Boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync have fought hard to be perceived as a authentic musicians rather than manufactured puppets assembled by record executives. O-Town doesn't have to worry about that, after having the formation of their boy band chronicled in the ABC reality series Making the Band, O-Town wears their pre-packaged label with pride.
Making the Band was the brainchild of teen-pop Svengali Lou Pearlman, the former manager of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync. Equal parts the Monkees and MTV's The Real World, the show offered viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a boy band, from their first audition to the signing of their first record deal. The show was a modest hit for ABC. More importantly for Pearlman, the show created legions of fans for O-Town before they even released their first album.
The program started with a cattle call of over 1,800 applicants. With television cameras rolling, the group was pared down to 25 contestants, then down to eight, then down to the final five members. After months of auditions, Pearlman and his cronies selected Ashley Parker Angel, Erik-Michael Estrada, Trevor Penick, Jacob Underwood, and Ikaika Kahoano. Shortly after being selected for the group, Kahoano left the band for personal reasons and was replaced by Dan Miller. In 2000, the group was signed to a record deal by former Arista kingpin Clive Davis and in 2001, the group released their debut album, Liquid Dreams, with a second season of Making the Band in the works.
As a TV program, Making the Band stands as something of a guilty pleasure. In the grand tradition of reality programs such as Survivor and The Real World, the show was often cheesy but undeniably watchable. Making the Band could be appreciated on several levels; young fans enjoyed watching a young group come together while more astute music fans enjoyed watching a group of relatively untalented group of telegenic teenagers get prodded and manipulated by music industry heavyweights into becoming a manufactured pop confection. The group's album, however, was less of a success. Without the soap opera antics of the television show to keep the audience hooked, O-Town's lightweight music demonstrates that this group belongs on television and not the radio. ~ Jon Azpiri, All Music Guide