Browsing Tag

boybands

Career Killers: “Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya” by Boyz II Men

We’ve seen how splitting from hit-making songwriters or producers in an ill-fated bid for creative control can kill an artist’s or band’s careers. We’ve seen how record label politics can kill an artist’s or band’s careers. We’ve seen how failed musical makeovers in the face of changing times can kill an artist’s or band’s careers. We’ve seen how deteriorating personal relationships can fester and kill an artist’s or band’s careers.

What happens when all of those things happen at once? You get Boyz II Men.

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Career Killers: “Schizophrenic” by J.C. Chasez

When it comes to transitioning from a boyband to a successful solo career, the rule of Highlander is typically in effect: There can be only one.

In other words, boybands rarely produce multiple solo stars. For instance, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen both launched solo careers after the first Take That breakup, but neither of them made much of an impact – at least not compared to their fired colleague, Robbie Williams, who became one of the biggest pop stars of the 00’s. Nick Lachey and Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees both released solo albums, but whereas the former had one big hit and one theme song that became fairly ubiquitous, I had to look up Wikipedia to remember the latter. Meanwhile, it might be too early to write One Direction’s epitaph, but it looks like Harry Styles is going to be the only real star to emerge from that group (sorry Zayn).

A couple of bands have bucked this rule. New Edition spawned multiple successful solo careers, but even then, only one member had more than one successful album. And of course, Michael Jackson completely eclipsed his brothers, something that, apparently, stuck in Jermaine’s craw – despite the fact that Jermaine managed a couple of gold albums and a handful of Top Ten singles.

So J.C. Chasez was already behind the 8-ball when he embarked on his solo career following NSYNC’s breakup. Bandmate Justin Timberlake had beaten him to the punch, releasing the popular and well-regarded Justified in 2002. That album, which would go on to be certified triple-platinum by the RIAA, was filled with infectious pop/R&B hits, funky beats and ear worms that allowed Timberlake to immediately establish himself as a solo superstar.

But if anyone could rise to the occasion, it was Chasez. The best singer in NSYNC and, possibly, out of all of the late 90’s/early 00’s boybands (Timberlake even admitted as much), Chasez had charisma, good looks, dancing chops and a proven track record. All he needed was to link up with the right producers and songwriters the way Timberlake had when he worked with the Neptunes and Timbaland for Justified and Chasez would be well-placed to break the Highlander curse.

Unfortunately for him, he recorded Schizophrenic.

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Career Killers: “Face the Music” by NKOTB

Welcome to “Career Killers” – a look at albums that were so bad, ill-conceived, or disastrous that they took down (or irreparably damaged) the artist or band that recorded them. So here’s the first entry. Let’s see how long I stick with this.

In the early 90s, faced with changing musical tastes, overexposure, an intense critical backlash, and its own fans growing out of bubblegum pop, New Kids on the Block decided it needed to change. Out went the name (they started going by more adult sounding “NKOTB”) as well as its longtime association with boyband Svengali Maurice Starr. Most importantly, it was time for a new sound. For its fourth studio album, 1994’s Face the Music, the band, which was created as a successor group to New Edition, would instead adopt the New Jack swing and hip-hop stylings of its spinoff group, Bell Biv Devoe.

It was not successful.

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Album Review: “Odyssey” by Take That

Kudos to Take That for trying something (a little) different.

To commemorate its 30th anniversary as a band, Take That decided to run the old “greatest hits + tour” play that has served many top artists and bands well over the years. Recognizing that their fans didn’t want (yet) another greatest hits collection, England’s premiere man-band decided to put a different spin on the old anthology game.

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Album Review: “Wonderland” by Take That.

I love Take That.

Not as much as my wife loves them. And definitely not as much as James Corden loves them. But I’m definitely a “Thatter.”

That being said, I had a feeling the band’s latest album, Wonderland was going to suck. Lead single “Giants” did nothing for me (although the parts where they sing “We are giants!” made me laugh – it reminded me of the scene in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” where the evil nerd trio imagine themselves as Gods), and the few songs I had heard in advance of Wonderland’s release didn’t fill me with a whole lot of optimism. The band has seemed to be on downward trajectory ever since the end of the “Progress” tour, what with Robbie Williams’s decision to re-start his solo career and Jason Orange’s decision to take his dancing shoes home. 2014’s III had a few good songs on it, but the other songs on the album, to say nothing of sales, were lackluster.

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So, I Guess I’m a “Thatter” Then…

When I was in London covering Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary, I could have gone to see Take That at the O2 Arena, but decided not to. I had several reasons that sounded good to me at the time. The tickets were really expensive. My wife would have killed me for going without her. It’s not the same band without Robbie (and Jason, I guess).

Oh, who am I kidding? I should have gone. Anyway, I saw this in the Manchester Evening News after I got back. According to a study (yeah, people study this kind of stuff), Thatters are more likely to be married (check!), own their own home (check!) and drink wine (well, two out of three ain’t bad).

They’re also more likely to be female. I guess Take That’s original fanbase is still upset about the band turning its backs on them all those years ago…