Dust off your buffalo boots, practice your dance moves and tighten your pigtails, because Backstreet is back, Britney is giving us more and the Spice Girls are reinventing girl power. Or are they? 2007 is seeing a comeback of many of our favourite ’90s pop bands, but the question remains: is it a reinvention or just a return of the same material and same cheesy grins? And more importantly, do we want them back? There is a reason why, when singing in the shower, many of us would rather croon to “Wannabe” than sing something new. These old hits remind us of bygone days, hazy memories of bad hair and fashion faux pas. The problem is that these pop-made stars are stuck in our memories in their original forms. Haunted by matching outfits and synchronized dance moves, they are struggling to redefine themselves in a new era.
Power to the girls
This appears to be the case for the Spice Girls,
ever-haunted by their alter egos Baby, Posh, Sporty, Scary and Ginger. The strength of these stereotypes is probably why the Spice Girls’ comeback tour will focus on their old hits rather than producing new songs, followed up by a greatest hits CD in November. This is probably a wise move, seeing as the fan base that bought all the tickets within 38 seconds of availability are likely to be the same 8-to-11-year-olds who learned their dances back in 1997. Needless to say, the stadium will be filled with their dedicated fans who will know all the words, despite now probably being in their twenties. They will enjoy reliving the days when everyone had memorized the lyrics to the Fresh Prince rap and still played Tetris. But it is unlikely that this comeback will be much more than a novelty, one not likely to go any further than reminiscing. The Spice Girls are taking this for what it is and capitalizing on it. Smart girls.
Boys changing it up
This may not be the case for the Backstreet Boys, who seem to be taking a different, more mature approach to their re-emergence on the music scene. Having made several forays back onto the charts since the five officially split in 2001, the Backstreet Boys are not looking to be the same band they were way back when, for better or for worse. The boys have spent over a year in the studio trying to produce an album that will please their established fan base and appeal to a new audience. This is likely to be a shrewd approach, one made successful by the band Take, one of the first British boy bands who made a comeback this year. If the Backstreet Boys can learn how to target the new demands of its maturing fan base they is likely to be successful. They should take a leaf from artists such as Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake who, having entered the charts as pop sensations, are now on top of their game as ruling R&B hitmakers.
Oops, please don’t do it again Britney
Perhaps the prime example of what not to do can be seen in the life of former pop sensation Britney Spears. While the teen star was the one we wish we could bring back, the world continues to hang its head at the tragedy that is her attempted comeback over the last year, which came to a head at the mess that was the MTV Video Music Awards. The days when Britney “drove us crazy” had us begging for more, but now fans and audiences are asking her to keep it all to herself. The star of the pop charts is now the star of the tabloids. Nevertheless, it still appears that people are crossing their fingers for her, whether out of pity or hope, and are willing to bring her back into the realm of top pop star. And who is to say that “Gimme More” isn’t in fact a catchy song worthy of the charts-as long as it isn’t performed by Miss Spears herself.
Kat Maher may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.