Simon Cowell knows how to hustle.
He came perilously close to bankruptcy in the early ’90s after his label Fanfare Records folded — catching a cab to his mother’s house with £5.26 in his pocket, praying the fare wouldn’t exceed that desperately scant monetary amount — after which he took an A&R position at BMG, working novelty records from musical powerhouse such as the Power Rangers, and the World Wrestling Federation.
A cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ from two British television actors, Robson Green and Jerome Flynn, became an unlikely hit, and the highest selling single of ’95 in the U.K. to boot – netting Cowell his first million.
After this, he barely misfired, signing 5ive, The Teletubbies, and Westlife, and helping launch the Idol franchise with Simon Fuller.
His onscreen role as a grumpy judge brought him fame, but it was his Svengali touch behind the scenes that saw him become a real powerhouse, using his position on the show to develop and sign acts that either caught the public’s imagination, or his own.
To fast-forward somewhat: X Factor, Leona Lewis, One Direction, plunging neckline – world domination. Of course, with the 1D lads splintering off into solo careers with varying levels of success (time will tell who will become the Jason Orange – I predict Liam), there was room in Cowell’s stable for another world-beating boy band.
Enter PRETTYMUCH. All caps, no spaces, stylised in a way that will piss off professors, and impress SEO buffs.
The group is made up of five teenagers who range in age between 17 and 19, and looks-wise between Zayn to Harry – with a touch of late ’80s NKOTB action. There isn’t even an older, weird-looking member, as is often customary in the boy band world.
They built an online following through months of posting photos of their own faces, and not a lot else. Occasionally they would perform some very-Idol-friendly covers: Michael Jackson, Drake, Aaliyah etc.
Now they have released their debut single, and it sounds like it could slot comfortably onto the Backstreet Boys debut American album – the one where they were ‘back’ before we knew who they were. The chorus bears a passing resemblance to Britney’s …Baby One More Time, and the production is pure 1997 Swedish pop factory fodder. This should be out through Jive. One of them should be dating a Sugababe. You get what I’m getting at.
Oh, the boys’ names. There’s Austin, and Brandon, and Edwin, and Nick, and Zion. Those are solid boy band names. Zion will no doubt be known as ‘Z’ during the boys’ interview banter, while Edwin will drop to Ed once Sheeran’s Divide drops off the charts. Bran the Man. Austin.
These guys are going to be massive, and there’s very little you can do. So, why not lean into it?
After all, listen to that song. It’ll be stuck in your head all the way home, and you’ll probably be quite alright with it.