I'm an idiot. I've been completely neglecting this blog lately. I've been doing a bunch of personal stuff, but this isn't the blog for that. Except that I will mention that I got straight A's this semester, which says that pop music is great for studying, even more than classical. :P Also, I managed to name check Girls Aloud in an environmental studies project (guess which song!), so it was good all around.
Another thing i've been doing is discovering defunct singers and groups that I didn't really pay attention to the first time around. From 2003 to 2004, I was kind of slacking on my British pop, so now i'm catching up, and i'll post about it in the next few posts.
Today's installment is about V. Comprised of Aaron Buckingham, Antony Brant, Kevin McDaid, Leon Pisani, and Mark Harle and formed in 2002 while making the UK pop scene in 2004, they were an all-singing, all-dancing boy band that appeared at a time when the UK music scene was less ready for a pure boy band with little pretentions of credibility. Ironically, they were managed and signed by the same people as Busted and McFly (the latter of whom are releasing their debut U.S. album next Tuesday, which is 99% sure to flop as i've seen absolutely no promotion outside of that Lindsay Lohan movie) and pimped out as the opening act on all their respective tours to the point where an interview by Danny of McFly was a selling point for one format of their first single, when it was their fusion of guitars with the boy band style of harmonies and pop hooks that helped do them in.
At first, they seemed to have potential to be successful. Debut single "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" (not a tribute to '60s/'70s classic rock band) charted at #6, and the double A-side followup featuring Xenomania track "Hip To Hip" and Jackson 5 cover "Can You Feel It" (the song Madonna stole the bassline for "Sorry" from) did one better, at #5. (The "Can You Feel It" video is hilarious and on YouTube, with one as a hot-ass milkman.) However, the ballad that was supposed to take them to new heights, "You Stood Up", missed the top 10 despite TV promotional appearances featuring the boys singing underneath rain effects, the album of the same name bombed, and that was it for them. It's mostly unknown what has happened to most of the members, except that Kevin is dating Mark from Westlife, Mark is starting some sort of band, and Aaron is apparently doing some pantomime shows in England.
I'm kind of sad that I didn't discover them while they were around. From what I gather, all the members seemed to have lively and distinct personalities, unlike most boy bands these days (check out Aaron's PopJustice column). They could sing, were attractive, and had some great songs. Just goes to show you that it doesn't always work, even with the coattails of successful bands to ride on top of that. Now for the songs!!
The three Xenomania tracks on the album, and they all kick ass. While they're not quite masterpieces on the level of "Love Machine" or "Hole in the Head", among others, I think they're certainly worthy. "Fools" especially is brilliant, and was co-written by all the members of the group. I'd love to see them write more songs for male acts, although I see several reasons why it doesn't happen more often. It seems as if female pop artists can get away with being slightly more quirky and still be commercially viable, while if some guys try it, it might not have the same effect. Judging from this unofficial site of their productions, V is the only all-male act they have written original material for.
Walk On - A track by StarGate, who also did the original version of "Blood, Sweat and Tears" and several other songs on the album, as well as many other artists. This is a cool song that's basically about how girls shouldn't tease and lead a guy on if they've already got a man. Chills in the Evening (featuring Tom and Danny) - This features one half of McFly, and sounds like one of their songs, as it was written by Tom Fletcher (same one that sings on the track) and James Bourne, formerly of Busted and now of Son of Dork. it's surprisingly haunting.
Hip to Hip (Tony Lamezma Pop Mix) - I spent a shitload of money importing a CD promo with these two dance remixes, which were never commercially released. This one is perfectly described by the name; it's a giddy, pop-dance tour de force. Hip To Hip (Gravitas Saturday Night Mix) - This remix is more clubby, and removes the comedy rap portion, if you're not a fan of white dudes attempting to spit rhymes.
Just For You - This is a hidden track on the album, only accessible by rewinding from the first track backwards. This makes it absolutely impossible to listen to via computer. However, after endless searching, I managed to find some tricks that let me burn a copy of the album and access the song, which I then had to snip from the first song off the album proper AND silence. It's a cute, sweet acoustic ballad. Sample lyrics: "i'm gonna take her to the flicks/gonna buy her some Pick 'n' Mix". A funny part occurs near the end when one of the members' cellphone rings, and he tells the caller that he's recording a hidden track for the album, which is the best in-joke reference to making a pop album since Miss Lohan herself said that talking between songs is rad. Blood, Sweat and Tears (Almighty Mix) - Cheesy yet great remix production from the good folks at Almighty (who are another "what happened to" story - when was the last time they were commissioned for remixes by an outside act, as opposed to doing covers of existing hits of variable quality?). This was used as instore music in Abercrombie and Fitch sometime in 2004, which is one of the many musical reasons I would love to work there if they didn't pay minimum wage and I wasn't too fat to get hired by them.
If That's The Way It Goes - B-side to their first single. It's nice, but I see why it didn't make the album (however, why a mysterious unknown song that was supposedly their obscurity-saving equavilent of Atomic Kitten's "Whole Again" wasn't, I don't know). I'd still say to check it out.
Boyband Medley (Live) - They knew their history of the groups that came before them. This acoustic medley features "Pray" by Take That, "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" by the Backstreet Boys, "Keep On Movin'" by Five, and closes with "Relight My Fire", also by Take That. There are some nice harmonies on this one. Hip To Hip (Acoustic Version) - Also on the acoustic tip, it works surprisingly well.
Indestructible - This was the b-side to the single "You Stood Up". Unfortunately, the title did not reflect the group itself, that split soon after. They made an attempt at doing a "goodbye gig" in mid 2005, but it never materialized. To keep the dream alive, you can always play this interactive game that is Dance Dance Revolution for the computer, where you use your keyboard's arrows to hit the right marks, set to V songs. One day I might do a feature on promotional Flash pop games. Given that their band name is impossible to Google (possibly not the smartest move), I would be remiss not to link their official website, which should remain online for a few more months. After that, it's all about archive.org.