Archive for the ‘Boy Bands’ Category

Lest We Forget

Posted: November 8, 2016 in 90s Music, Boy Bands
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The term “boy band” is very broad. To me, you’re only considered a boy band if you are a group of young men who sing pop music, don’t play any instruments, dance pre-choreographed moves, and have squealing 12-year-old girls as fans. For my generation, it was New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync. But let’s face it: there were many other boy bands along the way who contributed to all the hype. Let’s remember them.

LFO (aka Lyte Funkie Ones)

Unlike other 5-person boy bands, these guys were just 3. Their first hit “Summer Girls,” off 1999’s self-titled debut album, shot them to stardom. It had the most ridiculous, non-sensical lyrics ever written; commenting on everything from Chinese food, to Macaulay Culkin, to Michael J. Fox – yet it hooked everyone right in, because it’s just so darn catchy. With a line like “met a fly girl, and I can’t relax,” how can we forget their ode-to-Jennifer-Love-Hewitt single, “Girl on TV”?

b4-4

Yet another trio, this time hailing from Toronto (ie Thornhill.) b4-4 consisted of twin brothers Ryan and Dan, and odd-man-out Ohad, who showed up at my prom after party and zero people cared. It’s a pretty obscure band to reference, as they’re never brought up when mentioning boy bands. Their only track that anyone heard, “Get Down,” features the 3 of them in muscle shirts, shell necklaces, and coloured pants, just hanging out at the beach – yup, it was as awful as it sounds. Not to mention, the amount of gel in their hair, combined with their frosted tip colouring, and man-made “bed-“head,” is like a snapshot of year 2000.

5ive

Ah, finally: a boy band that stuck to the 5-person model we all know and love. In fact, even if you doubted how many members were in their band, you wouldn’t have to look far to find out. Right out of the UK during the boy band explosion, these guys really made a name for themselves, even selling millions of albums. 5ive’s members sported all kinds of hair styles from the classic spiky hair, to the laissez-faire mop look, and of course the shaved head.  They wore the baggy pants, jackets and seemed to have a thing for turtlenecks. Mostly though, they really knew how to stare deeply into the camera.

98 Degrees

You can’t have a throwback boy band list and not include this quartet. They had the talent, they had 2 brothers in the group, they had muscles. They even had that random awkward guy named Justin who did not fit in at all. They had all the elements to make it huge, and could even sing. For some reason though, they fell short in comparison to their competitors. Maybe it’s because they had more ballad tacks as opposed to dance-pop stuff? Maybe because Nick Lachey married Jessica Simpson? I guess we’ll never know.

O-Town

I obviously had to save the best for last. Not only is this 5-person pop band the epitome of all boy bands, we even got to experience the unnaturalness of their origin, on reality TV show, Making the Band in 2000. It was all so formulaic and scripted, especially the attempts to make them seem like “real” people with “real” problems. I’ll give them props as they’re one of the more ethnically diverse groups, thouth I’m sure every girl had a huge crush on blonde-hair, blue-eyed Ashley Angel (seriously, that’s his name.) Their fame not-so-shockingly dissipated rapidly, however, they did reunite in 2014 (sans Angel.) Bonus: they recently launched a kickstarter campaign to start their new album.

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Here it is, folks, another round up of the year’s hits, misses and surprises. (Note: this break down is based solely on my personal opinion, and is not a reflection of popularity, success or earnings.) Enjoy!

Best Indie Album – AM by The Arctic Monkeys

An impressive fifth album from these Brit-rockers. Their sound seems to have matured, and draws the listener in, intriguing them with mellow rock tracks highlighted with electronic accents, reminiscent of 80s synth-pop.

Best Teen Sensation – Lorde

She’s 16 and putting out music way beyond her years, and even surpassing some of her veteran colleagues. She will undoubtedly be around for a very long time. You go, girl.

Worst Teen Sensation – Austin Mahone

He’s 17 and putting out music that’s tired, overdone, and lacking substance. He will soon be replaced by his very own carbon copy. Sorry, buddy.

Best New Artist – Bastille

This four-man band from the UK has took over my musical mind this year. It’s hard to place them in a single genre because they take elements of rock, indie, pop, and electronic and make them all shine. There’s something about the lyrics, something about the music, something about lead singer Dan Smith’s voice. When they fuse together, it’s innovative, harmonious, original, and it just makes sense.

Worst New Artist – A$AP Rocky

He has a dollar sign in his name, just like pop star Ke$ha. That is not a good thing. Rap music has taken a turn for the worse over the last few years, and it has become incomprehensible how so many of them are so successful. He’s no exception; in fact it’s probably why he has these issues:

Most Successful Secret Album – Beyoncé by Beyoncé

She wins this category mostly because she was the only contender. Dropping an iTunes-only visual album (ie each track accompanied by a video) in mid-December had never been done. As if that was not enough, Bey managed to pull this off with no one – including the media – knowing about it until it was released; in fact she set Internet ablaze. I think it’s about time we all hail Queen B.

Best Soundtrack – Great Gatsby

Lana Del Rey, The xx, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Florence and the Machine, Gotye, Sia. Not sure how many more reasons you need.

Douchebag of the Year – Kanye West

He claimed leather jogging pants was his idea, and no one else’s. This year alone, he compared himself to Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, and God. He got into a Twitter-feud with Jimmy Kimmel. He’s obsessed with himself and Kim Kardashian – his girlfriend/baby mama/finacee/soon-to-be-wife – and feels like the rest of the world should be too. Hence this video. Hence the winner of this category.

Best Summer Song – “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris feat. Ellie Goulding

Harris is already a champion DJ, and Goulding’s voice is unbelievably infectious. It’s fun, it’s light, it’s care free. Everything summer should be.

Least Lovable Artist – Katy Perry

She’s redundant, she’s ordinary, and she’s formulaic. She’s boring, she’s predictable, and she lacks any sense of creativity. My disdain for her is so intense, I actually have a visceral reaction to her music, and am done hearing her roar.

Most Lovable Artist – Imagine Dragons

This band from Las Vegas is just so darn delightful. Their music is uplifting, and during live shows, they are full of excitement, like kids in a candy store. In spite of their successes, they remain humble and grateful for the opportunity to play their music to the masses. I have yet to get tired of them, and that’s saying a lot.

Biggest Loss to the Music Industry – Lou Reed

Reed was an original and founding member of The Velvet Underground, one of the most influential rock bands of all time. He also managed to have a solo career after the band split up, and created his own music for over thirty years. A true icon.

Most Pretentious Artist – The Arcade Fire

For their upcoming tour in support of Reflektor, this Grammy-winning band put out a press release stating fans attending their live shows must wear a costume or formal attire. It’s unclear what the consequences are if their demands are not met, but regardless of their musical prowess, who do the think they are?

Worst Collaboration Track – “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly

Country duo Florida Georgia Line team up with rapper Nelly, in a failed attempt to marry both genres. It does not help that Florida Georgia Line look like the biggest douchebags on the planet, who have no game at all. Add to that the fact this video features sub par “video hos” who seem completely out of place. I do not know which musician is more pathetic for trying to use the other for fame, but neither one succeeds.

Best Collaboration Track – “#Beautiful” by Mariah Carey feat. Miguel

Regardless of Mariah’s diva tendencies, there’s no denying she has one of the best voices out there. Combine that with the sexiness and sultriness Miguel’s vocals bring, and what you get is this gorgeous track. Mariah strikes again.

Most Overexposed Artist – Miley Cyrus

She developed an obsession with dressing either semi or fully naked. We have all (unfortunately) seen far too much of her unhygienic tongue, and she felt the need to not only try to twerk, but also to suggestively use a foam finger. None of that however, seemed to have stopped her tracks from playing everywhere. She can’t stop, she won’t stop. Must be because she’s a wrecking ball.

Has-Beens of the Year – 98 Degrees

The 90s boy band put out an album this year, 13 years too late because no one cares about them anymore. They tried to stay relevant by joining Boyz II Men (down one member) and NKOTB on “The Package ” Tour. Riding the coattails of other washed up boy bands is no way to resurrect a career, boys.

Most Mancrushed Musician – Justin Timberlake

He’s got the voice. He’s got the moves. He’s got the charm. He plays guitar and piano, he’s well dressed, he collaborated with the one and only Jay-Z. His bromance with Jimmy Fallon is endearing, and his SNL appearances pretty hilarious. And he puts out videos like this – why would you not want to be like him?

Best Live Show – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis @ Osheaga Music Festival, Montreal

This year was a bit slower than most when it came to live shows. Several stood out, but none really reached unreal heights, except this super charming hip-hop duo who were entertaining, interactive, and incredibly full of energy. The crowd was living off adrenaline the entire show, including moments like this:

Best Rap Album – Marshall Mathers LP2 by Eminem

It’s Eminem at the height of his game. Rhymes you would not believe spit perfectly, rapidly and with the right amount of umph to turn heads, without having to drop Tom Ford’s name. He’s angry, he’s comical, he’s dark, he’s real. Hell, he’s Eminem.

Album of the Year – Trouble Will Find Me by The National

What else is there to say, other than this is one of the most beautifully written albums I have heard in a long time. Every track, from start to finish endlessly evokes emotions, to the point where you find yourself distracted because you get so involved with the music. Berninger’s controlled voice both subtly and eloquently adds many layers to the music. It’s truly a work of art.

Worst Song of the Year – “Accidental Racist” by Brad Paisley feat. LL Cool J

The problem with combining two genres of music is that it can sometimes completely backfire. This track tells the tale of a white man going into a coffee shop sporting a Confederate flag on his t-shirt. The barista is a black man who takes offense to this t-shirt and the track becomes a dialogue about slavery, racism, other things. They have both tried to explain themselves publicly, but none of it makes sense.

Song of the Year – “Wake Me Up” by Avicii feat. Aloe Blacc

EDM is becoming more and more successful by the minute, and Avicii is one of the younger DJs immersed in the scene. Avicii introduced a country/blues-esque feel to the track with Blacc’s vocals, and took it to the next level by fusing two genres that are typically worlds apart. It’s creative, it’s ingenious, plus it’s freaking catchy.

Every member in a band has a specific role based on where they talents lie. Some are meant to play instruments, others are meant to sing; each one is key in bringing the band’s sound together. They consider themselves a family, a team, in which all members contribute and have a say. Yet we often hear about lead singers starting solo projects, venturing out on their own. With their band they already have fame, fortune and fans; so what then compels these lead singers to cut the cord and move forward?                                                                                                                                                                                                             Reason #1
Because they need a side project.
Lead singers in this category have every intention of continuing to make music with their band, but need to take a break to explore other musical directions. It’s not an ego trip or a diva moment, they just want to do their own thing for a while. Clear their heads. Gwen Stefani did it with No Doubt. They were at the top of their game with the release of Rock Steady in 2001 and then Gwen decided to follow her own inspirations and explore her creative mind. By herself. So she went out and got herself some Harajuku Girls, put out two solo albums, launched a clothing line and had two kids somewhere in there. In September 2012, No Doubt is finally set to release their next album. This is a classic case of having your cake and eating it too. Stefani wins no matter what: not only does she remain the face of the band, but now due to all the extra exposure as a solo artist, there’s even more attention on her. It becomes distracting and as a result, the rest of the band fades into the background.

Reason #2
Because they can do better.
This is most common in groups that feature more than one lead singer, because they inevitably end up competing with each other so they don’t get replaced. Justin Timberlake is a perfect example. As ‘N Sync gained popularity, it was abundantly clear he had the best voice. The division of vocals started to work in Timberlake’s favour and he became their unofficial lead singer. Although they were doing incredibly well, he knew (or at least his people did) he could do better on his own, no sharing required. Like he used the rest of them as supporting acts to launch himself. Well we all know how that turned out. As for the the rest of the group they all sort of fell apart and only re-appeared on reality television and as a wannabe astronaut. This comes off as a clear decision, no confusion, no looking back. Everyone appears to be amicable about the situation, everyone has moved on, gone their separate ways. Timberlake’s the only one left in the music industry and let’s face it, he deserves to be there.

Reason #3                                                                                                                                       Because they think they can do better.                                                                                                    A lot of the time lead singers will go off and do their own thing seemingly to make a statement. To irritate band members, because of their own egos, because they think they are the band. The break up is usually unfriendly, chalked up to irreconcilable differences, too many differing opinions and no one getting along. It usually involves storming out of a room and dramatically slamming the door. Chris Cornell, lead singer of Soundgarden, fits right in here. During the 90s, they were one of the top grunge bands to enter the scene. They dropped five albums in eight years and then broke up abruptly in 1997. He’s a talented musician who thought he could do better, thought he was better. Since then, Cornell released a solo album in 1999, followed by three albums with a new band Audioslave, who broke up in 2007. Next he put out three more solo albums, last of which was released in 2011. But last year, Soundgarden decided to reunite and go on tour. So many years gone by and he decides to crawl back to his original band. Like his temper tantrum was finally over. This displays signs of a fickle mind, uncertainty, regret; like he doesn’t know what he wants or where he belongs. He needs to figure that out.

Lead singers will pursue a solo career for a number of reasons: more attention, more fame, more money, more freedom of expression, and so on. Some thrive, some fail and some don’t make any mark at all. What remains consistent is the original band is forever changed. No Doubt has become that band Gwen Stefani sings for on the side; ‘N Sync has been removed from everyone’s vocabulary; Soundgarden is now that grunge band Chris Cornell came back to. They lose their identity as a band and fans lose interest and move on. Flying solo has its rewards, no question. Too bad the rest of the band ends up alone too.