In the beginning were the Beatles. The Fab Four.
Then came the Monkees: the Pre-Fab Four. Not because they existed before the Beatles–everybody knows that the Monkees came later–but because they were prefabricated, manufactured to be like the Beatles. Auditions were held, two actors and two musicians were selected to star in a TV show that was supposed to be a TV version of “A Hard Day’s Night.” Records and concerts followed, of course. And while they didn’t quite duplicate the success of the Beatles, they made money and were popular, and they remain known to this day.
Jump forward twenty or thirty years.
Manufactured groups are all over the place. They all look good in videos and on stage, and while their musical ability is debatable, their dancing is perfect. They’re famous and they make money, both for themselves and their producers and managers. Lots of it.
Imagine for a moment that you’re a producer or manager and you want a piece of this action. If you could construct a rock or pop star, how would you do it? Male or female? Single, duet, or group? Teen-oriented pop, heavy metal, new country, whatever? At which demographic would you aim your star(s)? What musical instrument would your star(s) play, if any? What songs would they sing, what kind of videos would they make, what would happen at their concerts? What would you be looking for at the auditions: talent, looks, dancing ability, vocal ability? Any or all of them?
Let’s get into the lab, and manufacture a pop star!
No, the Rutles were the Pre-Fab Four. Get the facts straight.
::cough:: Fabian ::cough::
::cough:: Shelly ::cough:: Fabares ::cough::
No, Prefabfour was a young runner from Seattle who died. Get the facts straight.
sigh Okay, okay, okay.
Actually, I thought Shelley Fabares’ “musical career” was just an extra revenue generator that followed an existing precedent. (One that would be taken to a painful extreme by William Shatner in later years.)
As for Fabian, there have been any number of teen idols: Sinatra, Anka, Darin, Sherman, Osmond, Cassidy (both), Garrett–nothing really ground-breaking about them.
And the Rutles… Next thing you know, someone will mention Spinal Tap. But manufactured for a movie parody on the music business with an album tie-in (or, in the Tap’s case, also for a Simpsons episode and a few other appearances) doesn’t count.
But your points are valid. All I was trying to show was that someone decided that they could manufacture a successful group by imitating an already-successful one. My example took place in the 1960s. What would you do today?
I have absolutely nothing of import to add to this thread, other than to say I initially misread the title as:
“Igor! Instead of a monster, let’s build a pop tart!”
which nearly made my brain explode from the surrealism.
Actually, the Rutles’ primary songwriter (Neil Innes) actually had a top 10 hit* (in England, at least) before the Rutles were formed.
Manufactured teen idols dated well before rock music. Frank Sinatra, for instance. His Paramount concert – which established him as the #1 heartthrob for teenage girls of the day – was completely staged so that the girls would scream and faint. Sinatra had some talent, so he survived.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t the first.
As far as making one myself, the formula is simple (see “Making the Band”): get four of five 20ish “cute” guys, teach them to dance, and write a catchy pop tune for them to sing, and promote the hell out of them.
*“I’m the Urban Spaceman,” produced by the immortal Apollo C. Vermouth, who also played banjo. Or should I say, Sir Apollo, since he’s recently been knighted? Anyway, Paul McCartney rarely mentions this on his resume.
What about Johnny Ray? Or, as us children of the 80s know him, “Poor old Johnny Ray”? He was before Sinatra, right?
I also read it as pop tart.
“Igor! Build a pop star!”
“Yes master! BRAINS!!! BRAINS!!! Er, on second thought, let’s skip the brains part…”