Bad boys of manufactured pop, 5ive have recently hit our screens again as part of ITV2’s The Big Reunion (a programme that takes bands who were too shit to achieve longevity in the music industry around the time that S Club 7 were doing alright…), and true to form, they are still the coolest dudes to have ever graced the pages of Smash Hits magazine. Seriously.
Back in the good old days of baggy combat bottoms paired with a crop top and a head full of bleached plaits twisted up into little turd-shaped buns, no-one could quite put their finger on the reason for 5ive’s popularity. Was it their rat-boyish demeanour paired with their not-so-secret middle class backrounds? Was it their ability to rock plastic dungarees resting on shiny American basketball jerseys? Was it lyrics such as ‘Wiggy, wiggy, I’m getting jiggy’ and ‘The funky base, I give everybody crazy shakes’? Fuck knows. All I know is, they made Boyzone look like the rape-babies from Ted Bundy’s glory days. Well, they made themselves look like that. But 5ive were a bit better.
Or perhaps it was their ability to carry off the name ‘5ive’. I mean, do we pronounce it ‘Five’ or ‘Five-ive’? Or is it meant to read ‘Jive’ or whatever? I suppose it depends on the 13-year old chain smoking, truant playing fan gal trying on the coin rings of her slaggy friend in the school toilets. I preferred to say ‘Five-ive’, but that’s probably only because I really liked Five Alive fruit juice, and I always thought I was hilarious. Clearly, I was not.
But regardless, 5ive are back. But now they’re four. ‘But they’re still called 5ive!’ quips every daytime TV presenter that 5ive has been unfortunate enough to grimace through an interview with since they reformed. ‘Yeah, mon, that’s just who were are, innit,’ bullshits the one with the fake Jamaican accent. ‘Tie me kangaroo dahhhn, sport,’ chimes in the one who fucked off to Australia to escape the ‘pressures of fame’. Yeah, good luck with that fairytale, friend.
But what do we not know about 5ive? Plenty, as it happens. Here’s the (continuing with the Smash Hits theme here), 411, or 4our-11 as 5ive would spell it.
1. 5ive hail from LA’s Compton, one of the most dangerous areas in the developed world. When they all met in an orphanage for children whose parents’ died of AIDs, they started a gang to ensure their survival on the streets. After the gang lost most of it’s members to gun-related deaths, they turned to music.
Oh sorry, wrong band. All of 5ive come from fairly affluent backgrounds, and met at an audition in The Stage magazine that read ‘R U a badboy? Can you do a bit of so-so singing and dance like an angry Chippendale? Come to our audition to make music specifically for the Now! That’s What I Call Music CD franchise.’ Once they probably did a bit of rent boy stuff, they obtained a record deal.
2. Although he declined taking part in the reformation of the band, J Brown was known as the frontman of the band back in their heyday. J, voted ‘Most Likely To Be A Cunt’ by his high school class, has been painted in a negative light by the rest of the band since they decide to reform, citing him as the source of tension within 5ive. Conveniently.
3. The rest of the band are should-be-sound-but-isn’t Sean, tinks-he’s-from-da-Carribean-mon Abs, the-one-who-isn’t-Abs-mon Scott and throw-another-shrimp-on-the-barbie-Sheila-to-detract-from-my-creepy-fucker-smile Richie. Nice.
4. 5ive were formed as the male counterparts to the Spice Girls. ‘It’s funny that they saw a gap in the market for that,’ says Richie, temporarily forgetting to put on his Australian accent, ‘Considering Mel C.’
5. Even though they released several chart-toppers, Abs reveals that he preferred his solo stuff to the band’s songs. ‘Me favourite of all me songs, mon, was either No Woman No Cry or Redemption Song. Irie!’ Should-be-sound-but-isn’t Sean stubs a cigarette out in his own arm to stop himself from swinging a dig.
6. However, Scott is much more enthused by 5ive’s back catalogue and still listens to their albums at home in his mental hospital cell. ‘I loved the song where everyone shut the fuck up and left me alone,’ he twitches.
7. Even though the band fell apart in the early noughties, the guys still found time to maintain their friendship. Abs remembers, ‘It was just like de videos, mon. We’d ‘ang around our local basketball court, feigning a slow motion version of a basketball game while occasionally miming along to drivel into a camera that inexplicably made everything all stretchy at de sides. Mon.’
8. Even though they clearly share a bond, how will the band cope when Ritchie has to return to Australia? ‘Ritchie doesn’t live in Australia, it’s all a lie,’ explains Scott. ‘When he filmed for ITV, all the koala bears were just toys stapled to a tree out the back of his parents’ house in Skegness. To tell you the truth, I fucking wish he was going back to Australia, the creepy-faced cunt.’
Ritchie interjects, ‘Haha! You’re such a joker, Scott. No, that’s all lies, I promise. Ring Australia if you want and ask them. But you’re best ringing me and I’ll put them on the phone, because it’s erm… cheaper.’
9. But Ritchie’s return is well in the future- what about now? Is there anything the boys are anxious about when the ‘Big Reunion’ tour starts in May? ‘Kerry Katona’, they all say in unison. ‘She’s so talented that we’re worried we’ll pale in comparison,’ cries Sean, hysterically, clearly giving himself crazy shakes at the thought of Kerry’s endless supply of grace and charm.
10. But what’s next for the rebels of the pop industry? A second stab at world domination? ‘Well, I’m waiting to hear if being in the band will have an adverse effect on my housing benefit, and if I get the all clear then we’re good to go,’ smiles Ritchie.