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One Direction versus The Monkees: battle of the "bands"

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With One Direction's third and latest album Midnight Memories at the top of the Billboard charts, the pop boy-band becomes the first group to have their first three album releases hit number one since The Monkees achieved this hat trick in 1967.

The group's first and second collections Up All Night and Take Me Home were also chart toppers. One Direction are also the first group in the history of the Billboard 200 chart to debut their first three albums at number one.

Starting in 1966 The Monkees strung together 4 number one albums with The Monkees, More of The Monkees, Headquarters, and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn and Jones.

The two acts have more in common than racking up these chart milestones. Over 45 years after The Monkees first hit the charts, the factors that came together to create and promote both of these groups are noticeably similar.

The Monkees were formed in 1965, put together to form a fictional band for a television musical sitcom about a fictional pop group, after each member auditioned separately for a part on the show. Once all members of the band were cast and the show began airing, recordings of trendy pop tunes specially written for the act by top professional writers with winning track records, got high rotation radio airplay, as well as being promoted by weekly performances on the TV series.

Monkees' actor/ drummer/vocalist Mickey Dolenz has been quoted as saying, "The Monkees really becoming a band was like the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan."

In 2010, the future members of One Direction auditioned individually for the British version of the television singing competition The X-Factor.

As individuals they did not make the cut, but were put together to form a pop boy-band that has gone on to have phenomenal success. They too have had a team of packagers, writers, and producers molding their careers and musical output.

The creation of a successful pop act almost totally guided by behind the scenes forces was nothing new in the music business even during the Monkees' era, and certainly has continued on a fairly regular basis to this day. It's just noteworthy that a prefab act getting its start on a television audition continues to be a winning formula. Such an act or 'band' that has access to catchy tunes and a trendy image is in a good position to be a hit with young pop music fans.

Both The Monkees and One Direction can't really be compared to that other iconic record setting group, The Beatles, who developed as musicians, writers and performers organically as a unit before they were ever on the world stage, and of course were the template used by The Monkees' creators.

The Monkees worked with some of the best established hit songwriters of the '60s, as well as having the added secret weapon of guitarist/vocalist Mike Nesmith's own quality original songs.

The power of internet social media has been a huge additional factor in the success of One Direction. The members of the group have also begun contributing to the writing of their material. It remains to be seen if they can move in that one significant direction...


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