dirty martini

old music for new people

the truth about boy bands August 19, 2007

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firstly, i am not a fan of boybands.

but tonight itv1 ran a show about them and i was surprised at how many songs i liked.

and no, i couldn’t bring myself to include northern line, topical or not since ziggy is in the big brother house. i don’t like liars and there is no way on god’s earth that man is only 26. i also haven’t included 911 cos they were too short and i can’t remember even one of their songs. 

i’ve also looked back to put together posts on the original 70s boybands and 80s hair flickers.

lastly, there are no irish boybands of any description as i absolutely cannot stand them.  i don’t like irish pubs either. my idea of hell? basement of an o’neills. low ceiling, limited spirit and cocktail menu and irish bloody dancers kicking me in the shins.

the best of the worstdownload here

bros – i owe you nothing

bros have gained immortality via a classic episode of only fools and horses that saw rodney win a spanish holiday courtesy of a drawing of the arc de triomphe he did at school. whilst pretending to be 14 throughout the holiday in order to keep his prize, he is stalked by a 13 year old bros fan called trudy. and thus, if matt and luke’s music hasn’t stood the test of time, they have cemented their place in history. smash hits, amusingly, used to call the other one ‘ken’ when his name was actually craig.

brother beyond – the harder i try

the only member of this band remotely in the public eye these days is nathan moore. nathan manages desperate lisa scott-lee and her long suffering brother andy. mtv’s totally scott-lee show hilariously saw the agent more in demand than his tragic and talentless client. poor old andy was also in a boy band, 3sl, with his brothers. he’s one of those people you want to do well, but you know never will.

nkotb – the right stuff

the only boy band i ever really loved, jordan in particular, rats tail and all. sadly, some cringeworthy interviews and an incident in which they turned up to going live completely pissed one saturday morning, accelerated their decline. i was 17 by then and was nursing a hangover myself. i had to stop myself hotfooting it to the hard rock cafe a few years back when i heard jordan was going to be there. he seems to have grown up now and so i have i (sort of) but at the time, he was a sorry indication of my taste in men.

take that – pray

when this song was no1, i had to pretend that i hated it as i was in sixth form college and liking take that would be about as bad as admitting you liked noel’s house party. i’d actually met them in a club just before they were famous, and it took me until ‘could it be magic’ to cotton on that it was the same band, as they hadn’t been wearing the leather perv suits on totp. my mum was furious when i told her this recently – not because i had sneaked into a club on a school night but that i had met mark owen and she still hasn’t.

east 17 – deep

again, east 17 did the rounds just before their first hit, and i saw them at a radio one roadshow (remember those??) and thought ‘god, they’re shit.’ and they were, at the time. deep is a great song though – ‘…outside it’s raining, inside it’s wet…’ – and their later reincarnation as essex soul boys was pretty impressive. brian looks like the template from which all chavs were created, but he has a great voice. in recent years he has become something of a comedy figure, like bez of the happy mondays – somehow he nearly ran himself over a year or so ago.

eyc – the way you work it

eyc had this hit and er, maybe a couple of others. they were like color me badd on speed. incidentally, color me badd didn’t make this list as i have posted ‘i wanna sex you up’ before and quite frankly, there’s nothing else going on there.  in fact i’m increasingly convinced that color me badd and eyc are the same group so unless forensic evidence to the contrary is produced, i’ll treat them as such.

mn8 – if you only let me in

it was a toss up between this lot and damage. i just think damage were more of an r&b band. they did a decent cover of earth wind and fire’s ‘after the love has gone’ and i’m not ashamed to have ‘ghetto romance’ on my mp3 player. mn8 had silly hair and were clearly targeted at those not old enough to know better. i wonder where they are now? yahoo answers says ‘probably working in tesco’ and i think that person is probably right.

backstreet boys – as long as you love me

i resisted this song for a good few years but, what can i say, i like it. despite not being very likeable people, with the possible exception of brian, they seem to have a hardcore fanbase of the same intensity of take that. but they are squarely responsible for boosting the career of little brother from hell aaron carter, and for that i can’t quite forgive them. uk people – doesn’t brian look like ashley from corrie?

5ive – when the lights go out

5ive, for a time, were huge. this is not entirely evident as J sits in a shopping mall in milton keynes alongside dane bowers and lisa scott-lee, waiting for people to turn up and pay £10 for an autograph. abs has also tried and failed at a solo career. i can’t remember any of the others. when will these groups get the message that the sum of the parts is not always equal to the collective value? tsk.

n*sync – girlfriend

this was when justin trousersnake as we know him really came into his own. the first (and last) n*sync song that i took any notice of, and i am reliably informed that i should leave it there. as if the curly frightwig and dull relationship with britney hadn’t put me off already. i did hear an effort by jc chasez post-split though. yikes.

another level – i want you for myself

another level were dane bowers (fat rent a gob who milked a one-time collaboration with victoria beckham), bobak…something, the one who looked like andy abraham off the x factor and the one who looked like jamie redknapp. as if this in itself wasn’t enough to warrant chart success, they actually made some decent music. had a bit of a step-up thanks to early collaborations with jay-z and shola ama, and a sassy cover of silk’s ‘freak me’.

blue – if you come back

i did like blue i can’t deny it. like another level before them, they took a big r&b tune (too close by next) and didn’t butcher it, rather stayed true to the original but made it more accessible. something about them just worked and i can’t understand why they split so soon. you want to dislike duncan james but you can’t. lee ryan is the village idiot and therefore always good value. simon webbe just seems like a nice bloke, and anthony costa is…dane bowers post slimfast!

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90s male r&b groups – don’t call them boybands May 13, 2007

male soul groups in the 90s were destined never to replicate the success of their pop counterparts. pop requires a manufactured yet individual, who’s-your-favourite type image. soul groups are usually quite similar. only fans can tell the difference. there’s no cute one, sporty one, fat one, funny one – and if there is, it’s real not a product of an over-zealous marketing department.

what also set these groups apart was their ability – robbie williams and jordan knight couldn’t hold a candle to these vocalists. the mass market, for the most part, seemed slightly threatened by this fact. they succumbed to some of the music, boyz ii men’s ‘end of the road’ a notable example, but swept the rest under the carpet where it couldn’t draw unflattering comparisons with their pin up popstars.

check out the b list and the c list too. and now, the z list.

ten boybands who could actually singdownload here



guy – do me right
kings of the new jack swing era, comprising teddy riley, aaron hall and his bro. pioneers of the sound in the late 80s they deservedly held the crown as the scene took off. aaron went to moderate solo success a few years later, and teddy



blackstreetbooti call
…from the ashes of new jack swing, teddy riley created blackstreet. possibly the biggest true male r&b act of the 90s, they had huge success with their first two albums and collaborated twice with swv ,who were somewhat their female counterparts. started to fall off after a tinny duet with weak-voiced mya for the rugrats movie. dave hollister has become a credible yet underappreciated solo artist.

boyz ii men – please don’t go
clean cut boys who met at performing arts school in philadelphia. first achieved worldwide recognition with ‘end of the road’ in the video for which they sang earnestly whilst wearing knee length shorts. the group sold itself on heartfelt ballads and released few uptempo numbers. their wholesomeness possibly allowed member wanya to get away with a relationship with then-underage brandy in the mid-90s.



jodeci – come and talk to me
jodeci were the bad boys of r&b from 1991 to 1996 and provided a sleazier alternative to boyz ii men. kci hailey has long been tarred by his troubled relationship with mary j blige. despite the group being a sorry shadow of their former selves today, their swing mob collective did launch the careers of missy, timbaland and ginuwine amongst others.

tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend
raphael saadiq and co were always the slightly less sleazy and more conscious act of this genre. several successful albums in the early to mid 90s then raphael went solo, and the other two…anyone’s guess. raphael has since discovered a penchant for very young girls and is rumoured to be dating joss stone, 23 years his junior. which goes to show its always the quiet ones you have to watch….
hi-five – i like the way
sweet new jack swing for the ladies, this hit the top of the billboard on release in 1991. the group split in 1994 and never really strayed from this tried and tested formula. now back together and releasing an album – how old must they be now???


mint condition – so fine
along with tony toni tone, revered as one of the more talented and credible groups from the 90s. originally tried to appeal to the new jack crowd but their harmonies were more suited to classic soul and they had many hits in this genre. still recording today, minus keri lewis who left the group to produce, most notably for his wife, toni braxton.
112 – only you
bad boy creation that went global thanks to a remix featuring then hot rappers mase and notorious big, shortly before his death. they have since made a living as members of the bad boy family despite possessing not much vocal talent and zero individuality. but their willing participation on infinite tribute songs keeps them on the payroll and in the recording studio, intermittently.

another level – be alone no more
uk lads who cheekily, like all good authentic cockneys, nabbed their name from a recent blackstreet album. bobak kianoush, dane bowers and the other two were fairly hot uk property in the late 90s. bobak mumbled alongside dane‘s surprising vocals and er, the other two who no one can remember. dane then disgraced himself by following victoria beckham around like a puppy dog for several years after a one-off uk garage collaboration.

jagged edge – let’s get married
twins brian and brandon are often credited for distracting letoya and latavia from the destiny’s child duties whilst touring together in the late 90s. the group have had reasonable success ever since but have the odd knack of making their songs impossible to pinpoint by year. i often hear a track of their and think its old, only to discover its new. hmm.

 

dick in a box April 23, 2007

you’ve all seen the saturday night live sketch where trousersnake parodies early 90s slow jams and, well, himself actually, if his hit rate is to be believed. maybe his moves are more sophisticated now, but I bet preteen justin listened and learned. janet jackson, scarlett johansson, emma bunton, cameron diaz, beyonce, britney, christina, alyssa milano, that dancer..countless others…they all fell for it.

in 1991, color me badd started something. three years after george michael‘s ‘i want your sex’ was banned, songs about sex hit the charts so fast that the regulators just gave up, it seems. la tour‘s ‘people are still having sex’, salt-n-pepa‘s ‘let’s talk about sex’ and the divinyls‘ ‘i touch myself’ were successful but they didn’t respectively alter the output of house, hiphop and rock in the way that ‘i wanna sex you up’ achieved.
until then new jack swing was mostly slickly produced, frenetic workouts requiring the running man dance, which was never going to work as foreplay really, was it? thus, bedroom music was, if not born, kicked into the 90s and made saucier than ever.color me badd never quite replicated the success of their first single, mostly because all of their other songs were shit. they started to overdo the foreplay and lost the sleaze, by appearing in magazines gushing about how they loved to stroke a woman’s hair, buy her roses and chocolates, before getting her into bed.

no woman on earth was gonna fall for that. but we do have them to thank for 90s slow jams and probably a lot of kids now aged about 15 or 16…

ten rude songs with which to woo your 90s lover – download here

 


color me badd – i wanna sex you up
obviously. I prefer the new jack city version not the way too obvious ‘let me take off all your clothes…’. cos that was the one we used to sing in classes run by ageing substitute teachers, leading them to denounce us as ‘devil children’. lol. no, i didn’t go to a convent.

r.kelly – your body’s calling
I was alarmed when my then five year old cousin named r.kelly as his favourite singer. turned out he’d only heard ‘i believe I can fly’ and ‘gotham city’. phew! i was so not gonna be buying him ’12 play’ for christmas.

kut klose – I like
I really like this song. and they do that popular mid 90s girl group ‘ohyeaheehyeahahahyeahyeah‘ bit in the chorus. oh you know what i mean… kut klose were keith sweat‘s girl group and they had some great slow jams on their one and only album.

changing faces keep it right there
nice remix by creepy devante of jodeci. changing faces improved over time from their awful debut ‘stroke you up’ to 2000’s great ‘that other woman’.

jodeci freek’n’you
later jodeci track bumped in every clapped out boy racer in london at some point in 1996. thanks to condition of said cars, it rarely had the desired effect on the ladies, sadly, and they looked a bit er, gay.

aaliyah age ain’t nothin‘ but a number
except it is when you’re 14, from a legal standpoint. try to ignore that fact and enjoy babygirl’s cooing vocals.1-900 – oh
forgotten new jack swing slowie with a nice color me badd style beat. so obscure i couldn’t find a picture of them.

adina howard – freak like me
the sugababes cover used an 80s electro classic and was coolly clever, but dropped the sleaziness of the original like a hot potato. which was half the point.

silk – freak me
another level‘s later cover version sounds impressively copycat given that they’re essex boys. but the original beats out dane bowers and co any day, for those that know.

swv – downtown
if you can’t work this song out you’re not old enough to be reading this. swv, along with mary j blige, inspired many of today’s r&b acts.