Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Big Reunion | Why 'Girl Thing' Are The Most Fascinating Case Study

The second series of The Big Reunion is in full swing. The current crop of pop-stars of the past are 3T, Girl Thing, Eternal, A1, Damage, and a 'supergroup' made up of former popstars Gareth Gates, Dane Bowers, Kavana, Kenzie, and Adam Rickitt.
It uses the same formula as it did last year-first we hear about the successes and then subsequent falls from grace from each of the bands which always includes at least one of the following: Alcoholism, drug addiction, debt, and bust ups. In last weeks episode we learnt about the story behind 'Girl Thing'. For me, theirs has proved to be one of the most, if not the most, interesting story so far. Find out why after the break.

For me, like a lot of other 90's kids, this is an exciting show because both series' have included the bands that were huge when I was young. Literally, some of the people I had on my wall! It's a fascinating insight into what was truly a golden decade in pop music. It's great to re-live the glory days of the 'Smash Hits' era and to get to hear some of the amazing hits that time has now forgotten. When this show first started last year with Five911Atomic KittenB*WitchedBlueHoneyz and Liberty X, I couldn't wait to look back on some of my favourite artists from when I was just a little kid, the artists who to me, were living the dream. Even if I wasn't a fan of all of the acts, they all had some amazing hits that are pop gems.
The downside to this show is that it reveals the shady side of the industry, and it seems that most, if not all of the acts were having a horrible time! It's strange to think that the people that I enjoyed and thought were having the time of their lives were often battling addictions, depression, and huge amounts of pressure. We have discovered that most of the acts were manufactured as quickly as they were ditched on the production line that is the pop music industry. I'm even more more interested in this series because I was in a girl group up until a few years ago, so I can relate to a lot of the things the bands on The Big Reunion talk about, although my story is nowhere near as dramatic as some of the stories we have seen on the show.

There have been many raised eyebrows about the inclusion of short lived girl group 'Girl Thing' due to the fact that they were around for such a short time that most people don't even remember them. Personally, I think that they are one of the most interesting case studies on the show. Their story is a great example of how single minded a record company can get in their pursuit of out doing their rivals. Simon Cowell put 'Girl Thing' together simply to compete with the Spice Girls who were an unexpected success at the time. Cowell had previously turned down the Spice Girls, so the ambitious businessman did what happens so often in the music industry, even now. Whenever there is a successful act, whether that is Adele, Dizzee Rascal, or The Black Eyed Peas, the 'industry' reacts by immediately looking for a similar act to sign up. No doubt, when The Black Eyed Peas became a hit, bands who had previously been overlooked, whether that was because they were physically mismatched, or if they were not making the kind of music that was 'in vogue' at the time, they would suddenly be receiving phone calls and opportunities. The truth is that 'the industry' doesn't know what is going to work-the public decides. So although  record companies have the financial means to ram certain acts down our (the consumers) throat, ultimately, it's us who decide if we like it or not. This is something Cowell and his company learned the hard way with 'Girl Thing'. Determined to make them a success to rival The Spice Girls, they were put together quickly and as we learned in the show, millions of pounds were ploughed into them. They were put in a house together, provided with the best hair, makeup, and clothes stylists from around the world and given the best publicity and exposure that money could buy. At one point in the show, one of the girls recounts the moment when the Eiffel Tower was hired solely for the use of Girl Thing as a publicity and photo opportunity, and they hadn't even released a single yet! The girls talked about being treated like superstars before they had even achieved anything, and the confidence that the record company had in them getting a number 1 with their first release 'Last One Standing'. Dramatically, the single debuted at number 8-a massive disappointment for the powers that be and a huge knock to the girls. After this, the public and media didn't really seem to be on side, and after a few more disappointing chart positions, the girls were over. Suddenly, all the people treating them like superstars disappeared, and the girls were left to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives.

What fascinates me most with this story is the single mindedness of the record company in doing everything in their power to inundate the public with the girls' image in order to ensure success. It's an important lesson for the wannabe pop stars of today who might audition for one of the many TV talent shows and hope for the overnight success that many of the Big Reunion acts had. The fact is, that you might indeed be one of the lucky ones who are in the right place at the right time, or the person that the public take to when they see you on television, but as quickly as it can come, it can go. It's something that anyone striving for anything in life knows innately, but Girl Thing really show the ugly side of it when it goes wrong. There are many artists like me out there who don't have the means to push our music as far as record companies can with all their contacts and all that money to spend on PR and publicity. Luckily for us, we live in the internet age where it's much easier to get your music heard. It's hard, but we keep going! The stories from The Big Reunion have served to remind me to be grateful for being able to take my journey at my own pace, and hone my craft without being thrust into the limelight for the sole purpose of being competition for another act in order to make everyone else around me rich. I wish everyone on The Big Reunion lots of luck in turning this opportunity into something bigger-they all had a dream and got chewed up and spat out, but here's to second chances.

What are your thoughts on Girl Thing and The Big reunion in general? Let me know in the comments!