David Browne
February 12, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST


Current Status
In Season
J Records

We gave it a C-

As their creators would no doubt boast, art has absolutely nothing to do with O-Town. The latest would be heirs to the boy band throne were assembled in the crassest way imaginable — as part of the ABC series ”Making the Band.” Part reality TV and part soap opera, the show chronicled O-Town’s construction, from auditions of thousands through months of coaching and practice for the finalists.

Those five — Jacob, Trevor, Dan, Erik, and Ashley (Ashley?) — came across as only marginally talented, but it didn’t matter. What counted was the test marketed package (complete with requisite goo like ”Baby I Would” and overheated bump and grinders like ”Every Six Seconds”), along with the massive sales figures and fame to which it would hopefully lead.

It only seems fair, then, to judge the quintet’s debut album, O-Town, by those commercial standards. In its initial week out, the disc moved about 150,000 copies, enough to push itself into the top 10. Not bad — but not phenomenal, either. It was outsold by Jennifer Lopez’s dreadful ”J.Lo,” and ”O-Town” was dwarfed by last year’s first week sales of ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.

In light of their TV series and slurpy hit single (”Liquid Dreams,” whose fraudulence is only magnified by the idea that teenage boys would fantasize about old broads Janet Jackson and Madonna), you’d think ”O-Town” would have sold much better. (Is this a significant moment — the official downturn of boy band mania?) Therefore, using the criteria its masterminds value most, ”O-Town” is a lukewarm success at best, a clear-cut C?. Oh, by the way, the songs are mildly tuneful at times.

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