You will all have heard by now that One Direction was recently downsized to four band members when Zayn Malik decided to leave. The internet went into meltdown mode as teenage (read hormonal) girls shared their upset over this turn of events #nojudgement. Quite a few people made references to Take That, saying it was like 1995 all over again when Robbie walked out, with Howard Donald even offering some words of comfort to 1D fans. If anyone can feel confident that a band splitting up doesn't necessarily mean it is all over then it's going to be a member of Take That, the boy band who turned out to be the ultimate comeback men of British pop music.
Growing up I missed all the hype surrounding Take That as I was only four at the time they were starting out. There are vague memories of news reports announcing the split and Samaritan phone lines being set up for the fans. A few years later I was a member of the Boyzone fan club, however it was a very lonely experience as I was the only one out of my friends to like them. When they consequently split up, as all boy bands inevitably do, it was no big deal for anyone else but me which kept the weeping and wailing to a minimum. My mum never let me go to see the Boyz live which upset me enormously at the time, but I've since got over it because I see how things may have spiraled out of control à la Anita Sethi and her mild obsession with Take That.
I'm now an out and proud adult Take That fan. Better late than never right? I've even purchased tickets for their upcoming tour with a Dutch friend who was a massive TT fan as a teenager. Let me stress that I also enjoy a wide range of music you would consider more respectable, but it seems that the combination of Gary Barlow's pop beats, Mark Owen's vocals and Howard Donald's harmonies / drum-beating do it for me. There's also something comfortingly British about Take That: northern accents, tea breaks during concert tours and making time for their fans, both in person and on social media, have ensured their status as national treasures. Who could have predicted this second coming on that bleak day when the boys announced their split on 13 February 1996?
In the name of "research" for this blog post, I've watched some old interviews and documentaries of Take That on YouTube (Andi Peters and Toby Anstis were lucky guys). The one thing constantly mentioned is how hard they worked to break out in the beginning. The boys started out touring the country in a minibus, performing at gay clubs and schools. So far, so low key - until their cover of Barry Manilow's "Could it be Magic", their fourth UK single, made it to number three in the music charts and everything exploded. To date, they have won eight Brit awards, sold forty five million records worldwide, set records for fastest selling tour tickets and managed an incredibly successful reunion with Mr. Robbie Williams. The proof is in the (Lancashire) pudding: these men are musical magic together.
As a feminist, the idea of boy bands sometimes sits a little uncomfortably with me but after discussing the subject with several female friends they just seem to be a rite of passage for most young girls. So I'm bracing myself for my future daughter's obsession with the boy band du jour, safe in the knowledge that she'll discover Bowie and Queen one day and come to love them too. I'll be there singing my heart out to TT in Amsterdam come October - see you there?
P.S. In case you were wondering, Mark Owen. Always and forever.