Once a teen idol has reached the peak phase of his career, the question becomes – how to stay there? Building a profile is no longer so important – any given single release has a good chance of topping the charts, or close to it, so it’s a matter of selecting songs that either confirm or extend a singer’s image. Both have their risks. A pop idol is playing a role, and can be typecast like any other performer: gradually people lose interest, and the star becomes stranded. But attempting to contradict or develop an image often involves gambling that you understand your audience’s desires better than they do themselves – when in fact their withdrawal of assent (in the form of sales) leaves your rebranding as a ‘mature’ or ‘sexy’ or ‘rebellious’ performer looking inept and chumpish.
Later we’ll meet performers who’ve mastered each strategy – for now here’s Donny Osmond, playing it safe with a cover of a smash from the previous great era of teen stars. His “Young Love” is more unctious than Tab Hunter’s, maybe less sincere, but also a little more winning – Donny can carry off chocolate and candyfloss and his spoken-word interlude here has a pulpy romantic charge for all its corn. The musicians do a creditable job; everyone departs happy and the compact is remade for another record at least.