O-Town: Trevor, Dan, Erik, Ashley, Jacob (vocals). Additional personnel: Warryn "Baby Dub" Campell (various instruments, programming); David Kopatz (guitar, keyboards, programming); Anthony Anderson, Dane DeViller, Tony Bataglia (guitar); Byron … see full wiki
The Bottom Line: If you are not a 13-year-old girl, and even if you are, skip it!
My thirteen-year-old daughter is absolutely crazy about O-Town (short for the city of Orlando, Florida), the latest incarnation of the white version of Boyz-II-Men, which includes N-Sync, The Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees. Just the mere mention of O-Towns name is enough to send my daughter into fits of jumping, chest clutching, and high pitched screeching that is enough to make me worry about her sanity. But I know, this too will pass, I hope!
Although I have heard snatches from their CD, simply entitled O-Town in the past, I had never really listened to the CD because what I had heard sounded, well, mass produced, shallow, and immature, and not worth my effort. This past weekend my daughters and I had a lot of running around to do, so we spent a fair amount of time in the car, and I agreed to let her listen to, you got it, O-Town. I am happy to report that my initial impression of this group was right on the money; except for the ability to dance in sync (no pun intended), their talent as group is severely limited by their inability to harmonize, and, well, sing well enough to convince me they are more then just male teenaged window dressing.
O-Town is the product of mass production and hype. Before they were brought together for the ABC show Making The Band, they did know each other and therefore had never performed together as a group. Over the course of the season fansor potential fanswere treated to the manufacturing of a Boy Band complete with voice and dance lessons, and the personal emotional up and downs of the members of the group. At the end of the 2000 season the quintet was offered a recording contract by legendary producer Clive Davis and his newly minted record label strangely name J Records.
Taken as a whole O-Town lacks soul, depth, spit and polish. The boys do not sing well together; on several of the songs, voices were out of key, notes were not carried to their logical music end, and several of the band members voices could be heard straining to reach notes a more seasoned voice could master without pause. The effect on my ears was very disconcerting, but strangely enough my daughter seemed not to notice! And the writing is at best sophomoric and very immature! I know the band was manufactured to appeal to young teenaged girls, but give the girls some credit for intelligence and depth. For instance, the first cut from the CD, Liquid Dreams sounds like it was written by a thirteen year old who has just discovered his hormonal faith, and has yet to master the subtleties of the English language, to wit:
Posters of love surrounding me, I'm lost in a world of fantasy Every night she comes to me and gives me all the love I need.
Now this hot girl, she's not your average girl She's a morpherotic (is this even a word?) dream from a magazine And she's so fine designed to blow your mind She's a dominatrix super-model beauty queen
I dream about a girl who's a mix of Destiny's Child Just a little touch of Madonna's wild style With Janet Jackson's smile, throw in a body like Jennifer's You got the star of my liquid dreams
Angelina Jolie's lips to kiss in the dark Underneath Cindy C's beauty mark When it comes to the test well Tyra's the best And Salma Hayek brings the rest
Looks ain't everything she's got the sweetest personality Like Halle B My mama thinks I'm lazy, my friends all think I'm crazy But in my mind I leave the world behind every night I dream
Liquid dreams, my liquid dreams Waterfall and streams, these liquid dreams
Need I comment on this poorly written string of hormonally inspired words that have been put to music and presented to our young girls with serious sexual overtones? Any man or adolescent boy past the age of 12 would automatically gleam the underlying subtext from the songs title, but my daughter is thankfully clueless.
And the pattern continues with the groups latest release, All or Nothing.
I know when he's been on your mind That distant look is in your eyes I thought with time you'd realize It's over, over It's not the way I chose to live And something somewhere got to give And sharing this relationship Gets older, older You know I'd fight for you But how can I find someone who isn't even there I've had the rest of you now I want the best of you I don't care if that's not fair
Chorus Cause' I want it all or nothing at all There's nowhere left to fall when you reach the bottom It's now or never is it all Or are we just friends Is this how it ends with a simple telephone call You leave me here with nothing at all
Verse 2 There are times it seems to me I'm sharing you in memories I feel it in my heart but don't show it, show it And there are times you look at me As though I'm all that you can see Those times I don't believe it's right I know it, know it Don't make me promises Baby you never did know how to keep them well I've had the rest of you now I want the best of you It's time for show and tell
Chorus Bridge Cause' you and I Could use it if you've got no more room No room inside for me in your life Chorus out
Its during the signature slow jams that O-Towns glaring deficiencies as a group really stands out. The lead vocalist strains to reach even the smallest in octave changes and the five simply cannot harmonize; several voice can be heard trailing off at odd times throughout the song because they are unable to keep up. The result to the trained ear is one of disconnected voices fighting to best one another in some obscene contest. I tried hard to find something, anything to like about this CD, but in the end it was hopeless. I could say I like the music, but quite often it was over engineered, lack imagination, and was not at all consistent.
In the final analysis, its not really the words to the songs, or the disjointed music my daughter and millions of other teens like her are listening to, its the boys looks and perceived sensitivity they respond to. And sure some of the tracks have a beat that they can dance to, but its the overall package of looks and highly choreographed dance moves the girls are attracted to. They are not at their age looking for a message in the music, it does not have to speak to them in a deep meaningful way, only catch their attention long enough to appreciate to cover wrapping for as long as it shines and compel them to spend $17.00 on what is laughably called music.
O-Town is Erik-Michael Estrada (Erik), Jacob Christopher Underwood (Jacob), Trevor Lee Scott Penick (Trevor), Daniel Mark Miller (Dan), and Ashley Parker Angel (Ashley).