Last week ‘N Sync-er JC Chasez released his first solo album to tepid sales. The boy band era is now over and thus far only Justin Timberlake has emerged as a solo star. While the boy band boom and bust is a familiar cycle there are some differences this time around, including reality television. I discussed it on MSNBC.com:
- Hello (hello hello hello) – any boy bands out there? Just a few years ago the charts and airwaves were dominated by the pop stylings of ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and lesser boyish lights like O-Town and Five. Where did those precision drill teams of harmonizing heartthrobs go?
After Nick Carter’s ’02 solo bomb “Now or Never” (it was “never”), Backstreet Boys have reunited and are back in the studio, but it remains to be seen if they can recapture previous glory – the odds are long against them. All of the other “bands” (singing ensembles, to be more precise) have gone bye-bye-bye, and Justin Timberlake is the only certified star to have emerged from the era.
While “Schizophrenic,” the solo debut of Timberlake’s ‘N Sync-mate J.C. Chasez (pronounced sha-zay), enters the album chart this week at No. 17 after selling a respectable 52,000 copies, fans clutched 439,000 first-week copies of Timberlake’s “Justified” in their sweaty little hands when it debuted 16 months ago.
Chasez has spent much of the last 10 years toiling gamely in his friend Timberlake’s shadow since they appeared together on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” in the early ’90s. In keeping with the theme, Chasez’s own duties as halftime entertainer at the Pro Bowl were the first casualty of Timberlake’s notorious breast-revealing Super Bowl halftime stunt with Janet Jackson. It figures.
And while Nick Lachey, ex of 98 Degrees (“I Do,” “Give Me Just One Night”) has become something of a celebrity due to his marriage to blonde pop hottie Jessica Simpson and their joint appearance on the MTV reality series “Newlyweds,” his solo album, “SoulO” (get it?) has sold only 123,000 copies since its release last November (at the age of 30 it’s been a while since Lachey was a “boy”).
Grammy-winner Timberlake’s success has been based upon a combination of a calculated forsaking of his wholesome, color-coordinated, boyish ‘N Sync image for that of a sexual young bachelor on the prowl, sowing his wild oats with the steamy likes of Britney Spears, Alyssa Milano, Cameron Diaz and the nasty Miss Jackson. Musically, Timberlake has been able to convince a skeptical world that he isn’t a posed popster, but is in reality a gritty soul man, charting his own course down a path rich with funky, organic grooves. Thus far, his fellow boy band alumni have been left behind.
The cycle is hardly new
Not that this prefab cycle of bright bloom and hasty withering is anything new: attractive, non-threatening young men (and women, of course) have been assembled by songwriters and producers for the purpose of safely titillating teens and tweens since the early days of recording, and few have lasted long or spun off major stars…..
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