5 MilliVanilli– NOT A SURPRISE!
Most famous for their lip synching debacle, you can only blame the powers that be for the swift demise of MilliVanilli. The brainchild of German music producer Frank Farian, MilliVanilli was a complete and total farce. Fronted by Robert Pilatus and FabriceMorvan,MilliVanilli actually featured the singers Charles Shaw, John Davis, Brad Howel. However, they weren’t “marketable” according to Farian. As such, Rob and Fab were recruited – and to a disastrous end. Decades before Ashlee Simpson’s lip-syncing screw up, MilliVanilli held the title for biggest live mess up ever when their CD began skipping, repeating the same line over and over again. The duo had continued to lip-sync and dance for a few seconds before realizing. Even the most well-oiled machine is no match for a scratched CD.
4 Martha & The Vandellas – A Martha By Any Other Name
Probably one of the most convolutedly manufactured bands, Martha and the Vandellas was formed out of the ashes of manager-manufactured group The Del-Phis, where Rosalind Ashford and Annette Beard met. The two girls went on to form The Vandellas with Gloria Williams as lead vocalist, later replaced by Martha Reeves… mostly by accident. Martha turned up on the wrong date for an audition and became a secretary at Motown Records. In the end, through much finagling, the group became “Martha and the Vandellas”. Their unique harmonizing, with Martha’s stunning vocals, is inimitable, but had each step leading up to their formation not been structured by the Del-Phis original manager, nor Mo-Town Records, the band never would have happened.
3 Menudo – Â¿DÃ³ndeEstán los Chicos?
Perhaps the kingpins of manufactured boy bands (Backstreet’s got nothin’ on them), Menudo is one of the longest running manufactured bands to exist. Starting in the 1970s, Menudo is famous for their heartthrob tween boys singing sultry Spanish songs. Unfortunately for Menudo’s members, once they became too tall, too old, or their voice dropped too much, they were booted from the band. A classic case of the band’s brand being completely independent of its members, Menudo continued through for over a decade with one of the largest rotating base known to man (20 different chicos over 20 años). MTV tried a reality TV show called ‘Making Menudo’ which, fortunately, was cancelled due to low ratings. We have Menudo to thank for Ricky Martin and La Vida Loca (so I guess we also have Menudo to thank for William Hung). A vicious circle of life, Menudo was a boy band machine that has gone rusty – probably for the better.
2 Spinal Tap – Meta Theatre Meets Heavy Metal
Any true metal fan has seen Spinal Tap because it is the epitome of meta-theatrical metal mania. A fictional documentary about a fictional metal band with a fictional discography; yet, Spinal Tap actually exists – they made music and they released albums, both in the realm of fiction (as charted by the film This is Spinal Tap) but also in reality. They have a knack for losing drummers to fiery, fiery deaths – except that, in real life, one of their drummers was a woman who wrote children’s books. The embodiment of contradictions, Spinal Tap is just so unique and so cool, and their music is so metal, that you don’t really care if it’s all fake – anyway, is it really? It’s certainly metal, that’s for damn sure.
1 The Jimi Hendrix Experience – SURPRISE!
Hands down I bet you weren’t expecting that one. But it’s true. When manager Chas Chandler brought Hendrix to England, two musicians were introduced to him as his backing band (the experience, as it were). Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell soon became an intrinsic part of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Without them, Hendrix’s music was not the same. In fact, Hendrix’s second project, Band of Gypsies, did not have nearly the same synergy or talent that The Experience had. The Experience dissolved in ’69 after “creative differences” (i.e. Hendrix’s insatiable appetite for hallucinogens and his skyrocketing ego as it related to the creative direction of The Experience). Sadly, Noel Redding was forced to sign over rights to the music in 1974, and he ended up having to sell his precious bass guitar for profit. No sadder demise to one of the greatest manufactured musical experiences, because it truly was an experience.
A strange list to be sure, devoid of what you’d expect when you think of a manufactured band, it goes to show you that the corporate machine comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes it’s to a beautiful end, as the first three on the list prove. Sometimes it’s just hilarious(gracias Menudo!). Sometimes, however, it’s just plain pathetic. Whatever the outcome, manufactured bands will continue to be made, and we just have to wait and see what they will have to offer.