The man behind the Spice Girls has a TikTok ‘supergroup’ – and it’s doomed

1/27/2022 4:59:00 PM

The Future X, a joyless and cynical cash grab by Spice Girls mastermind Simon Fuller, won’t survive savvy TikTokers’ nose for authenticity

Tiktok, Music

🎧 'The Future X, the supergroup created by the music industry mastermind behind the Spice Girls , won’t survive savvy TikTokers’ nose for authenticity' | Writes Emma Madden

The Future X, a joyless and cynical cash grab by Spice Girls mastermind Simon Fuller, won’t survive savvy TikTokers’ nose for authenticity

Last Autumn, Simon Fuller – the music industry mastermind behind the Spice Girls and S Club 7, as well as Pop Idol – began his search for the next paradigm-shifting musical act.Neil Shibata .Neil Shibata .Helia Ebrahimi Economics Correspondent It’s not just the man living at No 10 who is having problems, it’s also at No 11, where the chancellor faces a higher debt bill because of soaring inflation.

But rather than scouting for developed talent or creating the next X Factor (the confluence between competitive reality TV and music has now become very tired; the X Factor was discontinued in 2018 after continually dwindling viewership), Fuller set his sights on TikTok. He wanted to find, cultivate and curate the video sharing app’s first supergroup, composed of both singers and dancers. His partnership with TikTok will undoubtedly boost The Future X's fortunes, too. He’d call the group The Future X. Although the app's main "For You" page chooses videos algorithmically - serving up content based on the sorts of things you've watched in the past - TikTok's music team can curate the music that's suggested on the "Sounds" page. In partnership with TikTok, Fuller, who has developed a “ruthless” reputation for “ruling with a rod of iron”, began the search by encouraging talented users to post their auditions on the app with the hashtag #NextInMusic. "We are able to present songs and almost recommend the songs for creation," TiKTok's head of music, Ole Obermann, told me during a panel at the WebSummit in Lisbon last year. Within five weeks, the hashtag had amassed over 300 million views, as thousands of young hopefuls sang and danced for the chance to ostensibly become music’s next big thing.

On January 26, the seven members of The Future X were announced and unveiled to the world." Has anyone done this before? Image source, XIX Entertainment Image caption, Fuller's other group Now United - also known as NU - have achieved popularity in South America Fuller's other big pop project, Now United, might provide an indication of how The Future X will fare." Has anyone done this before? Image source, XIX Entertainment Image caption, Fuller's other group Now United - also known as NU - have achieved popularity in South America Fuller's other big pop project, Now United, might provide an indication of how The Future X will fare. They include singers Angie Green, Maci Wood and Luke Brown, as well as dancers Jayna Hughes, Sasha Marie, Tray Taylor and Drew Venegas. All of the members were possessed with the ambition to perform and become stars from an early age. Fuller, rather chillingly, billed them as "the first group to offer open access to their music and lives in real time". And, despite the global search, all of the members are based across Canada and the States, which seems like a wasted opportunity at showcasing true, international diversity. In the last five years, the band have released a staggering 57 singles, none of which has troubled the charts, while documenting their career in an ongoing YouTube series, which has attracted almost 8 million subscribers. Prior to coming into the The Future X fold, the group’s members had a combined 4. Although they've deliberately avoided signing a record deal, their Spotify statistics are relatively healthy, with 655,000 monthly listeners, placing them amongst the top 10,000 acts on the streaming service.

4 million followers across their individual TikTok accounts. However, Louisiana born Tray Taylor brought in the vast majority of those, as he previously went viral in 2019 for posting a video about forgotten homework. The rest of the group have had a somewhat significant amount of performance experience. Luke Brown, who previously recorded under the name Low Key Luke was also treated to moderate TikTok fame, as he frequently recorded duets with other musicians. Singer Angie Green has perhaps had the most previous performance experience, having sung to a stadium of 65,000 (around the same amount of Instagram followers she has) at Brazil’s Hard Rock stadium.

Maci Wood started life in competitive dance but began singing and performing with the group Mini Pop Kids in her early teens. Jayna Hughes was formerly a member of the Prodigy Dance Crew, a group who appeared on the eleventh series of America’s Got Talent. @thefuturexofficial Did you expect this?🤣 #TheFutureX ♬ original sound - The Future X Drew Venegas has a background in choreography, and was a former member of The Lab, a dance group Steezy referred to in 2016 as one of the best high school dance groups in the country. Sasha Marie, an obviously talented dancer, who so far only has a very moderate social media following, seems to have come from the least experience. Fuller’s partnership with TikTok makes sense.

Not least because, since 2019, Tiktok has consistently made headlines for breaking out new acts seemingly out-of-the-blue, and for disrupting the top-down mechanics of the music industry. In the past few years, viral videos and sounds on TikTok have launched the careers of numerous recording artists, including Doja Cat, Ashnikko and Arizona Zervas. Most famously, the rise of Lil Nas X in 2019 – an independent artist who gained immense fame overnight on TikTok with his song Old Town Road– supercharged the narrative that TikTok had the potential to diversify and democratise the music industry. Thanks to the app, anyone could become famous – and seemingly organically, too; without any industry mediation. The potential fame of the everyman must have sounded familiar to Fuller.

With Pop Idol, he essentially lured ordinary people towards the music industry with a storyline of meritocracy. The business model was simple, and worked in Fuller’s favour; the winner of Pop Idol – an anonymous individual with very little experience – would agree to sign a recording contract in exchange for for the nebulous bait of “stardom”. It seems the members of The Future X have been offered a similar deal. The young group – almost all of them teenagers – are now expected to work and live together in a compound in Malibu, rehearsing extensively before their first tour in March, which will take place across Brazil and Portugal. The amount of work involved in being tour-ready after only a few months of performing together should not be underestimated.

With Fuller’s name and ruthless reputation behind him, you can’t help but feel these fame-obsessed teenagers were persuaded to take a Faustian bargain for fame. So far, the group has posted numerous clips together from their Malibu home onto their TikTok. From the looks of those videos, their interactions appear forced and manufactured; they’re not there to simply enjoy one another’s company, but to gun down virality and accrue “clout”. They’re simply there to be monetised. It’s a similar model to the TikTok Hype Houses that began springing up a couple of years ago – a kind of constant working-from-home scenario in which digital influencers work and live together, ceaselessly creating content – in the same way, it seems The Future X’s lives have been reduced to work.

It’s no wonder the clips feel so laboured and joyless. @thefuturexofficial Something Slight🫀🫀🫀 #TheFutureX ♬ No Wahala - 1da Banton On top of this, the members are expected to become brand ambassadors and influencers, too. They’re essentially peddling a product; a make-up brand named e.l.f.

. Cosmetics – which they’ll wear and supposedly advertise on tour. It’s not the first time Fuller has brought a product into the mix either – does anyone else remember those cloyingly sugary Pop Idol drinks? Another throughline between Pop Idol and TikTok is that they have both thrived on interactivity. Just after the millennium, with the rise of reality TV like Big Brother, television producers began experimenting with audience participation; the general public called in and influenced the result of the show. The viewer was given the power.

And that’s essentially the premise of TikTok today. Ordinary people create and post videos all day long and elevate the careers of artists by lip syncing and choreographing dances to their songs. Stars like Lil Nas X were created from a mass audience. So far, so familiar? Not quite. Fuller, it seems, has yet to realise that any attempt to reverse-engineer stardom and virality on TikTok is likely to lead to disaster.

Last Spring, a Riot grrrl-influenced girl group named Tramp Stamps emerged on the app. While they presented themselves as a grassroots musical act, as unstaged and ordinary as anyone else on TikTok, they were soon branded “industry plants”. Users quickly tracked down their pasts, and found they had ties to major labels, as well as to Dr. Luke (a producer who allegedly sexually assaulted the singer Kesha, allegations he denies). The group were mercilessly mocked and taunted for months.

Users on TikTok can smell corniness and bad marketing from a mile off. They can tell when something has been manufactured with the express purpose of going viral on TikTok – and it never goes down well. The Future X’s forthcoming single is very obviously and transparently a try-hard stab at TikTok virality. It’s music made, not according to taste, but to the whims of a platform. “This kind of love is not the love that will make your parents proud,” so goes the chorus – a lyric that clearly has a motive (“get your parents involved, start a TikTok challenge, please do anything to make this song go viral”).

So far, the reception on social media has been somewhat underwhelming, with many seeming unimpressed. “This is basically Gen Z S club 7. Simon, you didn’t even try this time around,” tweeted one user. On TikTok, predictably, users aren’t impressed either. When they posted their first video to their official account two days ago, The Future X were immediately hit with similar “industry plant” accusations.

TikTok’s audience is simply too smart and marketing-savvy for Fuller’s next enterprise to succeed. Thank goodness. Let’s just hope the hatred isn’t directed towards the members of the group, but towards the figureheads they’ve sold their young lives away to. .

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The Future X: Can Simon Fuller's TikTok band recreate the Spice Girls' magic?The man behind the Spice Girls and S Club 7 has launched his latest pop group with the help of TikTok.

The Future X: Can Simon Fuller's TikTok band recreate the Spice Girls' magic?The man behind the Spice Girls and S Club 7 has launched his latest pop group with the help of TikTok.

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Last Autumn, Simon Fuller – the music industry mastermind behind the Spice Girls and S Club 7, as well as Pop Idol – began his search for the next paradigm-shifting musical act.Neil Shibata .Neil Shibata .Helia Ebrahimi Economics Correspondent It’s not just the man living at No 10 who is having problems, it’s also at No 11, where the chancellor faces a higher debt bill because of soaring inflation.

But rather than scouting for developed talent or creating the next X Factor (the confluence between competitive reality TV and music has now become very tired; the X Factor was discontinued in 2018 after continually dwindling viewership), Fuller set his sights on TikTok. He wanted to find, cultivate and curate the video sharing app’s first supergroup, composed of both singers and dancers. His partnership with TikTok will undoubtedly boost The Future X's fortunes, too. He’d call the group The Future X. Although the app's main "For You" page chooses videos algorithmically - serving up content based on the sorts of things you've watched in the past - TikTok's music team can curate the music that's suggested on the "Sounds" page. In partnership with TikTok, Fuller, who has developed a “ruthless” reputation for “ruling with a rod of iron”, began the search by encouraging talented users to post their auditions on the app with the hashtag #NextInMusic. "We are able to present songs and almost recommend the songs for creation," TiKTok's head of music, Ole Obermann, told me during a panel at the WebSummit in Lisbon last year. Within five weeks, the hashtag had amassed over 300 million views, as thousands of young hopefuls sang and danced for the chance to ostensibly become music’s next big thing.

On January 26, the seven members of The Future X were announced and unveiled to the world." Has anyone done this before? Image source, XIX Entertainment Image caption, Fuller's other group Now United - also known as NU - have achieved popularity in South America Fuller's other big pop project, Now United, might provide an indication of how The Future X will fare." Has anyone done this before? Image source, XIX Entertainment Image caption, Fuller's other group Now United - also known as NU - have achieved popularity in South America Fuller's other big pop project, Now United, might provide an indication of how The Future X will fare. They include singers Angie Green, Maci Wood and Luke Brown, as well as dancers Jayna Hughes, Sasha Marie, Tray Taylor and Drew Venegas. All of the members were possessed with the ambition to perform and become stars from an early age. Fuller, rather chillingly, billed them as "the first group to offer open access to their music and lives in real time". And, despite the global search, all of the members are based across Canada and the States, which seems like a wasted opportunity at showcasing true, international diversity. In the last five years, the band have released a staggering 57 singles, none of which has troubled the charts, while documenting their career in an ongoing YouTube series, which has attracted almost 8 million subscribers. Prior to coming into the The Future X fold, the group’s members had a combined 4. Although they've deliberately avoided signing a record deal, their Spotify statistics are relatively healthy, with 655,000 monthly listeners, placing them amongst the top 10,000 acts on the streaming service.

4 million followers across their individual TikTok accounts. However, Louisiana born Tray Taylor brought in the vast majority of those, as he previously went viral in 2019 for posting a video about forgotten homework. The rest of the group have had a somewhat significant amount of performance experience. Luke Brown, who previously recorded under the name Low Key Luke was also treated to moderate TikTok fame, as he frequently recorded duets with other musicians. Singer Angie Green has perhaps had the most previous performance experience, having sung to a stadium of 65,000 (around the same amount of Instagram followers she has) at Brazil’s Hard Rock stadium.

Maci Wood started life in competitive dance but began singing and performing with the group Mini Pop Kids in her early teens. Jayna Hughes was formerly a member of the Prodigy Dance Crew, a group who appeared on the eleventh series of America’s Got Talent. @thefuturexofficial Did you expect this?🤣 #TheFutureX ♬ original sound - The Future X Drew Venegas has a background in choreography, and was a former member of The Lab, a dance group Steezy referred to in 2016 as one of the best high school dance groups in the country. Sasha Marie, an obviously talented dancer, who so far only has a very moderate social media following, seems to have come from the least experience. Fuller’s partnership with TikTok makes sense.

Not least because, since 2019, Tiktok has consistently made headlines for breaking out new acts seemingly out-of-the-blue, and for disrupting the top-down mechanics of the music industry. In the past few years, viral videos and sounds on TikTok have launched the careers of numerous recording artists, including Doja Cat, Ashnikko and Arizona Zervas. Most famously, the rise of Lil Nas X in 2019 – an independent artist who gained immense fame overnight on TikTok with his song Old Town Road– supercharged the narrative that TikTok had the potential to diversify and democratise the music industry. Thanks to the app, anyone could become famous – and seemingly organically, too; without any industry mediation. The potential fame of the everyman must have sounded familiar to Fuller.

With Pop Idol, he essentially lured ordinary people towards the music industry with a storyline of meritocracy. The business model was simple, and worked in Fuller’s favour; the winner of Pop Idol – an anonymous individual with very little experience – would agree to sign a recording contract in exchange for for the nebulous bait of “stardom”. It seems the members of The Future X have been offered a similar deal. The young group – almost all of them teenagers – are now expected to work and live together in a compound in Malibu, rehearsing extensively before their first tour in March, which will take place across Brazil and Portugal. The amount of work involved in being tour-ready after only a few months of performing together should not be underestimated.

With Fuller’s name and ruthless reputation behind him, you can’t help but feel these fame-obsessed teenagers were persuaded to take a Faustian bargain for fame. So far, the group has posted numerous clips together from their Malibu home onto their TikTok. From the looks of those videos, their interactions appear forced and manufactured; they’re not there to simply enjoy one another’s company, but to gun down virality and accrue “clout”. They’re simply there to be monetised. It’s a similar model to the TikTok Hype Houses that began springing up a couple of years ago – a kind of constant working-from-home scenario in which digital influencers work and live together, ceaselessly creating content – in the same way, it seems The Future X’s lives have been reduced to work.

It’s no wonder the clips feel so laboured and joyless. @thefuturexofficial Something Slight🫀🫀🫀 #TheFutureX ♬ No Wahala - 1da Banton On top of this, the members are expected to become brand ambassadors and influencers, too. They’re essentially peddling a product; a make-up brand named e.l.f.

. Cosmetics – which they’ll wear and supposedly advertise on tour. It’s not the first time Fuller has brought a product into the mix either – does anyone else remember those cloyingly sugary Pop Idol drinks? Another throughline between Pop Idol and TikTok is that they have both thrived on interactivity. Just after the millennium, with the rise of reality TV like Big Brother, television producers began experimenting with audience participation; the general public called in and influenced the result of the show. The viewer was given the power.

And that’s essentially the premise of TikTok today. Ordinary people create and post videos all day long and elevate the careers of artists by lip syncing and choreographing dances to their songs. Stars like Lil Nas X were created from a mass audience. So far, so familiar? Not quite. Fuller, it seems, has yet to realise that any attempt to reverse-engineer stardom and virality on TikTok is likely to lead to disaster.

Last Spring, a Riot grrrl-influenced girl group named Tramp Stamps emerged on the app. While they presented themselves as a grassroots musical act, as unstaged and ordinary as anyone else on TikTok, they were soon branded “industry plants”. Users quickly tracked down their pasts, and found they had ties to major labels, as well as to Dr. Luke (a producer who allegedly sexually assaulted the singer Kesha, allegations he denies). The group were mercilessly mocked and taunted for months.

Users on TikTok can smell corniness and bad marketing from a mile off. They can tell when something has been manufactured with the express purpose of going viral on TikTok – and it never goes down well. The Future X’s forthcoming single is very obviously and transparently a try-hard stab at TikTok virality. It’s music made, not according to taste, but to the whims of a platform. “This kind of love is not the love that will make your parents proud,” so goes the chorus – a lyric that clearly has a motive (“get your parents involved, start a TikTok challenge, please do anything to make this song go viral”).

So far, the reception on social media has been somewhat underwhelming, with many seeming unimpressed. “This is basically Gen Z S club 7. Simon, you didn’t even try this time around,” tweeted one user. On TikTok, predictably, users aren’t impressed either. When they posted their first video to their official account two days ago, The Future X were immediately hit with similar “industry plant” accusations.

TikTok’s audience is simply too smart and marketing-savvy for Fuller’s next enterprise to succeed. Thank goodness. Let’s just hope the hatred isn’t directed towards the members of the group, but towards the figureheads they’ve sold their young lives away to. .