If you've ever thought that One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer sounded oddly similar, that's because they're actually the same band. To be precise, One Direction, world-dominating boy band, owns significant portion of 5SOS, slightly less-world-dominating boy band whose members continue to insist they're a real band.
To recap: They're not. They're clones of One Direction.
Last week, Shirley Halperin at Billboard reported that One Direction, a boy band puppeteered by Simon Cowell, actually co-owns 5 Seconds of Summer, a 'band' tweeted to life by One Direction. There is a company in London called 5SOS LLP that is co-owned by 5SOS, One Direction and a couple of managers. This means that every time you buy something from 5SOS, you line 1D's pockets. It's like a Russian doll of boy bands.
The exact amount of 5SOS that 1D owns is unclear. Halperin writes, "According to the documents filed at London's Companies House, the split allots for 120 shares: 1D holds 50 percent, and the managers hold the other 50." But she doesn't specify which company and managers share a 50/50 split. Some commenters say that Billboard misrepresented the deal, and that One Direction and Modest Management's Richard Griffiths and Will Bloomfield share a 50/50 split of a 20% chunk of 5SOS LLP — meaning 5 Seconds of Summer keeps 80 percent. Either way, One Direction has made some serious dough off tweeting about and touring with these carbon copies of themselves.
And yes, 5 Seconds of Summer is a carbon copy of One Direction, every bit as curated, young, Auto-Tuned, and bedecked in cool jeans. The whole thing is above board as far as the music biz is concerned, but it's pretty shady for fans. One Direction has "casually supported" its "friends" for a while now, right down to that innocuous time in 2012 when dreamy Louis Tomlinson of 1D casually tweeted about a little known (but equally dreamy) Australian band that he'd liked "for a while."
And, of course, this wasn't an isolated incident — it's a relationship encompassing many retweets and even an international tour that grossed over $277 million, Billboard reports.
But what makes 5 Seconds' boy-bandedness so specifically offensive is the chutzpah with which its members downplays the genre. The band has used every interview its members have done this summer to distance, at least musically, from its overlord, One Direction, which was even more responsible for 5SOS's pop-domination than anyone had thought. It takes a skeezeball to spurn your roots, but it takes some real doublethink to spurn them while simultaneously paying for them.
So what do members of 5 Seconds of Summer think they are if THEY'RE NOT A BOY BAND, GUYS? In an April Billboard profile, singer Luke Hemmings distinguished their sound ("band") from One Direction's ("boy band") by saying, "We're rockier. We play guitars." It's true: 5SOS members do appear to be playing their own power chords. But still — the dreaminess.
A different 5 Seconds of Summer profile from Billboard (because when you're more of a limited liability partnership than a band, you mainly speak to trade publications) compared the band to Green Day. For those following along at home, Green Day is a band that literally hit it big with a song about sitting around all day masturbating and smoking pot. Which is not exactly in 5 Seconds' wheelhouse:
And even later in that Billboard profile, when pressed to explicate 5 Seconds' boy-band label, members compared themselves to Fall Out Boy (and Pete Wentz to Justin Bieber): "People get confused because we're young and we have a female fan base. ... But so did Fall Out Boy. Pete Wentz was the Justin Bieber of 2007. Girls loved him, they obsessed over him."
That's likely true. But Fall Out Boy also spent six years before that doing things real bands have to do to build fan bases, like playing in bowling alleys and touring in vans and burning music onto CD-Rs and penning at least two pretty-good albums before going platinum and eking out a bunch of crapola. The crapola cannot come first. Unless you're a gigantic corporation.
So no: Until 5 Seconds of Summer members grow out some big gross Patrick Stumpf sideburns and take lots of photos/film of them, they'll remain 10 times closer to this: