21
Jun 10

BROS – “I Owe You Nothing”

FT + Popular96 comments • 8,800 views

#611, 25th June 1988, video

There’s a performance-based definition of one-hit wonders, but there should be an aesthetic definition too. There are poor groups who make one important single, who against all expectations Get It Right on a particular occasion and leave the studio with something worthwhile – a record that owns its moment even, that you could put in a time capsule and 100 years from now would tell people something about what it meant to be young and alive in (say) 1988. The fascinatingly horrible Bros are, I would argue, one of those groups. Unfortunately “I Owe You Nothing” isn’t their one great record.

That would be “When Will I Be Famous?”, the most honest boy band hit of them all, four minutes of acquisitional hunger and ruthless raw need. It’s catchy, it’s funny, it sums up the gel-soaked stonewashed grotesqueness of Bros and casts a light on their tacky times. It’s a venomous pop star character study and all the more compelling because you’re pretty sure it’s actually true. And, reluctantly, I’m not meant to be writing about it. I have to write about “I Owe You Nothing” instead, the pawky runt of the early Bros litter. “Drop The Boy”, their other initial smash, isn’t very good either, but it’s unintentionally funny – these pleas for maturity juxtaposed with their signature “ROO-AWRR” sound, the noise of a rutting gerbil.

There’s plenty of hot rodent sex on “I Owe You Nothing” too, but it starts brightly: dive-bombing synths and a hustling bassline. It’s only later that the song starts loses its way, running out of musical ideas and papering that over with a momentum-killing instrumental break and increasingly purposeless grunts and yaps from Matt Goss. The overall feel is busy and tinny, very much in line with Stock Aitken Waterman orthodoxy, but SAW’s cheerfulness (and their feel for a verse melody) is missing: instead “I Owe You Nothing” jabs and nips at its audience and its subject. “I watch you SUFFER with no feelings – no feelings at all”: I don’t think there’s been as spiteful a number one as this since “Out Of Time”. But even though Bros’ spite is interesting, the performance and arrangement doesn’t give it much force.

Spite seems key to the Bros project, though, and to their strange season of hugeness – only really scuppered when they were allowed to write their own material. Manager Tom Watkins obviously knew that the oddness of the Bros package – cold-eyed, chiselled twins on the make – was the stuff of hits given the right angle. Tender wouldn’t cut it – Matt Goss was too shrill a singer – so the way to go was to play up the Goss brothers’ icky aloofness. For anyone outside the target audience, they were created to be hated, marrying the glossy selfishness of the handsome with the insular selfishness of the twinned to make records powered deliberately by a mix of malice and entitlement. In fact, even for people inside the target audience they seem an anomaly and a risk, at least compared to the sure-thing boybands who would boss the 1990s. Bros the phenomenon are more interesting than a lot of the people we meet on this blog – but that doesn’t make this record much better.

4

Comments

  1. 1
    punctum on 21 Jun 2010 #

    The Industry. That’s all the Goss bros seemed to go on about – “we’re proud to be in this industry,” “we’re in this industry to be successful,” “you have to have ambition to succeed in this industry” – as though music were equivalent to foundry spot welding, or breaking the necks of chickens on conveyor belts, rather than an art for things which need to be expressed because language alone is insufficient. From their peroxided eyes downwards they were the coldest of all teen idols. “I’ll watch you crumble like a very old wall,” sneers Matt Goss, the owner of the most annoying and overused cosmetic growl in pop since Eden Kane, at the beginning of “I Owe You Nothing,” equating his treacherous ex-lover with a Stock Exchange colleague who’s tried to offload some dodgy shares into his gleaming portfolio.

    Though they were careful to steer clear of explicit party politics (“it’s a bad example to the kids who want to get into this industry”) Bros were Thatcherites to their last milk tooth, were about nothing save ambition and revelling in its perceived rewards. Their debut album was called Push, and their single titles tell their own wretched story: “When Will I Be Famous?,” “Drop The Boy,” “Cat Among The Pigeons,” “Too Hard,” “I’m Backing Britain.” Judging by the way Matt Goss pronounces “Karl Marx” in the first of these – i.e. as someone who thinks Karl Marx was the curly-haired mute who strummed the harp – and also by the fact that their lyrics were largely written by their manager (the very knowing Tom Watkins), it may well be that Bros were an elaborate, BEF-style conceptual joke – played on and against themselves – about the vapidity of unrestrained free market economics, but their music was never sufficiently compelling to warrant that kind of penetration.

    “Why don’t people have the same ambition as us?” wailed Matt Goss in an NME interview. The late Steven Wells gently explained to him that it was because the vast majority of people in Britain were not incipient high-flyers but worked their backsides off in shit jobs for shit money and therefore could be expected to resent millions being paid to flaunt-happy peroxide prannets for hopping about and belching about how good it is to be famous and rich. The hapless Matt couldn’t quite get his head around that. “I Owe You Nothing,” from its title downwards (you will note that there is rarely, if ever, any “up” when it comes to Bros) is a callous declaration of premature triumphalism, “sung” by Matt in his trademark 78 rpm combination of farmhand Michael Jackson attempting to strangle chicken George Michael, with entirely irrelevant growls and “ooh”s every half-second, and is made infinitely worse by the knowledge that the track was remixed for 45 reissue (having flopped on its first outing in late 1987) by Fred Maher, ex-Material and then still current Scritti associate. Thus all the spatial bigness which Green did so much to deconstruct is put here to completely unironic use, and underlines exactly why that emptiness had to be filled with something, even if it were only charm. As it turned out, Bros ended up owing everyone else everything, and limped away suitably humbled. But their four number two hits, in addition to their (mercifully) sole number one, spell out exactly what was so reprehensible about late eighties mainstream pop – even the supposedly “plastic” variety – and why the second wave of New Pop was so sorely needed. After listening to this I had to play “Oh Patti” twice in a row to cleanse my “soul.” To paraphrase the Gosses, “oh yeah, no no, yeah yeah.” Such industry.

  2. 2
    Rory on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Oh, how I hated them in 1988 — and time hasn’t softened that, much. It gives a little more perspective, though: as well as seeing them as the proto-’90s-boy-band, and as well as hearing the obvious SAW-inspired touches, I can now hear a heavy influence from late-period Wham.

    Great review. Dreary tune. 3.

  3. 3
    Hazel on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Despite having claimed for the past 20-odd years that it was ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ by Annie Lennox, I’ve just been hit with the terrible realisation that this might be the earliest song I can remember.

    It is pretty blvddy awful isn’t it? Mind you, I’d probably like it if Depeche Mode did a cover version, they seem more suited to the spite but it’s actually nastier than them by a fair distance. I’d never thought of Bros as the ‘spiteful’ boyband (I never think of Bros at all, really) but there’s something really ghoulish about this, not least the suggestion that the audience is meant to be going ‘THAT’S RIGHT, WATCH THEM SUFFER!’ with gladiatorial glee.

  4. 4
    Kat but logged out innit on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Watkins totally made sure he got his name on the songwriting credits as well, though IIRC it was all done by their producer Nicky Graham (hahaha no not her off Big Brother) who also did NORTH & SOUTH’s ‘I’m A Man Not A Boy’ hurrah :)

  5. 5
    Rory on 21 Jun 2010 #

    [Double post deleted, sorry about that.]

  6. 6
    Matt DC on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Are Bros the biggest pop phenomenon of the 1980s not to have been revived at any point over the last 10 years? They seem to be one of the last vestiges of the 80s that is unquestionably in the realm of bad taste. Although there is a great grime riddim that samples When Will I Be Famous.

  7. 7
    Tom on 21 Jun 2010 #

    #1 I totally agree w/you about the repulsive Thatcherite-ness of it all Marcello but I think the unashamedness of that is what makes “Famous” an actually great record – horrible and ugly and disagreeable but urgent and strong too. Quite willing to believe I’m alone in this though!

  8. 8
    wichita lineman on 21 Jun 2010 #

    The Goss growl – I think Danny Baker said at the time that you never see Matt Goss and The Big Match’s Brian Moore in the same room.

    “I watch you crumble like a very old wall” is always guaranteed to raise a laugh from people who don’t remember it. I can’t think of many worse Popular opening lines. And Matt Goss’s diction was so bad, his vowels so contorted and garbled in his imitation of Michael Jackson, that you could hear the record a hundred times and never know that’s what he was singing. I never twigged Tom Watkins was the lyricist – “the Brotherhood” as a writing credit seemed in place to fool people into thinking the group wrote their own material, while possibly being a nod to “the Corporation” who wrote Michael Jackson’s earliest hits with the Jackson 5. I am prepared to believe it was, as Marcello suggests, all a BEF type gag, as they started printing their hilarious lyrics on the front cover of each single from the desperately poor I Quit onwards. Wot, no photo??

    This single came in three different 7″ sleeves, one Bros member on each cover, which probably helped it to number one when four of their other singles fell one place short. I was reviewing the singles for NME the week this came out (a teenage dream fulfilled! I think SOTW was the Sea Urchins’ Please Rain Fall) and got sent a copy in the Craig ‘Ken’ Logan sleeve. As did every other music journalist, I suspect.

  9. 9
    Kat but logged out innit on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I loved “Famous” at the time – 6 years old is when you get optimum ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ answers eg astronaut/Olympic athlete/pop star. I didn’t see the concept of being famous as wanting to be like Bros, more that fame in itself was exciting! And obviously achievable, as I had won the egg and spoon race at Sports Day AND I knew the order of all the planets and how many moons they had. Fame was clearly just around the corner and I was impatient!

  10. 10
    vinylscot on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Pretty spot-on review Tom, but if you really want to torture yourself, have a listen to the b-side of the 7-inch. It’s an a capella version, so the instruments don’t get in the way of the grunting… and there is a hell of a lot of extra grunting too! It was a good one to put on the pub jukebox just as you were leaving.

    Was their later hit “Sister” widely hated or tolerated? I ask as I have a friend (not me, honest), who always brings it up whenever the (guilty) pleasures chat comes up in the pub, and we’re never quite sure if he’s taking the p*ss or not.

  11. 11
    Tom on 21 Jun 2010 #

    “Sister” was generally derided I think, to an extent that (given its subject matter) now seems pretty cruel. But my frame of reference was fellow 15/16-year old boys, who hated and feared Bros and the Brosettes.

    The worst Bros single IMO was “Chocolate Box” – any vitality or songwriting discipline completely drained away, just leaving grunts and spasms.

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Re 11: that makes Chocolate Box sound most intriguing.

  13. 13
    wichita lineman on 21 Jun 2010 #

    By the way, Brosettes were very much like Bay City Rollers’ fans – fiercely loyal packs of girls, powerful and intimidating by force of numbers, with their own independently-created fashion (home-made tartan gear/Grolsch bottle top footwear). Male fans just didn’t exist. Likewise, both groups bloomed intensely for one summer – the chart positions don’t really suggest how much bigger Bros seemed in ’88 than the year after.

  14. 14
    thefatgit on 21 Jun 2010 #

    They were the most famous band to come from my hometown, Camberley in Surrey. The Goss’s attended Collingwood school, and were soundly beaten up by future estate agents and tyre-fitters alike. The poodle-permed pair were born to perform and had been regulars in school productions, bands and amateur performmances, before being whisked off to drama school, never to be bothered by the bullying future tyre-fitters again…

    “When Will I Be Famous” was hilarious among those of us who knew of the pre-fame Goss’s. Tom Watkins pop makeover machine had taken a pair of shaggy-haired bedlington terriers and transformed them into chiselled whippets, eager to hunt down their prey. Even the famous SuBo makeover pales in comparison to what Watkins had done with the Goss’s

    The cruel irony is “I Owe You Nothing” is a spiteful rebuke to those who had slavishly followed BROS from their debut. Those who had put Grolsch-tops on their shoes, festooned the arm-pockets of their MA-1 jackets with BROS badges, bought the 12″ acid house remix of “Drop The Boy”. “Push” was the 80’s processed into a rather bland and unpalatble paste, but (nearly) all the elements were there: BIGNESS, aspiration, ambition… but no heart, no “SoulPassionHonesty” as it were. This same Tom Watkins had brought us the PSB’s 4 years earlier with “Opportunities”. That had been a synthpop pastiche on Thatcherism. Now he brings us Thatcher-Youth singing “Tomorrow Belongs To Me”. Hateful.

  15. 15
    MBI on 21 Jun 2010 #

    “farmhand Michael Jackson attempting to strangle chicken George Michael”

    It has been posited that the most beautiful phrase in the English language is “cellar door.” I humbly submit that is, instead, the above quote from punctum.

  16. 16
    Rory on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Number 6 in Australia on 14/8/1988. Previous Oz Bros* hits were “When Will I Be Famous?”, number 10, and “Drop the Boy”, number 9, both peaking on 3/7/1988. After “I Owe You Nothing” they had a few top twenty hits through to late 1989, then nada.

    *The horrible thought just occurs that there may be a tribute band out there with this very name. Please, no.

    Edit: The reality is even more baffling.

  17. 17
    flahr on 21 Jun 2010 #

    The review and comments on this one have been pretty accurate this time – it feels a bit weird looking back on it that enough people bought this to send it to the top, with an emptiness and lack of joy that doesn’t seem to have much mass appeal. Docking a point for those ridiculous snorting noises leaves the Bros with 3pts.

    P.S. Is there something in their oeuvre to mash up with “Let Me Love You” and produce Mario Bros.?

  18. 18
    will on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Er, well, I actually like it. And I liked I Quit as well.

    Oh I know they’ve been a national joke for over two decades and the Goss twins didn’t do themselves any favours at the time, but I liked the whole…boyishness of the Bros caper. IOYN and its proceeding two singles nail an adolescent impatience for life to begin that seemed so guileless and gauche compared to previous groups in their position (Unlike Bros, Wham and Duran were clearly men by the time they celebrated their first Number Ones).

  19. 19
    vinylscot on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Some synchronicity here – cross-posting with the Wets and Billy Bragg post. The singer/comedian Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom, who supported Bros at Wembley, died this afternoon. RIP Chris/Frank

  20. 20
    Tracer Hand on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Sascha Funke did a fantastic “remix” of WWIBF for BPitch Control.. almost 10 years ago… (ulp!) –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSs0eN8L2X4

  21. 21
    Steve Mannion on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I quite like/d When Will I Be Famous? too (that super brief waltz tempo switch towards the end seemed quite a wtf moment at the time ha ha). I saw Bros mainly as just filling the space vacated by Wham albeit upping the macho aggression considerably. This seemed to make them more popular with boys (at least similarly minded boys) in a way which East 17 would improve upon (with the tacky rapdily dating grasps at masculinity replaced by a more 90s Lad approach of course).

    But bad as they usually were I’d still put Bros before Hoss (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoss_(band))

  22. 22
    thefatgit on 21 Jun 2010 #

    #19 Seconded. A fine talent surely missed.

  23. 23
    Andrew Farrell on 21 Jun 2010 #

    #18 – Yes I was a Boy and not yet a Man at the right time to really enjoy these – I got the best of recently and will thoroughly represent for all they songs they didn’t write. A lack of “SoulPassionHonesty” = a very very good thing, obviously.

    Also no-one has yet mentioned Luke Goss’s transformation into an actual being of hunger in Blade II?

  24. 24
    Dan Worsley on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I think they were the most supremely loathsome group in history, or rather Matt and Luke were, for the reasons Marcello outlined above. They apparently paid Ken off (Copyright Viz) who then promptly hooked one of the Appleby sisters and then became a big shot in the music biz, while Matt and Luke were having their Porsches repossessed. Can’t think of a more satisfying case of schadenfreude in pop music.

  25. 25
    Izzy on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I did think about trying to engineer a Bros revival a while back. The image has loads going for it (particularly that they initially had a platoon of male fans too) but the weakness of a lot of the material is a problem.

    No such issues for ‘When Will I Be Famous?’ though – it’s a fabulous record with great energy, a classic hook and the rare ability to capture its moment perfectly. Only the rhythm track and a couple of weird and weak lulls let it down, but if it had made it to Popular it’d’ve been worth a very high mark indeed.

  26. 26
    lonepilgrim on 21 Jun 2010 #

    I was quite prepared to loathe this as much as I did at the time but actually enjoyed the music.
    Marcello’s insight that Fed Maher had remixed it explains why. I can imagine it being sampled to produce something more interesting.
    The Goss Bros seem to represent a highly styled template for the future of boy bands which I find utterly unappealing – although as I’m not the target audience I doubt that the svengalis will lose any sleep.

    re 19
    Very sorry to hear of Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom’s death – I had a shaped picture disk by him from around this time which I still regret selling

  27. 27
    Tom on 21 Jun 2010 #

    #26 the thing is though that future boybands are almost nothing like Bros! The way people went on to market boybands – gangs of approachable but boyish boys within which the initiate can pick favourites – is really different to how Bros were pushed, maybe because twin-ness complicated the whole fancying element (intriguingly perhaps!). Also Bros were an “actual band” – Nicky Graham billed himself as “The Brothers” to try and make it look like Goss/Goss/Ken wrote the songs; they each had designated instrumental roles…

    It’s much more the last gasp of the Wham!/Duran era, particularly Wham! than it is a harbinger of the New Kids/Take That one. I think that extends to the songs too – with Wham! we had the huge discussion of are they Thatcherite/are they pro-dole – and Bros takes that to a sort of extreme.

  28. 28
    wichita lineman on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Male Bros fans at the time? I guess not being at school anymore, I never met any and assumed they didn’t exist! But they were, like the later boy bands, designed with a calculated pink pound appeal.

    The ‘Brothers’ not the ‘Brotherhood’, soz.

    In 2005 I saw Chris Sievey/Frank Sidebottom at a Ken Livingstone fund raiser. Slightly tipsy, he fell backwards off a six foot high stage, landing on his head. I think if he hadn’t been wearing his papier mache head he would probably have left us that night. Very sad to hear of his passing today. Oh Blimey It’s Christmas is probably my favourite festive song title.

  29. 29
    Mark M on 21 Jun 2010 #

    As I may have mentioned before, the most notable thing for me at the time about Bros was that they killed off the post-Hard Times look that had been a big deal in London at least for the middle part of the decade. Thousands of pairs of pre-torn Levis, bomber jackets in PoW checks, DM shoes all dumped down the charity shop sharpish. The shoe thing might have been the most damaging, contributing the hegemony of the trainer that was to come…

  30. 30
    MikeMCSG on 21 Jun 2010 #

    # 27 “It’s much more the last gasp of the Wham!/Duran era, particularly Wham! than it is a harbinger of the New Kids/Take That one. I think that extends to the songs too – with Wham! we had the huge discussion of are they Thatcherite/are they pro-dole – and Bros takes that to a sort of extreme.”

    I couldn’t disagree with you more on that point Tom and you’re insulting both groups by squeezing these chancers into the same bracket. It was around this time that John Lydon appeared on the JSP BBC2 show which looked back over certain artist’s careers – perhaps someone could remind me of the title ? – and really laid into them. He understood that the Gosses were the pallbearers of punk, nailing down the coffin lid on a golden period where the Svengalis had been squeezed out and the teen idols emerged naturally from a pool of people writing their own songs and taking control of their own careers – Adam Ant, Duran, Wham, A-ha. Simon Cowell was merely the stooge frontman for the “Wonderdog” single in that period.
    For all the reasons Marcello outlines, Bros brought all that to a shuddering halt and we were back in the age of Child and Flintlock again.

    IIRC Radio One had a poll for the Greatest Single of all time and ran the countdown on the August Bank Holiday. You could feel the embarrassment when this was announced as the number one !

  31. 31
    Tom on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Hold on the singer from THE SEX PISTOLS was lamenting the loss of an era when “the svengalis had been squeezed out”??? A band styled and micro-managed by who exactly ;)

    I dunno, I should have said “death rattle” instead of “last gasp”, or maybe emphasised the transitional-ness of it – they still don’t much seem like what came later (lacklustre ‘rivals’ Big Fun were much closer). They’re kind of a horrid parody of Wham! I guess.

    I don’t think it pays to get too starry-eyed about the “golden period” of New Pop as an extension of punk, though: as music yes, Bros can’t hold a candle to it but as Dave Rimmer pointed out at the time in Like Punk Never Happened loads of these stars aspired to being “businessmen” and embraced the idea of the industry as much as the Goss boys did.

  32. 32
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 21 Jun 2010 #

    The central problem of say PiL or BEF as self-managed post-punker multi-media operations is that they didn’t have anyone saying to them, “Sorry guys, you are GREAT at this and TERRIBLE at this…”

    Norman Mailer made a series of films that he wrote, acted in and directed: they are interesting only insofaras they are embrassingly unwatchable — the myth that awesome performers are automatically talented songwriters is precisely as romantically silly. Cameramen and women should hire accountants to look after their accounts, and the sensible ones actually do this. Obviously P-Diddy’s clothes lines are impeccably gorgeous. The exception proves the rule.

    About a year hence, I wrote a piece for the Observer that described Bros as “alien incest twins” (in a good way), but it never ran.

  33. 33
    Tom on 21 Jun 2010 #

    Come to think of it, the number of successful post-punk British boybands who didn’t write their own material is honestly quite small. Take That did. East 17 did. A1 did. Busted and McFly did. Then on the other side there’s 5ive (who surely wrote their own RAPS), Blue, JLS. But it’s not a sure thing by any means. *Stylistically* there’s a massive change but there’s no stable shift in control from star to svengali accompanying it in Britain until 1996 at least.

  34. 34
    swanstep on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Yeah, this is foul, both in idea and execution. Great review and first comment from punctum. Nothing to add:
    2

  35. 35
    anto on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Sorry to hear about Frank Sidebottom. A beloved son up here in the North West.
    The Bros track? Not worth a comment.

  36. 36
    Slim Finn on 22 Jun 2010 #

    I really loved Bros as an 11 year old kid, and I can still see why. Their hits were catchy and totally free of yucky stuff like love and kisses. They were as energetic as I was. Even now when my musical taste has become more indie and more critic-like, I can catch a glimpse of my younger self enjoying I Owe You Nothing, and I can’t help feeling happy. The song starts to lose it’s momentum after halfway, though. 7

  37. 37
    MBI on 22 Jun 2010 #

    I’ve been trying and trying and trying to figure out what the bassline for this song reminds me of, and I’ve concluded that it’s probably Pseudo Echo’s terrible cover of “Funky Town,” another tub of ’80s dishwater that never earned the right to exist. Out of curiosity a while back, I downloaded Billboard’s list of the top 100 (U.S.) hits of 1987, and I found myself quickly un-enamored of the 1980s, for the same reason that I hated “I Owe You Nothing” instantly. The shock of energy new wave provided at the beginning of the decade has by this point devolved into a big gloopy mass of synth-cheese, and this song sucks for many more reasons than just Matt Goss’s artlessly transparent ambition and pallid Michael Jackson impression.

  38. 38
    swanstep on 22 Jun 2010 #

    @MBI, 37. I think Bros and Pseudo-echo share an especially horrible, blaring synth-brass preset. (Keyboard mavens would undoubtedly be able to tell you exactly what it is.)

  39. 39
    taDOW on 22 Jun 2010 #

    if s’express was the first brit hit i can remember going ‘wow – that would never hit over here’, bros were the first thing i can remember definitely – ‘wow – thank god that would never hit over here’. i’m not sure i can think of a worse boy band – the only comp i can think of is whoever did that awful shai remake mid90s or so. one question, prompted by punctum and others above: did they ever do a ‘break for creative freedom/maturity’ move like every other boy band from monkees (and arguably beatles) to jackson five (and osmonds? was crazy horses their ‘no strings attached’?) to new edition to nkotb to n’sync? how awful was it? anyhow this strongly colored my idea of british pop (and does to this day), for better or, mainly, worse (basically that it’s cluttered w/ gangly amateurs thinking they’re pros).

  40. 40
    Erithian on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Maybe it was the blond-twin thing (he writes, as the proud father of blond twins himself) but Bros entered into the popular consciousness like few other acts of the time – certainly few with such a comparatively short life-span. John Sullivan certainly noticed them, as in the episode of “Only Fools and Horses” where Rodney has to pretend to be 14 to claim a Spanish holiday prize, the first question he is asked by a fellow member of the Groovy Gang is “do you like Bros?”. In the very next series, Del’s unsellable junk includes 275 Free Nelson Mandela T-shirts and 150 Bros LPs. (“Fashions change so fast in the pop world, I was caught unawares – they could be back in fashion next month”.)

    They were skewered memorably by French and Saunders in their Star Test parody, and were given enough rope by Tom Hibbert in one of the best Q “Who The Hell?” features. Then they were off down the road to financial ruin, telling us that they had had to compete with Michael Jackson in their lifestyle choices, and few of us ever felt sorry for them.

    RIP Chris Sievey too. Still holder of the record for the longest (unbracketed) title of a hit single in the UK chart with the Freshies’ “I’m In Love With The Girl On The Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk”. And the man of whom a great review circa 1981 said “he’s done more for Manchester than bloody John Bond, bloody Malcolm Allison and bloody Dave Sexton put together”.

  41. 41
    MikeMCSG on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #31 Well we could debate the exact extent of McLaren’s contribution to the Pistols till the cows come home but at the end of the day Lydon and Matlock wrote the songs.

    Dave Rimmer’s book came out long before Bros so it’s disingenuous to cite him as supporting your theory. From the Beatles onwards there are very few artists/bands who don’t aspire to some greater control of their own destinies. In that respect you can compare Bros to almost anyone though not many disappeared down the plughole as quickly as the Goss boys when they attempted it.

    # 33 Take That had the novel idea of putting the pasty, chubby songwriter in the band but no one fancied him ; the actual teen idols were and are muppets. East 17 are an interesting exception ; I’ll give you that one. McFly and Busted were the start of something new; I detested them but wouldn’t put them in the Westlife/Blue bracket.

  42. 42
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 22 Jun 2010 #

    The problem being, consistently, that creative control as aspired to by the Beatles, Lydon, the new pop crew, was and remains a false and misbegotten grail. It either means (cf the story of Apple, or Lydon’s PiL after the first split) that people incompetent to do A. B and C have placed themselves totally in charge of A, B and C, brooking no criticism, constructive or otherwise; or it means (the tale of indie generally) that the horns of possiiblity are drawn calamitously in, and a passive-aggressive aesthetic of non-delivery develops. The energy of the Beatles or the Pistols derived as much as anything from the unfolding struggle for control within the project. With the struggle won, quality always speedily dives.

    (The idea that quality can only come from having the songwriters on-stage is a weird rock-formed delusion that no other strand of pop — or culture — hobbles itself with. The team is always more than the faces on the LP: I always liked the soulworld habit of thanking every single relevant person, though I bet lots of people got forgot even in those endless lists.)

  43. 43
    DietMondrian on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Re: the “shaggy-haired bedlington terriers phase” – weren’t they originally called Gloss when they had the big hair? Or did Smash Hits (or some such) make that up, and I took it at face value?

    Truly dreadful band, by the way, who contributed to my move away from the charts and into the indie ghetto.

  44. 44
    MikeMCSG on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #42 No of course quality is not dependent on the songwriters being performers or vice versa. Cathy Dennis’s songs sounded very poor when delivered in her thin voice and then brilliant when belted out by Jo in S Club.

    Bros were not crap because they didn’t write their own songs but because as punctum says their music was contrived and derivative – a K-Tel approximation of genuinely talented performers. And of course they (and sadly S Club too) got a very limited slice of the cake compared to “the management”. It was surely a better time when the teen idols emerged naturally and the likes of Cowell and Fuller had less influence on the process. That’s what I was lamenting.

  45. 45
    Tom on 22 Jun 2010 #

    We’ll get a chance for some direct comparison of Take That’s songwriters, but it’s a way away :)

    Re. Dave Rimmer – I was reading your argument to be “punk pushed the svengalis out of the way and let pop stars emerge naturally”. What Rimmer suggests is that the way these pop stars emerged naturally was basically by becoming their own Svengalis, and (to Rimmer at least) this didn’t seem to have changed things much. That doesn’t contradict your point, it just puts into question the idea that an age of real Svengalis is better than an age of inner Svengalis.

    I think we’re mostly in agreement about the essential shoddiness of Bros, mind you!

  46. 46
    Steve Mannion on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Early ’88 is when I first started reading Smash Hits (only for about 18 months in total iirc) so when I came to it they were slavishly devoted to both Bros and Kylie(&Jason) but fairly witty with it. Fond memories of the mag at this point probably means I feel less antipathy to a bunch of the acts they were obliged to champion (at least now if not then). The comparison with a-ha is not something I initially thought about but yes of course quite a gulf of imagination and sophistication between them.

  47. 47
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Having cited BEF for argumentative porpoises, I really didn’t expect this — which I had completely and entirely forgotten — to remind me so much of Heaven 17! Except with a better singer hoho —

    My rule of thumb is to assume that lovesongs (and thus hatesongs) are to be treated and will be treated as directed at the core audience: Bros’s audience may have thought the twins were hott wee cuties for a while, but “I owe you nothing” from star to audience was always going to be unforgiveable and un-get-roundable in the long run, however well delivered. My memory of their bust-up with their fans was that they were being punished for their bid for musicianly credibility, which was not what they were being hired for…

  48. 48
    Erithian on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Oh, and that thing in your voice mate? – Benylin will clear that up.

  49. 49
    LondonLee on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #13 I was living in a flat behind the Hammersmith Odeon at this point and will never forget popping out to the shops one Saturday afternoon to do my shopping to find the Broadway swarming with hordes of young Brosettes who were there to see them play a matinee gig. My only ever encounter with that kind of Beatle-/Rollermania, I wouldn’t have wanted to be a copper trying to hold back that lot.

    This isn’t that bad, the chorus is catchy and lively. Though it did make me rethink my uniform of 501s and Doc Marten’s at the time, I even had a white Levis jacket.

    Was Matt Goss the first to copy Michael Jackson’s vocals like that? I know all teenyboy idols do it now but watching the video it occurred to me this is the first time that comparison entered my head.

  50. 50
    Tom on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #47 – the quality really did drop precipitously when they started writing their own songs though, so it’s hard to work out if it was solely an ideological move on behalf of the fanbase.

    But it might have been! The fast turnover of fandoms tends to get explained away (by outsiders) in terms of – oh, they grow up, they move on to the next thing, which is very superficial as an explanation, doesn’t explain why some fandoms last a year and some last a lot longer and tends to reinforce the idea that fans are by nature undiscerning, which is obviously bunk. I think massed fans are VERY alert to changes in quality, though sometimes their definition of ‘quality’ is quite different and factional and their discernment works in other ways. We’re used to this idea with (say) TV fandom but are slower to attach it to pop.

  51. 51
    TomLane on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Yep, “When Will I Be Famous” is pretty great, but this one is just okay. A second listen, though, and I’m singing along. A decent 6, and a non-charter in America.

  52. 52
    MikeMCSG on 22 Jun 2010 #

    # 49 Junior and David Grant did a nice line in Jackson impersonation but yeah Matt Goss might have been the first white guy to try it.

  53. 53
    thefatgit on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #50 Isn’t the presence of a certain Boston boy band already diverting the Goss/Goss/Ken fanbase attention towards them? After all, the “quality” of the stateside product is miles ahead of anything Bros could come up with.

  54. 54
    Hofmeister Bear on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #53:’You Got It (The Right Stuff)’ was still over a year away from release in the UK at this point.

  55. 55
    Hofmeister Bear on 22 Jun 2010 #

    But yes the timelines between NKOTB turning up at the fag-end of 89 and Bros’s singles failing to enter the top 10 in the UK definitely overlap.

  56. 56
    thefatgit on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #54 yes, when IOYN was #1, but the discussion above was about when Bros began to write their own material and how their fanbase reacted to it, which is around ’89.

    (simultaneously posted there!)

  57. 57
    swanstep on 22 Jun 2010 #

    I owe you nothing” from star to audience was always going to be unforgiveable
    This point from Lord Sukrat ties in with a thought I had about the vid.. The gal in the vid. is quite dishy and one definitely has the thought ‘She’s out of your league mate. If there’s anyone who owes someone something…’ Beyond that tho’ the vid. makes her unappealing and even vaguely contemptible – insofar as she’s an audience surrogate, I can’t see them being amused. The comparison case for me is the vid for Nync’s Bye Bye Bye: a phwoar-worthy gal is given the kiss off. She’s definitely an audience surrogate, but it works because the vid. leaves no doubt that she’s fab, that the lads are fatally attracted to her etc, that she’s hard to break up with/leave etc., and the overall vibe’s v. fun. By the end of the vid. we want that gal back, for the boys to work it out with her, or whatever it may be. Thus, little girls got to play-act their inner femme fatale, being too-much for Justin and co.. My sense is that the core audience ate that up – wished they were that smoking hot girl being able to say ‘Just you *try* and break up with me boy!’

    Bros’ song is bad I reckon, but with boy-band hind-sight, I think we can see that a cleverer vid strategy could have made it a lot less farcical and unpleasant, and avoided much of Lord Sukrat’s problem.

  58. 58
    thefatgit on 22 Jun 2010 #

    Seen through the “out of your league” lens, Matt’s “Ooo-eerr” scans as shorthand for “I hope this one doesn’t come back and bite me on the arse!”. For one moment there you could envisage the girl in the vid rolling down that Merc tinted window, and see the barrel of a gun poking out.

    Or was that just wishful thinking?

  59. 59
    23 Daves on 22 Jun 2010 #

    #38 – Yes, what the hell was that? I despised Bros back in 1988, but then it was for all their obvious cultural baggage, plus the fact that I was obviously at an age where I reacted terribly to “mainstream puppets”. Now when I hear this for the first time in what must be at least fifteen years, the main thing that grates on my nerves is that appalling keyboard pre-set. Truly, if they’d got Sweep off the Sooty and Sweep show to squeak along behind them it would only be a tenth as grating. Even a kazoo would have been preferable.

    Oddly though, for however much I hated the band at the time, listening to their stuff now doesn’t generally provoke much of a reaction in me at all. It’s not memorable, it’s not energetic, it’s not inspired, it’s not even offensive, it just is. It’s hard to understand how a band so mediocre could have become so successful. The classic argument will always be “Well, they were a pretty bunch of boys, that’ll always sell”, but the truth is that most desperately average teen fodder doesn’t sell in great quantities (the aforementioned Big Fun are one example of that). They have to have two or three good pop singles to sustain a career of more than a few months, and like most posters, the only example I can think of in Bros’s case is WWIBF. I’ve tried and tried to hear what legions of Brosettes might have been getting out of them, but I’m utterly stumped.

    As an aside, I was once asked out by a Brosette at school – she was the first to start smoking cigarettes in our year and was as hard as nails. Being a shy and insecure spotty teen, I thought she was taking the piss and blew my chance (I still find it hard to believe she wasn’t taking the piss, actually). Whenever I hear them – which isn’t at all often – I do sometimes wonder how odd it would have been if we had hooked up.

  60. 60
    lockedintheattic on 22 Jun 2010 #

    The various references to Big Fun on this thread has just prompted me to listen to their version of “Blame it on the Boogie”. Dear god. They make Bros sound like ABBA. Out of tune singing, terrible styling, awful dancing.

  61. 61
    Promethea on 23 Jun 2010 #

    Bros were the first pop band I had literally no opinion about; their brief spate – it felt like two months – was over so quickly that I somehow always had the feeling that I’d missed it, like I was out of the country or something (I wasn’t, except for a ten day family holiday to Tenerife).

    Obviously one (I don’t care which) became a reasonably successful movie villain in B-list sci-fi. The other, however, is apparently a Rat Pack style crooner in Vegas – I know this because the True Movies Channel on Freesat (which I am unreasonably fond and often seem to end up watching when there’s nothing else on; they show Roots on a near permanent loop and sometime soon I’m going to manage to catch all the instalments) had a long-running advert for his show there, with a competition to win a trip to see him. While the rules and prize were explained, at interminable length, one of his songs is played and it is one of the most annoying, repetitive ditties in a long while: da da da, da da da, da dadada dadada. He wears a Sinatra-style homburg hat (probably gone bald) and suit and is clearly trying to get the crowd who are too cheap to buy tickets to anyone they’ve actually heard of but are slightly too classy to just go to a tribute band. Matt, or possibly Luke, Goss as Rat Packer: ludicrous, but I suppose it shows that they really would do anything for fame.

  62. 62
    swanstep on 23 Jun 2010 #

    @23_Daves, 59. I’m pretty sure the underlying keyboard is the (hard to program, hence notoriously, widely just used for its presets) Roland D-50 (which we’ll soon be hearing almost exclusively from Enya). You can listen to all of the D-50’s presets here. I think #54 jete strings is the core one, but a lot of the brass presets (15, 33, 35, 45) are close.

  63. 63
    Gavin Wright on 23 Jun 2010 #

    Bros were the first boyband I recognised as being an actual phenomenon – this was basically because a) unlike, say, Brother Beyond, they had a whole TWO hit songs I’d heard and b) girls at school drew the band logo (three figures holding up the band name if I remember rightly) on their exercise books. I also distinctly remember them falling out of favour, probably the first time I’d been aware of a changing trend in pop.

    Having not given the band much thought since 1988, I had no idea they were quite so obnoxious (although even as a child I thought ‘I Owe You Nothing’ was pretty mean-spirited) or so reviled – I wonder if at any point they accused the british public of ‘hating success’? That’s usually what people like this (the clueless and arrogant) come out with when their popularity starts to slide.

    I’d also like to voice my approval of Marcello’s farmhand/chicken line, very good.

  64. 64

    […] and ambition — Brit edition! By humanizingthevacuum One of Tom’s best posts. He’s illuminating on the phenomenon of Bros, the English boy band that mesmerized their […]

  65. 65
    Tommy Mack on 24 Jun 2010 #

    Re: “punk pushed the svengalis out of the way and let pop stars emerge naturally”.

    Johnny Rotten, Adam Ant, to a certain extent the early Beatles is that they were fun, clever, creative performers colluding with svengalis to create something striking, original and, hopefully, commercial. Whereas Bros and their ilk come across as dead-behind-the-eyes marrionettes mindelessly following orders in blind pursuit of success in it’s narrowest terms. Any fun to be had with Bros seems to come from the fact this artless ambition is both overt and at the core of their ethos.

    That said, I did think they were cool for about a week in 1988, around the same time I though Jason Donovan was cool because he had a leather jacket. 28 years old I was, Stew!

  66. 66
    Mike Atkinson on 24 Jun 2010 #

    I don’t think I’ve heard this song at all since 1988, so re-visiting it was an odd experience: it’s clunkier than I remember, and somehow more… wrong, I suppose. Almost as if they were trying to make a late 80s pop single, and failed to read the manual (as opposed to The Manual) properly. But that’s just a trick of the light, of course. As for the vocals, they made me audibly gasp and LOL in the middle of the street – so, yeah, thanks for that. (And thanks also for ruining my 1988 quiff/ripped 501s/DMs “look”. Harumph.)

    I well remember the Radio One greatest-single-of-ALL-TIME poll, and the horror I felt when “I Owe You Nothing” topped it. But then again: fuck the canon, pop’s an eternal “present”, etc. This was not how I saw it at the time!

    There was a lengthy, approving, and hence strangely out-of-context feature on the Bros phenomenon in The Face, which came over all sociological-anthropological about the “authentic mirror of teenage Britain” aspect of their fame, as I recall. As a card-carrying Face-reading trendy, this did rather confuse me!

    My sister briefly went out with one of their regular session players, more or less at the height of their fame. His background was soul and gospel, and she related his defences of their art with some amusement.

    I had nursed a vague memory that late-period Bros, circa 1991, was starting to get quite good, particularly their last hit “Try”. How wrong I was.

  67. 67
    Chris Gilmour on 24 Jun 2010 #

    Well, my first confession is that I do own this, a seven inch with the Luke sleeve. My second confession is that I did have something of a thing for aforementioned ‘band’ member, which confirms that they did have at least one male admirer, and I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at their first Smash Hits spread in 1987, around the time this single was first released. After Luke, I moved on to Bobby Brown. Yeah, I know.

    Anyway, the record; I certainly remember liking it but I don’t think I’ve played it since the late 80s and have had no wish to. Even at the time I can’t have played it more than two or three times. It was certainly weaker than the two singles that preceded it , and ‘Famous’ and ‘Drop the Boy’ at least had an identity, even though we couldn’t be sure whose identity it was.

    I’d never really noticed that it was trying to emulate SAW; I think I would have considered myself something of an expert on SAWs output at this point and the fact that I’d missed it can only mean it failed. Tom is certainly right about the breeziness and melody in SAW compositions; their best work is exhilarating and is crammed with hooks. This song sounds as if it was written under duress, no one sounds or looks as if they’re enjoying themselves and they don’t seem to particularly want us to enjoy ourselves either.

    The Brosettes in my school did tend to be the brassiest and toughest of my female classmates; perhaps it’s because people with the most defensive personalities tend to succumb to peer pressure and follow the crowd, I dunno. Certainly the more bookish girls were more into the PSBs. So Tom Watkins won either way!

    I don’t have an opinion particularly on Bros now, though I can definitely understand why people hated them. I think if I’d been a year older I would have too. So many records from this year are very dear to me, they feel part of me, and I still play them all the time. Many, many of these are manufactured pop records. But this is not one of them. It just means….nothing. Truly disposable.

  68. 68
    Erithian on 25 Jun 2010 #

    So the question that has to be asked, especially by those of us who weren’t at school to witness the phenomenon, is: were Brosettes the scariest girl fan group of them all? We’ve got Tom saying 15/16-year-old boys hated and feared Bros and Brosettes, Wichita calling them powerful and intimidating, LondonLee saying he wouldn’t want to be a copper up against them, 23 Daves and his hard-as-nails cigarette smoker, Chris above saying they were the brassiest and toughest at school, and pink champale over on the Glenn Medeiros thread scoring a snog with a “more than half ironic” Brosette (or did the “ironic” refer to the snog? I think we should be told).

    So were they scarier than Duranies and the rest, and if so why? I recall a feature in Record Mirror in the 70s bringing together girl fans of the Rollers, Mud, Slade and the Osmonds, and they all got on well – but would Brosettes have fought their corner? More information please!

  69. 69
    wichita lineman on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Gosh, BRA vs POR is so unappetising I am lured back into Bros’s icy arms.

    Two words:
    1. Grolsch (how did that happen exactly?)
    2. Aryan (unthinking, unsmiling robots expecting the earth. Seemed a bit familiar).

    Erithian, I’m intrigued to know when that RM feature ran as the Rollers peaked a good 18 months after those other acts. Possibly the lack of competition is what gave the Rollers their enormous fanbase.

    Re: ” the “quality” of the stateside product is miles ahead of anything Bros could come up with”… It didn’t seem that way at the time to me, not by any stretch, but Tom’ll get there soon enough….

  70. 70
    Steve Mannion on 25 Jun 2010 #

    Yeah that’s really not the case wrt the first #1 of the 90s – not long now!

  71. 71
    Billy Smart on 27 Jun 2010 #

    Yes, take it from one who was 15 and living in Bros country at the time, Brosettes were generally pretty tough, but perhaps that’s just because following pop stars gives young girls an aura of preoccupation with something that excludes boys. IIRC Tom Watkins domiciled the Gosses in Lewisham at the height of their powers, so tales of seeing them in the flesh – not always exaggerated – were often told around my teenage manor.

    My main memory of Brosmania in action was a girl who lived in my street phoning the 0898 premium-rate daily Bros news line: “Matt says that he loves his fans!”

    Naturally we boys all saw them as folk demons. I did feel a bit sorry for them when their sister died though. Fleet Street hacks to the famous young brothers outside the funeral: “Are you feeling SAD Matt and Luke?”… The next day’s headlines: “BROS STAR IN FOUR-LETTER FUNERAL SHAME”

  72. 72
    Billy Smart on 27 Jun 2010 #

    Re: the BEF/ Heaven 17 connection. In the Melody Maker Albums of the Eighties feature in January 1989, David Stubbs wrote about the malign influence of Penthouse & Pavement which “paved the way for the witless Filofax soul of Bros”

  73. 73
    Billy Smart on 27 Jun 2010 #

    TOTPWatch: Bros performed ‘I Owe You Nothing’ on the Top of the Pops transmitted on June 16 1988. Also in the studio that week were; Sabrina, Erasure, Sisters of Mercy and Matt Bianco. Mike Read & Gary Davies were the hosts.

  74. 74
    Tommy Mack on 30 Jun 2010 #

    Heinz. That’s who Bros remind me of. As in Just Like Eddie, not baked beans. Not just the Aryan thing, but the dimwitted, grasping hunger for fame and inability to see that others might think you a bit of a bell end for being that way.

    I’m aware Telstar might have been less than fair to Heinz coz it’s a movie and you’ve got to have a villain, but then my Dad did recall seeing him booed off stage in Sheffield because a) He was known as being arrogant and b) they all thought he was gay (different times, etc…) – both points touched on in the film.

  75. 75
    punctum on 30 Jun 2010 #

    #72: That’s like blaming Joy Division for the Rose of Avalanche.

  76. 76
    wichita lineman on 30 Jun 2010 #

    Re 74: Good call. Heinz didn’t do himself any favours in the Joe Meek Arena doc (circa ’91) snarling “where did all the money go?” All the money from his solitary no.5 hit. And this was after Meek bought him a speedboat amongst other toys.

  77. 77
    23 Daves on 30 Jun 2010 #

    #76 – I watched “Telstar” and the Arena documentary back to back with a friend of mine, and at the end of all this he had to conclude sadly: “God, Heinz really *was* an unlikable prat, wasn’t he? I thought they were exaggerating everything, but that actor really nailed him!”

    We’re frequently expected to feel sorry for Heinz because he died with only a fiver to his name (or something – people seem to rant and rave about this on YouTube a lot underneath his videos) but really, if someone refuses to see the error of their ways or their attitude right until their final days, I’d say that’s their own lookout. He had more fame and success than he truly deserved, and certainly more than most of us would ever rightfully expect for ourselves.

    Much the same could be said of the Goss twins and their bankruptcy woes.

  78. 78

    I think the Telstar actor did something else, too: he caught hints of what it was Meek was maybe drawn to, a kind of goofy now-and-then charisma that was nothing like the way Heinz wanted to BE as a performer, but was there to be used if he’d had more self-awareness, there but swamped in the useless tantrummy unlikeable side of him. Because you don’t entirely think what the HELL DID JOE SEE IN THIS GUY!?? (It’s not like he was simply handing the plum role to his cute boyf who was amazing in bed and the onstage stuff didn’t matter….) There’s moments when the crush nearly sorta kinda makes sense.

    (In other words, I too think the actor nailed it…)

  79. 79
    DietMondrian on 1 Jul 2010 #

    I’ve cast JJ Feild (who played Heinz) as Damon Albarn in the biopic of Blur I have in my head.

  80. 80
    wichita lineman on 1 Jul 2010 #

    Sukrat, I’m not sure it went far past blind infatuation. Even ignoring the tantrums, Heinz could barely sing and in his one cinematic vehicle that survives – Live It Up – he comes over as gormless and charmless.

    A lot of his records are better than people would have you believe, mind, probably because Meek put the same effort into them as HDH did for the Supremes. Questions I Can’t Answer helped Germany get to the Pop World Cup final, You Were There has an intriguingly ambiguous (ie gay) lyric, I’m Not A Bad Guy is genuinely fierce with v tough guitar work.

  81. 81
    Tommy Mack on 1 Jul 2010 #

    I felt genuinely sorry for him in the scene where he’s sitting on the bed with Joe and saying something like ‘People just don’t like me, what if they never like me?’, unable to see that he’s brought it on himself, his need to be liked making him behave in the most unlikeable manner imaginable.

    You can’t imagine Bros experiencing that sort of humbling moment, just more greed and resentment towards the people for disowning them out of jealousy etc.

  82. 82
    Tommy Mack on 1 Jul 2010 #

    Another thing that occurred to me (I’ve been thinking about Bros more than they really deserve!), the sort of aspirational hostility Bros deliver (We’re ace, you’re sh t, we’re going to destroy you on our way to the top) is unusual in rock/pop, but is a staple of rap.

    I suppose it’s more palatable to come accross like a self-centred peacockish sociopath if it’s assumed that you’re escaping the ghetto and have seen enough sh t to justify your ‘me against the world’ ethos. Like Lily Allen seemed a lot less fun once you found out her lineage; the spunky braggadocio of a young upstart turned the tantrums of a spoilt brat.

  83. 83
    Dominic on 4 Jul 2010 #

    Actually I think Bros were strange among boy-bands (if that what they were, and I suppose it is) in that they had a bit of a solidly heterosexual white working-class male fan base as well as the screaming girls.. (I knew of several such blokes in Dagenham, and also Stevenage – this is nothing to do with metrosexuality!). The whole Grolsch-bottle top-on-shoe wearing thing, the sort of obnoxious laddishness. To be fair some of their tunes weren’t bad, although I have to agree that “When Will I Be Famous?” is heads and shoulders above the rest

  84. 84
    abaffledrepublic on 14 Jul 2010 #

    #21: supposedly Craig (Ken?) found out he was leaving the group by walking into the management’s offices at the end of the year and spotting piles of calendars with pictures of just the Goss bros. This could be apocryphal but given the unpleasant reputation of the group and manager under discussion, it sounds believable enough.

    #61: Matt (it was definitely Matt) had a brief shot at a solo career in the mid 90s. I never steeled myself to listen to his effort, but the sleeve had a shot of him with dark hair and a designer goatee, looking remarkably like George Michael did at around the same time.

  85. 85
    Mark G on 19 Jul 2010 #

    Yeah, Craig was the winner: He got the payoff, the future career and one of Mel and Kim, whereas Bros got to keep all the debt.

  86. 86

    […] goed, tot zover de update, de discussie over wat er nou juist niet klopte aan de band gaat hier verder. Feit blijft wel, dat dit hun grootste hit was. Het haalde de nummer 4 in 1988 en deed over zijn […]

  87. 87
    delannoy on 29 Dec 2010 #

    , je pense que bros a sonné la fin , suivre duran duran , ha ha, wet wet wet, la c etait encore bien , la suite avec les new kid , moyen niveau marketing, la suite take that , nul!! bros a cependant reussi quelques chanson pas mal, des live aussi, la voix de Goss pouvait etre prenante parfois sur certain titres méconnu, manquait un bon producteur, plu mur!a noté, le chanteur Matt actuellement sonne bon avec gossy, ecouté firefly, along for the ride, tt simplement excellent!! plus rien a voir avec bros!

  88. 88
    DJBobHoskins on 5 Jan 2014 #

    Another one where the version that hit #1 was the 7″ remix, but largely unavailable. I always thought it was probably the best example of 80s ‘fuck you’ spite. But there we are.

  89. 89
    adelaide medeiros on 8 Apr 2014 #

    1. All. The. Young. Girls. Like. You. And. Women. 3 hundred. Of. Them. Dont. Be. Surprise. Men. We.all. like. Glenn. Medeiros.he.got. to. Pick.l.got.to.close.to.you.l.was.found.by.you.

  90. 90
    sbahnhof on 6 Aug 2015 #

    The chorus of “When Will I Be Famous” did some fairly heavy lifting from “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood imo. Not that that’s going to change anyone’s artistic opinion of Bros :)

    It’s funny how some songs live on in unusual places. Like the 9-second cover of WWIBF by Die Ärzte – right in the middle of a live punk album (from 1988). Very much of its time!

  91. 91
    MUSICALITY on 24 Apr 2017 #

    Sorry but I actually think Bros were great with a great sound and especially this chart topper and ‘When Will I Be Famous?’!
    They were briefly the biggest British pop band Worldwide also during this time which is often overlooked.
    This track did well across Africa at the time also.

  92. 92
    will on 26 Dec 2018 #

    :Bump:

    Just to say that ‘Bros: When The Screaming Stops’, the doc that was on BBC4 the other night is incredible – unintentionally hilarious to the point that you’d swear Ricky Gervais had scripted it and actually quite poignant in places when you realise what damaged individuals the Goss twins now are.

  93. 93
    Tommy Mack on 6 Jan 2019 #

    #92 – seconded. It really is as good as everyone says! Ludicrous pronouncements from Matt juxtaposed with stark explorations of grief. Still on iPlayer for a couple of weeks.

    Bros: After the Screaming Stops: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0001qyv via @bbciplayer

  94. 94
    Lee Saunders on 6 Jan 2019 #

    I’m not much of a film person, hence I haven’t seen many films in recent times, so I can safely say that this is my favourite film in years. It’s almost outsider art and I’ll be quoting for years to come.

    Also, not many people have mentioned it but never have I seen a music documentary so about anything but the music. It really doesn’t make a case for the band at all (thankfully).

  95. 95
    benson_79 on 16 Oct 2020 #

    Yes, it really shocked me when watching the doc just how awful their music was. That and the vast yawning discrepancy between it and how they perceive themselves obvs.

    Have to confess to enjoying Matt’s Vegas show last year. The man is utterly lost in his own showbizzy world, but you can’t fault his commitment.

  96. 96
    Gareth Parker on 17 May 2021 #

    Don’t have any problems with this single to be honest. I think I would go 5/10 here.

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