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MUSIC BUSINESS ARTICLES
BoyBands
The Boys who rule the charts!
You Either Love them or Hate Them!
By Billy Tweedie

Every wonder where the boy band phenomena originated? What started the
trend of five boys singing to the delight of teenage girls? Well, it’s
time to look back. WAAAAYYY back. We’re going to look at boy band
pandemonium throughout the years with my own tribute to the ever so
fleeting existence of the boy band.

Let’s put it this way: it all started with the Beatles.
Yes, it’s hard to believe that such talented artists as the
Beatles could inspire such a trend as the untalented, record
industry produced, boy band.

After the premiere of the film "A Hard Day's Night" (a huge critical and
box office success,) record producers here in the States had an idea:
why not manufacture an American boy band to make money off of? And so
"The Monkees" were born.

(Even when the Beatles were still wet behind the ears there were copycat
boy bands like The Dave Clark Five.  They even sounded a lot like the
Beatles, (less the talent).

In 1966, NBC launched the TV Show "The Monkees." The members of the show
were originally designed to be actors. What did that mean? All they did
was sing the words written for them (in other words, the first puppets
of the music industry were  born, and they were no 'Beatles' either!).
Their first single, “Last Train to Clarksville”, was released to promote
the TV Show.

It ended up selling a ton of records and suddenly "The Monkees" were a
big musical hit. The show didn’t last for more than two seasons, and
neither did The Monkees—they “tried” to write and produce their own
music, only to find the steam of their project had run out. The rise and
fall from fame of The Monkees brings us perhaps to the first lesson of
the boy band craze: enjoy it while you can fellas, because fame doesn’t
last. There’s always someone cuter, younger, and hipper out there to
replace you.

So, fast forward to the seventies. Enter The Jackson Five, 
The Partridge Family, and The Osmonds. There were teen 
heartthrobs galore to pick from—cute, good-natured, teenage boys 
ready for any young  female adolescent’s picking.  Unfortunately, 
as these boys soon found out, popularity fades quickly in the 
pop department. The only one to get a long lasting career out of 
teen stardom was Michael Jackson. Some turned to drugs as a way 
to deal with their fall from grace. Others, like Donny Osmond, 
managed to save their careers somewhat. Still, Osmond will always be 
the fantasy of fourty-somethings who wished their days away by playing 
“Puppy Love” over and over again.

In 1984, Maurice Starr, producer of the big boy band New Edition, put
together New Kids on the Block. Donnie Walberg, Jordan Knight, Jonathon
Knight, Joey McIntyre, and Danny Wood walked into the late eighties with
a hit record: “Hangin’  Tough”.

Teenage girls everywhere crooned over the likes of  these young men
while their record label made tons off of the fad—pillows, stickers,
cards, even an early morning cartoon show—were resurrected in their
honor. Like all good things, however, New Kids on the Block came to an
end much near the time they decided to try and write and perform their
own stuff. Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight have successful solo careers,
but they don't sell records the way they did with New Kids on the Block.

In the nineties, after the grunge scene started to die down, boy
bands made a huge comeback. The Backstreet Boys, the now defunct British
hit makers Take That, N ‘Sync, 98 Degrees, and the Moffats (just to name
a few of the painfully many) took control of the charts and the hearts
of many adolescent girls.

The formulas are similar: take five cute guys who can sing a bit and
want to be famous; mix them with some dance lessons, personal training;
add some fluffy songs about love and heartbreak, and poof! you’ve got
yourself a record selling bunch of puppets. The U.K. have developed the
selling power to a greater degree than any other country. BBMak, 5IVE,
A1, BOYZONE, WESTLIFE, etc reap in millions per year!

In 2000 however, the route fame took BBMak made them MEGA in America
BEFORE luke-warm sales in their homeland of England! Go Figure!

The future of boy bands seems to take us right back to the
beginning: decide to manufacture a band, promote them through the medium
of television, and a hit record is not far behind. ABCTV decided to
recycle this old idea when they launched the show “Making the Band,” a
reality based show dedicated to documenting the making of a boy band. It
was from this show that “O-Town” was born and became popular.

Is "O-Town" the next big boy band craze? Maybe. Although the
boys might want to take a lesson from The Monkees …

Of course, there were tons of other bands that helped influence
the boy band craze! "WESTLIFE" the most successful act to come out of
Ireland, can actually sing unlike a lot of other boy groups.


written by Billy Tweedie ©2001 
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