Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Thursday, 8 February, 2001, 10:21 GMT
Popstars: Is this the future of British music?

Five performers have been plucked from 3,000 hopefuls to form a new pop band after weeks of live auditions on ITV's Popstars.

Instead of writing their own music and forming their own group, Myleene Klass, Suzanne Shaw, Kym Marsh, Danny Foster and Noel Sullivan were chosen by judges on the basis of their singing voices, personality and marketability.

But many argue that this type of manufactured band is the deathknell for the music industry as it stifles creativity and real talent from entering the British music charts.

But does it make any difference how bands are created at the end of the day? Is this indicative of the music industry today? Is originality dead?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Come back Saxon, Iron Maiden etc

ND, England
Whatever happened to a group of friends getting together and jamming around for a few hours, then going on to form a 'real' band. Come back Saxon, Iron Maiden etc. True musicians have no chance in the manufactured sterile world of so called-music today.
ND, England

I am 13 years old and I think that the TV industry is making a big fuss over nothing!
Megan J. Singleton, UK

I sincerely hope this "is" the future of pop music. For the first time in living memory a manufactured band has been chosen for talent first and looks second!
Guy Chapman, UK

Thank God I grew up in the seventies.
Amanda Bradley, Washington State, USA

Those who got through to the final stages are all truly talented

Janice, UK
After watching 'Popstars' I will look at people in so-called 'manufactured' bands in a new light - I had no idea that they could sing! All those involved put themselves through hell just to have the chance of doing what they love best - singing! Those who got through to the final stages are all truly talented. Some were rejected on the basis that they would not fit the 'image' of the band but unfortunately, life is like that in all businesses. In terms of the charts, it's like fashion. Good luck to bands who are trying to make it by doing something new (or old) - but if you are not in fashion, then it is going to be difficult to get off first base. Good luck 'Popstars' - have your five minutes of fame, make loads of money - they are all just jealous!
Janice, UK

When exactly was the last time anybody over 16 bought a single anyway? Therefore it seems straight forward to me that these groups are aimed at 10 year olds - that's probably why my 10 year old loves these groups so much. Not my taste but then again I don't like McDonald's either.
Chris UK,

You don't like it? Don't buy it! It's as simple as that! Constant whining that the 'music industry' dictates what we listen to is nonsense; there is always an alternative. The 'music industry' is merely only supplying to the demand.
Andy, UK

For years and years this sort of thing has gone on. Most of Motown was manufactured yet now these artists are considered with critical acclaim. The world of rose-tinted glasses changes our views. I don't mind if this is the future as I always have and always will listen to the music which is not of the moment.

Stop talking about the 'band'. They're a 'group'. Call me old fashioned, but a band has a singer, 1-2 guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, and writes its own songs.
Claire, UK

The charts themselves are organised in such a way as to limit the music that appears in them

Roy Mack, Wales
I am a blues musician currently enjoying success in the USA. The only boy band/girl band/can't decide what sex I am band, ever heard of over here are the Spice Girls and they are "has-beens". Hopefully that era is at an end. I was once told by an owner of a record company that their "target group" is made up of 13 year old girls of below average intelligence. Does that not say it all. He also said that "the charts" had nothing to do with music, that they were selling fashion and styles. The other thing to bear in mind is that the charts themselves are organised in such a way as to limit the music that appears in them. If sales of all recorded music were considered we would have C&W and "easy listening" filling the charts!
Roy Mack, Wales

These five are talented individuals, most of which cannot play a note. The mighty media hype will guarantee their success. This activity by "the big boys" will continue the collapse in the popularity of the singles chart which is the testing ground for all new talent. What's needed is for the industry to increase their business risk and sign up real bands, the rewards will be greater in the long run for all and we could see a greater appeal of the singles market due to a variety of musical tastes being catered for.
Richard Matt, UK

I really hope that Popstars has opened people's eyes to how boy/girl bands are manufactured, marketed and forced into our ears. It is just another example of the white collar music industry governing what the general population gets to listen to on a daily basis. Bring on the day when all musicians are given equal opportunity to be heard without the filters that are the record companies.
Kerry Munn, New Zealand

Enough is enough! It's time for the media and television companies to stop giving these man manufactured pantomime actors, and their management companies the platform to be force fed on us. It is a sad state of affairs that the true talent in our country are being left in the rehearsal studios and small live venues throughout the country. There is a generation of musicians whom have been left on the shelf by record company big-wigs in favour of these stage school graduates. It's not that this country has no talent, it is, sad as it may be, that our true stars are packing shelves in supermarkets, and working on building sites, just to make ends meet.

We need to do something about it now, and regain our country's reputation and past record of producing the world's best super-groups, and song-writing talent. It would have been a sorry state of affairs if the Beatles had been judged on their ability to mime or dance now wouldn't it. I rest my case.
Tracey Bowman, U.K

Auditions aren't a new thing in music -airing them so publicly is. I have no problem with the process, merely with using the process as part of the hyping up of the new group. Good luck to the five kids - they have earned their shot at fame.
Rodger Edwards, England

Sometimes older is better, certainly that is the case with music now

Elle, England
I don't watch TV so I haven't endured this other than in the press. However if we'd only ever gone for "pretty" people we would have lost a great deal of talent in the past. Roy Orbison, Alison Moyet, Barry White even Lemmy to name just four - all great but probably not considered "pretty". All of them in different ways made a huge contribution to the music industry and if music then had simply been judged on appearances and not on actual talent, quality songs and song writing then we'd have been down the pan years ago rather than heading for it now. Just look at all the "covers", (nothing now is ever original), all of them plain awful versions with the original always a million times better. Enough said. I remember the 70's and 80's and up to the late 80's it was great with some real talent and some great bands and singers. Sometimes older is better, certainly that is the case with music now.
Elle, England

The next step in this cultureless, mind numbing farce will be to literally clone pretty, sterile bands, insert a microchip to control their behaviour and watch the money roll in. Come back Lemmy and Philthy Animal Taylor of Motorhead - all is forgiven!
Richard Smith, Venezuela

Time for another musical revolution...PLEASE!

Stewart, UK
It's usually a mistake to be nostalgic and glorify the past, but as a teenager of the mid 70s-early 80s who has continued to follow popular culture throughout the 90s, we truly have reached the bottom of the barrel - believe me. Time for another musical revolution...PLEASE!
Stewart, UK

There is plenty of good music around, but all the manufactured groups prevent it from ever making an impact on the charts. People who are genuinely interested in good new music know where to find it, so the charts are really meaningless. The music industry is, of course, about making money and if these manufactured bands make the most money then the record company bosses are doing their jobs well.
Andrew, England

Manufactured bands will have a place in the future providing their music sells. (Which I'm sure it will.) This does not mean that other bands will not also have a place in our musical future. Artists are often very open minded in what they produce. Surely we can be open minded enough to listen to music from a variety of sources.
Ruth, UK

So they can sing other peoples lyrics and dance, great! No wonder the UK's music fails to crack the USA, they must laugh at us. Especially when we once gave them the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd etc... Lets see these Popstars fill a stadium with 90,000 people.
Gary, UK

Get real! Bands, many of whom have achieved considerable success, have been "manufactured" for decades

Rob, NZ (ex-pat)
Get real! Bands, many of whom have achieved considerable success, have been "manufactured" for decades. The music business isn't just a bout a good song, it's about marketing and all that goes with that. Now, whether or not this is "good" is very subjective. Not my kind of music, I must admit, but those kids have singing skills, musical skills, appear to get on well together, can dance, have some degree of personality (who said everybody has to be grumpy and violent like Oasis?). Ever heard of the spice girls? Hellooo-reality calling!
Rob, NZ (ex-pat)

Ironic, isn't it.... they get picked by going through some fairly rigorous voice-auditions, but if they achieve fame and money (which seems inevitable given the absurd hype), they'll soon be able to afford the luxury of miming everything on their "live" appearances! Whatever happened to musical integrity?
Glenn, England

I don't think Elgar has much to worry about.

Originality is not dead. It's easier (and cheaper) for music execs not to look for it.
Steven, N Ireland

If its not your type of music don't listen to it!

Caroline, London
Lets not get so serious about this whole 'manufactured band issue'. If its not your type of music don't listen to it! There is a variety of music and talent out there which you can be listening to. The 'Popstars' success will depend largely on 'younger listeners' on which are marketed to. So all of you in anger over the future of British music - don't fret and get a life.
Caroline, London

I fail to see how this group will be different to all the other manufactured bands that are currently in the charts. How the band is created makes no difference as all that matters to the music industry is the profit. It is simpler and cheaper to manufacture a band and use marketing to force them into the top 10 than it is to find genuine talent. This band is the future of mainstream music.
Richard Read, UK

Popstars just proves what ends the music executives have to go to in order to get the public's attention now

Will, England
I'm truly hoping that the whole 'manufactured band' idea is on its last legs now... Popstars just proves what ends the music executives have to go to in order to get the public's attention now. When Eminem starts getting to No.1 around Christmas time, you can be sure that at least some of the population are after something more original! I sincerely hope that Popstars is a swan song for the boring ballad bands.
Will, England

This is no different to the early manufactured 'artistes' such as Marty Wilde, 'Cliff Richard', 'The Monkees', 'Take That' etc etc. It might provoke a 'Sex Pistols' type backlash if we're lucky.
Phil White, UK

My concern is that in between the obvious selection on talent there is a inevitable concentration on appearance and the grading of people by it. And while you might say it goes with the territory, to see the road to success made clearer for the prettiest sends out a fairly grim message to our children. So what do I expect? It's how popular culture works, people want to see young vibrant pretty people. Maybe, but I'm not sure I want to see this kind of natural selection happen right in front of my eyes.
Chris, UK

The amount of music being made has seriously dropped since about the 60's with Popstars marking the rock bottom. Today's music lacks any emotion or ingenuity, no feelings are conveyed or felt from its performance. These bands are manufactured with one thing in mind- the production companies' wallet

'Songs' have absolutely NOTHING to do with this series, let alone song-writing ability

Chris W, England
'Songwriting' has been mentioned in other people's comments. It's interesting that this entire series was dedicated to watching 5 people get chosen for their singing ability and looks, and now we're all talking about 'songs'. 'Songs' have absolutely NOTHING to do with this series, let alone song-writing ability. The song which they will release has already been written, and will obviously go to Number 1 because of the series. But... thank God that these 5 actually ARE singers; seeing bands get in the charts when 'dancing' is their only talent depresses me even more.
Chris W, England

I think it's really refreshing that a band has been selected predominantly on their ability to sing. Over the last few years we have been subjected to a litany of talent less wannabes out to make a quick buck from a music buying population that should know better! However the 'pop stars' programme still highlighted our absolute inability to tolerate anyone who was remotely overweight, pig ugly and vaguely 'normal'. In other words the series ditched anyone who failed to charm us with their loud, over bearing personality. Hardly ground breaking then!!
Rebecca Southwell, UK

To be honest I think that manufactured bands ruined the UK music scene years ago. I am in an unsigned band called MYST from Birmingham and I find it increasingly frustrating, boy/girl bands are preventing serious songwriters and guitar based groups being noticed just because we do not fit into a fashion fad of the moment.
Simon, England

It is a shame that the music for today's young generation has to be manufactured in this way. With so many original and talented young bands out there just looking for a break into the big time. To think my kids will be singing to their kids the likes of "There ain't no Party like an S-Club Party" is pretty sad.
Charlotte, UK

Music is about Manufacturing, Marketing and Money

Dave Braithwaite, England
Music is about Manufacturing, Marketing and Money. Music is longer a form of expression; it's designed to be as unoffending as possible like a trained dog. It should be wild, rough and full of passion; a forum of expression that causes controversy because it's dealing with real world issues. Look at Eminem...
Dave Braithwaite, England

I think people take music far too seriously. What's wrong with a cheap happy song? It may not be a piece of art, but it's still music. People have too narrow a view of music, who cares who made the song, if you're in the right mood and it's a catchy song, then where's the problem? Stop being so negative and enjoy the music.
Alex White, UK

Why listen to 'pap' at all, when we already have over one thousand years of 'classical' music to explore ? All the originality you need is there in front of you.
John Harper, UK

The current state of music is atrocious. We have boy/girl bands singing songs that have no meaning or they re-do old songs. They sell on the basis that they can sing, and that they look good when they're doing it. In the opinion of the music industry, creativity can die out. As long as the money keeps coming in, they're happy.
Luke O'Sullivan, UK

Big music moguls only create groups like this because they can't get a grip on all the indie talent around. They only know how to market and produce sugar sweet dolly clones. Come back the Osmonds all is forgiven!
Richard, England

If this is even the future for elevator music I'll be leaving the country. I wonder if anywhere warmer than Siberia will be free of this garbage.
John S, Uk

Wasn't it lucky that the Rolling Stones, the Pogues or ZZ Top never had to audition for the plastic pop that emanates from the record companies nowadays
Bob Spicer, UK

The future of the music industry? I really, really hope not.
Ben, Paris, France (English)

I think the whole concept is a joke. What's happened to music today? The industry is now just another "fast food" subsidiary: it makes me sick to watch this kind of programme. "Is this the future of pop"? Probably!
Toby, UK

What concerns me much more is the overwhelming number of cover versions in the charts

As a songwriter, I don't see a problem with a manufactured band. They will always have their place in the music industry. What concerns me much more is the overwhelming number of cover versions in the charts. Cover versions can be very valid, if the correct approach is taken, but the attitude seems to be that the music is only a minor part of the "product" and a cover is cheaper than a new work.

I think the programme shows a lack of creativity in the TV industry by hijacking another art form to increase ratings. By doing this hand-in-hand with the money-obsessed areas of the music industry this has to be a low point in the broadcasting/performing arts. Manufactured bands and reality TV don't really inspire the creative amongst us. Both are symptoms of the general apathy amongst the sofa-sitting public and their willingness to lap up whatever is given to them without any attempt at discernment or intelligence.
Still, if you want to be a "proper" musician, there's never an easy way to the top. Wherever that is.
Simon Gibbons, Luxembourg

I'm truly hoping that the whole "manufactured band" idea is on its last legs now. Popstars just proves what ends the music executives have to go to in order to get the public's attention now. When Eminem starts getting to No.1 around Christmas time, you can be sure that at least some of the population are after something more original! I sincerely hope that this Popstars tosh is a swan song for the boring ballad bands.
Will, England

It depends a great deal on the quality of the songwriting

Julian, Wiltshire, UK
It depends a great deal on the quality of the songwriting. Doubtless the hype will put their first few singles high in the charts, but to stand the test of time, they'll have to make good records, like everyone else. Manufactured or novelty bands have always been around but they get forgotten soon enough if they don't continue to make good music.
Julian, Wiltshire, UK

I like the programme a lot. It doesn't bother me at all where a band comes from - it's the music at the end of the day that counts.
Paul H, England

... but only talent survives ...
Mark M. Newdick, USA/ UK

God help us if it is!!!
Dave, UK

Well I couldn't care less how the band was put together

Phill T, UK
Well I couldn't care less how the band was put together. I think the five that were chosen were great (apart from Danny - he's ugly and cries too much - great voice though), and I look forward to hearing their first single. Lets just hope it's not 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' or 'Monday Monday'!
Phill T, UK

We need new bands all the time so if we stop there will never ever be any more music and that would be a great shame!!!
Mike, England

I'm sure I speak for everyone above the age of 14 when I say that I have no interest in anything in the Top 30. Ignore them. The real class and talent out there rarely make an appearance these days. Now, I am only knowledgeable in jazz, hip-hop and drum 'n' bass music so I will cover this area. British DJs, producers and artists are making some incredible music right now in these genres. British hip-hop is making a big impact in US with many UK producers in demand. As for drum 'n' bass? Well these guys are playing to 20,000 people in Brazil! 28,000 people saw Roni Size in Central Park last year. And British jazz music is always consistently strong. Basically forget everything that a major label puts out and listen to the independents - there you will find British music flourishing with freedom.
Chris Lucken, UK

The sooner this sort of band goes out of fashion, the better

Matt Charlton, England
I watched most of the Popstars programmes and was shocked and was dismayed to see people with real talent turned away because of the way they looked. At the end of the day they're making a band that looks pretty and can sing together to keep the teenagers happy. I'm just glad that some of the real talent that was thrown away have managed to get their own record deals. The sooner this sort of band goes out of fashion, the better.
Matt Charlton, England

People have always sung songs written by others but today we are flooded with sterile rubbish aimed at 13 year olds. I'd rather work in a salt mine than listen to Westlife.
Dave Eyrl, UK

The songs will still be written and produced by men in their mid-forties. They and the record companies will be the real winners. All this has proved is that TV has the ability to make this 'pop group' a huge success without releasing a single note. Sad news for music - happy news for shareholders.
Alex, NZ (ex-pat)

I didn't know that the charts still mattered to anyone over 12 (age getting lower every year).
Andrew, Japan

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

05 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Popstars face the press
04 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Celebrations for winning Popstars
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories