I'm in a Boy Band!
Following on from last years 'I'm in a Rock n Roll Band!' series for BBC2, which sought to explore and unpack the inner workings of how great rock n roll bands work, 'I'm in a Boy Band!' kicks off a three part series looking into the wonderful world of Pop.
The intention with 'I'm in a Boy Band!' was to use the first hand testament of a cross-generational cast to examine what makes up a great Boy Band and to really get under the skin of the male Pop group experience.
The first challenge we faced was, of course, one of definition. What actually is a Boy Band? For many the term represents something of a dirty phrase. A byword for manufactured and the antithesis of authenticity in popular music. But the truth is never that simple. The concept of 'authenticity' in pop music has always been a shaky one at best in my opinion. From the very start our intention was to open up the definition of the Boy Band and explore the commonality, as well as the differences between, 50 years' worth of what is arguably pops most enduring format.
Whether manufactured, self-formed, a band of brothers or a group of strangers; this meant taking everyone from the Four Tops, to the Monkees via the Jackson 5 and on to the likes of One Direction and JLS and applying the same set of standards and principles in an attempt to find some underlying truths at the heart of the Boy Band experience.
Certain timeless traits began to emerge; the importance of having strongly defined characters, a sense of uniformity, sex appeal, as well as an underlying tension between the desire for self-expression and the need for group harmony.
But as well as exploring these larger topics, our interviews also produced their fair share of amusing insights and anecdotes. Personal highlights include; Merrill Osmond casually mentioning the fact that Chuck Norris was The Osmond's Karate mentor and choreographer, Aston from JLS being ribbed by his band mates for being the 'cute one' in the band and the only surviving member of the Four Tops getting so wound up in describing the glory of harmonising that he uses some language Sid Vicious would have been proud of.
In addition to these stories it was fascinating to hear of the personal challenges involved in leaving a Boy Band and getting to grips with life after Pop stardom. I am very grateful for the frankness and candour of the cast for giving us a genuine flavour of the perennial highs and lows of life in the eye of a Pop storm.
I'm sure some of you will question the inclusion and exclusion of certain acts in this documentary... and quite rightly so! In many ways I feel that is one of the jobs of a show like this - to take a view and to instigate debate. These programmes can never be absolute; they are a mixture research, ideas and an application of the best available material. But I do hope the result is an unapologetic and celebratory look at the world of the Boy Band.
'Boy Band' shouldn't be a dirty word, quite the opposite; it has been the channel through which some of the greatest songs, images, characters and youthful memories have flowed for generation after generation of screaming fans ... and long may it continue to be so.
For more programme information, see: I'm in a Boy Band