As Adele makes her long-anticipated comeback to the world of pop, Man About Toon looks at some other major music comebacks that took their stars from zero to hero and put them firmly back in the limelight, as well as some that, erm, didn’t.
The year is 2002 and Justin Timberlake is the lead singer of boy band N*Sync and the former Mr Britney Spears. She hasn’t had any children, a sexual awakening or a meltdown and he is yet to establish himself as a bona fide global mega star. That is about to change with the release of his debut solo record, Justified. A heady mix of slick pop with R&B vibez, Justified saw production from Pharrell Williams and The Neptunes, as well as contributions by Rodney Jerkins, Janet Jackson and Timbaland. Justin was a boy no more. The double denim suits were no more. And last, but by no means least, the corn rows and jheri curl were NO MORE. With cropped hair and abs that wouldn’t quit, JT became a solo superstar, this album selling over 10 million copies worldwide and earning him a Grammy.
Billie Joe and friends were riding high in the 90s. Their 1997 single Good Riddance (Time of your life) was a pop punk anthem for the great unwashed, full of melancholy and restrained angst. However, music that followed fail to make an impact and many wrote the band off as a flash in the pan. After a few failed attempts to produce an album, the band dropped a little record called American Idiot in 2004. Then all hell broke loose. With the album’s title track, which hit number one on the Billboard Hot 200, Holiday and Wake Me Up When September Ends, the band said a big, loud hello to a whole new generation of fans. American Idiot became the unofficial anthem opposing the Iraq war and catapulted Green Day into the political sphere. A hit musical based on the album has also been produced.
It’s difficult to think of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll being anything but. The swinging 60s, however, were not Elvis Presley’s finest years. He was being overtaken in the charts by bands like The Beatles, who were leading a brand new generation in a different cultural direction than the King had in the previous decade. His newer songs were being laughed at by the industry and his films were not bringing in the same money as they previously had done. In 1968, Presley was approached with the idea of a TV special with the aim of getting him back on top. The show featured classic hits like Jailhouse Rock, Hound Dog and Love Me Tender, which he dedicated to his then-wife Priscilla. It became the highest-rated television special of the year and helped him reclaim his former chart glory, with a US Number One (Suspicious Minds) and his first UK Number One in years, The Wonder Of You. A live album of the recording was also produced. As the 40th anniversary of his death approaches, the music of Elvis is well worth revisiting. This particular clip from his NBC TV special shows not only his natural knack for charming an audience, but also his warm, all-American humour.
The Sugababes began life as a cutting edge pop girl band with bags of attitude, a stark contrast to their sugary name. The Sugababes ended life as a laughing stock. With a revolving door of members (six) and endless rumours of in-fighting, the newest line-up of the group unofficially called it a day in 2014. Original members Mutya Buena, Keisha Buchanan and Siobhan Dinghy decided to bury the hatchet and get the old band back together in 2013. The unoriginally-titled MKS released a very original tune in Flatline, which was critically lauded but commercially forgotten about. Literally it was as if the fans, who had very vocally campaigned for the band to get together, had forgot to buy the song. It limped to number 50 in the UK charts and disappointingly spelled the end for Sugababes 2.0 before they had even got out of nappies. Their much-hyped debut album has yet to be released and at this point, it looks certain to have been shelved.
EVERYONE FROM THE BIG REUNION
Clues in the title, guys: This was a reunion. And just like family reunions, it should only happen once a year, at a push. However, some of the acts taking part in the ITV2 show, which reunited old pop bands to prepare them for a one-off performance at the Hammersmith Apollo, tried to keep this reunion going. The first series included 5ive, B*Witched, Atomic Kitten and Liberty X, all of whom to be fair have gone on to enjoy a renaissance at charity dos and Pride events up and down the country. After becoming a ratings hit, ITV2 commissioned a second series, featuring such music heavyweights as 3T, Damage and Girl Thing. Needless to say, none of these acts seem to have replicated the success of their glory years. A TV
guilty pleasure does not a musical comeback make.