The Null Device

Knowing which side your bread is buttered on: Ever wonder who's behind the tidal wave of disposable boy/girl band pop? former pop artists, such as OMD's Andy McCluskey (once signed to Factory and singing about nuclear war, now writing for bubblegum trio Atomic Kitten), as well as retired pop starlets such as Cathy Dennis and Alison "Betty Boo" Clarkson, both now accomplished commercial songwriters.
OMD may have begun their career on the achingly credible Factory label - home to gloomy bastions of high seriousness Joy Division - but they quickly learnt lessons about music- industry survival that ultimately led McCluskey to form Atomic Kitten: "After our 1983 album Dazzleships failed commercially, it dawned on us that we'd spent five years experimenting and selling records. All of a sudden, we realised that we'd better make sure we do something that actually sells records. That started informing our decision-making.
"Yeah, but I'd do it differently. I'd have a boyband. It's a piece of piss, a boyband. Girls have to survive on instinct, wit, talent and quality of song... You can write the most contrived drivel for a boyband and sell millions because teenage girls are in love with the members. They say love is blind," [McCluskey] chuckles. "Well, I'll tell you something, it's also deaf."

And don't forget Max Martin, who may sound like he would be a New York R&B producer, but is actually a former Swedish heavy-metal guitarist.

I suppose that's what happens when you lose your youthful passion for making a statement, and the zeitgeist passes you by. You either (a) play 15-year-old songs in small revival shows to please an ever-shrinking base of aging fans, (b) take Prozac and write bland, clichéd lyrics for your own band (like certain AOL Time Warner franchises we could name), or (c) cross over to the dark side, write bland, clichéd lyrics for pretty boys/girls to dance and lip-synch to and watch the cash come flooding in.

There are 5 comments on "":

Posted by: acb Fri Nov 23 07:46:40 2001

Or, of course, (d), you realise that your old genre's main fans are all goths (presumably because they read some kind of fetishistic transgressive connotations into the genre itself), and restyle yourself as a Reznor/Manson-style angst idol. It worked for Gary Numan, not to mention former cyberpunk boyband Information Society.

Posted by: Graham Fri Nov 23 08:00:07 2001

Betty Boo. Good grud.

Reminds me of various members of the Models who decided it was more lucrative to just do ad jingles. It might have been James Freud (who wasn't in the early line-up anyway) who was responsible for "The Cheesecake Shop" one.

Posted by: burgatron Fri Nov 23 11:56:05 2001

i hear... that the first bardoh single (i dont remember its name) was written by the drummer from 'indecent obsession'. He was also the drummer in 'insurge' and 'the drugs'. how strange to go from insurge to bardoh crap.

Posted by: Paulo http:// Fri Nov 23 23:10:51 2001

Uh... does he seriously mean that the Spice Girls didn't rely on her looks? Or that Britney survives on the "quality of her songs"? (catchy they are, admittedly).

Posted by: acb Sat Nov 24 13:27:42 2001

Well, the looks thing is more pronounced with boybands; even if teenage boys get hormonal over Britney or the Spice Girls, they wouldn't be caught dead with their records or posters.

Granted, the Spice Girls are rubbish, though there have been disposable girl acts with decent songwriting. (i.e., the song the Pet Shop Boys wrote for Patsy Kensit's pop act back ages ago was good enough for them to reclaim it and do it themselves.) But these aren't a rule.

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