The Backstreet Boys and
'N Sync have company
From Rolling Stone Magazine
(November 13, 1998)
America becomes the latest Boyzone.
All they need is "need," "love" and "baby," words that
appear in practically every song title. All they do is feed the fantasies of preteen
girls. All they've sold is an estimated five million copies of their first three albums
since they arrived on the scene five years ago. Not that anyone living in North America
who doesn't subscribe to Teen Beat would know any of this, simply because the veteran boy
band Boyzone have yet to butt heads with the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync on U.S. soil.
Since forming in Dublin in 1993, the five lads with the best hair in the business have
dominated Europe's illustrious boy band category, landing at No.1 on the Billboard charts
with three consecutive albums -- a feat matched only by the Beatles and Oasis. They have
scored eleven Top-Five singles overseas, filmed fourteen music videos, posed for more
posters than Leonardo DiCaprio and even contributed background vocals for U2's latest
single, the rejiggered "Sweetest Thing." Still, Boyzone are certifiable nobodies
in the colonies.
"Maybe, being Irish, we are doing things a little back- to-front in our way of
trying to conquer the world," says Boyzone's oldest Eros, twenty-six-year-old Mikey
Graham. "Normally, people would try to go through the U.K. and straight to America,
and then have the rest of the world follow suit. But being Irish we started in Ireland,
went to England, went to Europe, went to Southeast Asia and Australia and then went to
South America. Now all that's left for us is the United States and Canada."
More adventurous and genuine than 'N Sync, less contrived and pompous than the
Backstreet Boys, Boyzone are bringing their choreography and Celtic charms to the last
great frontier on Nov. 17. Where We Belong, released in Europe nearly six months ago,
exhibits Boyzone's penchant for unabashed radio candy -- sticky sweet and addictive -- as
well as authentic musicianship and instrumentation. Nearly all fourteen tracks -- from the
impeccably produced "One Kiss at a Time" to the sincere ballad "All the
Time in the World" -- dare critics to do more than glance at the album cover and toss
it in the trash.
"Apart from the name Boyzone, which really does suggest that we are just another
boy band, when people see us and hear our music, they will definitely not characterize us
as mainstream pop, because our music really has moved on past that," Graham says with
a Dublin lilt. "It's easy listening, damn good music. It's in the Irish stable of U2,
the Cranberries, the Corrs, etceteras."
The Corrs maybe, but U2? That's gonna be a tough sell but, of secondary importance,
Boyzone do actually share some traits with their Irish peers. For one, Boyzone are huge
hometown heroes. Their current single, "No Matter What," has brought Ireland
great international attention via the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Whistle Down the Wind,
which features that song prominently in its score. In addition, Boyzone are grassroots
guys -- they write and produce nearly all of their songs, a rare and respectable practice
in the boy band industry. "There are a lot of artists out there who would concentrate
on the vocal aspect of it, and not necessarily the writing and recording and
producing," Graham says. "We want to make sure that when something is coming
across to the public, it doesn't just have our vocal touch to it, but our talent as
songwriters and co-producers as well."
America's response to Boyzone's 'talent' remains to be seen. Before Thanksgiving, Ronan
Keating, 21, Shane Lynch, 22, Stephen Gately, 22, Keith Duffy, 24, and Graham will jet to
the U.S. for promotional gigs in New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland and Nashville. Before
returning again next spring, the boys will release a greatest hits album abroad and finish
filming their movie, which Graham describes as "somewhere between The Commitments and
the Beatles' Help! -- a fun film that basically tells the story of us five lunatics.
"When we began, we were the only five people to believe in us, but we stuck to our
guns and we worked hard and now everyone kind of takes their hat off to us," he says.
"You can bet your bottom dollar that Boyzone will be the next biggest thing in the