When you’re constructing a band, the most critical factor is making sure everyone on the planet knows their name. After that, you’re faced with the elusive task of ensuring that band never breaks up.
Unfortunately, it seems like every band with chemistry and talent inevitably explodes. So, to protect the future of boy bands, girl groups, and the music industry as a whole, I’ve set out to determine the cause of band breakups. With any luck, Simon Cowell, the god of the music industry, will use my data to create a group that will stand the test of time.
“Story of my life”
In 2010, five unsuspecting teenagers walked onto the set of the British singing competition show The X-Factor. Transformed by the not-so-caring help of Simon Cowell, they left the show as arguably the most famous boy band of their time. Throughout the next six years, One Direction released five albums, embarked on four world tours, and captured the hearts of the entire world.
One Direction broke these hearts just as quickly when they announced their split in 2016, leaving us with many theories as to what prompted their “hiatus.”
Tabloids such as Us Weekly — who quoted Niall Horan saying that band members were “gonna end up killing each other” had they stayed together — reported enough fights and interpersonal drama to make a One Direction biopic.
Ultimately, though, the band broke up to pursue individual projects, both in and out of the spotlight.Don’t believe me? Look at the March 2015 Facebook post that announced Zayn’s departure; it explained that the singer wanted “to be a normal 22-year-old.”
Additionally, each band member started making drastically different styles of music during their solo careers; Niall Horan’s music can be classified as country, while Harry Styles’ has been described as soft rock. Members of One Direction wouldn’t have had the creative freedom to explore these various genres if the group stayed together, because the band put out strictly pop music.
“You gotta get with my friends”
When Geri Halliwell — better known as Ginger Spice — left the Spice Girls before their American tour, it felt like girl power had suffered a catastrophic explosion. In the 2007 BBC documentary Giving You Everything Halliwell explained that she left the group because she felt excluded — a statement which undoubtedly added some ‘spice’ to tabloid articles everywhere.
However, the Spice Girls didn’t remain on cold terms for long — they’ve reunited twice since their breakup, and. in 2019, Halliwell apologized for her departure. Ultimately, she retracted her initial comments and explained that she felt the work she had become doing got “redundant.” Though I have the impression that friendship never ends, I’ve concluded that Halliwell left to discover herself as a person, not just as a member of a group.
“You say you want your freedom”
If you thought One Direction and The Spice Girls’ hiatuses were heartbreaking, just wait until you hear the ‘landslide’ that’s the drama surrounding Fleetwood Mac. The group began to record the album Rumours in 1976, immediately following the divorce of members Christine and John McVie.
To add to the drama, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham — group members and another former couple — were engaging in regular shouting matches. To top it all off, member Mick Fleetwood began a relationship with Nicks. The undeniable chemistry in this hot mess of a friend group burned bright enough to make them stars, but that same fire soon turned explosive as their music careers came to an end.
So why am I upset about bands that broke up before I started high school? The culprits are these bands’ managers.
Managers design bands to make fans invested in the group. To do so, they need to make us think of their music as a manifestation of their friendship. It’s evident that the marketing industry has banked on this strategy with both One Direction and The Spice Girls; their respective documentaries, This Is Us and Spice World, show footage of them spending time with one another outside of work.
Band members are also presented as an opportunity to choose which member you most identify with. For example, I strongly identify as Baby Spice, so the idea that Ginger Spice would rip apart ‘our’ friend group makes it sting even more than it would have if another band that I liked broke up.
Though I’m still recovering from the pain of these break ups, I know that no band can last forever — despite what their managers want me to believe. In the industry, breaking up is nothing more than a dramatic way of musicians deciding to prioritize their well-being over a paycheque. That’s a message I can get behind.
But, when they need that paycheque again in 10 years, I’ll sell my soul to see them reunite on tour.