The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Instant pop idols face tired fans

Barcelona, Nov. 14 (Reuters): Manufactured bands may have peaked in an industry increasingly swamped by instant pop idols, according to a top MTV executive.

“I think people will get sick of identikit bands,” said Brent Hansen, President and Chief Executive of MTV Networks Europe, as he put the finishing touches to the music channel’s annual award.

Hansen, whose big night line up of live acts for the MTV show ranges from Eminem to Whitney Houston, believes the current glut of manufactured bands is becoming a turn-off. “The difficulty is when you start to get very cynical about putting together paint-by-number identikit bands,” he told Reuters. “You then tend to devalue the face of performing arts,” he added, reflecting on the Pop Idol winners from TV talent shows who have topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

“The proliferation of them will, I think, turn the public against that style of band for a little while,” he said. That will certainly be sweet music to the ears of pop superstars like Elton John, George Michael and Bono who have complained bitterly about the flood of instant acts. Bono, lead singer of the Irish supergroup U2, has argued: “People are sick to the teeth of processed and hyped pop bands. It is crap.”

It is certainly not a new phenomenon. From the Monkees to the Spice Girls, manufactured pop bands have made a mint for the music industry. With the power of US television behind them, The Monkees tried to ape the zany allure of The Beatles’ A Hard Day's Night and it worked in the hit parade. The Spice Girls were created from an advertisement in a trade magazine seeking singers. They ended up selling almost 40 million records around the globe.

MTV has spawned a whole generation of pop fans reared on a constant diet of music videos. But Hansen said there were few stars that transcended all borders. “The music industry seems to be quite local. There are only about 20 artists that work in the majority of markets,” he said. Instant stardom rarely equals longevity in this most fickle of businesses and Hansen said: “The old-school way was to give them three or four years to build themselves. We would encourage people to take a longer term view on the development of artists. That is the only way you are going to create the next wave of superstars who will give you a sense of solidarity behind your label.”

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