Music

Bros are coming back & here’s why we should be celebrating

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Dave Fawbert
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Fans of retro pop music will be in heaven right now with the reports that - following news last week of Aqua's plans for a reunion tour - no lesser icons than Bros are poised to announce a comeback for next year, 25 years after they took their own advice and quit.

Bros occupy a rather strange position in the annals of British music, being a bona fide pop phenomenon who, these days, are barely acknowledged; their 1988 album Push sold an enormous 10 million copies worldwide, while the band sold out an astonishing 19 Wembley Arena dates at the height of their fame.

Indeed, in 1989, the trio, comprised of twins Matt and Luke Goss, together with Craig Logan, even played to 77,000 fans at Wembley Stadium - and yet their records are rarely ever played out on the radio and they're hardly ever mentioned alongside other, less-successful acts from the era. Despite pretty much being the British version of New Kids of the Block, and the forerunners for the likes of Take That, Bros have definitely been filed under 'naff eighties pop moment that's probably best forgotten'.

But still, equally, Bros occupy a unique place in my heart, as their breakthrough song When Will I Be Famous, which peaked at number 2 in the charts, was the third single I ever bought. The purchase represented something of a U-turn in my youthful music purchasing history, following in the footsteps of AC/DC's Heatseeker and Iron Maiden's Can I Play With Madness. While, at the tender age of 5, I was still bang into my heavy metal, it is clear, looking back, that this was to be my pop awakening.

I don't recall how I discovered them; it could have been their performance on Top Of The Pops or, equally, it could have been the undeniable brilliance of the single sleeve, catching my eye in the record racks of Upminster Woolworths - a place which was the epicentre of music in my nascent Universe.

Just look at this.

Now that is a logo. And that is a photograph. Who couldn't fail to be impressed by this cover?

And, lest we forget in this age of 300x300px jpg cover images, on that physical 7" single, an extensive study of the back of the artwork was equally important before deciding whether a particular record would be this week's choice to purchase.

"Matt sings because he can't play drums."

"Luke plays drums because he can't sing."

"Craig plays bass because he hasn't got a twin."

Sold, to the young man with £2.99 burning a hole in his shorts.

The record safely purchased, it was straight off home to give it a spin on the turntable.

What an intro. It's hard to imagine anything more eighties than that. It's the sound of slamming your filofax shut, throwing your shoulder-padded white jacket over your shoulder, stroking back that mullet and then confidently heading out on the street whilst barking orders at your trader to buy low and sell high via your giant antenna-ed up mobile phone. It's like Van Halen's Jump, only even more eighties.

There's that badass logo again: they mean business.

There's Craig, playing the bass guitar, even though there is literally no real bass on this song at all. There's Luke playing the real drums, even though there are literally no real drums on this song at all. Fantastic stuff. And in comes Matt, resplendent in a red velvet jacket, white shirt buttoned up to the top and tucked into his blue jeans, with a giant buckle literally holding the whole ensemble together.

The wikipedia description of the lyrics to this song really is something to behold:

Lyrically, the protagonist is either an agent/talent scout or closer friend of a rising star. As such, the well-known title and chorus is a case of the protagonist quoting his interlocutor rather than uttering those words in self-reference.

Aged 5, that went over my head somewhat (as did the reference to Karl Marx in verse one) - but what didn't was that unforgettable hook line: "When Will I Be Famous?" Fully 17 years before The X Factor started, it's the phrase which has come to define the modern age of celebrity. Kim Kardashian, YouTubers, Jedward, Jordan: Bros predicted it all.

And for almost three minutes, the song blasts along with blistering energy and effervescent melody. The verse is great, the prechorus is great, the chorus is - obviously - absolutely huge. There's enough synthetic percussion to sink a massive eighties ship.

But then what?

2:47 - It's middle eight time guys, time to mix things up. Let's take it down a bit, get rid of the snare, chuck a few go-go bells in instead. Lovely stuff.

3:18 - Let's bring the drums back in, drop out the synths - this is the 'hands in the air' moment at the live show. Gang vocal of 'When Will I Be Famous' at 3:26. Perfect.

But then. 3:34. A musical moment that blew my tiny little mind. Quite simply, one of the greatest key changes of all time.

Half-time triplets into a truly mesmerising single semitone lift, with the second backing chord removing its added 'happy' seventh.

Obviously at the time I did not understand the musicality behind it and nor did I care. All that mattered (and matters now) was that this instantly catchy slice of pop brilliance had been taken to a a seriously eerie, epic conclusion. Suddenly, the imploring of 'When Will I Be Famous?' had gone from a mere jokey enquiry to a desperate, desperate pleading. At one stroke it lifted the pursuit of fame from something that would be quite nice to achieve, to something that was absolutely essential to the continued wellbeing of the interlocutor. They needed fame to survive; to continue to function. It was the oxygen that they require to exist. It was everything to them.

To paraphrase every single X Factor contestant ever: "I want this so badly. This is my dream."

What songwriting. What a moment.

Oh, and their subsequent number one single I Owe You Nothing was a tune as well. Bring on the reunion.

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Dave Fawbert

ShortList.com staff writer Dave’s primary passions are pop, prose, punning and power ballads (and alliteration). A lower division football enthusiast and long-suffering cricket fan, he is one of only 110 people followed on Twitter by Chas Hodges from Chas ‘n’ Dave. Follow Dave on Twitter like Chas: @davefawbert

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