Top 10 Worst Boybands
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 since the 1960s.
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 at least going back to the 1960s.
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 and 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. A record to be truly ashamed.
I think Jim Morrison had the right idea when he decided to shake up the sensitivities 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 brought 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.
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.
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 many millions.
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. Including 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'. 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'.
Superstars of the dance scene and even that screwball Michael produced some incredible music before his pet monkey, baby-dangling theme-park adventures. His epic '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 also for two real rockin tunes, namely 'Going Home' and of course the heavy rock influenced 'Crazy Horses' secretly loved by metal fans everywhere.
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 infamous bad boy Bobby Brown but who would have known it then.
The awful 'Candy Girl' kicked things off 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 down the boozer. 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 shattering their clean-cut fakery.
They 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 emphasis 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. But admittedly the last number is quite a 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, 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'. This was 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 you'd certainly deserve a medal pinned 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 is particularly enjoyed 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 of 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 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.
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', 'Patience'', The Greatest Day' and 'These Days' 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,
Verdict: A shining example of rehabilitation and 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 marvelous 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
Another fad band were JLS. Their songs were torture, bland, predictable and straight out of the corporate 'this shit will sell' school of empty, pointless drivel with not an ounce of soul or genuine belief in the music.
All their albums should be consigned to a huge, well-lubricated bonfire along with the aforementioned bands. Throw in some 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 ear-holes and airwaves.
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 impresario 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 collaborate 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.
Verdict: Hoist by their own petard live on MTV.
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.
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 jingles 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.
Stranger things have happened.
Well! What do you know? I've been having so much fun I didn't realise I've actually listed more than ten. So don't say that you don't get value for money folks.
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on October 09, 2012:
You must have done bad things in a previous existence William.
That sounds like purgatory
Cheers for commenting
William Nun on October 09, 2012:
My wife makes me sing Boyzown (is that even the name?) when she is in a mood for karaoke. So think yourself lucky you only had to listen to this stuff!
Shinkicker (author) from Scotland on January 31, 2011:
Menudo? Never heard of them Rob, but I hope they are really bad. And like the rest of them all descended from The Monkees LOL
Thanks for commenting
Rob from Oviedo, FL on December 26, 2010:
So many bad bands, so little time. See what the Monkees started! I notice you didn't even waste time on the dreaded Menudo!