The Top 10 Worst Boy Bands
Top 10 Worst Boybands
This has been a difficult subject for me to write.
How can you choose 10 bad Boybands out of so many? It's an almost impossible task.
It's not even a case of separating the wheat from the chaff because it's all chaff.
And it's been harvested almost every year for the past 40-odd years.
Of course when we talk of Boybands we're talking about a cynically manufactured collection of clean-cut pretty faces who's only musical endeavour is to sing and dance to the industry tune.
Bland, banal and ultimately safe as houses. Engineered by gurus and record industry gangsters as the perfect commodity to shift millions of consumer units to contented shoppers.
It's a term from the 1990s onwards when the normally cynical and greedy record industry of old evolved into the abnormally cynical and greedy record industry of today. But there was a lineage going back to the 1960s at least, if you exclude barber shop quartets, which the modern equivalent can trace their genus. Note that's 'genus', not genius as the 'i' has been plucked out and all talent, soul or splendour completely removed.
Mop tops and surf boards
So going back to the 1960s we're not talking about The Beatles here of course or The Beach Boys. They did fit the profile at least in the early days with their nice, well-dressed image of pleasant looking young guys plus Ringo. But unfortunately they are disqualified for having too much talent. In fact, in the cases of John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, even musical brilliance.
Other bands existed among them like The Dave Clark Five in their smart suits and ties.
They appeared on the 'Ed Sullivan Show' more times than any other British act. Not that that is any kind of credible endorsement.
I think Jim Morrison had the right idea when he decided to shake up the sensitivies of the production team when The Doors performed 'Light My Fire'. Absolutely Jim. Yeah! "Girl we couldn't get much higher".
Another bunch of lightweights were Herman's Hermits who brough the catchy numbers 'I'm Into Something Good' and 'I'm Henry the XIII, I am'. Also the melodic 'There's a Kind of Hush' classic. If only! I plead, if only. Nowadays just give us some peace and quiet away from these monstrous teen-ballads samples and insipid cover versions that infect our musical sensibilities and good taste. At least the Hermits came up with a couple of quality tunes but they were always considered the acceptable face of the Beat Generation.
Wind of change
The brusque winds of the edgier more rebellious and overall more talented music of the bad boys of Rock n' Roll brushed the softy pop wimps away. It was ugly faces of The Who, The Rolling Stones, Cream and even The Kinks who took over the scene. Drunk, drugged, trashing guitars and throwing furniture out of hotel windows. But all the while making great music and also writing and performing great music. No backroom composers, no silent mouthing and air-guitaring to pre-recorded tapes onstage, no processed over-production. Not even an auto-tune machine because thankfully it hadn't been invented.
Ultimately though you have to admit that the first real boyband were probably The Monkees. They fitted the bill perfectly. Well almost. They were started up by the record industry as American counterparts to The Beatles and were initially recruited to front a TV show. A famous TV show as it turned out and much enjoyed by yours truly and many millions of others.
They also fit the criteria in two other important ways. First was that session musicians played the instruments in the studio and the guys just overdubbed the vocals. Second, all their best hits and quite a few rotten ones too were written for them. None other than Neil Diamond who wrote the brilliant 'I'm a Believer' plus 'A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You' and 'Love to Love'
And we all still singalong to 'Daydream Believer', 'Last Train to Clarksville'. and 'The Monkees Theme' as well as enjoy the more sophisticated offerings of 'Pleasant Valley Sunday' and 'Shades of Grey'. To be fair The Monkees did develop some of their own style and music but they were and always will be seen as history's first manufactured pop group. But you have to admit the songs were terrific. They still stand the test of time and that's what marks them out from their modern descendants.
Verdict: Statute of limitations applies
Sending up the flares
And still the music flowed into the 1970s when we had The Jackson 5 (or then simply 'The Jacksons' as they became) who hailed from Gary, Indiana. The produced classic soul and disco classics including 'ABC', 'Blame it on the Boogie', 'Let Me Show You' and 'Can You Feel It'. A definite credibilty factor going on there. Superstars of the dance scene and even that screwball Michael produced some incredible music before his pet monkey, baby-dangling theme-park adventures. I mean 'Don't Stop Till You Get Enough' just seals the deal.
Verdict: Not guilty by a unanimous decision.
Then from Utah we had The Osmonds of course who more than resembled the modern Boyband phenomenon. Wholesome, clean and utterly respectable. They had huge popularity with hits like 'One Bad Apple', 'Yo-Yo', and 'Love Me For a Reason'. But I must admit to having an admiration for two real rockin tunes of theirs, namely 'Going Home' and of course the Heavy Rock influenced 'Crazy Horses' secrety loved by metal fans everywhere. Just as famous for their Mormon religion and their gleaming white teeth as they were for their music.
Verdict: Not Guilty under freedom of religion and Orthodontry
A kick up the Eighties
Moving into the 1980s the real progenitors of the Boyband curse could have been New Edition who were formed in 1978 but had their hits in the following decade. They included the famous bad boy Bobby Brown but who would have known it then. The awful 'Candy Girl' kicked things of for these guys in 1983 with other big hits being 'Cool it Now' and 'If This Isn't Love'. Bobby was voted out of the band in 1986 for his crass antics onstage but made a few comebacks with New Edition in the studio and in live performances. You can't keep a bad guy down it seems.
Verdict: Death by ignorance apart from Whitney Houston's ex-husband.
The late 1980s saw the massive Boyz II Men who scored Billboard No.1's with 'End of the Road, 'I'll make Love to You' ,'On Bended Knee' (put together those songs sound quite rude)and 'Four Seasons of Loneliness.
Verdict: 176 years in solitary confinement with piped Barry Manilow ballads
The New Kids on the Block are now the old guys hanging around the corner throwing dice against the wall wondering where the next job will come. Spawned by Maurice Starr, In their heyday they filled arenas all around most of the USA and filled their nasal cavities with half of Columbia. Drug-use and various indiscretions abounded to shatter their clean-cut New Kid Next Door image.
Thye were actually profiled to individually appeal to different marketing niches according to female tastes. Thereby achieving more disparate demographic attractions and of course record sales on such mediocre tunes like 'Please Don't Go Girl' in 1988.
Verdict : Life imprisonment on Alcatraz with inadequate PA to spare the San Francisco populous
Badder than badd
But now are entering the Dark Ages of popular music. It is the nadir of the all-male musical collection. We are in the 1990s. In the first year of that decade Color Me Badd, with the emphahsis on the latter, were also a devilish creation of Maurice Starr. 'I Wanna Sex You Up' 'I Adore Mi Amore' and 'All 4 Love' were their big hits. I must admit the last number is quite a cool catchy tune.
But image-wise they went even one stage further than NKOTB and each band member represented a different ethnic group in America. Nobody in the population could complain that they weren't being given a fair shout at being consumers of popular pap.
Verdict : Clemency because I like one of their songs, but with a provision for good behaviour and a no reunion guarantee.
N'Sync were spawned from the cesspit in 1996 with their first big hit 'I Want You Back'. Followed by other popular tunes like the ridiculously entitled 'God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You' 'Music of My Heart' and 'It's Gonna Be Me'.
Verdict: Death by mauling. Ideally ravenous wolves or homicidal grizzly
Back across the pond
Back over in Blighty they were working at assaulting the airwaves and our eardrums too in those terrible times. Not only in the UK but of all places Ireland was beginning to churn out some dreadful groups. Louis Walsh takes a lot of the blame for staining the musical tradition of the Emerald Isle. Many people in the island that gave us U2, Thin Lizzy, Bob Geldof, Christy Moore, Rory Gallagher and in the North Van Morrison must have recoiled in horror of what they were now exporting.
As for the crowd of Irish crudmongers Westlife, I have to be honest.
I would say that the only time I would enjoy them singing was if it was their last ever song in front of a firing squad.
"Any last requests?" says Captain Lemmy Kilminster of the 1st Motorhead Armoured Division.
"Are we not supposed to be asking the audience that?" asks Bryan McFadden,
"Not this time", says Lemmy, "I'm in charge of this gig"
"But can't we ask these guys here" says Nicky Byrne pointing to the soldiers lined up in front,
"Take it from me matey, they're not exactly your kinda audience"
"Oh c'mon, surely..."
"Shurrup!!", Lemmy interrupts, "Any last requests?"
"Well! what would these lads like to hear?" asks McFadden weakly,
"Oooh fishcakes!!!" groans Byrne, "Could we just sing 'Queen of My Heart' then?"
"Wait a minute!"
"What about our last...?"
Alas, no encore. But if any of you music-lovers were in that firing squad I'd certainly pin a medal on you. Puff out your chest with pride. Steady! Steady! Wait for it! Wait for it!
Wear it with honour and remember the strains of 'Flying Without Wings', a song that I particularly enjoy hearing when the sun rises in the morning over the touching sound of a fusillade of bullets.
Verdict: Death by firing squad
Take that and that and that
In the UK Take That launched the beginning their career with a cover version of Barry Manilow of all people. Worse was to come from the pen of Gary Barlow and others as they took hold of the UK charts with their bubble-gum pop and corny erotica videos.
Fortunately for them I am not without clemency and I prefer to be selective in my aim rather than open fire indiscriminately at all members of these groups.
By this I mean that Robbie Williams forged a terrific solo career including the classic 'Angels' ballad which I would defy any soft-hearted soul not to sing along with at a Karaoke night.
In fact 'Millenium' is one of the few, the very few, songs where I think a sample is just perfect for the song. John Barry's epic string accompaniment was put to better use than in the original James Bond theme tune of 'You Only Live Twice' by Nancy Sinatra.
But there is an admittedly strong argument for the abolition of the ultimate sanction for the purveyors of criminally bland pop music.
Take That reformed in 2006 and released some superb tunes.
Albeit returning temporarily as a 4-piece without Robbie.
Nevertheless songs like 'Shine'.and 'Patience' displayed a maturity and sophisticated quality that was missing in their callow youth.
A welcome return that brings a stay of execution and they may go from strength to strength if Robbie returns to the fold after his solo career dips once again
Verdict: A shining example of reformed behaviour. Admonished
Ronan in the dock
I was recently distressed to hear that a friend of mine had her children inflict Boyzone upon her poor unsullied eardrums. Children can be so cruel as they say. Place them in a recreated Victorian Orphanage Themepark immediately and then move house.
That song 'No Matter What' written by the human gerbil Andrew Woddy Lebber is a fine ballad, when it's sung by Meatloaf of course, a gigantic lungful warbler who can actually do the song justice. It takes a Texan to take a tip-top tune to the top. Say that fast four times after meals and don't complain about the weather.
However the trial of Ronan Keating almost swung things the other way due to his uplifting 'Life is a Rollercoaster' song. A marvellous piece of life-affirming jollity guaranteed to bring a smile to your face and a spring in your step. Alas it was all to no avail;
Judge: And what evidence are you offering in defence of your client?
Defence lawyer: I would like to call my last witness your honour,
Judge: Very well,
Defence lawyer: I call 'Life is a Rollercoaster'
The shouts of "Call 'Life is a Rollercoaster'" , "Call 'Life is a Rollercoaster'" , "Call 'Life is a Rollercoaster'" are heard along the court hall in diminishing volume.
In the courtroom 'Life is a Rollercoaster' is played from the witness box and there is a palpable reaction from the jury and a definite lifting of the sombre atmosphere of the court.
Defence lawyer: M'Lud, the defence rests. Our witness has clearly show that our client Mr Ronan Keating deserves to live and to continue producing such wonderful music free from the forces of the law.
Judge: Well have the prosecution anything more to add?
Prosecution: Yes M'Lud,
Judge: Go on then,
Prosecution: We would like to call 'A Fairytale of New York'
Defence: Objection your honour!!
Judge: I should say, it's not even Christmas
Prosecution: Ah-ha, you have knowledge of the witness
Judge: Of course, it's those Pogue chaps with Shane McThingy and the girl
Prosecution: No M'Lud
Prosecution: No M'Lud this was a copycat incident perpetrated by the defendant in 2000,
Prosecution: Yes! And they even removed the mild swearing
Judge: No bloody wonder he objected. Who's the girl?
Prosecution: Maire Brennan,
Judge: Never heard of her!,
Judge: Stop it! Overruled
Judge: I object too, stop being so negative!
Defence: But your honour
Judge: Shuttup! Who's got the gavel here?
The testimony of 'Fairytale of New York' to a hushed and unseasonal audience provided damning evidence of the culpability of Keating and his fate was sealed. Life is indeed a roller coaster as one minute you're up and the next you're sent down and after 10 minutes the jury returned their guilty verdict.
Verdict: Death by ridicule
Now the latest thing, and I emphasise the word 'Thing!' is JLS. Their songs are torture, they're bland, predictable and straight out of the corporate 'this shit will sell' school of empty, pointless pop drivel with not an ounce of soul or real belief in the music.
I'd put all their albums on a bonfire along with the aforementioned bands plus Steps, S-Club7 all the way back to the dross of Bros, Debbie Gibson, Mall-Rat Tiffany and the coiffured Rick Astley along any other manufactured dog-food that the record-industry executives try to inflict on our earholes and airwaves. But I'll exempt Blue from that diatribe simple because of 'Fly By', what a terrific summer song.
If you're stuck for a name for your boyband then just count them and and you've got Five or '5ive' as they were wittily renamed. Pop impressario Louis Walsh went one better and managed a band called Six
But most desperately disappointing was that in 2000 Rock superstar legends Queen agreed to colloborate with Five on a cover version of the classic 'We Will Rock You'. I shuddered to think and spluttered to say which was the worst sell-out. Was it Brian May and Roger Taylor playing with a Boyband?
Or was it Brian May playing lead guitar on 'God Save the Queen' from the roof of Buckingham Palace to open a concert in celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Her Right Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Mind you even the 'Prince of Darkness' Ozzy Osbourne appeared with Tony Iommi at that gig singing 'Paranoid' to a bemused Royal Court.
Verdict: Hoist by their own petard live on MTV
It would have been so different if he had played the 'God Save the Queen' by the Sex Pistols. Probably the immediate cancellation of the gig and incarceration in the Tower of London for one of Britain's leading guitarists.
Of course weren't the Sex Pistols a great boyband? The 'hooligans next door' image, guys you would bring back home to meet mother if you hated her guts. It's a shame they got back together and toured bringing 'The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle' to life once again to rake in the cash. Maybe they will eventually join the establishment and play for the Queen one day in their old age.
That won't be a problem by then though as Paul Cook will have a seat in the House of Lords with his own personal spittoon, Sir Steve Jones will be having it off with the Duchess of Snotchester down in the cabbage patch and Johnny Rotten may even be married to the Queen. A grand ceremony held at Canterbury Cathedral taking their vows in the shade of the statue of the Saint Sidney Vicious.
Hey! Stranger things have happened.
Well! Maybe stranger things haven't happened.
Yes I'll accept the fact that Johnny Rotten marrying the Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth is probably the strangest thing that could happen.
Even worse than his butter commercials.
But what of the Pistols becoming ingrained into the social fabric of the establishment.
Has it happened already to some extent? What about The Misfits and the Dead Kennedys.
Perhaps they will become the prototypes for a new generation of Boybands as the Punk era gains a posthumous acceptance in the mainstream of pop-music and the upper echelons of society.
We may expect Punk-Lite in the near future when nasty classics like 'California Uber Alles' and 'Holidays in Cambodia' are transformed into grandmother friendly, sweet as saccharin pop ditties to be warbled in front of Simon Cowell and his underlings. A future X-Factor Christmas number one from the pen of the Angelic Upstarts, a Billboard hit from American Idol from an old tune from The Ramones or The New York Dolls even.
Hey! Stranger things have happened.
Well! What do you know? I've been having so much fun ripping into all these Boybands I didn't realise I've actually listed more than ten. So don't say that I don't give you value for money folks.