Down With The Kids
If you choose to do this, you either have an extremely warped mind, or you work for a record company A&R department. But then, if the latter applies to you, the former almost certainly will anyway.
We are used to pint-sized pop stars - Aaron Carter, Little Jimmy Osmond, Kelly Jones from Stereophonics - but these days it seems the music industry’s youth system is dangerously out of control. Every month it spews forth some kind of unbearable boy or girl wonder, or worse still, an entire group of them.
I’m thinking here specifically of S Club Juniors, who, for the uninitiated, (you lucky, lucky people) are a frighteningly hyperactive gang of day-glo munchkins, all aged between 11 and 13 years old, who a few weeks ago tumbled innocently out of Simon Fuller’s pioneering pop-surrogacy clinic. Allegedly.
Fuller’s previous crimes, which include the Spice Girls and S Club 7, pale into insignificance when compared with his latest project. ‘The Juniors’, as their hardcore fan base probably don’t call them, are exactly the same as S Club 7, only there’s more than seven of them and, at the time of writing, not a single one of them has been caught smoking a spliff.
To recap, then, that’s a large group of pre-pubescent wannabes, miming to formulaic pop songs, and being controlled by one of the shrewdest promotional minds in the music business. Why can’t they just go and play hopscotch or something?
With the over-tens now catered for, it looks as though attention will soon turn towards an even younger generation for the next batch of serious artists. If you think I’m joking, you are obviously unaware that GMTV, that great bastion of televisual quality and intellect, are currently running an item called - wait for it...’Tot Stars’. It’s like ‘Popstars’, except the contestants are aged between 5 and 11 years old. Genius! It features the most odious group of self-important, deluded individuals ever to grace a television screen. But enough about the judging panel. The actual performers are every bit as painful as you might expect, and the whole thing is like watching a car crash.
At this point it would probably be appropriate to start ranting on about how the evil music industry takes advantage of vulnerable young children, and how terrible and morally wrong it is to exploit them in such a cynical way. Well, since this is a music article, and not an appeal on behalf of the NSPCC, I’d like to point out that my motivation for writing this is far simpler than a desire to examine the sinister motives of record companies.
The truth is, these child pop stars just REALLY ANNOY ME. I urge the parents of any budding singers to sit their wayward offspring down, play them a few Hanson or Cleopatra videos, and exclaim sternly; “Look at that! Is that really what you want?!” Please parents, only you can spare us from another wave of kid-pop.
Just one question remains unanswered: If ‘Tot Stars’ is only open to the over-fives, what about aspiring performers below this age limit? Unless I’m grossly mistaken, the under-fives are being unfairly discriminated against! Outrageous! Surely this won’t continue for long. I’m betting that somewhere, someone – and it might even be Mr Simon Fuller - is right now cooking up the ultimate tournament for up-and-coming pop sensations.
In this business, it pays to spot potential early, to steal a march on your competitors. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you...’Pop Babe’. A prime-time television audience watches intently as Ant and Dec visit maternity wards around the UK. Viewers are then asked to vote on which bawling newly-born baby is most likely to carve out a career crooning Doors covers by the time they are 18 months old. Overseeing the births, and administering on-the-spot criticism, the only person qualified to do both jobs - who else - Doctor Neil Fox.