Boy bands such as Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync 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 entire formation was chronicled in the ABC reality series Making the Band in 2000. The brainchild of teen-pop Svengali Lou Pearlman (former manager of the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync), 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 for ABC. The person who truly benefitted from its popularity was Pearlman, however, whose newest group was able to amass legions of fans before ever releasing a single.
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 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, Liquid Dreams, 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 10 hits with their first album, which sold over three million copies worldwide. A second record, O2, arrived in late 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 in November 2003. The guys called it quits before the year was up, with Ashley Parker Angel going on to acheive some degree of success as a solo artist and Broadway performer. ~ Jon Azpiri & Andrew Leahey