That is the question every lover of pop music group should be asking at a point in the music career of their favourite bands or duo. It has become a routine to see earth-shaking pop groups disintegrate for a couple of reasons. One is that the lead vocalist desires to pursue a solo career, another is that tragedy strikes. Quite often too, some bands grow and accommodate new members.
There is also the possibility that other members of the music group seek prominence at all cost. Whatever the cause of such splits, history is replete with several examples, enough to demonstrate to us that moving-on is not always a bad experience. It can either spell good or doom for the individual artists in a group.
Recently, the concern of music fans in Nigeria and beyond is that one of the best Nigerian pop groups that this generation has ever seen, P-Square will break up after being together for about two decades. In the past few weeks, social media platforms had been agog with the rumours of their separation. As a matter of fact, Peter, one-half of the duo, has been enjoying several brand endorsements without his twin brother and music partner, Paul. Asides, the family feud that has degenerated into “strong beef” amongst the three Okoye brothers, it is feared that Paul may not be able to dance due to an injury that he had sustained a while ago. Peter, now to be referred to as Mr. P, has announced his departure from the group with information regarding his new management on his Twitter as well as Facebook account.
What is really scary about this move is that the twins have complemented each other professionally; while Peter is the showman, Paul is the vocalist. Of course, they both sing but in their various interviews published and broadcast by the media, they had said that it’s the family spirit that had kept them together. Perhaps, the split will bring out the best in each of them and inspire them to rediscover themselves as individuals.
That was what John Lennon and Paul McCartney must have thought when they left the group, The Beatles, which is arguably the most influential rock group in the world, shaping culture and evoking counter-culture. In the 60s, there was “Beatlemania” as The Beatles experimented with variety of genres and styles, while Lennon and McCartney gained popularity as the lead song writers in a group of four. Worries about the survival of the group began as Lennon, the volatile one, made a controversial statement that the group had become more popular that Jesus Christ and may outlive Christianity, much to the chagrin of the American conservatives and extremists.
His 1969 hit single, “Give Peace A Chance”, which became, not just an anti-war anthem in the 70s in America but an anthem of football fans when they really want their team to win. Invariably, “All We Are Saying, Give Peace A Chance” has metamorphosed into “All We Are Saying, Give Us One Goal’’, and other renditions. The Beatles broke up not long after that Lennon’s controversial remark and his career as a solo artist was tragically terminated in 1980 when he died. His contemporary, Sir Paul McCartney had been named in the 1979 Guinness Book of Records as the most honoured composer and performer in music and had consistently been the richest musician in the world until recently when the English Composer of Musical Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber advanced to the number one position.
ABBA, the Swedish pop group that ruled the 70s and early 80s with hit songs such as “Dancing Queen”, “Fernando”, “Take A Chance on Me” and more, split in 1981 when two members, Ulvaeus and Lena Källersjö announced their divorce and tensions from allegations of infidelity rocked the group that once rocked the world.
The Jackson Five, a music family that launched the King of Pop, Michael Jackson into the hall of fame also made a huge mark in pop history as one of the few African-Americans to beat in their time. After the historic Motown performance, as well as the rare feat with the best-selling album of all time, Thriller, Michael or MJ proved himself as a phenomenal performer and musician, one that is matchless till date. If you missed Michael’s peak career shows, you can still find them on Youtube.
Fans collapsed in dozens due to packed performance venues and excitement while Michael always made entrances and exits with specialised equipment and heavy security presence. The scandals of sexual abuse and poor plastic surgery cast a shadow on his career while his death brought it all to a total eclipse, just when music fans all over the world were awaiting his comeback concert, “This is It”. Back then, some of his fans believed that if he had kept his nose literally and constructively in the group, not worrying about skin colour, he would have had a longer career and fame. It is also believed that Michael would not have evolved as a pop entity in a group where others would compete for a spot in the limelight.
In the case of Destiny’s Child, the name of the group itself is suspicious, considering the allegations made by the former group members, Luckett and Robertson that the group was only put together to catapult Beyoncé’s music career. The group was managed by Beyoncé’s father and it became one of the most successful female pop groups in history with massive record sales and concerts.
The girl group is renowned for their strong themes on women in songs like “Independent Woman” and “Bootylicious” which trended and made an impact in urban language. As a result, the lead singer, Beyoncé has emerged as one of the world’s most influential female artists with 20 Grammy Awards while her contemporaries, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams are pursuing successful careers, albeit, markedly different in size from Beyoncé’s. The decision to split was in good spirit and there was no fear to how each member would survive in music since they are self-acclaimed “survivors”.
One can keep making an endless mention of groups that had split amicably or otherwise where members especially lead singers have grown upwards. Yet, some separations are toxic and should have been nipped in the bud before it is too late. In P-Square’s case, it is an unwholesome break-up that succeeded an unhealthy work relationship. What then do we make of this? Giants and patrons of the music industry in Nigeria have attempted to reconcile them.
It was beyond their might since the death of the Okoyes’ matriarch. The trouble with family business in music as we had seen in Beyoncé’s case is that the same family branches you may have perched on for support can drop you down. When Beyoncé’s father was dismissed as her manager because he divorced her mother, amongst other issues, negative, if not sentimental reviews trailed her first music effort without her father as manager with the hit song, “Run the World” which became her most aggressive music statement in women empowerment.
Back to P-Square, Mr-P needs to tread carefully after getting squared with the group. It had been gathered from reliable sources that Mr-P had certain issues with a foremost Telecommunications brand that had stalled the grand finale of his show, “Dance with Peter”. If such issues are not managed, in temperament or as an artist, the entertainment slope will tilt. And when unsuccessful artists are only heard when their songs are stolen, it can be offensive. If you have a song you believe in, why wait to drop it? That doesn’t excuse theft of intellectual property. It’s just not a nice cup of tea to sip when it is mixed with the sweetness of a successful one and a bitter other.