Archive for the ‘Boy Bands’ Category

My definition of pop music will always bring me to the 90s/early 2000s. The era of boy bands and girls bands, the rise of Britney and Xtina, ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys. As a teenager, as much as you fought it, it became impossible to ignore pop music. That’s because although it was contrived, overproduced, and purposely presented with a pretty face; it was also catchy, dancy and fun. Here are some Canadian artists that shone during this global pop movement.

Sugar Jones

Points to whoever remembers this all-girl pop group, because I really had to wrack my brain. They were formed as part of a reality music show – Popstars – back in 2001. We’re talking pre-American Idol, pre-X-Factor, pre-The Voice. It’s pretty certain they were the only and most diverse all-girl Canadian pop group ever, who likely came to be because of the hype surrounding girl bands at the time. Regardless of how they were created, this single hit #1 on the Canadian charts, and their self-titled debut/only album went as far as #2 (I have no idea how.)

Prozzäk

Oh, Prozzäk. Where do I even begin? This Toronto-based duo first graced us wither their animated presence in 1998, with their triple (!) platinum album Hot Show. All their videos feature appearances by cartoon characters Simon and Milo, who take us along on their adventures. Their sound is part Eiffel 65, part Right Said Fred, with a dash of Aqua. Hot Show featured hits such as “Omobolasire,” “Sucks to be You” and this gem right here (why do I know all the lyrics?!)

The Moffatts

One of Canada’s more successful boy bands brought us their first album, platinum-selling Chapter 1: A New Beginning, in 1998, when they were merely 14/15 years old. 4 brothers (including triplets) from B.C. banded together to essentially become the Canadian equivalent of Hanson. They were squeaky clean, with their frosted tips and long hair, while they sang tracks like “Girls of my Dreams” and “Miss You Like Crazy.” In 2000, they released their also-platinum album, Submodalities, along with a new image. They grew stubble, spiked up their hair, and were full of attitude, hoping they’d prove to everyone they weren’t kids anymore. Except, they were.

McMaster & James

This dreamy Winnipeg duo of Luke McMaster and Rob James, made every teenage girl weak in the knees. There’s nothing more swoon-worthy than a couple of good looking dudes expressing their feelings about love. In an time where music videos were actually key to a band’s success, these guys knew how to seduce the camera with their bedroom eyes, leaving viewers no choice but to fall for them. After releasing their self-titled debut in 2000, they sort of disappeared musically, but not without leaving this treasure. So, thank you.

soulDecision

Vancouver-based boy group soulDecision (yup, one word) came into our lives with platinum-selling 2000’s, No One Does it Better. Apparently, there were 3 guys in the band: lead singer and total babe Trevor Guthrie; the other less attractive singer David Bowman, and the creepy sunglass-wearing keyboard player, Ken Lewko. As a boy band, they easily did well, but unlike other boy bands, they actually wrote their own songs and played their own instruments (hence, keyboard guy.) Trevor now sports a ponytail and is all about EDM, (see “This is What it Feels Like” and  “Soundwave”), however it’s unclear what happened to the other 2. Here they all are – plus Canadian rap superstar Thrust – in all their glory.

Fefe Dobson

Fefe Dobson had to be added to this list, because this Toronto-based singer is one of the few female solo pop artists during this time. Her impact on the Canadian pop scene is that much more important, even though she was more rock rebel-chic than pop princess, as evidenced on “Bye, Bye Boyfriend.” Her 2003 self-titled debut album went platinum, and she has continued to make killer track after killer track ever since – as most underrated artists do. Her most recent album, 2010’s Joy, showed a more mature, confident, and versatile performer. See below.

Wave

It pains me a little to have this Niagara Falls duo on this list, because it forces me to admit that I was obsessed with them. It also means I have to confess that a friend and I re-enacted one of their music videos as an audition tape to become MuchMusic VJs – a fact that still makes me cringe to this day. Dave Thomson and Paul Gigliotti somehow managed to steal my heart back in 2001, with their debut Nothing as it Seems. I have no explanation as to my affinity for their music, so judge all you want. But watch this too.

Sky

Sky, oh Sky. Yet another male duo, this time hailing from Montreal. My version of Sky features James Renald (the blonde guy) and Antoine Sicotte (the bald guy.) Their first album, 1999’s platinum-selling Piece of Paradise was a regular on my boombox: it was a fun, pop album, not too different from everything else happening in the pop music scene, but for some reason, it stood out. Maybe it’s because Renald looks exactly like the character “Spike” from SMG’s TV version of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Or maybe it was the video for “Some Kinda Wonderful” ; or how high pitched Renald’s voice got on “All I Want.” Or maybe, just maybe, it was this track, which hit #1 and remains such a monumental part of my high school days.

 

 

Advertisements

Lest We Forget

Posted: November 8, 2016 in 90s Music, Boy Bands
Tags: , , , ,

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.

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.