A Glimpse into Manufactured Bands

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When new music tops the charts, most of us immediately want to know who the band is behind the hit. Sometimes we are surprised at the name of the band, or even astounded at their looks; meaning great looks or possibly some sort of gimmick, whatever it is…usually it works! Bands are formed by members, but back in the 60’s it was the first manufactured band that drew attention. So what exactly is a manufactured band? It’s made up of members that have never met before. In fact, having the best talent wasn’t always a prerequisite, and the individuals are put together by a record company, person, or label in order to make a profit.

Boy Bands have been around for years, beginning in the mid 50’s the Ink Spot was the first boyband, though the term boy band wasn’t established until later, in the 1980’s. It was “The Monkeys” that became America’s first manufactured band. I have always been a fan of this group and found their silly antics even more enduring, while they became a sensation virtually overnight. Recently I watched a show on the Smithsonian channel, “Making the Monkeys” and found it extremely interesting. In 1966 there was an ad placed in the Los Angeles, Ca. paper looking for four unknown young men, ages 17 to 21. It was for a low budgeted ½ hr. comedy show, which would include some music. They wanted these four men to sing for the show whether they had experience or not, gearing it towards the teenage population. What they didn’t expect is that these four  men wanted to perform musically, but that’s not what they (producers and execs) wanted behind the scenes. Ultimately it was Don Kirshner that called the shots; yet his idea of this show and their music was bigger than he ever imagined, outselling Elvis and the Beatles combined. They were only allowed to sing on their hits, which eventually forced them to tour. Bobby Hart was the songwriter for the Monkeys. It didn’t end well for them, as greed, personalities and more couldn’t take the stress. The Monkeys wanted to do their own music, but Kirshner had other ideas. When the song ‘Sugar Sugar’ was written for them, they turned it down; then opening the door for yet another manufactured band…The Archies. And so, it becomes the beginning of the end for the Monkeys, while music producers search for a variety of bands and ideas, which continue to surface everywhere, including the U.K.

Todays manufactured bands are a bit different, but still in existence. Simon Cowell is behind the majority of its’ successors, starting off with One Direction. Years ago on the show X-Factor, which was created by Simon Cowell, were some talented young boys that performed as solo artists, but had never met each other before their show appearance. Simon became the co-creator of the British-Irish boyband One Direction, but they finished third on the X-Factor. Consequently it didn’t matter; between Sony and Cowell they signed One Direction which made them one of the richest British boybands of all time. It began with five solo acts on the show, and Cowell put them together, making them a success story everywhere. Since this group there have been other bands created, and there’s no doubt it will not end here. Some have a keen eye for talent, and envision grouping certain individuals in order to turn a profit, so I can’t imagine the idea of manufactured bands going away any time soon. The public will always enjoy music, but it’s mostly the teens that are looking for the next great pop sensation to excite them. I’m happy I grew up in the era I did, and certainly enjoyed a variety of bands, The Partridge Family, Monkeys, Archies and Josie and the Pussycats were all among the first of these made up bands, not to mention they also had success at their own television shows. I watched them all and fell in love with music. Often I wonder why they don’t do this any longer, but who am I to question this? I was a crazed teenager back in the day and to all those prefab & manufactured bands…”Thank you for your music, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”

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