Saturday, 23 February 2008

Take That!

Well, well and indeed...well. Take That win ‘Best Live Act’ and ‘Best British Single’ for ‘Shine’ at the 2008 Brit Awards. Who’d have predicted that outcome back in 1990 and all without Godlike Robbie as well? Boy Bands eh? You just can’t get rid of them.

It must be age but in spite of the undoubted fact that we are well into the noughties, to me the nineties don’t really seem that far away yet the beginning of that decade is now 18 years distant. Still it seems like yesterday. It was therefore all the more surprising to relive the musical climate then prevailing whilst watching a TV programme of the Christmas 1994 Top of the Pops. Was it really like that? Did we really drown in a sea of Boy Bands?

The answer is, depressingly, yes. A brief trawl through the detail of the Boy Band genre reveals that most of the 1990s and beyond were awash with collections of spotty teenagers doing ridiculous dance routines and attempting to look like they could all sing. Consider the evidence.

The decade starts with the all-conquering Take That and East 17 (later contracted to E17, a London postcode, as a sort of re-branding exercise to appeal to the mainstream) with Boyzone and the Backstreet Boys close on their delicate heels. As the 90s progress we are treated to 5ive, N Sync and Westlife (Oh God!) and thence on to the late arrivals at the ball, A1, Blue and most peculiarly of all, the opera quartet G4 (thank you Simon Cowell). If I thought hard enough, I’d probably come up with a few more, but hey, life’s too short. And what is the upshot of all this? Ronan Keating and Robbie Williams! Oh, and Take That...again.

But let’s be fair. Recent Take That output hasn’t actually been that bad but perhaps that’s me getting cynical. Certainly ‘Patience’ and ‘Shine’ have been as good as anything currently around which makes you think that maybe Gary Barlow really is the talent everybody said he would be all those years ago – it’s just that he took his time to get around to being a decent songwriter. His next career move will presumably be to turn up on next season’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

So, in summary, we have had to endure a whole decade of pain so that we can get to the point where a few good songs are produced. Not a great return on the investment – and we’ve still got Ronan Keating!

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