It’s been more than 10 years since New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and N’Sync ruled the US music scene and sent hordes of screaming young girls to record stores. However, boy band fever is storming the music scene in the United States once again, led by the Brits who are breaking away from the slick, squeaky-clean image of old as they battle to become America’s newest pin-ups.
The five young men of The Wanted take on their baby-faced rivals One Direction with their self-titled debut EP released this week, following One Direction’s number one first album on the US Billboard charts last month.
In Britain, boy bands have never gone out of fashion, although the new breed appears to have grown up. If One Direction is the coordinated, clean-cut, media-savvy boy band, The Wanted is the rebellious antidote, uncensored by their team and left to win over audiences by goofing around with each other, and the media.
“We’re different, we all play instruments, we don’t dance and we don’t dress very well,” The Wanted’s Tom Parker told Reuters.
The Wanted — Parker, Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness and Nathan Sykes, aged between 19 and 23 — were put together after mass auditions in the UK in 2009, and are managed by Scooter Braun, the mastermind behind Canadian teen idol Justin Bieber.
“All the acts that I manage are built organically and they all get to be exactly who they are,” said Braun, 30, who encourages The Wanted to be open about drinking, partying and dating girls.
Behind the music
One Direction — formed of Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan, all aged between 18 and 20 — were put together in 2010, and are managed by Simon Cowell.
Both bands fall squarely into the pop genre, with One Direction embracing innocent, fun love songs such as with their lead single “What Makes You Beautiful,” which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Wanted have taken a more adult route, with heavier dance beats and raunchier music videos such as their single “Glad You Came,” peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
“Their music is really different to ours and I think anyone can see that, and you can like one or the other or both,” said The Wanted’s McGuiness.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.