MOAN about the deleterious effect of X Factor all you want, but, in producing the two most successful boy bands in the country, it has resurrected good old-fashioned teenybop hysteria – along with all the well-worn tropes of the arena pop spectacular – for a new generation of fans.
That hysteria went a long way as JLS commenced their latest three-night stand in Glasgow. Lacking anything approaching a classic in their generic dance pop repertoire, the quartet had to rely on their natural non-threatening gang charm and all the theatrical latitude their budget would allow.
The money they saved in not bothering to employ a live band bought them enough rope to hang from – not to mention sufficient wire and steel to fly across the stage in camp sci-fi gladiator costumes as part of a soul-destroying succession of video game-themed set-pieces soundtracked by glorified clubby jingles almost entirely divorced from their roots as a vocal harmony group.
But the main trick for any boy band is to sell the illusion of accessibility. JLS are pros when it comes to stoking the communal apoplexy with a cliched compliment – suggesting, for example, that their initials stand for Just Love Scotland – but there was precious little soul in their delivery. Given that this formulaic presentation gave them little room to inject their own personalities, the band members will probably lose interest in the whole charade before the fans do.