I know a lot about boy bands. At this point, you could probably give me the title of “Boy Band Connoisseur” and I would add the title to my resume with pride (it’s a tough job trying to keep up with people who travel the world and get mobbed on the daily).
Most of my attention – like many other people, obviously – is focused on One Direction. However, I’m also a professional who has to live up to the title. That’s why I’m attempting to widen my horizons with the UK-based indie-pop trio The Vamps, a band strictly driven by a chill acoustic vibe and trendy haircuts.
The band consists of Bradley Will Simpson (17, guitars and lead vocals), James Mcvey (18, vocals and guitar) and Tristan Evans (18, drums and vocals). Simpson eerily resembles Harry Styles in his X-Factor days, and the framed, curly locks combined with the tactical smolder in close-up is downright uncanny. Even though Simpson is the de facto leader of the group, the two blond boys also show big talent on their respective instruments, so the three end up making quite the winning team.
Once the band was signed by their management company in 2011, they started to build their online presence by posting covers of popular singles on their YouTube channel. It’s the same tactic that transformed Justin Bieber from a nobody to the successful heartthrob he is today, and the method seems to work well for the group: their cover of One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young” is close to hitting two million views since its release in the fall of 2012.
Perhaps my favorite cover by the group is their recent mash-up of Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man.” The band transforms the piano-heavy, airy ballad into a stripped-down jam with an appeal towards the upbeat sensibilities of the pop-rock genre.
And the band’s embrace of multiple genres (pop, indie, rock) is ultimately what makes them work, besides their charming presentation. The Vamps ditch overproduction in favor for a more unplugged and authentic feel to their pop-based tunes, and the stylistic choice grants them a sense of legitimacy in the face of unfamiliar audiences.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with overproduction (how else did I fall for One Direction and other mainstream pop acts?), but sometimes I want to chill with the laid-back simplicity of only a golden voice accompanied by acoustic guitar. The Vamps offer just that, and then some.
There’s no doubt about it: The Vamps definitely have the potential to make it big. The massive online following is already on lock – their fans call themselves “Vampettes” – and a full-length album is currently in the works. If their charm translates well with the move towards more original content, the band could easily own the hearts of an even wider audience. Who knows? Perhaps we’ll see them enjoying stateside success one day in the future.
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