The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story review

‘I’ve learned that things change. The whole boy band thing almost turned into a stock market crash’ – Max Martin

Its no secret whatsoever that if I thought there was a market for it I would rename this blog ‘Honestly Boybands’ and write solely about my biggest passion twice a week. As it happens most people have grown out of their boy band phase and only like to revisit once and a while for nostalgic purposes. 

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I was majorly excited when I found out the Lance off of NSync had made a documentary about theirs and Backstreet Boys’ former manager and all round grotesque human Lou Pearlman. Mainly because the mess he made and the money he stole was touched upon in BSB’s 2015 documentary, but I always wished they’d gone deeper, and said more; Nick and Brian in particular, for different reasons which I’ll go into more detail about later on. A quick register of notable people who did show up however is:

Lance Bass ( NSync – features heavily, which is no surprise since he produces the doc)
JC Chasez (NSync – with terrible hair)
Chris Kirkpatrick (NSync – i really like his top)
Aj McLean (appointed Backstreet Boys spokesperson)
Ashley Parker-Angel (O-Town – seems to have become quite camp, however probably aged the best of the bunch)
Aaron Carter (to quote Dave ‘he does not look like a well man’. ’nuff said)
Nikki DeLoach (Innosense – who no one ever really remembers but Britney Spears was an early member (fact fans) and their debut album is actually very good)

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As a small backstory or for anyone unaware of the workings of Mr Pearlman allow me to explain. He was the brains behind Backstreet Boys after renting a plane to New Kid on the Block and thinking there’s money in them there teenage hormones. After their success he got annoyed that they couldn’t appear on every TV show on the planet so put together N Sync in their image to fill the slots BSB turned down. 

Not content with the two most successful boy bands on the face of the planet he got greedy and starting throwing any old Joe Charlie into a group (C-note and Take 5 anyone?!) and to a more successful extent tapped into the MTV generation and spawned O-Town via Making the Band. After all of the above sued his lying, cheating ass he had some hefty lawyer bills to pay so invented one of the biggest ponzi schemes in US history, for which he was arrested and jailed for – where he died. 

Phew, are you following so far? Good

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Naturally the documentary goes into this in much more articulate (apart from the hot mess that is Aaron Carter) and intricate detail so don’t just take my word for it. So, as a documentary film how does it stack up?

Well, I made Dave sit and watch it last Friday night and he thought it was really interesting so that must tell you something. It is a fascinating story and I think would appeal to people who were interested in the wider music industry, or the inner workings or large businesses in general, the fact that it all revolves around a couple of boybands is secondary really. It flows like a crime documentary, which is kind of is because he swindled everyone he worked with, out of millions of dollars.

The doc did change my mind on something. I was always under the opinion that to create the direct competition for your biggest paying investment (N Sync to Backstreet Boys) was a beyond shitty thing to do. It is, however, a valid point that it was inevitable that a copycat boyband would be created eventually, so why not do it yourself and cash in. That’s not shitty. That’s just good business sense. 

One thing that is extremely shitty though, is preying on young boys (in every sense – allegedly) and creating contracts that are some unbelievably complex that it was almost impossible for anyone to know exactly how much money he was screwing them out of. And not being honest about the fact that all the fancy hotels and all the nice meals they thought they were being ‘treated’ to by generous old Lou, they were actually paying for themselves. So when it actually came to receiving any kind of personal income, they’d have earned more money had they worked at Starbucks for the last two years. He also fleeced a load of pensioners out of their retirement savings, just to add insult to injury. 

It seems a lot of the victims (for want of a better phrase) are quite conflicted. After all, if it weren’t for Lou, they wouldn’t have the careers they do. Lou himself definitely had that opinion as well, stating that he deserved all that money as they would be nothing without him. True as that may be, equally he’d be nothing without them. I was the ultimate boy band fan in my teens (who am i kidding, I still am) and I don’t think if Lou himself had gotten up on stage adorned in 90s Tommy Hilfiger and tried to hip thrust his bulbous frame into my heart. He would have failed. Miserably. 

There were some more serious allegations later on in the doc of course, about some inappropriate behavior towards some of the lads and filming of the Innosence (who I loved incidentally) girls while they got changed, so suffice to say it also raised more questions than it answered. It reminded me in parts of the Leaving Neverland documentaries, albeit far less graphic, in that there was a common theme of abuse of position, potential grooming (including the parents) and questions around what on earth the parents were thinking allowing this kind of corruption to go on. What out for my opinions on that hot potato coming soon btw. That will a be a treat for you!

I could go on and on about the nostalgia factor, how great it is to see archive footage of some of my favourite bands and how it’s important to remember how truly awful N Sync were in the early days (see video below as proof). All that aside though I think it’s actually a really great crime documentary and well worth signing up for a months free trial of YouTube premium for. 

If you’ve seen it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

1 Comment

  1. newgirlintoon April 11, 2019 / 6:57 am

    OMG please write Honestly Boybands! How great would that be! People could share their stories (I have many … have i ever told you about the time I shared an umbrella with Shane Lynch? or about the time a member of D-Side came out of his dance routine walked to the foot of the stage just to shout down to me to “cheer up” (I really disliked D-Side and was glaring at them … was mortified he actually noticed!)

    I really enjoyed the documentary (really wish I’d got Simon to watch it with me now!) – I didn’t know a lot about the story before, although I have a passing interest in BSB/NSync (yes both .. don’t hunt me down!) the American boybands weren’t really my thing so a lot of it I didn’t know!

    Absolutely crazy what went down! What a con artist!

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