What's the ultimate boyband myth?

Jelai L. Tarosa - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - When music aficionados, especially those into rock, discuss about boybands, what usually thrown is a kind of rant about them being sellouts. That they’re just faces who can sing and dance, not certified musicians.

Looking closely with eyes truly wide open, such a criticism is actually off the mark. That’s unfair to members of boy groups who really do their assignments as artists and whose “handsome stage act” serves as mere bonus to their package as complete talents.

Members of top-selling boy groups Blue, 98 Degrees and a1 are sure to prove this true when they perform at the historic Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Q.C. February next year. The show set on the 25th, which is anniversary date for EDSA 1 is called The Greatest Hits Tour: Blue, Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees and a1: Live in Manila 2012.

“We are more of a ‘band’ set-up rather than a pop act, so we have everything we need,” stated members of a1 in an interview.

The group has been performing as a three-piece ensemble for about a decade now with member Paul Marazzi out. He left the group before they split up the first time.   

Others may think that boybands just sing others’ compositions. But don’t say that to a1 who write theirs and turn them into big songs. One of their biggest hits here, Like A Rose, was written by member Ben Adams when he was still a teenager. “I wrote it when I was 16 years old on my old upright piano at my parents’ house. I haven’t told anyone this really as most people assume it’s a love song. But it was actually originally written for my mom!”

Mind you, they even reworked it according to the taste of today’s generation. “We have just updated it for a brand-new version for 2012, which was amazingly fun to do! Very excited for you all to hear it!” he added.

That boybands usually perform without guitars should understandably be deceiving in terms of technical appeal. Besides, they do that for the packaging. Take note that Justin Timberlake used to be a member of a boygroup. Look now, the guy is a versatile record producer-performer who already worked with the likes of Duran Duran and Madonna.

Timmons, founding member of 98 Degrees who is now a solo act, earns extra respect for ably keeping the fan base of his former group intact. Even before, his appreciation of his work goes beyond live performances. It goes inside the studio and the process involved in creating their songs. “Out of all the hits, Invisible Man is my favorite,” he said, “It is the most soulful of our radio songs, and it was the first song we ever heard of ourselves on the radio.”

He recalled putting to tape I Do in Nashville with mega-producer Keith Thomas. The piece was written by singer-songwriter Dan Hill. “I remember being there right after finding out about my ex-wife being pregnant with our daughter,” he noted with a touch of poignancy.

Fans of 98 Degrees won’t see the whole group performing. Yet, that shouldn’t be a problem as its strong contemporary pop sound lives on through Timmons. He is sure to sing many of their hits such as Because of You, The Hardest Thing and My Everything.

In a little talk regarding the upcoming Manila show, he shared, “I know Manila fairly well. I love pancit and other foods from that area. The jeepneys crack me up, and the traffic and mega malls are bananas. The people are amazing. They treated us like kings, always greeted with ‘Hi, Sir,’ and ‘Thank you, Sir.’ They only talk like that in some parts of the US.”

Not only do these boybands possess real talents, they also do a show according to what their crowd wants, unlike some ego-bloated musicians who don’t mind irritating the spectators for as long as they get to play what they want. “We will do our best to do every big hit! We are doing this for the fans and want to give them what they want to see,” a1 assured. 

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