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The Concept Band - Band or Stage Show?

Posted Jun 8th 2011, 12:06

What makes a band? To me, a band should at least write their own music or lyrics. If a group of people get together to create and write music and have a vision, that is one thing. However, I really dislike groups that are put together for the sole purpose of making money.

The Spice Girls is not a band. They are a group of women who perform on stage. Yes, they have some great songs, and they do contribute to the writing, but they do not play any instruments. The only reason that they are together is because they fit the part, and not because they had any real interest in music.

In fact, they did not even know each other when they started their career in the music industry. The girls auditioned for their parts in what amounted to simply be a money making scheme. They are the brainchild of a father and son team who realized that they could capitalize on a “band” that featured all women singing. With this in mind, the two men placed an ad in a local paper and began auditions.

The ad stated that they were looking for a number of women who could sing and dance. More than 400 hundred women auditioned for the roles in this concept group.

The Monkees, who gained popularity in the late sixties, is another prime example of the concept group. These four men got together not for the purpose of music, but as actors for a television show. Bert Schneider and Robert Rafelson dreamt up the idea for the TV series. They pitched the idea to Screen Gems Television who wanted the Lovin’ Spoonful to play the part of the band. When this idea fell through, they decided to have open auditions.

If you read about the history of the formation of this popular group, you will learn that the only reason that Mickey Dolenz was given the position as drummer was that Davy Jones was too short to be seen behind the drums. Davy was hired more for his looks than for his musical talent.

Peter Tork, Mike Nesmith and Micky all had some musical background before getting their roles. They were good guitarists. However, they did not perform on most of the original shows due to not having enough time to practice together as a group. On the first songs, the guys did their own singing, but session musicians played most of the music.

You have to give this band some credit though because they were aware of their failings and went to great lengths to correct them. They wanted to play on stage and have control over their music. The boys were eventually able to perform all of their songs, and they even managed to get the rights to supervise everything that was put out under the name of the Monkees.

The worst case of the concept group has to be Milli Vanilli. These guys made millions and they did not even sing! In the late 1980s, Frank Farian had the idea for this duo. He put two guys out front who had a great stage presence and used other people’s voices in the background.

The two stage performers were Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan. These guys stood on stage and lip-synched. The voices used on the music tracks belonged to twin sisters Linda and Jodie Rocco, John Davis, Brad Howell and Charles Shaw. This band actually won a Grammy, which was later revoked when the fact came out that the two guys out front were not the singers. The awards that the group was given by The American Music Awards are still in possession of the group, because these awards are based on the fan’s choices and not people in the industry.

When this scandal became public knowledge, the group was hit with more than 25 different lawsuits. Instantly, they became one of the most infamous groups in the industry. Despite various attempts to repair the damage to their reputation, it was too late. They were never again able to regain even a portion of their previous status.

These are just three examples of concept bands. Ok, maybe I am nit picking, but to me these are not real bands. I am not saying that there are not some talented singers or stage acts that do wonderful recordings and have their place. There are a few. However, they are not “bands”.


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