Before Simon Cowell was known for being a bastard on American Idol, he was an A&R talent scout for BMG in England. After becoming bored with promoting singles from professional wrestlers, he wanted to find a male Spice Girls and successors to British boy band Take That. Auditions were held for an "edgy" boy band, and they got down to the finals when five contestants met and decided to go in as a group. Hence the formation of "5ive", as they were often dumbly called: Scott, Sean, Rich, Abs (stupid name, but because his name was also Richard), and J. The edgier aspects came from the fact that they incorporated rapping into many of their songs. At the time, I thought they sucked at rapping, but in retrospect they weren't so bad. Compared to Kevin Federline's "Popozao" and D4L's "Laffy Taffy", J and Abs are Biggie and Tupac. Also, their lyrics often had sexual innuendo and overt references beyond that in typical boy bands, and unlike most, they were not prevented from having girlfriends publicly. In the U.S., they had one hit (still better than most British acts), the top 10 "When the Lights Go Out", and managed to score platinum with their debut album. Personally, I had always preferred their far less successful (#53 on Billboard Hot 100, thanks to wikipedia) follow-up, "It's The Things You Do". It was a catchy as hell Max Martin track that only got a single release in the United States.
It's The Things You Do (Video Version) - This is a radio edit that features a second sung verse, as opposed to the raps in the original. It's somewhat rare, and I actually have it on a cassette single! It's The Things You Do (Sean and Dave's Excellent Extended Mix)- This is pretty rare too, it's from the maxi-single, although I have it on a Club Mix compilation somewhere. It's basically a longer version of the album version, which features the hilarious rap parts. I remember that my local radio station (Y100.7) would use the instrumental as a music bed for the DJs to talk over, several years after it was released. I would keep thinking the song would come on, but eventually realized and stopped being dissapointed when it continued to loop the very beginning endlessly.
As a bonus, here is the music video for the Max Martin track "Until The Time Is Through", a sweet ballad that was released in Europe.
Tomorrow we're moving forward to 1999, possibly the greatest year for Max Martin and teen pop in general ever, with some of the greatest pop songs of all time (IMHO) being released. Britney Spears debuts, BSB take it to a new level, and ballad queen Celine Dion (!!!), up next.
Finally, it's time for 1998. This was the year that I truly got into music and became obsessed. Now for the pop!
After seeing the success of the Backstreet Boys, creepy man Lou Pearlman decided to form another boy band, *NSYNC. J.C., Justin, Joey, Chris, and Lance also got their start in Europe, and gained their success specifically in Germany, first. '98 was decided to be the year they would come back to their native country, and they also struck it big.
I Want You Back - Their first American single. Many people said this sounded like a slowed-down "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)", and I definitely saw it, especially as a huge BSB fan that thought *NSYNC were total copies. Either way, it's more good ol' derivativeness, but it works. Tearin' Up My Heart (Dance Remix) - Second single. At one point I had two labeled remixes, but now I only have one, with no idea who did it. It goes with the dance-a-lot video, huh? :P
Later (after I watch American Idol, heh), five bad boys with the power to rock you (or so they claimed), with the help of the dudes behind the Spice Girls.
As the Backstreet Boys came back to their native America and finally gained success, they released their second album in Europe and Canada, the aptly titled Backstreet's Back. In my opinion, it was a total step up from their first album. Their first two CDs were combined to make the American debut, but I think they left out some Max Martin gems that are some of the best songs off both albums.
10,000 Promises - The first Cherion ballad I've posted here, and it's a great one. Max can be versatile when he wants to be :P That's The Way I Like It - Okay, IMO this is one of the greatest songs in their entire back catalog. I will never understand why it was left off the American album. It's a kick-ass upbeat track. The very first time I heard it, I was attending my first concert ever, where they performed it. I could barely catch any lyrics and had no idea what the song was, but I absolutely loved it. Then I got the import of the second album and I was hooked.
Now for some songs that actually did make it onto the American tracklisting: As Long As You Love Me (Soul Solution Radio Edit) - Their second U.S. single off the album, often accused of being a wierd, messed-up song for the lyrics of not caring who someone is (a serial killer?). Everyone knows it, so I put this poppy dance mix up instead, which I got from an exclusive Sears promo CD during their Millennium promotion. Everybody (Backstreet's Back) [Radio Edit] - This is the song that got me into BSB, and modern teen pop in the first place. (It wasn't because they were cute, because it was the first video I saw, and they were dressed like monsters!) This is the radio edit that features a bridge by Nick, as opposed to the extended version that appears on all later U.S. pressings of the album ("Everybody" was only added on later) Everybody (Backstreet's Back) [Matty's Radio Mix] - A good poppy r&b type mix from the maxi-single. I think they might have performed this remix on an awards show once.
All right, that's it for today. Either tomorrow or Tuesday (depending on my work load...i've got a theater appreciation exam on Tues.), i'll post up the best Max Martin songs of 1998. It's creepy Svengali day, featuring another group made by Lou Pearlman, and the moment when Simon Cowell began reaching for world domination. Wanna take a guess? Hint: They're both boy bands...
This next group is more unknown than the acts i've featured so far. Solid HarmoniE was a girl group, somewhat like the Spice Girls but not really. They were made up of three British members: Melissa, Mariama, and Beki; and an American member: Elisa. Despite that, they were part of the whole late '90s Orlando teen pop scene, and associated with the likes of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, probably due to having several songs produced and written by Max Martin. They had mild success in Europe, but pretty much failed in the U.S. Melissa (the lead singer) left the group for an unsuccessful solo career. Mariama briefly joined British pop/r&b group the Honeyz, and the other two recruited a new member (whose name I can't remember) to record a second album, which never came to fruition despite there being clips floating around on the Internet.
I'll Be There For You/I Want You To Want Me (Medley) - The two songs are virtually the same...so what? This was on a sampler disc that came with a BSB video I bought. I'll Be There For You (Matthias Radio Mix) - They only released one single in the states, "I'll Be There For You". This is the disco-ish b-side remix. To Love Once Again - Their album was the very first one I imported online (I bought the BSB CDs through the mail) in early '99, through CDNOW (remember them?). It's pretty uneven...the Max Martin tracks (along with "I Wanna Love You", written by one of Max's main collaborators Kristian Lundin) were pretty much the only stellar songs on it.
Welcome to 1997! This post is focusing on Robyn, the Swedish singer that had a few hits in the U.S. in the late '90s. Before she became a bloggers' favorite last year with her independently released self-titled album, she was working with Max Martin and Denniz PoP, doing some great pop songs. As far as I know, she was one of the first artists to be involved in co-writing their songs with them.
Her first single, and probably her best is "Do You Know (What It Takes)". I've posted both the original and a hot boppy r&b/pop remix from the CD single.
Forgive me for interrupting the Max Martin tribute for some more recent pop from one of my favorite artists, Natasha Bedingfield. I'm not sure if this is for a new album or a possible re-release of Unwritten in the U.S. Either way, enjoy. The music is good, but I think it'll take some time to grow on me.
Max Martin was the king of the teen pop sound in the late '90s and early 2000s. His music style has evolved from beat-tastic bubblegum to the current rock-influenced music he produces. Believe it or not, that's actually a return to his roots, given that he started in a heavy metal band. He began producing in around 1994, but it was the following year when things really started getting going, with the debut single (and following album) from the Backstreet Boys.
These are tracks from my very own import copy of their first self-titled album release in Europe. I begged my mom to order this for me sometime in 1998 when I was an obsessed fan. Only several tracks are Max Martin songs, but for the most part they're clearly the best ones. This is also the start of his collaboration with Denniz PoP, whom he wrote and produced several of the greatest pop songs of the 1990s with.
We've Got It Goin' On - Their first single, released in 1995. It was a flop in the US but a hit in Europe, which got their career going over there. It's pretty cheesy and definitely not one of my favorite songs of either BSB or Max, but I think it's a good introduction to both. Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart) - This is the original version, released in '96. It has both verses sung by Brian Littrell, as opposed to the American edit on the U.S. debut that features Nick Carter's vocals as well. (Probably because Nick still hadn't completed puberty at the time of the first recording ;) I Wanna Be With You - In my view, this is one of the best songs on this album. It wasn't chosen for the American album, and I have no clue why. I think it was in the live-action Casper movie with Christina Ricci or something.
Hey, this is my blog, dedicated to pop music! In a few days i'm going to be starting a chronological retrospective of the best of Max Martin, Swedish producer and songwriter extraordinare. Be warned (or excited) that while some of his biggest smashes will be covered, i'll also include lesser-known tracks, remixes, and alternate versions for the most well-known ones...because if you're reading this, you probably have the good taste to have the original versions already. :)
Anyway, let's kick this off nice with some new songs by the Sugababes. As you may know, founding member Mutya was recently replaced with another girl, Amelle. At first I didn't like her, but her voice is really growing on me. As a result, they decided to do a re-release of their most recent album, Taller in More Ways. It's actually quite the ripoff, including only one new song (it's great, though) and three re-recorded tracks, including their new kick-ass Xenomania single "Red Dress". (Apparently Mutya hated that song, which all of a sudden makes me extremely happy she left .) So i'll post them all here, along with a live track!
They also have a great cover of Arctic Monkeys' "I Bet You Look Good On the Dancefloor", but that's on a million other blogs so I won't upload it. ;) But here's the performance from the NME Awards on YouTube! Okay, now I think Amelle rocks.
Next post starts the Max Martin extravaganza. Not sure what i'll start with, but it'll probably be some early Backstreet Boys.