If you thought handpicked boy bands were just a '90s fad, check out this week's On the Verge artists, British pop act The Wanted.
The who?: Formed during a mass audition in 2009, the group's five British-Irish singers landed their first British chart-topping single in 2010 (All Time Low). Last summer, The Wanted scored another U.K. No. 1 with the infectious dance single Glad You Came, off their second studio album Battleground.
Meet The Wanted: The band — Max George, 23; Jay McGuiness, 21; Siva Kaneswaran, 23; Tom Parker, 23; and Nathan Sykes, 18 — just finished a whirlwind one-month U.S. tour, which included stops everywhere from The Ellen DeGeneres Show to high school auditoriums in Philadelphia and Minneapolis. The Feb. 21 episode of Glee featured Glad You Came, pushing The Wanted single to No. 5 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, No. 3 on the Digital Songs chart and No. 9 on USA TODAY's top 40 airplay chart. The song has sold more than 600,000 downloads. The group — which is managed outside Britain by Scooter Braun, the man guiding Justin Bieber— plans to release its third album this summer.
Yet another British invasion: Winning over U.S. music fans remains the holy grail for many overseas artists, and The Wanted ached for that conquest. "It was hard work this past month, but always fun, too," says McGuiness. "The gigs were very raw, with little mosh pits everywhere; it was grubby in a great way. I'd come off the stage shaking from the energy."
His favorite U.S. stop? "It was a place called the Saddle Ranch (Chop House) in L.A., which we visited not once but twice, just to hang out," he says, laughing. "It was just drunk American guys watching drunk American girls ride a giant mechanical bull. We have nothing like that in the U.K. Just brilliant."
Mass appeal: "We were up in Manchester (England) for a concert, and when we went out to sign autographs, about a quarter of the crowd were guys," McGuiness says. "All of us are straight, but we're aware of the fans we have in the gay community and we appreciate them very much. We're very honored that our fans come from all walks of life."
Why this group should make it: Sykes is convinced that despite being created by committee, the different personalities and musical tastes in The Wanted will carry the group far. "It's easy to put guys or girls together who sound good, but maybe the chemistry isn't right or their creative ideas prove to be opposites," Sykes says. "There's a good balance among us five. We all have the same drive, though we enjoy different music, which ultimately impacts our sound. Like, I'm into classic soul, and Tom is into dubstep, and both sort of emerged on our song Warzone."
For the record, he adds that "Max is into Elvis, Jay's into Cat Stevens and things like that, and Siva likes Motown stuff." And musicians they all seem to like? "Coldplay," says Sykes, pointing out the piano intro of Glad You Came, which owes a lot to Chris Martin's sonic approach. "We don't want to copy them, but we love their sound."
The romp that was their Glad You Came video: Shot in the European party mecca of Ibiza, the video — viewed some 36 million times on YouTube — looks like a filmed version of what goes on every summer on that sinfully fun island off the coast of Spain: a complete blast starring chilled drinks and hot bodies. "Making that was, uh, amazing," Sykes says. "We had the idea and were told, 'We can make it happen.' Then we got this big catalog and it was just filled with pictures of girls that we could hire for the shoot. Insane. We partied a lot, such fun."
And what did his girlfriend think of that day's work? "Well, I don't have one," he says, laughing. "So my non-existent girlfriend was just fine with it."
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