Culture

Self Belief

In a media-landscape dominated by so-called talent shows and alleged documentaries about bands getting together, I thought there was no way standards could drop any lower.

Then I saw Girlband on Channel freakin’ Ten.

Yep, I know Australia’s Network 10 is the home of such crud. Readers of this blog will know that I watched Big Brother 2006 on this very network – although in my defence, I couldn’t make it to the end, your honour.

The idea of all the various Idol and Pop-Star shows is that we want to watch young hopefuls become recording stars. It’s a product-driven, minutely managed process that mimics the struggle of an unsigned musical act to “make it”. We know its ersatz, but the soap opera of egocentric hotties fighting for the spotlight has its own compelling drama.

However, even my lowered standards were not prepared for the drivel that of this show. I could attempt to describe the melted cheesiness purporting to be entertainment, but Girlband’s website does it so much better.

Twelve months ago, four extremely talented singers and dancers answered a casting call to form a world class four part harmony group. Those girls are Patrice Tipoki (22), Jessica Smith (19), Renee Bargh (20) and Renee Armstrong (20). The group they formed is called Girlband. And it is precisely that: four girls, locked arm in arm, chasing their musical dream.

But unlike most other bands, Girlband has had a film crew following them the entire time, creating a fly wall on the wall documentary of their journey that will air on Channel 10 from August through to October 2006. So lest there be any confusion, let’s get one thing clear from the outset: there’s nothing made-for-TV about Girlband.

“The difference with us”, explains Renee Bargh, “is we weren’t formed on a TV show. We’re not waiting on an audience to vote us into the group. We’re already it”.

Are you getting this? They weren’t formed on a television show or voted into the group like those corporate hussies Bardot or Scandal’us. Nup, these hard-rockin’ gals answered an ad placed in the newspaper by one of the largest entertainment corporations on the planet – Sony/BMG.

And exactly how you can have a camera crew follow you around and then claim you’re not “made for TV” somehow escapes me. Unless of course they were filming the Girlband members before they answered the ad because they were so talented and interesting. No? Thought not.

On the show itself, every little sound-bite from the girls or their handlers was precisely the sort of self-actualisation psycho-babble that we have come to expect from this kind of show. Every utterance was about Girlband’s incredible determination, hard-work and self-belief.

We were treated to images of the girls shakin’ their stuff and miming in front of a huge green screen for the music-video of their ground-breaking single “Party Girl”. All the special effects would be added later.

Their website goes into paroxyms of bulltwang about this song:

“You’ll check your preconceptions at the door… as the supercharged, electro-rock pop crunch of their The Prodigy meets The Bangles first single “Party Girl” makes so explicitly clear, Girlband’s debut is a treacle free zone.

Let’s just say “Party Girl” had as much to do with The Prodigy as say, Nine Inch Nails or Slipknot or Tony Bennett.

The treacle-free zone wowed all who came within its aura at the world-premiere of their single at an evening celebrating 60 years of Sony Corporate in Australia.

As one member of the band said, “We knew we were the act of the night so we were pumped about it.” How they snagged this primo gig wasn’t made clear. Only the cynical might have thought of it as a product launch in front of the boss.

Fortunately, a little truth escaped around the edges at the launch. The guests didn’t look too excited as they sat in their tuxes watching an act that might be described as a wholesome Pussycat Dolls. Few in the audience appeared to be less than twice the age of the girls on stage. They might have been happier at a Diana Krall concert. Perhaps if Sony had shot the whole thing against a green screen and added an enthusiastic crowd later on…?

Some of you may remember the 1990s band Pop Will Eat Itself. Well, it has, and then crapped itself out the other side.

Elevate the Insignificant

Mr Trivia

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