Robbie Williams steals Christmas with new No.1 album
It was the first song Robbie Williams conjured when he decided to undertake the audacious task of writing new Christmas cheer.
Bad Sharon evokes the ghost of office Christmas parties past, the alcohol-fuelled bacchanalia now banned by HR departments.
Penning a party drinking song was a writing exercise in channelling his own ghosts, considering Williams has been sober for 19 years.
"Well I can channel a lot of things and I remember what it used to be like. Every time you go into the studio, you come up with a different mood and different energy and I wanted to encapsulate everything I've ever felt about Christmas," Williams says.
"That particular day we went in there and wrote a drunk song.
"(My) good times were great times; my first five albums consist of me writing about the time directly after that which weren't great times.
"I'd had enough of booze and for a while booze was a good friend of mine to help me through a lot of situations. It became a bad friend and I had to leave it behind."
The Christmas Present album topped the Australian and British pop charts in its second week of release, held out of a No. 1 debut by Coldplay's Everyday Life. He even sold 10,000 cassette copies in the UK on the first week.
Special guests on the collection include professional boxer Tyson Fury (on Bad Sharon), Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, Jamie Cullen and German entertainer Helene Fischer.
It's a bonkers track listing. A sprinkling of standards - Winter Wonderland, Let It Snow, Santa Baby and Slade's Merry Christmas Everybody - and a lot of new stuff.
While Taylor Swift, Jonas Brothers and Alessia Cara have also had a crack at claiming a slice of the Christmas carols cake with new tunes this year, Williams said he was cautioned by music industry execs to steer clear of the market.
Their sweeping generalisation that "no one wants new Christmas songs" fell on deaf ears as Williams had been working on the record for the past three years and he wasn't about to shelve it next to the elf.
"I didn't know they were scared of doing new Christmas songs but you're right. I wrote 35 songs for this album and then the closer it got to being recorded, people from the record company and other producers were mentioning people don't want to listen to brand new Christmas songs," he says.
"Oh for f …'s sake, I've done all this work. I've used the cover versions as a mechanism to get people to listen to my new songs."
And they clearly are listening, if the charts are any indication.
Williams has something for everybody on the record - Snowflakes is the perfect dad-joke ode to the dysfunctional family gathering while the soaring Beatlesque New Year's Day offers comfort to ex-lovers during the emotionally fraught season.
It might come as a surprise to anyone who regards silly season music as traditionally bad to discover The Christmas Present is actually a very good Robbie Williams album.
"I think what the big secret about big pop records and big artists is that every album you release feels like the sword of Damocles is hanging over your head," he says.
"And you feel if it fails, your world has failed. Not only are you less successful, which hurts you as a person because it's your identity, but also then financially and everything that springs off it …'I've got three kids, oh god it's all going away'. Fame is such a transient thing so you are expecting it to go away at any moment.
"Now, with this album, I released myself from the binds of having to get it right, it felt like a free go around the block which wouldn't matter so much if it was big or not.
"Fortunately, it's connected and I think it's connecting because I've had a lot of fun."
While he has already achieved "big" with the record landing at No. 1 last week, Williams is quick to dismiss any suggestion he has ousted Michael Buble, the king of Christmas charts since 2011, from his throne.
He joked he considered calling the album Achtung Buble in honour of the Canadian crooner's monopoly on the seasonal market since the release of his Christmas album in 2011 and sold over 11 million copies.
"The reason why the Michael Buble album has been so huge is because it is a masterpiece," Williams says.
"He is the king of Christmas and I'm just veering into his lane. He owns Christmas. That Buble album ages like Thriller, he's the Don."
For every holiday album, there must be a television special and It's Not The Robbie Williams Christmas Show screened in the UK last weekend ahead of its Australian broadcast next week.
The television world suits him - he and Ayda were popular as X Factor judges before quitting after one season and he has made no secret of the fact he would like a regular gig.
He flagged in his announcement about leaving X Factor that he and Simon Cowell were looking at other projects for the singer.
"I'm loving TV. I might become a TV star very soon … Yeah it does suit me, I'm running towards middle age rather than running away from it."
Australian fans can be rest assured he will continue touring and plans to be back here before the end of 2020.
For your chance to see Robbie Williams at the Smooth Feel Good Night in Sydney 2020, head to https://smarturl.it/RW.DTComp to enter. T&C's apply.