98 Degrees Announce New Album, '2.0'

Boys bands will never die, and those needing proof need look no further than the gentlemen of 98 Degrees. Their time in the spotlight was always secondary to the fame *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys achieved, but here we are more than a decade later and they’re still chugging along with a new album and tour planned for 2013.

Taking a few cues from future tour mates New Kids On The Block, the men of 98 Degrees have announced plans to release new album entitled 2.0 later this year. This will be the first album from the group since 2000’s Revelation, and it should help push a few more ticket sales for their upcoming “Package Tour” with NKOTB.

At this point, no single has been release from 2.0, so there really is no way to know what 98 Degrees have planned for us. So, instead of waiting around with nothing to do, click below and stroll down memory lane with one of their biggest hits. (more…)

Sound And Vision: Why Bieber Fever Can't Touch Beatlemania?

Don’t believe everything you read.

No matter what the media say”and for more than a year now, they’ve been declaring Justin Bieber as big as, if not bigger than, the Beatles”Bieber Fever is no match for Beatlemania. Even if Bieber’s new holiday album, Under the Mistletoe, which was released November 1, ends up being the biggest one ever (the first single, “Mistletoe,” just debuted on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 11, immediately making it the seventeen-year-old’s biggest solo hit yet), remember this: The Beatles never released a Christmas album. (Thank God!)

Obviously, Bieber Fever does have one thing in common with Beatlemania, a movement launched by The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 that continued long after the Beatles broke up in 1970: girls, girls, girls (all screaming at the top of their lungs). They are the cornerstone of Bieber’s success, but Beatlemania involved so much more than overzealous female fans caught up in the rapture of hot musical act.

Thanks to his largely underage female following, Bieber does reasonably well commercially, though he lacks the opening-week clout of Lady Gaga, Lil Wayne or even Coldplay (to name the artists behind the Top 3 debuts of 2011). In the US, he’s sold some 5 million copies of one full-length studio album, three compilations and one EP. That may barely be on par with the sales standards set by pop’s top divas, but it would put him in the running for modern pop’s most commercially viable male star.

Still, Bieber is no chart phenomenon. For all of the hysteria he spawned in his first two and a half years in circulation, he only hit the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 twice in his first eight tries. The highest-peaking of those was “Baby” (No. 5 in 2010), and both were collaborations with rappers (Ludacris on “Baby,” Jaden Smith on “Never Say Never”), which means Bieber has yet to score a massive hit based on his star power alone.


Call It A Comeback

Just over a year after Eminem released his seventh studio album, Interscope Records revealed his incredible achievement. Recovery is the first album ever to sell one million digital copies. This is just the cherry on top of a good year for the thirty-eight year old artist, who received ten GRAMMY nominations and took home the award for Best Rap Album. It has been about fifteen years since Eminem’s first album was released, and in a world of constantly shifting trends, he has managed to come back and dominate mainstream music once again. A comeback in his own life, fighting an admitted drug addiction, is mirrored by this resurgence in his career which was bolstered by this latest album.

Success can be measured in album sales. Considering the fact that a record was broken, there is no doubt that Recovery was insanely successful. But how did it get to this point? It seems as if Eminem battled his way back to good health and the mainstream radar with a combination of of talent and connections. The album was critically acclaimed but that never assures the selling of an album. Eminem teamed up with some of the biggest names in music in the past year, ending up in the center of mainstream music. He collaborated on “Love The Way You Lie” with Rihanna and also worked with B.o.B., Nicki Minaj, Dr. Dre, Pink and Lil Wayne.

There doesn’t seem to be one concrete formula for a comeback. Let’s take, for example, Britney Spears. She seems to always be making a comeback but most of the time the public is more interested in her crazy life than the quality of her music. This time her most recent album, Femme Fetale, worked because it is full of Top 40 radio-worthy music. Then there’s The Backstreet Boys who faded out of the mainstream spotlight as the boy band phenomenon ended but are now back. The group teamed up with New Kids On The Block to form NKOTBSB. Combining two devoted fan bases, they are currently on a worldwide summer tour.

Blink-182 haven’t released new music since their self-titled album in 2003, but they’re making a comeback as well. After their long hiatus, the band went on a successful reunion tour and released their new song “Up All Night” this past Friday. Lastly, we have Enrique Iglesias whose massive successsful in the early 2000’s, thanks to the  album Escape, failed to launch the  2007 album Insomniac which only reached Number 17 on the Billboard Top 200. But this past year he’s found success with a different sound and huge singles like “I Like It” and “Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)”.

Comebacks appear in many different forms across various genres. The question seems to be, what is more important: coming out with incredible quality music or creatively marketing a new kind of comeback?

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.

Sound And Vision: Reunited Bands Try To Make Lightning Strike Twice

For the love of money.
According to Sting, when I interviewed him in 1996, there’s no other reason to bring a band back from the dead. Yet one must assume that Sting”who’s had a gold and platinum solo career for more than three times the seven years he was a member of The Police”had more than money on the brain when he reunited the band in 2007, after more than two decades of inactivity, for a thirtieth anniversary world tour.
Think about it: If Diana Ross can try to regroup with Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong (though she ended up with two ’70s Supremes with whom she’d never actually performed and possibly never even met until minutes before the ill-fated 2000 “reunion” was announced), why can’t all other former bandmates get along”or at least get back together. Are you listening, ABBA? Though a musical reunion of Sweden’s fab four, or the UK one from the ’80s (that would be The Smiths), remains as unlikely as a resurgent Rubik’s cube or Carter Country, in recent years, we’ve seen a number of bands”from the Pixies to Yaz to the “classic” original line-up of Duran Duran”come together again.
Some did it for the love of money, some because of fading solo careers and some because as we get older those nostalgic impulses become harder to ignore. One imagines the latter must have been a big part of the reason why rich solo superstar Robbie Williams mended fences last year with Take That”who’d already reformed in 2005, nine years after breaking up”and participated in Progress, their first album together in fifteen years. This month, the original Take That will hit the road with Pet Shop Boys.
On May 10, The Cars, who haven’t released a new studio album since Ronald Reagan was in office, will drive their act into this millennium with Move Like This and a ten-date reunion tour that begins in Seattle on the day of the album’s release. They won’t be the only ’80s throwbacks on the road in the coming months. Bobby Brown recently said that the off-and-on-and-off-and-on-again New Edition has a new album and tour in the works. Perhaps they should join New Kids on the Block (who’ll be performing live this summer with Backstreet Boys) and soon-to-be summer tour mates Tiffany and Debbie Gibson for a Monsters of ’80s Pop package.
Then there’s Soundgarden, the band who along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam created grunge’s holy triumvirate in the early ’90s. They split in 1997, and although Chris Cornell had success as a member of Audioslave, his solo career never quite caught on. Can grunge thrive in 2011? We’ll find out when the Seattle band, set to tour in July, releases its work in progress later this year, but the odds might be stacked against them.
With a few exceptions”the Eagles, Steely Dan and Take That, whose Progress has enjoyed massive UK sales”reunited bands generally have had more success with comeback tours than with new music. Roxy Music, the Pixies and Psychedelic Furs have been back together for years, but neither band has released new albums. And Blondie, whose Panic of Girls is due on July 4, had middling US success with 1999’s No Exit and 2003’s The Curse of Blondie (though the former did produce the No. 1 UK single “Maria”).
In 2008, New Kids on the Block, whose reunion tour year featured Lady Gaga as an opening act, got off to a good start with The Block (first-week sales: 100,000), but the album failed to go gold in the US. The Cars’ new single, “Sad Song,” hasn’t gone higher than No. 37 on Billboard’s Rock Songs chart since its March 1 release, which doesn’t bode too well for the buzz-free Move Like This. Meanwhile, Duran Duran’s nostalgia value makes the group a huge touring attraction, but the new albums featuring the original line up (minus guitarist Andy Taylor) have sold only modestly.
But with album sales continuing to free fall anyway, it might not even matter. Releasing new music keeps the bands from being strictly oldies acts, and if the love of money is their bottom line, most of them are getting exactly what they’re after on the road.
[Ed. Note: Rockers and pop stars aren’t the only ones taking a trip down memory lane. Check out more comebacks and reunions in hip hop.]

Sound And Vision: Growing Up Is Hard to Do, How To Make The Leap From Teen To Adult Pop Superstar

“I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision,” David Bowie sang on his greatest hit. Sound and vision: essentials to the life of any great musician. They were the foundation of my beat — music, movies and TV — when I launched my journalism career in New York City as a People magazine writer and realized my dream of interviewing Bowie — twice. Editing stints at Teen People, Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly followed. Next up was Buenos Aires, where, over the course of four and a half years, I discovered siestas, Mercedes Sosa and blogging. Coming soon: Australia, where, as I settle into this column, I will continue to explore sound and vision, and how those gifts merge to create my greatest love of all: pop music.

In pop music, as in life, getting older can by a tricky, treacherous uphill climb. Growing pains can be as hard on the eyes and ears of fans as they are on a teen star’s psyche. For every Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, both of whom emerged on the scene as wet-behind-the-ears teens and continue to flourish on the cusp of thirtysomething (Timberlake blows out 30 candles on January 31; Spears will on December 2), there’s Aaron Carter, Charlotte Church, Hanson, Tiffany, Debbie Gibson, New Kids on the Block, Bobby Brown, and cut-out bins filled with other ex-chart-toppers for whom platinum pop stardom wasn’t meant to last. Brandy, Monica, Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne may still be kicking around, but the shining stars of these former teen queens have dimmed considerably.
How did the Justins and Britneys of the world do it? For all those aspiring adolescent pop-stars, the next Justin Bieber looking for a place to happen ” and even, perhaps, for Bieber himself ” here are some helpful hints.
Grow with the musical flow. Pop trends are fleeting, so if you enter the scene latching onto one, know when to let it go. Former ‘N Sync memberTimberlake, who rode the last big boy-band wave to fame, is the perfect example of someone whose perfect timing aided and abetted his staying power. Yes, talent helped, too, but he exited ‘N Sync and went solo just as boy bands were about to go out of style ” again. More recently, Nick Jonas (through his side project Nick Jonas and the Administration) and Joe Jonas (via acting gigs on 90210 and Hot in Cleveland plus an upcoming solo album) have begun establishing individual identities outside of their Jonas Brothers family act. Smart move.
Don’t grow too fast. Yes, Miley Cyrus, I’m talking to you. If your fans fall for you as a squeaky-clean teen, don’t overhaul your image overnight. So far, Taylor Swift has played it wisely, sticking with the tried-and-true girl-next-door persona for three albums. Beyoncé, who turns 30 on September 4th, hasn’t strayed too far from the 16-year-old we met when she was a member of Destiny’s Child. Even LeAnn Rimes waited until she was well into her 20s to leave her husband for another guy.
Grow some funk of your own. You can’t depend on the likes of Max Martin to keep cranking out your hits forever ” unless you’re Britney Spears. Like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson before him, Timberlake has evolved from a perfectly packaged underage singer of other people’s songs into a formidable songwriter, even helping other artists turn out great music (like “Cold Case Love” on Rihanna’s Rated R album as well as Madonna’s “4 Minutes” and several other tracks on Hard Candy). The ability to multi-task may end up working in favor of pop’s other famous Justin. In addition to being a pretty good vocalist, Bieber also writes and plays piano, guitar and drums, skills which should come in handy later on. Twentysomething Katy Perry can have teenage dreams and still go to No. 1, but Bieber won’t be able to get away with frothy pop like “Baby” forever.
When the growing gets tough, keep going. Britney Spears survived scandals, divorces and one seriously embarrassing MTV Video Music Awards performance, and she still comes out on top with her music, like her latest quick hit “Hold It Against Me.” Usher’s taken his private romantic travails and turned them into fodder for hits ” something he did most spectacularly on his 2004 Confessions album, which, in part, documented his split with TLC’s Rozanda “Chili” Thomas. Demi Lovato is the latest teen star staring down personal demons. She entered a treatment center in late 2010 to seek help for emotional and physical issues, thus avoiding any embarrassing Lindsay Lohan-style public meltdowns. Right now, her biggest career hurdle might be differentiating herself from Selena Gomez.
Ah, Selena Gomez! She’s got problems of her own, now that she’s receiving death threats on Twitter after being caught making out with Justin Bieber, which brings us to the final piece of advice: Before you grow up, don’t forget to date a fellow teen idol. Justin and Britney were once joined at the hips and lips. Nick Jonas romanced Miley Cyrus. Both Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift loved and lost Joe Jonas, though Swift rebounded nicely with Twilight‘s Taylor Lautner. It was only a matter of time before Bieber’s Romeo found his Juliet ” hopefully, without the tragic denouement.
Once the furor dies down, and it always does, this might end up being Gomez’s best career move yet. Some girls will go on hating her for it, but they’ll want to be her, too. And that, kids, is key to being both a teen star and a grown-up icon.