I loved the 90s. Seriously, anyone who says they didn’t is either a liar or was hiding under a rock for a decade. Either that or they are just too young to have experienced the period that gave us Spice Girls, Friends, Tamagotchi, Beanie Babies and Blossom! While there may have been an explosion of girl power in the latter half of the decade, who doesn’t have a special place in their hearts for the 90s boybands – both those still celebrated and those many have forgotten. From Take That, Busted, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Boyzone and Westlife through to B2K, The Moffatts, Take 5, Orange Orange, 3T, North and South and BBMak, there was something special about the boys next door shaking their thing on stage just for you. We all screamed our hearts out to have just a wave from them. Don’t deny it.
And what of the form. Yes, it still exists. Heck, One Direction were the biggest act on earth for a few years, while The Vamps and BTS compete for domination, a new quartet have landed on planet pop with the sole intention of stealing your hearts with a slick R’n’B driven sound that has echoes of some of the earlier boy bands, New Edition, MN8 and of course Boyz II Men. But there is a big difference, like McFly, Hanson and 5 Seconds of Summer, these are more mature men who play their own instruments.
So does the formula work? The boys certainly have the looks to appeal to both teenie boppers and their parents, but the sound is somewhat dated. Yes it will get the parents shaking their hips, but we are not convinced that the school disco will be set alight by the funk of 4 A.M. Again or Kisses On The Mirror.
A musical marriage of Maroon 5, Maverick Sabre and D’Angelo this is R’n’B pop that is a bit too slickly produced to tug the heart strings and not quite young enough to get on the Radio 1 playlist. Dependent on their next move, J & The Rest could either become a Radio 2 nearly-run or the biggest boyband since sliced bread. They simply need to fine tune to formula. Worth a listen on Spotify even if we aren’t sure you will remember it in a month or two’s time. Currently we’d file alongside Code Red and E-Male, but they do have the potential to at least reach Blazin’ Squad, Union J and 98 Degrees level success.