Planet of Sound


The relentless revivals involving burnt out Nineties ex-teenyboppers is growing old, writes Grace Duffy.

A RECURRENT TREND in the music industry seems to be that when one cannot be original, one can at least re-invent. If times have become so achingly harsh that a brand new discovery simply cannot be made (or funds will not sanction the taking of such a risk), dig out the last thing that sparked and faded and remould it for a new ‘generation’ – in reality, the original audience, now a few years older, who are not always wiser.

This entire venture – a play on the nostalgia of the audience, and their willingness to reconnect with their youth in so drastic a way – has found credence in recent years, with the Spice Girls’ megabucks reunion deal earning lucrative returns and Take That’s complete renaissance as a credible musical act (though the latter had some genuine ability to start with).

For others of the vacuous bubblegum pop variety, they must be recent enough to allow the audience to actually remember their heyday – but not so removed from the public eye as to lack relevance altogether.

In this sense, the Spice Girls had the market cornered instantly when they announced their reforming in 2007. The publicity surrounding one of their former members in particular ensured they remained topical enough to benefi t from getting back together.

However, the fanfare surrounding Boyzone’s reunion the same year was not quite so mighty. The Irish band was on the scene about three years before the Spice Girls; unlike the girl-power iconoclasts, they long overstayed their welcome into the early years of the Noughties. That said, what should have ensured that those with some lingering affection were too old to care was cancelled out by the relative obscurity which followed their demise.

At first glance, the renaissance of old bands is relatively ineffectual and won’t leave too much of a bitter aftertaste. The members have new lump sums to live off and the public can once and for all forget that the ageing has-beens ever disgraced a stage and continue melting back to times past with the re-released CD versions of albums they originally bought on tape.

However, it is also arguable that what was relevant to a bygone era – even if it was only the Nineties – should stay there. The public appetite for cheesy pop music may never expire, but sometimes, great memories should remain just that.