Ah, JLS. So much promise, so much talent, so much success. Well, in the UK, anyway. While the buzz for their next single “The Club Is Alive” continues to grow over in England, the boys are in the US working on tracks for their second CD along with promoting their current single “Everybody In Love”. Now, “current” is an interesting word to pick, because the song has already peaked in the past two weeks at Top 40 radio, getting as high as #37. That’s got to be a disappointment, given all of the folks that seem to have their back, including Jay-Z. In fact, that’s right about where V Factory peaked last summer with “Love Struck”.
Based on both of these failures, I have been wondering what it would take for a boyband to break out here in the US. V Factory fits one of the boyband prototypes, with white boys of varying looks, while JLS falls into the Boyz II Men model with tight harmonies and handsome guys. Neither song is bad, and there’s also a variety between ballad and jam. So what’s missing? Do we really need to go in the direction of vocoder production? One of the tenets of boybands is that, even though they may not be Pavarotti, they still have to have tight harmonies and at least one member that can knock the vocal out of the park (see: New Kids on the Block).
So what if we create a supergroup built out of pieces that are successful in one form or another? Would that work? Here’s what I’m thinking:
- Jason DeRulo – Dude’s got a hit formula going for singles, but it isn’t translating into album sales. Maybe that has something to do with Beluga Heights being tagged on almost every track on his CD, or that there isn’t as much diversity sonically in his music to sustain the listener’s attention for 10 tracks. He’s got the songwriting skills, and we know he can tear it up live (as he proved on Idol back in March). Maybe giving him a chance to shine surrounded by a couple of other like-minded and talented guys would help push it over the edge.
- Jay Sean – Jay will always hold a special place in my heart because it was he who knocked the Black Eyed Peas out of the #1 spot last summer with “Down”, but his efforts to replicate that success only got him a brief Top 10 with “Do You Remember”, and the album fared even worse than DeRulo’s, only getting to #37 in the US. Would Jay even consider this concept? Probably not…he’s done quite well for himself, even releasing independently before getting signed by Cash Money for distribution in the US, where he promptly blew up. He’s currently on the charts again with Kevin Rudolph on “I Made It”, but I don’t think they have even announced a third single to be released. Does that mean he’s already done? Hopefully not, but if that’s a case, maybe being part of a songwriting powerhouse with Jason would be one way to take these first steps and capitalize on them.
Travis Garland – I’m probably going to catch some flak on this one, but here goes…you can take the boy out of the boyband, but it’s rare that you can take the boyband out of the boy. Such may be the case with Travis Garland, who has shown some serious promise since the dissolution of NLT in 2009. Perez Hilton has even gone so far as to say that Travis’s version of “Dead and Gone” is better than Justin Timberlake’s. Good luck selling that, but then again, I have a serious bias against Mr. Hilton. So I watched Travis perform “Believe” on Idol, and while the song is good, the production was a mess, and I fear that Travis is losing his window because a rookie like Perez Hilton is at the wheel. So what if we free him from that business model and put him in with a seriously talented crew of singers and songwriters? Could it work?
- Alex Gardner – Plenty of folks have already talked about Alex and his over before it starts attempt at hitting the pop charts in the UK. To me, it seems that working with Xenomania has now become the kiss of death (as the ladies of Mini Viva can now attest to). So what’s a talented young guy with a great voice and pin-up looks to do? Perhaps he joins forces with three other talented vocalists and attempts to conquer the music charts in that form. I don’t know if it would work, but my brain goes in odd directions at times. It’s safe to say that he’s going to need a back-up gig if his next single isn’t an out-of-the-box smash.