RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

The Truth About Boy Bands

31st July 2007 Print
In the 1990s boy band fever took the UK by storm as group after group of young men danced and sang their way into the hearts of millions of teenage girls and more then a few boys!

The 1980s saw the rise of the manufactured boy band and the man that started it all, Maurice Starr aka ‘The General, the emancipator, creator, dominator, the innovator and the originator of the boy band.’ Maurice formed New Kids on the Block, a band widely acclaimed as the first ever manufactured boy band.

Taking his inspiration from three highly successful bands from the 1960s and 70s - The Monkeys, The Jacksons and The Osmonds - Maurice drew magic elements from the three bands to form the unstoppable New Kids on the Block, taking the boy band to another dimension. Prolific dancers combined with edgy lyrics, made a cocktail that quenched the thirst of the new MTV generation.

Moving away from the innocence of The Osmonds and The Jacksons to produce what he described as ‘definitely, the hugest boy band of all time’. New Kids On The Block captivated girls worldwide, paving the way for the boy bands of the future.

Across the pond in Blighty, Mancunian Nigel Martin-Smith cottoned on to the idea discovering five guys whose anonymous faces soon became a band known to the world as Take That. Nigel believed in finding that something special:

“These days it’s all about, can you sing a couple of bars in tune, what’s that got to do with finding the next big thing? Most people can sing to some degree and there’s this button that they have in studios these days called auto tune. The most important thing is that they have got star quality.”

Take That emerged to become the first British manufactured boy band and the most successful British band since the Beatles, selling over 19 millions records to date. With amazing charisma and chemistry on stage, music mogul Pete Waterman describes them as ‘One of the greatest boy bands of all time’. Take That ticked the boxes when it came to personality and looks, a combination that caused obsessive hysteria among the fans.

East 17 were the perfect antidote, attracting those fans who were tired of Take That’s squeaky clean façade and fancied a bit of rough. Four very cheeky, sexy young men from East London joined forces creating great pop rivalry in the new era of the manufactured boy band. Antony Costa from boy band Blue remembers the days well:

“I was East 17 at school because it was the cool band but I used to listen to Take That at home”

Much of the rivalry was between the managers rather than the band members but despite the success of East 17, nothing could eclipse what Take That had achieved. By 1993 Take That were the blue print for all the elements of how to construct the perfect boy band. Their success goaded US bands who thought they could show UK bands a thing or two. Slick American boy bands, *N Sync and Backstreet Boys were able to bust out a capella with their hot dance moves at the drop of a hat and started a ripple affect forcing existing groups to step up or step out. Music manager Louis Walsh said:

“American bands have better production but I think Irish and English boy bands have better looks and personalities, and better managers!”

In 1996 Walsh followed suit with Boyzone and admits when it came to creating them he basically copied Take That. A boy for every type, with the added touch of some Irish charm, Boyzone became the most popular Irish boy band of the 1990s.

And here we are today; almost 15 years post Take That…

So just what happened to all the boy band superstars that fell by the wayside? Where are they now? Did being in a boy band live up to all they imagined?

The Truth About Boy Bands comes to ITV1 soon.