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Sound and Vision: One Direction and The Wanted — the Return of the Boy Band?

The British are coming”again!

It’s been more than a hot minute since multi-platinum boy bands like *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys roamed the earth and ruled the charts. Now, after a decade-long dormancy, cute, heavily-styled guys who sing in harmony and don’t play instruments are suddenly back in fashion.

Once again, the UK is leading the charge onward and upward. While Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were born in the USA, they enjoyed their earliest success in the UK. This time, though, the new wave of blushing boy bands represents an authentic UK-born-and-bred British invasion.

The members of The Wanted, whose “Glad You Came” single has climbed into the Top 3 of Billboard’s Hot 100 (the quintet’s self-titled US debut album arrives April 24), and One Direction, whose first album, Up All Night, just outpaced Adele to enter Billboard’s Top 200 album chart at No. 1 (176,000 vs. 148,000 copies sold), all hail from Britain and Ireland.

In just a few months, both groups already have enjoyed more US success than Ireland’s Westlife, or Take That, perhaps the UK’s biggest boy band ever, who aside from one Top 10 single (1995’s Back for Good), never made it big in the States. (With the exception of Spice Girls and Bananarama, UK female vocal groups”including All Saints in the ˜90s and, more recently, Sugababes and Girls Aloud”haven’t fared much better in the US over the years.)

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The Second Coming of O-Town

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome musical artist fades from popularity, their fans later wonder, Where are they now?  You may not know it, but many artists you loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour once more.  Fortunately, you now have Second Coming to reintroduce you to some of your favorite acts of the last few decades and give you the scoop on what you can expect from them in the future!

THEN: Before Diddy took over, reality TV series Making The Band aimed to create the world’s greatest boy band. The year was 2000, and acts like *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees were at the top of the pop charts week after week. Much like American Idol, Making The Band began with a slew of auditions from young hopefuls looking for their big break. Each week, the pool of twenty-five singing and dancing contestants became smaller and smaller, until only eight finalists were left. Of these eight, five “made the band,” and O-Town (named after Orlando, Florida, where the show took place) was born. Comprised of Erik Michael Estrada, Ashley Parker Angel, Trevor Penick, Dan Miller and Jacob Underwood, O-Town’s self-titled debut album went triple-platinum, proving that the judges had made the right choice. O-Town spawned four singles, including ode to celebrity worship “Liquid Dreams” and the romantic ballad “All Or Nothing.” The group followed up their debut with O2, an album that was, unfortunately, released as boy bands were beginning to fade from popularity. This change in public musical taste took a toll on album sales, and the band was unable to climb back up the charts. The following year, the group disbanded.

NOW: After the members of O-Town reached minimal success as solo artists, they decided it was time to re-make the band. Talks of a reunion began in 2010, but Ashley ultimately decided against in the idea. In a statement to TMZ, he confessed: “O-Town was one of the greatest chapters of my life, so when the idea of a reunion was brought to me, of course I was intrigued. However, I have made the decision not to be a part of an O-Town reunion. It was a difficult decision, but ultimately necessary to move on with the next chapter of my career. The four reunited members of the band were disappointed, but they haven’t let it affect their workflow. They are currently in the studio, writing and recording their third LP with producer J Tarin (David Guetta, R. Kelly). We’re excited to hear what O-Town sounds like twelve years after their television debut!

Time to relive the boy band glory days. The hair gel, the turtleneck sweaters, the choreographed dance moves…O-Town’s “Liquid Dreams” music video has got it all:

The Boy Band Boom

Do you ever miss the days when boy bands reigned supreme? When *NSYNC dominated the charts and when having a crush on Nick Lachey was totally acceptable? At the risk of losing all of our indie cred, we’ll admit that we still rock out to “It’s Gonna Be Me” from time to time. And we must not be the only ones who miss the choreography, matching outfits and frosted tips, because last week VH1 announced that they’re giving ex-*NSYNC member Lance Bass his own boy band-themed reality show.

Looking good, bro.

The series, which is still unnamed, will feature Bass and fellow *NSYNC-er Joey Fatone, as well as former boy band juggernauts A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys, Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block and maybe even New Edition‘s Bobby Brown. From what we’ve heard so far, it’s sounding kind of like an all-male version of NBC’s The Voice” the former stars will each coach a group of young men, who will then compete to determine who will be the next made-by-TV band to crash and burn shortly after the series ends. (R.I.P. O-Town.)

If this sounds like it’s just a group of washed-up ex-celebs making a desperate last ditch grab at their former “glory”, well, that’s probably because it is. But hey, in a world where the Rolling Stones can tour into their seventies, why shouldn’t these guys stretch out their careers as long as possible? As long as this show includes at least one Backstreet Boys cover in every episode, we’re willing to overlook the crows feet and slightly less nimble dance moves.

The original cast of "Reservoir Dogs"?

Besides, Bass isn’t the first boy band star to get a career facelift over the last few years. New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys are in the middle of an expansive summer tour to support their latest effort NKOTBSB”a thirteen-track collaboration that peaked at Number 7 on the Billboard Top 200. And sure, if this was 1999 that would have been a Number 1 album, no question. But seven ain’t nothing to sneeze at, and their ability to sell out arenas on this tour may be proof that they’ve still got it. As we pointed out a few months back, fans of these bands may have been broke teens during their heyday, but now these same fans have enough cash to drop upwards of $50.00 on a ticket. If they choose to tune in every week, the same demographic that’s keeping the NKOTBSB tour alive could be enough to prevent Bass’ show from flopping.

Of course, there’s also the possibility that this show is another ill-fated venture in the vein of VH1’s Mission: Man Band. (Remember that series? Exactly. No one does. It was awful.) But after seeing the success of NKOTBSB and other more current boy bands like the Jonas Brothers, maybe we’re all just nostalgic enough for Lance Bass and co. to stand a chance in the music scene of 2011. Either way, we’re going to start relearning the dance moves to “Bye Bye Bye.” Just in case.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Melophobic: Food For Thought

Musicians need to eat.  Simple right? I’ve begun to notice a trend involving food here on OurStage.  Among many ridiculous things, I have not only spotted food-inspired album art, but also heard songs about food as well.  Search “food” on OurStage and you’ll find a wide array of items.  Included in this list are videos of students talking about heath affects of eating correctly from an old competition.  You can even spot a hypnotic music video by Trystian rapping about everything from Doritos to tomatoes.

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