The Shit List: The Top 10 Best Boy Bands EVER!


Egads, what crazy grass must we be smoking to even ponder the thought of compiling a list of the best boy bands ever?  I mean, aren't all boy bands from Hell?  Not so fast, there, buckaroo.  If by "from hell" you mean at least partially constructed and/or taken under the wing of a svengali whose oversaw all facets of the band's presentation, the available talent pool is not as limited as one would think.  And so we bring you the definitive list of the ten best boy bands of all-time!

The Beatles

While the Beatles had attained a sizable level of local popularity on their own, it was a fateful Cavern Club gig attended by Epstein that would set in motion the events that would lead to four charming hooligans becoming the single most influential band of all time.  But what if Epstein hadn't gone to see the band at all, or simply didn't like what he heard or saw on the afternoon of November 9, 1961?

Epstein's first decision as manager was to clean up the band's image, eschewing jeans and leather jackets for suits and ties.  Then he got them to fire their drummer (and best looking member, oddly enough) in favor of someone who could cut it in the studio.  See, the one thing he did that the lesser boy band svengalis found distasteful was to make sure all band members were studio-ready.

He'd already seen them live so he knew they could play, but it was an absolute must that they were capable of rising to the occasion in the studio - so important, in fact, that he would dismiss the best-looking member of the band in favor of someone not-so-good-looking (sorry) who could cut-it in the studio and the rest, as they say, is history.  What he could never have foreseen is how great a match staff producer George Martin would be for the band as Lennon and McCartney blossomed as songwriters.

The Beach Boys

They began as a harmony group consisting of three Wilson brothers, a cousin, and a friend managed by the Wilsons' overbearing father, who controlled every facet of their careers early on.  While were too young to experience their early success first-hand, our first impression of the band with the matching striped shirts and G-rated surf songs was the very essence of prefabricated pop.

Of course, the fabricator of said pop was none other than melodic boy genius Brian Wilson, whose offhanded attempt at writing a topical song on the burgeoning Southern California surf craze to appease his brother Dennis would not only turn into the band's first hit, but a career that the band would mark earlier this year with a 50th anniversary reunion tour.  Of course, it would take ruthless mnagement decisions from dear ol' Dad and their first label changing the name of the band without the group's knowledge, or permission, for all the pieces to perfectly fall into place.

For much of their career, though, they've lived this odd double life as a milquetoast singing group playing the nostalgia circuit while Brian Wilson remained locked away in the recording studio creating multi-layered "teenage symphonies to God" that would challenge the Beatles to reach all new heights of their own.

The Monkees

They wrongfully get credit for being the first boy band simply because it was widely known that the show's producers had held national auditions to fill the roles and that Mickey, Mike, Davy and Peter didn't actually write or play on their first album (well, except for "Papa Gene's Blues").  That didn't stop us from loving their weekly TV antics, which were an obvious nod to the playful lunacy of the Beatles in "Help!".

Of course, the band would ultimately rebel against their own creators, demand that they not only write their own material, but play on it as well.  By that time, their TV show had been cancelled and their mainstream audience had dwindled considerably as the band sought to connect with the counterculture, which is the only way to possibly explain their involvement in "Head".

Bay City Rollers

For much of the mid-'70s, "Rollermania" ruled the world and the Bay City Rollers were the biggest band on the planet, but if not for the perseverance of founding member Alan Longmuir and band manager Tam Paton after two ill-timed personnel changes, it never would have happened.

Of course, these changes would ultimately result in the band's classic line-up - singer Les McKeown, guitarists Eric Faulkner and Stuart "Woody" Wood, bassist Alan Longmuir, and drummer Derek Longmuir - rolling into households on a weekly basis via the hit UK TV show "Shang-a-Lang".  With "Rollermania" having swept through Europe like the black plague, Clive Davis signed the band to Arista in the US, where the band would soon hit #1 with "Saturday Night" and rule the pages of 16 Magazine.

The Archies

Don Kirschner (remember what we said above about "lesser svengalis"?) had been so appalled by Michael Nesmith and the Monkees wanting to write and perform on their own albums that he struck out to create the ultimate boy band, albeit one that would never resist his orders.  For all of their initial success with "Sugar Sugar" and their hit TV show, there was no way a fictional cartoon band could hit the road.  As a result, none of the five albums released between 1968 and 1971 would even get close to the Top 40.  Kirschner would later drop the imaginary band from his roster after the failure of their  1971 album, This is Love.

The Sex Pistols

Much as we love 'em, the sad truth is that the Sex Pistols were a boy band.  Shyster Malcolm McLaren was keen on getting into the music biz, took Steve Jones and Paul Cook's rudderless kind-of-a-band and stuck them in the same room with a kid he and the band literally plucked off the street.  His vision of punks wreaking havoc upon a stale mainstream music scene at a dark time in British economic history not only came true, but created a new genre of music that exists to this day: punk rock.  We can argue that the Ramones came first and that punk would have happened with or without the Pistols, but their now iconic cut-and-paste look is the one most closely associated with the genre and no punk collection is complete without a copy of Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols.

The Jackson Five

Perhaps the biggest African-American boy band of all-time, the Jackson 5 had a lengthy string of pop hits in the early '70s highlighted by the older-than-his-years vocals of one Michael Jackson.  The band came together at the urging of their aunt Wanda Jackson and was soon managed by their father Joseph Jackson, who booked them at local dinner clubs, strip clubs and any talent show within driving distance of the family's home in Gary, Indiana.  Young Michael's singing skills and stellar dance moves were mesmerizing and the band found themselves signed to Motown by 1969, where they were introduced to the world by none other than Diana Ross.  After a switch to Epic Records in the late '70s, the band would produce their own album, Destiny, and score their biggest post-Motown hit in "Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground").

The Osmonds

Oh, they don't get much ink these days, but the Osmonds were an American institution in the '70s that sold over 100 million records.  After starting out as a barbershop quartet, they went to California to audition for the Lawrence Welk Show, but were turned down.  They did manage to land a gig at Disneyland that would lead to them participating in a televised TV special that would be seen by Andy Williams' father, who urged his son to book them on his next special.  Donny would soon join the group and they would be staples of Williams' TV show from 1962-1969.  At the turn of the '70s, the brothers decided they wanted to shed their variety show persona for one that was more rock & roll, writing and recording the album, and hit single, Crazy Horses in 1972.

With Donny as the focal point of the band, his departure to embark on a singing career with sister Marie led the rest of the band to return to performing as The Osmond Brothers as a country act that still performs today.

Aerosmith

There are those bands that start out as puppets for a svengali and eventually turn into notable artists in their own right.  For Aerosmith, quite the opposite was true.  They had begun in 1973 as a Led Zep-inspired American hard rock band, but due to extensive drug use, personnel changes, and a decline in the quality of their material, they had all but broken up by 1984.  When they returned in 1987, it was under the direction of manager Tim Collins, who oversaw the band's breakthrough album, "Permanent Vacation", by selecting songs from a stable of writers-for-hire that included Desmond Child, Holly Knight, and Jim Vallance, with production from Bruce Fairnbairn.  Since then, the band has continued to unleash one chunk of pop schlock after another, all the while touring on the strength of their self-penned early material.

Kiss

That sound you hear in the distance is Gene Simmons cursing our name from his humble commode upon reading this.  Plus, we're reasonably sure we just made enemies of the millions of die-hard fans now coming to terms with the fact that they've been following a boy band all these years.  Much as they would have you believe otherwise, the music has always been secondary to the spectacle.  Heck, it's more like a Broadway show in that the actors may change, but the characters remain the same.  And, boy, did these guys ever take merchandising to all new highs, or lows, depending on how you feel about Kiss Kaskets.

While they were certainly not the first, or the last, band to have their own comic books and lunch boxes, the one thing that truly sets Kiss apart from most boy bands is the fact that their commercial breakthrough came via a live album.  Of course, Kiss' real genius came in their planning for the inevitability of turnover within the ranks.  What better way to disguise a new Ace or Peter than with MAKE-UP?!  so expect Kiss to be the first band to remain active with NO ORIGINAL MEMBERS, or better yet, cloned for regional consumption just like Blue Man Group.

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