Written by Liz Buckley


7 Wonders: Boy bands

They are easy to take the piss out of but, says our music supremo Liz Buckley, some boy bands can sure knock out a perfect pop tune.

The Monkees in 1967.

The Monkees in 1967.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a boy band in possession of a good song should be around for life. Every pop band that has any sort of longevity won’t be coasting on good looks, crowd-pointing and twinkly smiles alone; they will have the solid gold weaponry that is a great bloody tune or three. Take That would never have been able to sustain a 25-year-plus career if they also didn’t have a Back For Good, a Greatest Day, and quite frankly, a little Patience.

For all the scorn, ridicule and lack of respect any pop band will inevitably have to endure, they will also have people the world over, from all backgrounds, cultures and tastes quietly admitting, “Actually I quite like this one,” when caught unaware by a great pop tune at the shopping centre or in the background of Must Love Dogs.

We should embrace the beauty of perfect pop, celebrate the “ones we quite like if we’re honest” and admit that boy bands can indeed take that and party.

Take That – Greatest Day

Having formed in 1989, Take That have grown up and got old with us, having a varying amount of members (in both senses) depending on the week. I’m so used to each of them leaving that I assume they’re still Take That even when they’re solo.

Having now thankfully grown out of their ill-judged light-bondage phases (plural), we’re collectively at the stage in life where Howard Donald, the most pliable of the line-up and hired mostly for his dancing abilities, suffered a collapsed lung on their 2007 Beautiful World tour after just really, really breathing.

“All the boys in McBusted are, quite frankly, clearly having the time of their lives when playing together and it’s wonderfully infectious.”

“Want to feel old?” asks the internet on a daily basis. Well, Harry from McFly announced last week their 2016 tour is postponed as he’s got a hernia. But growing old like this with a boy band is a lovely thing to do – if you’ve remained loyal to the guys who hosed each other’s bottoms to Once You’ve Tasted Love then you will later get rewarded with the far more classy Rule the World and Greatest Day.

Take That are very capable of writing anthemic, confetti-scattering, stadium-filling songs that have real heart. Just remember to breathe and have a sit down if singing along is too much for you.

McBusted – Get Over It
Get Over It, McBusted are fucking great. Greater than either McFly or Busted are on their own (I’ve checked). And if they’re not weirded out by having a line-up of five guitarists and a drummer than neither should you be.

If you think I’m being ironic, think again, I don’t believe in the snobbery that goes alongside the concept of Guilty Pleasures (See my Adele entry here) and I’ve been to see McBusted more times than I’ve seen the Stooges.

All the boys in McBusted are, quite frankly, clearly having the time of their lives when playing together and it’s wonderfully infectious. I was so delighted when I saw photos of them forming a human pyramid and childishly spelling out the word DICK with their bodies at a red carpet event in a YMCA-style, that I reposted the photos to Twitter without first checking my feed to gauge the current mood.

The replies were an unfortunate way to find out that Nelson Mandela had died. Like McBusted, I’m afraid I giggled like a doofus.

This is how happy McBusted gigs make me and my friends *SYNCHRONISED AIR JUMP*

Photo by Elaine Morton & Marie Parkes.

Photo by Elaine Morton & Marie Parkes.

Hopefully no one died while you were looking at that photo.

Ronan Keating – Life is a Rollercoaster
Westlife – World of Our Own

I really like Boyzone. I liked that their main dance move was awkward shuffling and that Ronan Keating began every line with a “Sh-” sound no matter what the first word was. And Westlife’s World Of Our Own is completely great, no question. It’s the full finger clicking, stool leaving experience – sorry, that sounded disgusting.

In less joyous news however, in March of this year some members of Boyzone and Westlife announced their intention to tour as boyband supergroup ‘Boyzlife’… Wonder where they got that idea. Except their tour will be with the obvious omissions of the dearly departed and the otherwise successful. And will be solely performed at a chain of Hilton Hotels. I’m terrified. It sounds so bad. I will obviously go.

To add insult to injury, I realised the best song Boyzone have is actually a Ronan Keating solo record. And Westlife’s top scorer is a Billy Joel cover. Sorry lads. Goodnight, God bless, good to see you, take care of yourselves.

Photo by Jamesbond raul, via Wikimedia Commons (GFDL/CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0).

Photo by Jamesbond raul, via Wikimedia Commons (GFDL/CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0).

a-ha – I’ve Been Losing You

At the other extreme, a-ha don’t have any bad songs. Except maybe the one that goes: “Me I’m touchy, touchy you“, which sounds like something the Swedish Chef might say. Let’s have I’ve Been Losing You, as in my head, Morten Harket is trying to sing like David Bowie and I think that’s adorable. Christ, a-ha were great.

(Liz wrote more about the wonder of a-ha here)

One Direction – What Makes You Beautiful

I can’t talk about this song without sounding like a mum. I really like that the sentiment is a positive one for young girls growing up in a society that judges on looks and imperfections. Love these boys for singing about their fans’ insecurities and trying to bolster a positive self-image for them.

You’re insecure,
Don’t know what for,
You’re turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don’t need makeup,
To cover up,
Being the way that you are is enough

Sweethearts! We have come a long way since Ronan pushed the “You say it best when you say nothing at all” sentiment. Which no woman has ever heard without thinking, “WHAT THE FUCK?!?!” Mansplaining, silencing bastard.

The Monkees – Me & Magdalena

The Monkees were the ultimate boy band, assembled initially from auditions to find actor/musicians to mirror the successful formula of the Beatles over in the UK. Their comeback album (out 27 May on CD and in July on vinyl/digital) might be the best thing they’ve done since Head – and I’m only saying “might”, because I can’t decide if it’s better.

Written for them by Ben Giddard from Death Cab For Cutie, the lead single, Me & Magdalena, is absolutely beautiful.

The new album features songs by all three surviving members alongside unused/unfinished Boyce & Hart, Nilsson and Goffin & King tracks from the 60s and songs written for them including one by Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller; Good Times is a treat from start to finish. Davy Jones even makes an appearance, for those who weren’t yet feeling teary and sentimental. They may not be boys any more, but they’re still lovely little monkeys.


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Written by Liz Buckley

Department manager at an independent record company. Liker of Frank Sinatra and Nick Cave. Very sudden laugh. Pasty but tasty. Quite tired.