So if One Direction is a 10 and 98 Degrees is a 1, where do 5 Seconds of Summer, whose full-length self-titled debut comes out today (22), fall on the Boy Band-ometer?
Let’s look at a few factors and bring in a few more boy band metrics.
*Harmonies: The pinnacle of Boy Band Harmony is Backstreet Boys on “As Long As You Love Me,” followed closely by Boyz II Men on “I’ll Make Love To You.” On each, their voices wrap around each other in a gorgeous blend of longing. Few boy groups seem to understand that singing in unison is not the same as harmonizing and warbling “Oh, oh” together a lot—on almost every song— doesn’t constitute harmony. The members of 5SOS tend to trade off on lines and then all four sing together. BSB and B2M have nothing to worry about. GRADE: C
*Songs: Remember how other than “You Don't Know You're Beautiful,” 1D’s first album was filled with forgettable ditties. It took a few albums in for the lads to get something as memorable as “Story of My Life.” For a first full-length album, 5SOS succeeds better than most: there are no clunkers on here, but there’s very little that’s memorable other than “Don’t Stop” and mid-tempo “Long Way Home.” Ballad “Amnesia” has just the right amount of maudlin anguish to make us understand that the boys in 5SOS are way more than just pretty faces. GRADE: B-
*Vocals: Lead singer Luke Hemmings has a pleasing, serviceable voice and the rest chime in adequately, but there’s not a super singer like ’N Sync’s Justin Timberlake or Hanson’s Taylor Hanson lurking among the four. GRADE: B-
*Bounceability: The majority of songs on “5 Seconds of Summer” are upbeat ditties that serve as reliable fodder for working out just as much as for dancing, especially the first half of the album. The band’s label keeps stressing 5SOS’s “pop-punk,” but there is nothing remotely “punk” about 5SOS. They’re not even as “edgy” as The Wanted. They are pure, fluffy, bouncy pop and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. GRADE: A
*Swoon Appeal: What girl doesn’t want to hear her beau plead “Kiss Me, kiss me, kiss me,” as 5SOS do on the appropriately titled “Kiss me, Kiss me?” Or romantically dream of sleeping under the same sky when they’re apart on “Beside You.” It’s all PG here, as it should be, and every now and then, a little whiff of their Australian accents comes through which sends the Swoon Appeal meter sky rocketing. Plus, they already go by their first names only for the most part. Who needs last names when you’re already crushing so hard?: GRADE: B+
* 1D Successor Likelihood: 5SOS is already on its way to being the rightful heir. Its Spring EP, “She Looks So Perfect,” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and hit No. 1 on the iTunes chart in 58 countries. The band’s first US headlining tour sold out and the boys are now opening for 1D on its global stadium tour. One Directioners were apoplectic when 5SOS garnered two MTV VMA noms last week, while 1D got zero. Adding insult to injury, 5SOS has pulled out of its Aug. 24 and Aug. 27 1D dates to perform at the VMAs. 5SOS won’t hit the absurd fever pitch of 1D, but between their sweet, benign talent and ability to ride on 1D’s coattails, they’ll do just fine for three years or so until the next big things comes along.