The New Generation
Yes, it is official, the boy band is back.
Take That; Boyzone; Westlife; ‘5ive’; Blue; A1; ‘N Sync; Backstreetboys... all warmed the hearts of teenage girls and boys alike across the British Isles and America, let alone the rest of the world, throughout the 90s and into the early 2000s. However, as these fresh faced lads with fancy dance moves and six packs so defined you could see them through their shinny white suits began to fade away and ‘split up’, a new generation of ‘Boy Band’ rose from their ashes.
This time, the fancy dance moves were swapped for guitars and drum sticks, and messy hair and poorly grown teenage stubble was chosen in favour of shinny white suits. These were the ‘Pop Rock’ boy bands – Busted, McFly, and Rooster to name the more successful – who essentially did the same job as their predecessors. They were good looking, poster worthy lads, and taking pride of place above the bed and kissed good night before you went to sleep. They were local radio station friendly and toured across the country performing at the large arena venues, occasionally appearing on Top of the Pops and Saturday morning kids’ shows. The songs were catchy. Mums approved of them. Let’s be honest, even I am not ashamed to admit as a 12 year old girl I saw Mcfly at Wembley arena pavilion. I even have the ticket on my bedroom wall still.
But something wasn’t quite right, and although they enjoyed chart success and multiple TV appearances over the period of two, three years, they just seemed to... fade away.
Recently we have watched the likes of Take That, Boyzone and even New Kids On The Block come marching back over the pop horizon, as if the Pop Rock era had just been babysitting the charts while they had a little break to start a family, get married, have a failed solo career (with the exception of Robbie Williams, although, where has he been hiding recently?), etc, etc. But let’s face it, their six packs are now beer bellies, and if they were to carry out any fancy dance moves, they would be making a quick visit to the chiropractic afterwards. No longer do they warm the hearts of the teenage crowd, but more like those belonging to the approving mothers. To be honest, they’re more ‘Middle Aged Man Bands’ than ‘Boy Bands’.
So, is the Boy Band actually back then? Well, of course this isn’t the 1990s anymore, in fact, soon we will be almost two decades away, but there is one hope – JLS. Signed to Epic Records, they were the runners up in 2008’s X Factor, the show we all love to hate, but watch anyway. They are four, smashingly good looking young lads, so that’s box one ticked. You can put them above your bed and kiss them good night (box two). They can dance incredibly well, and the recent single ‘Beat Again’ is so catchy that even I – who, if given the dilemma of choosing between Marilyn Manson or N Dubz tickets, would choose to see Manson, despite thinking he’s a bit of a tit to be honest - can’t help but sing along to (three, four). It is Radio Heart friendly and sure to do very well among the current teenage generation of Britain, especially the girls no doubt. And don’t worry, for yes, they will be approved by your mum, as member Aston Merrygold appeared on children’s program Fun Song Factory as a 16 year old (ahh, number five). So if you think you recognise him from anywhere teenagers of Britain, you watched him on your TV screens as little kid.
There are no guitars or drum sticks insight, no messy hair and stubbles, they’re just perfectly styled and shaved. Yes, JLS are a Boy Band, no question about it. But will they last? And is this the start of a Boy Band revival? Not the revival we’ve just had, no, more of a Renaissance, a re-birth of something old, but yet, completely new. Or is this just a blip in the ever changing music industry? Either way it was good while it lasted before and it will be good again.
Back For Good?
A few things have changed since I originally wrote this piece as just a bit of something to pass the time.
Every mother and daughter will be pleased to know, JLS are still going strong (unusual for an XFactor finalist, I know). However, I can’t help but gather visions of the lads dancing as nuns with the von Trapp family every time I hear their most recent offering to the pop chart. New single “The Club is Alive” uses a clever lyric sample from The Sound of Music (yes, from the musical), the original lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. Can you guess the clever lyrics? No? “The club is alive with the sound of music”. Catchy, hey? And I think everyone will be pleased to hear that a second album is due to be released November 2010. YAY!
But my purpose for adding an extra chapter to this is not to talk about JLS, no, I’m here to write about Robbie William and McFly! I previously wrote that good old Robbie and McFly seemed to have faded away a year ago, drowned by the new boy band wave. But I was wrong...
Let’s start with McFly. Now on their own label Super Records, the “boys” have a brand new website and supported by some smart new haircuts and a new “super hero” image. Hmm, interesting but I must say, they are looking very *mmmm*, now all grown up and able to grow a full set of face fuzz; they can come to my rescue any day. The website is quite fancy too, check it out http://www.mcflyofficial.com/ (and I think you will understand the “super hero” image). But don’t let this fool you! The cheeky devils are playing JLS at their own game. Come back single “Party Girl” is a lot more synth driven than your traditional “5 Colours” and “Star Girl” with some quite pretty vocal harmonies. In fact, the first time I heard the track I thought it was just a slightly heavier JLS offering. It’s quite a repetitive track to be honest and there does seem to be quite a bit of production on the vocals and drum track. Although saying this, after a few Radio One plays it has actually begun to grow on me like an unwanted wart, which although you know you should really get rid of, you kind of have a sentimental attachment to it. And it’s not void of guitars completely. If anything, the chorus is quite heavy with guitar. But the video... well, it’s almost like watching an episode of Being Human, which I’m not complaining about... but let’s just say it’s a good job I’m not 12 anymore (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rrn6BbM0TRQ). Pwhaor.
And Robbie? I hear you ask. Sorry girls, but he has finally tied the knot. Yes, Robbie Williams actually has gotten married (and not to Fearne Cotton) and also has produced a couple of good come back singles too. But that is what the point is not. HE’S REJOINED TAKE THAT! O.M.G! No joke! Totally serious! Take That are once again a five piece. Oh, how happy my mother is. The band have written and recorded an album which is set for release for later on in the year.
So I take that all back, it seems we are going back to the future (shu-boom-doom). The pop rock boy bands are still hanging around, although a bit more grown up and perhaps not suitable for the 12 year old market anymore. The Middle Aged Man Bands are still holding their top spot, fully reunited with no plans to go anywhere just as of yet. And the actual boy bands, well they’re still going, sitting comfortable in the charts. A little part of me feels very content; knowing three generations of “boy band” can live peacefully side by side, it brings a tear to my eye.