Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Boy Bands Are Making A Music Scene Comeback

From The Associated Press via CTV.ca:
Boy bands are making a music scene comeback

NEW YORK — It seems like we can never say goodbye, bye, bye to boy bands.

Nickelodeon Boy Band Big Time Rush singing "Music Sounds Better With U" at Nickelodeon's 2012 Upfront presentation

A decade after 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys dominated the entertainment world, boy bands have returned and are making a comeback.

One Direction, the British quintet that placed third on the U.K.'s "X Factor" in 2010, will see its album "Up All Night" debut high on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart this week. The Wanted, another U.K.-based quintet, is spending its second week at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart with the jam "Glad You Came."

Big Time Rush, a four-member boy band that also has a hit Nickelodeon show readying its third season, recently wrapped a sold-out tour at New York's Radio City Music Hall, and will embark on a larger U.S. and Canadian trek this summer. And Mindless Behavior, formed by the man who discovered Lady Gaga -- record executive Vincent Herbert -- debuted at No. 2 on the R&B charts in late 2010 with its album "(hash)1 Girl," and has toured with Janet Jackson and Justin Bieber, among others.

"It's just exploding," said Ernie D., the creative director and on-air personality for Radio Disney. "It's really amazing to see, especially on my end, hearing all the calls from the listeners. ... So that fever is definitely growing for sure."

It's reminiscent of a time when 'N Sync battled the Backstreet Boys as music's top act, selling millions of albums and concert tickets, thanks to the millions of girls who invested time, their parents' money and screamed pleas for their favourite boy band. 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, who rose to fame in the 1990s and carried that through the new millennium, were followed by others successful boy bands, such as 98 Degrees, O-Town and Dream Street.

Before that, it was New Edition who exploded on the scene in the 1980s, followed by the massive success of New Kids on the Block. And before that, there was the Jackson Five and the Osmonds, and so on.

The Jonas Brothers made it big in the mid-2000s with its hit Disney TV series, films and albums. They started to fade years later, though, as the oldest, Kevin, got married, and Joe and Nick launched solo careers.

But now, there are various boy bands releasing music simultaneously, helping drive each other to the top of the charts.

"It's giving us that little competition that makes us want to go further and excel further than we are right now," said 22-year-old Carlos Pena Jr. of Big Time Rush.

"It's cool to see more boy bands, but us, Mindless Behavior, we want to show the fans what we got," said Mindless Behavior's Prodigy, who is 15. Roc Royal and Princeton -- both 14 -- and Ray Ray, 15, round out the group.

Big Time Rush recently had its TV film, "Big Time Movie," reach over 13.1 million total viewers when it debuted on Nickelodeon two weeks ago. They also released an EP of the same name to accompany the film, which features cover versions of classic Beatles songs.

The group members said they weren't excited about being coined a "boy band" when they debuted in late 2009.

"We hated that term to start with," 21-year-old James Maslow said.

"Because the term hadn't come back yet," added Kendall Schmidt, 21. "We kind of feel like we paved the way for it to come back."

The foursome -- which includes Logan Henderson -- has released two albums. Their last tour featured One Direction as the opening act.

"We want to support other boy bands as well because we really want that whole genre to come back," Maslow said.

Other boy bands on the verge include Midnight Red, formed by RedOne, the producer behind Lady Gaga hits like "Just Dance," "Poker Face" and "Bad Romance." Midnight Run will release a single next month, and an album later this year. Beyonce, who recently launched her production company Parkwood Entertainment, said she plans on putting together her own boy band. And the British quartet JLS, the runners-up on the U.K.'s "X Factor" in 2008, has released three top-selling albums in Europe, collecting five No. 1s; they have plans to release music in America.

"There's always going to be a market out there for teenage girls and girls in their early twenties that have this desire (for boy bands) ... and eventually they grow with the bands," said Howie Dorough of the Backstreet Boys, who recently released his solo debut, "Back to Me."

The Wanted, whose members range in age from 18 to 23, has released two albums in the United Kingdom; its U.S. debut is out on April 24. At last month's Brit Awards, The Wanted's "All Time Low" lost best British single to One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful," currently No. 28 on the Billboard chart. One Direction, whose youngest member is 18 and oldest is 20, have signed up to do a Nickelodeon show and will perform at next month's Kids Choice Awards; Big Time Rush is also slated to perform.

Radio Disney's Ernie D. says the new crop of boy bands are finding success much faster than groups in the past.

"The way it's happening now, it's a little more sudden than last time. Because back then you had to build your fan base, get a following. Now with all social media, you have a fan base immediately ... (and) as soon as you nail that fan base, you're on the rise for sure," he said.

"Bands like One Direction and The Wanted, they're just coming out of nowhere and it's kind of taking everybody by surprise."
Also, from the Waterloo Record:

The hysteria begins anew

A new boy-band wave washes up

Grab your earplugs: There’s a new batch of boy bands, and they are making a very loud noise.

Boy bands Big Time Rush and British pop group One Direction attend Nickelodeon Hosts Orange Carpet Premiere For Original TV Movie Big Time Movie starring Big Time Rush in New York Larry Busacca/News services file photo

British quintet One Direction made chart history Wednesday when Up All Night became the first debut album by a U.K. band to enter at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. Fellow British popsters the Wanted are nestled in the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 with their single Glad You Came. Nickelodeon stars Big Time Rush sold out a recent U.S. tour and drew more than four million television viewers to this month’s Big Time Movie, which featured the quartet performing songs made famous by the Beatles.

Mark Medina, program director at Washington area Top 40 outlet Hot 99.5, has seen pop sensations come and go, but even he was surprised by the reception for One Direction when it played at the radio station’s studios a few weeks ago. Fans showed up holding signs for the band eight days before the guys’ scheduled appearance, and four girls flew from San Diego to hear the band play two songs and get a photo.

“I’d never seen anything like, it,” he says. “We had people fly in from other states; we had girls trying to sneak into the building.”

When two members of One Direction tweeted about eating brownies and poutine at Lou Dawg’s restaurant in Toronto in February, it reverberated around the world.

Within minutes, @loudawgs was trending in Toronto, Sydney, Melbourne, Buenos Aires and beyond.

“We trended globally (Sunday) night during the Oscars,’’ said co-founder and executive manager Daryl D’Souza. “Social media is a huge part of our business, but this is global. This is ridiculous.”

The next day, the Southern-style sandwich shop at King and Portland streets was flooded with teen girls making the pilgrimage to eat what Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles ate.

Historically, there’s a boy band boom every decade or so: New Kids on the Block and New Edition ruled the ’80s and early ’90s, Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync dominated the late ’90s and early ’00s, and, right on cue, here comes the new crop aided by pop music’s cyclical nature.

Over the past few years, the pop airwaves have been hip-hop-dominated but, during the past several months, the music has segued into rhythmic-leaning pop and then into straight-ahead pop. “Acts like Katy Perry and Rihanna have paved the way for pure pop music’s return,” says Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts. “What’s been missing were girl groups and boy bands. It’s such a good environment for this kind of act in pop music right now.”

In the grand tradition of boy bands, these acts share certain traits with their similarly manufactured pop ancestors: Members of the Wanted and Big Time Rush auditioned for their parts at a casting call. The members of One Direction were put together by Simon Cowell after trying out individually for the British edition of The X Factor. The former American Idol Svengali thought they’d perform better as a collective. Additionally, such groups tend to have snazzy dance moves, don’t write the majority of their songs or play their own instruments and, of course, have hair as shiny as a pony’s mane.

The new trio spans the spectrum of boy bands from squeaky clean to semi-bad boys. Big Time Rush is similar to the Monkees with its own TV series as a launchpad, and the group appeals to kids and tweens.

One Direction fills its songs with such teen-girl catnip as “Don’t need makeup to cover up / Being the way that you are is enough” in the BRIT Award-winning best British single, What Makes You Beautiful.

Members of the Wanted have a touch of naughtiness and like to talk about their love of drinking with Chelsea Handler. The Wanted’s manager, Scooter Braun, who also handles Justin Bieber’s career, stresses that they can play instruments, although that skill is not remotely on display in the video for Glad You Came, which focuses more on the five members’ abilities to doff their shirts and be stared at adoringly.

“Here’s the best part. The music is pretty good,” Medina says. “That has everything to do with radio’s excitement. The Wanted has the most sophisticated sound (of the current crop). If you didn’t have any picture in your mind, I don’t know if you’d hear the Wanted and go, ‘That’s a boy band.’ “

This new crop of boy bands is spawned by social media as much as by television and radio. Months before One Direction or the Wanted stepped foot on American soil, they had engaged fans through YouTube, Tumblr and Twitter (each member has his own Twitter account so fans can reach out directly to their favourite).

“I told the boys, ‘Let’s do less about broadcasting what you’re doing and start talking about what you feel,’ ’’ says Braun, acknowledging that teenage girls adore that level of engagement, but that all fans respond to authentic emotions.

Not that TV doesn’t help. Big Time Rush’s television show pumps its music through the shows like oxygen. One Direction caused pandemonium during its Today show appearance March 12 and has garnered a coveted performance slot on Saturday Night Live on April 7.

“The Today show for me was the most amazing thing,” says One Direction’s Liam Payne. “There wasn’t enough room for everybody to come up. They couldn’t even see us. They were just hanging around to get a glimpse of what’s going on.” And it’s not just girls who are in on it: “I had a few guys chasing me down the street as I was leaving my car” in New York, Payne says.

But, refreshingly, new media will never replace the basics, which haven’t changed since the days of ’60s and ’70s fanzines Tiger Beat and 16 Spec: One Direction’s media kit comes with a sheet for each member with a dreamy picture and details on his favourite food, what he looks for in a girl and whether he prefers sun or snow.

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