Friday, 21 December 2007

2007 ... The Year of the Comebacks?

With Christmas and New Year drawing ever closer I found myself sitting on a bus in rush hour traffic, surrounded by bulging shopping bags preparing for the inevitable endless wrapping to come. As I spotted an old recycled Fopp bag I began to drift off into my own little world and started to wonder which bands I had fallen head over-heels for this year. The list of tracks and bands that came to mind was not what irritated me, for it was an ample list. What began to horrify me as my mind ticked over this years sound track was that it sounded so familiar ... it sounded like the 90s.

2007 seems to have become a regular Now Album from 1996/7, with the likes of Boyzone, Take That, East 17, Backstreet Boys, The Spice Girls and All Saints reforming for some sell-out tour. Although a sell-out tour isn't always the case, (bless you Aqua for trying a comeback but the world is just not ready for Bratz Girl), I think the words 'sell-out' are rather appropriate. The Spice Girls first London date sold out within 38 seconds. The Spice Girls had a good thing going for them in their day, but now 'girl-power' has become the tacky and cliché worst nightmare of women everywhere. And even though Take That split up ten years ago there are many new reasons to dislike them, not only for foisting Gary Barlow on us all once more but for doing so well that they encouraged every other broken-up nineties pop act to grab a slice of comeback pie. And I mean that somewhat literally when referring to East 17 who let themselves go during their time out of the lime light. Take That have also dragged up with them Five, yes Five are back shamelessly riding on the coattails of others success, yet rather amusingly only four of them wanted to return.

It is unfortunate to admit that to some people these bands are the defining voice of our generation, and with less than 10 years separating some of them from split to hit you have to wonder why? Why choose now to return? It does seem like all these bands are just having some fun, and that perhaps we should all just let go of our cynicism and remember why they were great. But that is the point: they were great. It seems to me as if they are capitalising on the nostalgia of 20-25 years olds, who remember oh so well that day their favourite boy-band or girl-band split up. As if it wasn’t enough that Boyzone let leash Westlife upon us, but they’re back too. You would be as amused as me at this if you could see their first performance....

However, it is not always the case that a comeback is just a way for bands to earn money because they have seen that others can do it. There is a difference in bands such as The Police and Led Zeppelin who have returned to the stage once more. It has taken The Police just over 20 years to reform, and it seems that they have a right to do so, for in their absence they have risen to legendary status, which I can hardly say for the likes of All Saints. The comeback tour or reunion gig is not a new thing for Led Zeppelin, who have been doing one-off gigs since that tragic day in September 1980. The sudden end to Led Zeppelin seemed to be before its time. It is this tragically cut short career that leads me to believe they are not just feeding off the nostalgia of once screaming teenagers but are doing it for the love of music. I can hardly say that East 17’s career was tragically cut short, they just weren’t selling records any more.

While Led Zeppelin and The Police re-capture the glory of their golden days pop bands from nineties seem to be desperately grabbing at straws: performing gigs on what has become known as the ‘nostalgia circuit,’ in places like Butlins because they have realised that poor dancing is not a skill that can cut it in the real world.

And then it suddenly dawned on me, it hasn’t just been music, the entire entertainment industry is looking backwards. With Harrison Ford about to don his Indiana hat for the first time since 1989 and Rocky returning to our screens it seems that 2007 has been the year of comebacks, no matter how successful or tragic they were. They say that history moves in cycles, like fashion, so I suppose the comeback is nothing new, but it has me wondering if in ten years time people will be on the phone for hours just so they can see Rhianna one last time. I just wish that the 90s would stay in the 90s and give the youth of today a chance to listen to great modern music that is springing up everywhere, as well as discovering true classics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember going as a youngster to Butlins and i was pretty over-awed by the slot machines, I remember it beind really grubby though to get to the Butlins entertainment centres.