Where do boy-band survivors go to live out the humiliation of adulthood? These days, they go to VH1, to star in Man Band, a reality series featuring former members of N*SYNC, LFO, 98 Degrees, and Color Me Badd, desperately trying to squeeze that mega-stardom genie back in the bottle.
My first thought about Man Band — other than: “Who the hell was LFO?” — was that the last thing you’d want to do if you’re trying to make the transition from tweener idol to adult artist is to form a group with a bunch of pudgy 20-something has-beens.
Sure enough, when Man Band manager Miss Kate ropes the guys into performing at an Orlando Magic game, the carnage is horrifying. They’re booed like Barry Bonds at Dodger Stadium, and who couldn’t see it coming? Sports audiences are predominantly male, and there’s nothing that American men despise more than boy bands. And the women in the crowd would prefer not to be reminded that they once wanted Color Me Badd to sex them up.
The only boy-band alumni to carve out credible solo identities for themselves over the last 40 years are Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, and MJ seems to have emerged from the brutal Jacksons-Osmonds War with severe head trauma.
Timberlake’s lesson — get out before Chris Kirkpatrick sinks everybody’s career — is apparently lost on the Backstreet Boys. Two years after releasing a bummed-out comeback album that did not bring them back, they’ve released “Inconsolable,” a bummed-out power ballad that suggests Coldplay jamming with Nickelback.
Now reduced to a quartet (Kevin Richardson quit last year), the Boys are grimly determined to hang together, even if it means that they can never return to the cafetoriums and amusement parks of their glory days. Howie Dorough (the one who doesn’t have a soul patch, never dated Hilary Duff, and never had open-heart surgery) recently promised that the band would match the longevity of the Eagles.
Buckle up, desperados. Life in the slow lane surely makes you lose your mind.