Monday, 25 January 2010

Let's hear it for the boyz

As JLS get ready to release their third single (despite it feeling like they've been around since 1997), it's worth sparing a thought for some of the other boybands who are still diligently beavering away, but without the benefit of rock-hard abs to help them shift units.

First up is Boyzone, a group so resolutely unthreatening they could have replaced their last CD insert with a knitting pattern. They've had a tough few months since the death of little Stephen Gately, and have won the hearts of the nation by being unafraid to publicly grieve for their fallen comrade. But when you're in the middle of a big comeback, the work doesn't stop, so the lads are bravely soldiering on.

Their new single, 'Gave It All Away', received its first airplay last week and somewhat hauntingly features Stephen's last recorded vocals as he sings the line "I will learn to live before I die". Just in case that isn't enough to get you reaching for the tissues, the video shows the remaining foursome remembering their impish pal and struggling to write notes of condolence.

The problem is, their grief is a little too real, too palpable. When we're so used to seeing moments of faux emotion and crocodile tears, there's something deeply unnerving about seeing four grown men sobbing so hard they can barely concentrate on their close-up.

No-one can deny that they're really feeling Stephen's loss. Still, it's a little weird that they're willing to share their pain so publicly in what amounts to little more than a three-minute ad for their new product.

Westlife have also been in the news lately, creating a different kind of media fuss by running the risk of giving their fans seizures. Back in the sixties, boybands regularly knocked out hundreds of women at a time, like they were bystanders in a Pepé Le Pew cartoon. But whereas the Beatles could anaesthetise half of Wembley thanks to their raw, edgy virility, the danger posed by Westlife is more of a standard health and saftey concern.

According to complaints logged with Ofcom, the X-Factor "broke broadcasting regulations with the Irish boyband's lights display because it could potentially have triggered epileptic seizures in viewers. A light effect was used five times faster that the safe recommended level. Three viewers complained to Ofcom about the flashing images used on the show."

It's not known how many people complained to Ofcom regarding everything else about their performance.

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