Thursday, November 3, 2011
O-Town were assembled for the first season of the ABC reality television series Making the Band. The ratings of Making the Band were strong enough to warrant a second (and eventually third and fourth) seasons, which made O-Town the first cast of a reality TV show to remain the same on a second and third seasons. These subsequent seasons depicted their development as a pop group, following tours, performances, etc. Such events included the development of their second CD, O2, their transition to a new record label (Clive Davis' J Records), and an ongoing struggle to "prove themselves" as legitimate artists. The third season of Making the Band was broadcasted on MTV, instead of the original network, ABC.
Despite the popularity of the television show and with no guarantee of a record deal, O-Town would enjoy only temporary success as television personalities. Clive Davis, however, believed in O-Town and signed them to his new label, J Records, and Davis scheduled O-town to be his debut act under the label. Their first album, the self-titled O-Town, boosted by the publicity of the weekly television series, sold more than two million copies. Their first single, "Liquid Dreams," was the first single to reach #1 on the Billboard singles sales chart without making the Airplay chart. The single managed to peak at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The band also recorded the theme "Comin' to the Rescue" and the song "One Heart" for the soundtrack of the film Pokémon: The Movie 2000.
However, their novelty as television personalities soon wore off. Jacob Underwood even commented, on a Making the Band recap of seasons 1 and 2, that after "Liquid Dreams", they alone had to prove themselves to the public that they weren't a "flash-in-the-pan" success. Luckily, in the late spring of 2001, O-town released "All or Nothing", and the song became their biggest hit of their career as a group. "All or Nothing" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the song was nominated for numerous awards, including "Song of the Year" during the 2001 Radio Music Awards. The success of "All or Nothing" granted them the ability to air another season of Making the Band. Near the end of the third season, O-town fans and television viewers watched as they tried to take their careers to the next level by writing their own music, earn the respect of their industry peers, and market themselves beyond being labeled as a "boy band". Unfortunately, they never really found the market acceptance they sought. Their second album, O2, originally scheduled for the summer of 2002 (and planned debut single "I Showed Her" a few weeks before release), was delayed numerous times, and as time between their last U.S. single, the moderately successful "We Fit Together", and the anticipation of "O2", without any new singles to put on radio and no more new episodes of Making the Band, the notoriety of O-town in the media began to wade. Making matters even more difficult was the fact that O-Town burst onto the scene when boy bands and other types of bubblegum pop were beginning to decline and lose their influence. Sales of O-Town's second album, O2, were below expectations. Their debut single for O2, "These are the Days" eventually broke into the Billboard Top 40 at #40, and critics, such as those from Billboard.com, praised their second single, "I Showed Her" for being a well developed song. Despite this moderate success, "O2" was no where near the commercial success of their first album, O-Town, and the band went on tour in the summer of 2003 to promote the album. Unfortunately, J Records dropped the band from the label in November 2003.
Though fans tried to organize campaigns to get O-Town signed to a new label, these efforts were met with little success. As a result, the group disbanded in late 2003, and O-Town sent a personal e-mail to all their fans, via O-town.com [defunct], thanking them for the great memories and experience they shared with them. Within the personal e-mail to their fans, O-Town, themselves stated that they disbanded due to the changing of times (in the music industry) and financial problems, which had a hint to some fans that Lou Pearlman and Pearlman's company, Trans Continental, perhaps may have had some involvement with O-town's financial issues (Pearlman has already had many legal problems with previous acts associated to his company, Trans Continental, such as the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Aaron Carter).
The members of O-town have moved on to solo careers. The most successful of the group has been Ashley Angel, who signed on to Universal's Blackground Records, and was also given his own reality show with MTV, There and Back. Ashley's debut solo album was released in 2006 to much publicity, but did not achieve solid sales numbers. In January 2007, he began playing the role of Link Larkin in the Broadway production of Hairspray. Ex-bandmate, Trevor Penick, now professionally known as "Tre Scott", has been signed to Trilogy Productions, working with industry top producer Eddie Galan. The other band members have had success in their own rights as can be viewed under their Myspace profiles.
Nearly three years after O-Town ceased to exist, the Japanese group w-inds. covered O-Town's "All or Nothing," calling it "Kazeuta" or "Wind Poem"/"Wind Song". "Kazeuta" was released on May 25, 2006 on w-inds' single for the song "Trial." While the melody was retained, the lyrics were completely reworked by Takamitsu Shimazaki, and are predominantly in Japanese with a less repetitive chorus. In 2006, Irish boyband Westlife, also covered "All or Nothing" on their eighth studio album The Love Album. The American punk band Fake ID also covered it in an upbeat, pop-punk fashion for the compilation album Punk Goes Pop.