Boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and *NSync fought hard to be perceived as musicians rather than manufactured product assembled by record executives. O-Town didn't have to worry about that, as the group's formation was documented in the ABC reality series Making the Band in 2000. Co-created by teen pop Svengali Lou Pearlman, the former manager of the above-named acts, Making the Band offered viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of a boy band, from the singers' first audition to the signing of their first record deal. The show was a modest hit -- and was eventually moved to MTV, driven by Diddy -- but the person who truly benefitted was Pearlman. His latest group amassed a legion of fans before it released a single.
Making the Band 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 team of vocal/dance instructors 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. The group was quickly signed to a record deal by former Arista kingpin Clive Davis and released a debut album, O-Town, in 2001. Cameras continued rolling throughout the whole process, capturing the boys' short career with two more seasons of Making the Band.
O-Town scored two Top Ten hits with their first album, which sold over three-million copies worldwide. A second record, O2, arrived in 2002, but the teen pop craze that had once boosted the group to the upper reaches of the charts had already begun to wane. O2 struggled to go gold as a result, and O-Town eventually lost their record contract the following year, which precipitated their breakup. Ashley Parker Angel achieved some success as a solo artist and Broadway performer. Kahoano had linked with fellow Making the Band competitors to form LMNT, a short-lived group that released an unsuccessful album on Atlantic. The following decade, O-Town's other four members reunited and released Lines & Circles for an independent label in 2013. ~ Jon Azpiri & Andrew Leahey