You've seen it all before, America. From New Kids on the Block to N'SYNC to One Direction, The Wanted seem, in their short time in the American consciousness, to be aping a pretty familiar blueprint.
The one thing that separates the golden-throated boy-band of the moment from their teen idol predecessors is age. This particular group of guys are a little older and a little less willing to play the "nice boys" game. Take, for example, the controversial statements member Tom Parker made to a Los Angeles radio station after their US debut on The Voice:
"She's a total bitch. She might not be a bitch in real life, but to us she was a bitch."
The "bitch" he's referring to is Voice judge Christina Aguilera. It's a strange bit of honesty from a manufactured pop band, one that would've never happened with their younger 80s or 90s counterparts. Imagine Joey McIntyre insulting Debbie Gibson. Not on your life. Even if Debbie Gibson turned out to be the antichrist, NKOTB's handlers would've never let him mention it to anyone, lest they lose out on any potential merchandizing dollars.
It's hard to argue that calling Christina Aguilera a bitch is a sign of maturity, but it's definitely a step in the right direction. Too often, cookie cutter boy-bands come and go without ever giving the public a glimpse into their actual personalities. It becomes really easy to think of them as semi-autonomous pop robots. The Wanted are not that. The question remains: are they any good?
"The Wanted" is akin to "Meet the Beatles" in that it's a collection of popular UK singles culled from a couple of albums that never saw release in the US. As such, it's a pretty good mix of their strongest material. By now, everyone with a radio has heard "Glad You Came", and the rest of the album is a lot like that: a very good example of a certain kind of music that nobody ever thinks about from a critical standpoint.
The album is disposable in the best sense of the word. All 10 songs are perfectly constructed pop, sung with an effortless cool. To put that in perspective, it's exactly what grown-ups thought of The Beatles in 1964. I'm not arguing that "Chasing the Sun" is the equal of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand", but the record is a lot of fun. Isn't that good enough?