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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 16:58 GMT
To Popstardom and beyond
Popstars lineup
Popstars: Stepping into the media glare
The road to pop stardom is littered with the skeletons of manufactured bands.

Every week there are adverts in the entertainment press calling for talented youngsters to leap aboard the pop production line.

Myleene Klass
22, from Norfolk
Classically trained musician
Backing singer for Cliff Richard
Appearances with k d lang and Michael Ball

Only a few - like the Spice Girls and Westlife - make it to the top.

Now that five unknowns from the TV show Popstars have become the Next Big Thing (that's not the name of the band), bets are already being taken their chances of a Christmas number one.

Bookmakers William Hill put the odds at 6-1.

But pop history has shown manufactured bands can be a transient thing.

Suzanne Shaw
19, from Bury
Youngest member
Has appeared in plays and musicals

The bookies have also opened the betting on who is most likely to leave first - all this before the band has announced a name or released its first record.

Popstars Down Under

But Myleene Klass, Suzanne Shaw, Kym Marsh, Danny Foster and Noel Sullivan can take some comfort from the astonishing initial success of their New Zealand and Australian counterparts.

In 1999, the Popstars programme in New Zealand culiminated in the creation of TrueBliss, an all-female group whose debut album Dream sold more than 20,000 copies in its first three weeks of release.

Kym Marsh
24, from Wigan
Stage school graduate and mother of two

But a year on from the band's first national tour the first crack appeared.

Carly Binding (worst habit - burping, according to the TrueBliss website) left the band to pursue a solo career.

"As you know I have spent most of my time lately writing music, which initially fitted the TrueBliss identity perfectly," she told the fans.

The Monkees
The Monkees were "manufactured" for TV
"But I soon discovered that my music was going in a completely different direction and for that matter, so was I."

The Popstars formula repeated its success in Australia with the launch of Bardot - another five-girl group.

After their every move was captured by the TV cameras, the five unknowns' debut album and single went straight to the top of the charts.

Both are due for release in the UK in April 2001 - providing possible competition for their British counterparts.

Monkee-ing around

Of course manufactured pop groups are nothing new.

Danny Foster
21, from Hackney, East London
Trainee primary school teacher
Discovered voice during karaoke session
The 60s saw the Monkees and Partridge Family put together for TV shows, while in the 80s producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman made an art of putting photogenic non-musicians in the studio and emerging with shiny pop hits.

The Monkees have proved that manufactured pop can endure the decades.

Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and Peter Tork became an instant hit worldwide in 1966 and split up three years later after a run of top 10 hits such as I'm a Believer and Daydream Believer.

The original quartet got together in 1996 to record a new album - but Nesmith eventually dropped out.

Noel Sullivan
20, from Cardiff
Former fishmonger and waiter
Toured America with male choir

The remaining Monkees are touring the US this year under the title Monkee Mania Returns 2001.

With the current frenzied press and public interest in the latest generation of Popstars, it's certain those classified advertisements for pop wannabes will be appearing for a long time to come.

It can only be a matter of time before the first tribute band is formed.

Is this the future of the music industry?
See also:

05 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Popstars face the music
04 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Celebrations for winning Popstars
26 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Bets on for Popstars hit
23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Popstars wannabe gets second chance
02 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Pop wannabes battle for fame
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