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A Little TLC for NKOTB and BSB?

Backstreet boy bands and Spice girl groups return?
Abby Johnston, 12:55pm, Thu. May. 2, 2013
photo by Abby Johnston
Boy II Man: Justin Timberlake at SXSW 2013

Boy band revivals have already reared their ugly head this decade. Does NKOTBSB ring any bells? In 2011, the halfhearted attempt to drag Boston’s New Kids on the Block into the 21st century relied on the assumption that a tour with Orlando counterpart the Backstreet Boys would bring some relevance back to the men-sans-instruments approach.

Later this month, NKOTB tries again with the Package tour, a partnership between fellow early-Nineties superstars Boyz II Men. Fortunately, the latter’s stylized name didn’t allow for a confusing jumble of consonants as an acronym. Making up for that, perhaps, Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees announced earlier this month that the group’s working on a new album.

As a child of the Nineties, I can’t completely write off boy bands. They brought us Justin Timberlake, after all. If that’s the genre’s only lasting contribution, it’s more than enough.

Unwillingly, maybe by sheer muscle memory, my mouth could form all the words to most any boy band song, though I doubt I still have the Darren’s Dance Grooves video that taught me most of the moves. Like it or not, boy bands inform much of today’s ever evolving pop as well as the generation that consumed their music.

More than renaissance – save if Timberlake did a solo tour singing only N’Sync songs with the other members quietly shuffling in the background – I was excited to hear about a TLC reunion in the works, with an opening date set for VH1’s Mixtape Festival in July. The two surviving members, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, have neither confirmed nor ruled out rumors of a hologram for their missing third, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez (RIP).

For my part, I believe any such misguided attempts at poignancy would sully the potential reunion.

Destiny’s Child Super Bowl Halftime extravaganza probably set all this into motion. Sure, it was largely the Beyoncé show, but when was it not? Seeing the core trio back in action gave the fleeting impression we could expect more – a spark quickly extinguished as Mrs. Carter headlines her own world tour.

In fact, where are all the girl group anniversary tours? The London Olympics left me craving more Spice (Girls) in my life, and the Viva Forever musical tribute to the UK’s girl-power darlings just wasn’t enough. Perhaps it’s motherhood keeping the ladies’ former quest for world domination a distant memory. Victoria Beckham, who remained in the limelight due to her fashion career and superstar husband, famously chose family over her Girls on the opening night of their musical.

I’m holding out hope that more of the femme-friendly, girl power spirit will arise from the wreckage of Nineties-era platform sneakers and Harem pants. We need that symbol of female solidarity back in our Top 40 rotation.

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