by Adam Gold
As if there wasn’t already enough contrivance in today’s pop-country bailiwick, come 2012, fans of the genre may have some new genretically modified sustenance to consume. And Music City’s 16- to 25-year-old aspiring Chesneys, Urbans and Paisleys have a new opportunity to submit their fresh faces to the pop-country wood chipper of dreams.
Rodeo Entertainment — a company established by artist manager Jeff Rabhan and former music publishing exec David Schulhof — says to expect all that and more when they join up with Clear Channel Radio to present the Country Boy Band Search, an open-audition, nationwide star search of shameless, “talented male singers in the nation between 16 and 25” to eventually amalgamate as “America’s first Country Boyband.”
In addition to settling the long debate over whether America truly is “the nation between 16 and 25,” an event listings request sent to the Scene this week boasts that this conceivable band of boys, or “supergroup” as the sendee’s botched vocabulary dubs them, will “go on a nation-wide tour, work with the best songwriters and producers in the industry, and release an album on a major label” … before probably getting dropped, maligned and buried alongside the bones of Take 5 and whoever’s idea it was for Jessica Simpson to attempt a career in country. So says my crystal ball.
If that sounds like the sort of hope and heartache you 16- to 25-year-olds out there can believe in, then make sure to request Nov. 18 off from your job at Shoney’s and set your sights on The Nashville Ballroom where, at 9 a.m., Rodeo Entertainment clowns will hold an open casting call.
According to the contest’s official site, hopefuls are encouraged to bring “the voice, the moves, the look, and the personality that make [them] stand out,” if possible. The contest is also accepting home video submissions. Still interested? Here’s an application.
Audition home videos should look and sound something like this:
Here’s a little Music City-tinged, boy-bandy anecdote I’m sure probably isn’t unique just to me and my experience in Nashville: Back in, oh I don’t know, I wanna say 2007-ish I was patronizing the pro audio department of Guitar Center Nashville — the tappiest place on earth. I was having difficulty paying attention to whatever-the-hell professional specs on whatever-the-hell piece of audio gear I was checking out at the time. And not because the assisting floor rep’s technical jargon was over my big, dumb drummer's head, or because he was doing a shitty job on his up-sell, or because the pocket-book-gouging green tag sticker price on the item had me seein’ red, but because the whole time he was talking all I could think was, “Where the hell do I recognize this guy from?”
And then it hit me. O-Town! Dude is from fucking O-Town!!! Turns out his name is Jacob Underwood (aka O-Jacob), and it was definitely the bandanna-wrapped dreads that eventually gave him away. And no, not Oak-town as in Oakland, Calif., but O-Town is in the ready-made boy band that didn’t really, you know, make it.
Surely you remember O-Town, right? They were the turn-of-the-century, pop-Babylon funky bunch that was Frankensteined together by teen-bop impresario Lou Pearlman on and for season one of the 2000 MTV reality series Making the Band. As you undoubtedly deduced long ago — perhaps even by way of a trip to Guitar Center — O-Town didn’t exactly fare as well as other Pearlman joints like Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Though earlier this year news broke that the Town, who called it quits in 2003, has remade and repopulated itself, reuniting with all original townies accept for one Ashley Parker Angel — the one, if any, whose name you’re most likely to actually still remember. (BTW, the revamped group should seriously consider rechristening itself as Accept 4 1.)
An unnamed Guitar Center employee tells the Scene that Underwood stopped working at the store a couple years ago and moved back home to his native San Diego, Calif. So it looks like he’s no longer chasing his music dreams in Music City, assuming that’s what he was here doing. For more info (and fanfic) on the continuing endeavors of O-Town, surf on o-ver to O-Town Web: The o-nly source for your O-Town Cravings, still SHARINGTHISFEELING in 2011.
Despite their eight years of trials and tribulations, whatever they may be, it’s safe to say that the members of O-Town, both former and current, have made out better than Lou Pearlman. Now known as inmate #02775-093 at the Texarkana Federal Correctional Institution, Pearlman, it turns out, wasn’t only the Svengali behind every horrible, blond, five-pronged thing to come out of Florida wielding pops, locks and headset mics during the late’90s and early Aughts — most of whom seemed to have ended their relationship with Poppa Lou in acrimonious litigation — but also the white-collar criminal mastermind behind a decades-long, elaborate Ponzi scheme that fleeced investors in a fictitious airline company out a jaw-dropping $300-plus million. And he was wasting his time dabbling in the music business? Really?
Given the audio vomit Lou Pearlman foisted with such unmitigated velocity at the world without even having to, I’m convinced he’s an outright psychopath, in addition to being a known sociopath — an indiscriminant but somehow shrewdly discerning taker of money and souls — having, you know, made off with both for an unbelievably long time. And speaking of long times, following federal convictions of conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements, Pearlman’s transgressions earned him a prison sentence of 25 years — that’s more than seven times the length of the average boy band’s career. At press time, Pearlman’s release from the clink is slated for March 24, 2029. He’ll be a spry 74 years old.
Buuuuut, it looks like you might not have to wait until then to hear from him.
While the long arm of the law has forced Pearlman to say bye, bye, bye to his freedom — much like an incarcerated gang leader — he’s apparently still a threat to society even from behind bars, where — for a little while at least — he was co-managing a Florida rock band named (not kidding) Biteboy! You owe it to yourself to see the 2008 interview with the band on working with Pearlman posted here.
So, while you’d think cautionary tales like that of O-Town, Ponzi schemes and prison sentences would be enough to sour any singer on the romance of boy band Babylon, Rodeo Entertainment and Clear Channel Radio are betting against that. According to Billboard, CCR (no, not that CCR) Senior VP of Programming, Clay Hunnicutt, said of the Country Boy Band Search in a statement, "Clear Channel loves to ignite creativity among talented artists living in local communities across the U.S. … This is a great way to inspire our local listeners to show off their talent." Did some suit from Clear Channel really just mention the terms “creativity” and “local communities” in the same goddamn sentence? The fuck?
Anyway. Nov. 18. 9 a.m. Nashville Palace. Um, Is Brandon Jazz planning on going to this?