Profoundest apologies for the Easter shutdown – nothing to do with religion, everything to do with leaving my job, the attendant hangover, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to actually get the flat tidied up. I’ve also had the pedantic joy of transferring and re-categorising 5000 or so MP3s that were saved from the wreck of my ex-employer’s laptop. Who knew I had so many Spandau Ballet files? Not me!

I did find the time to watch Channel 4’s Battle Of The Boybands, a documentary tracing the rise of ‘male harmony vocal groups’ basically from the New Kids onwards. Ian McKellen, no less, was on hand to narrate – surely for love not money – and while current boybanders were represented only by Busted a fair few old lags were on hand with memories and cautionary tales. It was a frothy, cynical, pleasant 100 minutes. The tough question of what a boyband is precisely was asked and then ducked early on, though everyone agreed that the Beatles certainly weren’t.* Similarly, everyone agreed that boybands weren’t about the music, though a common thread was how good some of the records were. (Chris Cowan, ex-Top Of The Pops producer, played the hardline rockist throughout – “At least the Monkees pretended to play an instrument” etc – but the mask slipped when he eagerly praised Five’s music!**).

Seeing as they’d got Busted on to speak, not talking about them was a missed opportunity. Of course they’re ‘not a boyband’, blah blah – actually they ARE a boyband, they’re the successful implementation of something the record companies have seemingly been trying for ages (usually with girls it seems) – bringing guitars and hence ‘rock’ back into the teen-pop set up. The problem of course is that boys who play rock somewhat inconveniently like rock too and hence want to make 10th-generation grunge – with Busted part of the appeal is the tension between their ear for a hook and their disdain for what might come of it. The consumer upshot is wretched singles like “Who’s David” in between the good ones. Not that Busted’s chief rivals, Blue, are any better – also absent from the documentary by the way, except in video clips of Lee pulling his keks down – as trotting out Elton John and poor old Stevie Wonder for guest appearances is surely the direct equivalent of Busted’s fruitless quest for the proper rock song.

When the C4 programme repeats, have a look at it, particularly for Louis Walsh’s rage at the rivals who slagged off Westlife and his (conscious?) Kevin Keegan moment – “I would love it – just love it – if they beat the Beatles’ record for No.1s”.

*Are the Beatles a boyband? Probably not, but only because the idea of the ‘boyband’ as a separate entity from the rest of pop wasn’t current when they (or the Monkees, who did feature briefly in the docu) were around. In the early 60s the whole of pop was a boyband or girl group – pretty people singing goofy or gloopy songs to screaming teenagers is a norm for pop music, it’s not some terrible modern aberration.

** The documentary inspired me to dig out Five’s Greatest Hits, a charming record and – the whopping mis-step of “We Will Rock You” aside – solidly fine throughout. Their attempts to ‘do’ hip-hop should by rights be horribly embarrassing but never are, possibly because there’s no hint that they’re trying to be streetwise at the same time: they would gamely turn their mad mic skillz to raps about Inspector Gadget. Finest moment: “Closer To Me”, the great farewell ballad in an East 17 style, not a dry eye/seat in the house.