Flashback Friday – Followed The Hype?

We don’t go back too far this friday. It’s just a little slice in Brit-Pop history, and not really the most important one, but I’ve decided to let you know about it anyway. There were tons of new bands during the Cool Britannia era, but I think Menswear was the best example of what will happen when the hype-machine goes into full throttle!

Here are some facts about the band:

Menswear signed a record deal after only their fifth gig

Menswear were paid £500’000 as a publishing deal after only having written 7 songs

Menswear were featured in Select magazine and Melody Maker before they had even released one song

Menswear appeared on Top Of The Pops one week before their first ever single was released, making them the first band to appear on the show without having released a record

Now you could think that Menswear must have been a real stand-out band, but at least musically, they weren’t. Their best chart success was with fifth single Being Brave, which peaked at #10; the album Nuisance only made it to #11. The second album, Hay Tiempo!, was even a Japan-only release. Other singles I’ll Manage Somehow, Daydreamer, Sleeping In and Stardust made the top-30 in the UK.

Of course the band was criticised by the British music press for having success only based on good-looks and charm rather than musical talent, but that fact made them even more appealing to readers of NME and Smash Hits. After the release of Hay Tiempo! in 1998, Menswear disappeared.

Two of the band members are now managing new bands (Simon White has Bloc Party, Engineers and Fields on his roster, and Chris Gentry looks after newcomers Clocks). Drummer Matt Everett now works at London’s radio station XFM.

So what was really behind the hype? Musically, Menswear settled somewhere in between Blur and Elastica, and it has to be said that some of their songs were not as bad as you might think. Still miles away from the hype that they created, but there were lots of worse songs around at that time. And to be honest: how many bands really did (and do) live up to the hype? Well, there you are. It only shows that with a well-oiled media-machine behind you, you can almost sell anything. What really matters is if you decide to follow the hype or not. Well… do you?

Menswear – I’ll Manage Somehow (MP3)
Menswear – Sleeping In (MP3)
Menswear – Daydreamer (MP3)
Menswear – Stardust (MP3)

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