chart and La Voz de un Angel managed to climb into the top 20 on the Billboard Hot Latin Albums chart, peaking at 16. In Mexico the song became the most successful song of 2005, leading the charts during 13 week.


Chart 2005 Position
US Billboard Hot Latin Songs 32

Beverley Knight

In March 2006, British soul singer Beverley Knight recorded a live gospel version of "Angels". The track, performed live on BBC Radio 2 with musician Guy Chambers, was included on her Voice - The Best Of Beverley Knight album. The inclusion came after Knight performed the song at the Live 8 concerts in July 2005.

All Angels

Single by All Angels
from the album All Angels
Released 18 December 2006 (2006-12-18)
Format CD
Genre Pop
Length 4:19
Label UCJ (Universal)
Songwriter(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
All Angels singles chronology
"Nothing Compares 2 U"
"Nothing Compares 2 U"

In December 2006, British classical crossover group All Angels released a cover version of Angels, with a classical touch to the song. Bookmakers put odds of 7-1 on them for getting a UK Christmas number-one single with their cover.

The single is the first ever Christmas single to be released in association with the Royal British Legion and their Poppy Appeal. Incidentally All Angels performed at the Festival of Remembrance (2006).

  • Track listing

CD single

  1. "Angels" – 3:18
  2. "Silent Night" – 3:14
  3. "Fly" – 3:45

David Archuleta

Single by David Archuleta
from the album David Archuleta
Released 27 October 2008 (2008-10-27)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2008
Genre Pop
Length 3:33 (American Idol studio version)
4:09 (album version)
Label Jive
Songwriter(s) Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan
David Archuleta singles chronology
"A Little Too Not Over You"
"A Little Too Not Over You"

David Archuleta initially covered this song during the 7th series of American Idol, in 2008. A studio version of this cover was produced and made available for purchase as a digital download exclusively via iTunes Store for a limited period.

Later in that year, he decided to re-record the song, with a different arrangement and production, for his debut album. The version is also available for digital purchase since 27 October 2008, when it was released to help promote the pre-order of Archuleta's album.

Formats and track listings

Digital download
  1. "Angels" (main version) — 4:09
  2. "Angels" (promotional version) — 3:33

Chart performance

Archuleta's version of the song has become the second highest charting version in the United States after the original performed by Robbie Williams. It managed to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at #89 due to digital downloads. On the Canadian Hot 100 the song peaked at #64.


Chart (2008) Peak
Canadian Hot 100 64
US Billboard Hot 100 89


  1. ^ "Radio 2 - Sold On Song - Brits25 - Angels - Robbie Williams". BBC. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  2. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 10 March 2005. Retrieved 24 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Myers, Justin (10 February 2016). "These are the UK's 20 biggest selling love ballads of all time". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 10 February 2016. 
  4. ^ "Australia's Official Music Charts". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 2 November 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Olly Murs Unveils 'Hand On Heart' Video". MTV. 4 November 2013. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  6. ^ "Robbie Williams - Angels". YouTube. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  8. ^ "I played Robbie this song I'd been working on. It was called Angels". Retrieved 2017-08-21. 
  9. ^ a b brunolavelle (1 December 2006). "Ray Heffernan talks about Angels". Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via YouTube. 
  10. ^ Angels, UK CD2, liner notes
  11. ^ a b c d e f True Geordie (11 December 2017). "ROBBIE WILLIAMS - True Geordie Podcast #74". Retrieved 3 April 2018 – via YouTube. 
  12. ^ Irish Songwriters Podcast (15 April 2018). "Irish Songwriter's Podcast - The Anatomy Of Angels". Retrieved 16 April 2018 – via Soundcloud. 
  13. ^ "Take That! Robbie joins top songwriters vying for special Brit - News, Music". The Independent. 2005-01-02. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  14. ^ "RTL XL". 
  15. ^ "Angels 'favourite funeral song'". BBC News. 2005-03-10. Retrieved 2011-09-29. 
  16. ^ "Robbie Williams - Angels CD Singles, Robbie Williams - Angels CDs, Buy Rare Robbie Williams - Angels CDs". Retrieved 2014-08-10. 
  17. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  18. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  19. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  20. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  21. ^ "Robbie Williams: Danish Charts. artisteschartsventes.
  22. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels" (in French). Les classement single.
  23. ^ " – Robbie Williams Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  24. ^ "Íslenski Listinn NR. 253 Vikuna 25.12. 1997 - 01.01. 1998" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir. 27 December 1997. p. 47. Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
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  26. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Top Digital Download.
  27. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Robbie Williams" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  28. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Top 40 Singles.
  29. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  30. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Singles Top 100.
  31. ^ " – Robbie Williams – Angels". Swiss Singles Chart.
  32. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  33. ^ Top Pop Singles by Joel Whitburn, 12th ed., p. 1063
  34. ^ Chart positions for "Angels" in the United States
  35. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  36. ^ "Ultratop 50 Albums Wallonie 1998". Ultratop. Retrieved 2012-01-05. 
  37. ^ "Robbie Williams "Angels"". IFPI Denmark. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 24 February 2018. 
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  39. ^ "InfoDisc : Les Certifications (Singles) du SNEP (les Singles en Argent)". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
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External links

This page was last edited on 19 April 2018, at 01:19.
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