Take That returns and embraces Google Play

Take That returns and embraces Google Play

NEW YORK - Take That returned Monday with a new album of 1990s-style boy band pop and, entering a more contemporary debate, snubbed streaming giant Spotify for Google Play.

(L-R) Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams of the band Take That perform in San Remo, Italy, on February 18, 2011

"III," the band's first studio album in four years, marks the rebirth of the Manchester boy band as a trio, with the absence of both Robbie Williams -- who has forged a successful solo career -- and Jason Orange.

For the band's seventh album, Take That signed a deal to stream exclusively for one month on Google Play. The search engine giant's alternative to Spotify is promoting "III" with a launch party.

Spotify, however, is also streaming the album's first single "These Days," a clean-cut pop song with a dance-ready, R&B-influenced rhythm.

The album entered immediately at the top of Britain's singles chart, replacing the Band Aid 30th anniversary Ebola relief song "Do They Know It's Christmas?"

Britain's Official Charts Company factors in streaming for its singles ranking; the Billboard 200, the premier US chart for albums, will begin to consider streaming in its chart out on Wednesday.

Spotify has witnessed rapid growth as the industry leader in streaming but has also faced criticism -- most notably from this year's top-selling artist Taylor Swift, who pulled her whole catalog off the service.

Swift argued that Spotify's compensation was insufficient, charges that the Swedish company denied. Google, Apple and other competitors have meanwhile sought a growing slice of the streaming market.

Take That plans to tour for the first time as a trio -- Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald -- at arenas in Britain and Ireland starting on April 28.

Williams, who now lives in the United States after forging a highly successful solo career, left the band in 1995 but returned in 2010 for an album and tour.

In an interview with Britain's Sun newspaper, Donald voiced hope that Williams and Orange would return for a reunion tour for Take That's 25th anniversary in 2017.

"We want to do something with the five of us. That will be great," Donald was quoted as saying.

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