Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.
Now United is Simon Fuller’s first music project in years, and it’s extremely ambitious. He’s roped in RedOne to produce the music, and rather than signing a major label deal, the group is funded by Unilever, the company that owns everything from Persil to Marmite. They’re a cute, talented young group (age 15 to 21), and in theory the concept is clever. It’s S Club 7 meets K-pop supergroup with a global twist: there are 14 members from 14 different countries. Unfortunately, there are also some major flaws. Firstly, the music is dated and lacklustre – not only has RedOne failed to move with the times but he seems to have forgotten how to write a hit. Secondly, the marketing campaign is equally out of touch. In an age of relatable influencers and self-made stars, young consumers want to choose their new faves, not be told “this is the next big thing.” And thirdly, Simon has kept them off Spotify in a protest against streaming, but this meant it took me six months to discover them. There will be a lot more money put into this before they give up, and it could certainly take off in regions such as South America, Asia and Eastern Europe where RedOne is still big and there’s less snobbery around “manufactured” pop, but it would be naive to expect this to work in Western Europe or North America.