When band members go solo: the good, the bad & the ugly

Photo: Kate Mortimer / Flecking Records
Sometimes, when a musician loves his/herself very much, they find other musicians who love themselves very much and they form a band… but sometimes these bands don’t work out and they break up – the important thing to remember is that it isn’t your fault.

So what happens when bands call it a day? Sometimes they disappear, and are either never seen again or they vanish for a little while before an ill advised reunion when times are hard, but sometimes one (or sometimes more) of the band members decided to go it alone, because they carried that band, y’know? Who needs ’em?

Today, we’re going to celebrate those that have launched solo careers (or teamed up with one or two of their old bandmates) and held their own – and lambaste the ones who didn’t go down (the charts) without a fight.

JC Chasez (*NSYNC)

So you wanna be a rockstar, keep it going, don’t stop, work it while you’re on top, call the cops… We like to think someone said this to JC when *NSYNC took a break and he decided to go it alone.
Ok, so he didn’t do that well over here, but we absolutely love his third and final solo single, All Day Long I Dream About Sex. He may not have enjoyed huge solo success, but he’s still working in the music biz and he’s doing very well working for others. Also, keep in mind he’s a love machine…
Verdict: So bad it’s good

Robbie Williams (Take That)

Take That were so huge in the 90s that when Robbie Williams decided to leave the band, females (and a few males) all over the country fell to pieces and any fans that were still standing finally crumbled when the remaining members of Take That did the same in 1996. Robbie decided to go it alone, and was so successful that younger peeps will know him for his solo career rather than his time in Take That.
Whether you love him or hate him (no one seems indifferent when it comes to Mr Williams) there’s no denying that he’s enjoyed huge success as a solo artist.
Verdict: Good

Keith ‘N’ Shane (Boyzone)

Keith ‘n’ Shane – Girl You Know It’s True (K+S) on MUZU.TV.

When you place the members of Boyzone in order of talent, Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch just about make the top five – that said, their post-Boyzone release is either the worst thing we’ve ever heard or a piece of comic genius. Girl You Know It’s True by Keith ‘N’ Shane hopefully wasn’t a serious attempt at music, and instead was just their way of making fun of the pop world.
In what we can only imagine is some kid of rap, the boys make fun of Boyzone, Take That, Steps, Five, Westlife and Puff Daddy. If it’s a spoof, it’s hilarious. If it’s serious, then lyrics like “when the lights go out Five better watch out” and “Ali G comes before H, don’t you know, a step too fair how low can you go” = us laughing at them, not with them.
Verdict: Ugly

Matt Willis (Busted)

Matt Willis – Don’t Let It Go To Waste on MUZU.TV.

When Busted disbanded, we all sat and waited to see what would become of Matt Willis, James Bourne and that other one who caused all the bother. We were delighted to learn that Matt would be going solo, and he didn’t disappoint with his debut album Don’t Let It Go To Waste. In what was clearly a case of life imitating art, his fantastic solo album seemed to go to waste because it just didn’t get the promo it deserved. It wasn’t Matt’s fault – the man went into the I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here jungle and ate a kangaroo anus, for crying out loud. Still, it’s a great album and well worth a listen if you never knew it existed in the first place.
Verdict: Good

Abs (Five)

Remember Five? Remember Abs? He rapped? No? Well when Five split up, Abs was the only one who went solo and he didn’t do too badly – he had three top 10 singles in the UK. His on-paper success aside, he didn’t really rock the music world with his solo efforts – that said, his 2002 track Stop Sign was very catchy.
In 2006 Five actually announced that they would be making a comeback (we didn’t get the memo either) but nothing really came of it and they soon announced that they wouldn’t be bothering… until this year. The band are discussing a possible reunion again, although it doesn’t sound like Jason “J” Brown will be involved if things do go ahead.
Verdict: So bad it’s good

Justin Timberlake (*NSYNC)

Like Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake is another example of someone who did really well with a band before doing even better as a solo artists. For those of you who don’t remember or are too young to know better, Justin was a member of super-awesome boyband *NSYNC before he went solo. He released his first single Like I Love You followed by an album (Justified), and both received critical acclaim, partially down to his R’n’B influences. It’s just Justin… but people love it.
Verdict: Good

BeyoncĂ© (Destiny’s Child)

BeyoncĂ©, like Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake, did well in a band (she was the lead singer in Destiny’s Child) but when she went solo things just got better and better for her. She’s world famous, she’s released some of the catchiest songs ever and she’s almost impossible to dislike as a person. She has songs for every occasion, but you’ve gotta love her tolerable brand of girl power, giving single ladies something to sing until someone comes along and puts a ring on it. Wuh uh oh.
Verdict: Good

H & Claire (Steps)

We loved Steps back in the day, and they reunited recently to mixed reviews… but what happened in between? Lots of underwhelming solo/duet attempts, that’s what. It was H and Claire who jumped ship first, and they reentered the biz as a duo before being promptly dropped due to poor album sales. We just about remember their first single, DJ, but we had to Google for the others. Needless to say, we found their music to be a total tragedy.
Verdict: Ugly

Brian McFadden (Westlife)

You know how Robbie Williams was in Take That, and then he left, went solo, and did amazingly well? Well that’s not what happened with Brian McFadden when he left Westlife. Brian left the band to focus on his family and his solo career, and he left silly boybands behind him, he changed his name from Bryan back to Brian and he released Real To Me – a serious song about serious things – real things – and bagged himself a number one single in the process. Despite his duet with Delta Goodrem he didn’t really do much to impress us after that, but we’ll always have Real To Me on our iPods.
Verdict: So bad it’s good

Ben Adams (a1)

Ben, we’re sorry for the mess you made, but despite our love for a1 we just could’t take to your solo material. We loved a1 back in the day, and we think Ben is lovely still, but he didn’t work for us as a solo artist. We like to see him on stage with his a1 buddies Mark Read and Christian Ingebrigtsen – we’re delighted they’re back together, not only performing their old hits but writing new music that is just as fantastic.
Verdict: Ugly

Mark Owen (Take That)

It’s not easy being Mark Owen, you know. Take That split, he tried to go solo and things did not go well for him – he ended up on Celebrity Big Brother, the horror! He went on to win the series though, and even got emotional because he didn’t realise he had any fans left – we fell back in love. Mark had another crack at a solo career and released Four Minute Warning, which not only charted in the top 5, but it’s a firm favourite here at Flecking Records. It’s cheesy, but we dig it.
Verdict: So bad it’s good

Ronan Keating (Boyzone)

Unlike most of the people on this page, Ronan Keating actually decided to release solo material whilst he was still a member of Boyzone and the band were doing well. We first witnessed Ronan going it alone with When You Say Nothing At All – he bagged a number one single and it was the start of a successful solo career.
Verdict: Good

S Club 3 (S Club 7)

I am going to go on record and say that here at Flecking Records we loved S Club 7’s music and their TV series – despite probably being just that little bit too old for it to be acceptable. That said, it breaks our heart to see the gang back together again without all seven members being accounted for.
Despite our crush on Paul Cattermole being as present as ever, S Club 3 (Paul, Jo and Bradley) just don’t have the magic that S Club 7 had and watching the trio perform the old hits just makes us pine for a full reunion.
Verdict: Ugly

Gwen Stefani (No Doubt)

While Gwen Stefani enjoyed huge success with No Doubt, it was her solo career that truly launched her into the mainstream market, with her funky music and her individual style winning her fans by the bucket load. The least 43-year-old looking 43-year-old ever, Gwen is not only a talented musician, she’s a fashion designer, has released fragrances and has even made appearance in a few films. We love her!
Verdict: Good

Geri Halliwell (Spice Girls)

When Geri Halliwell left the Spice Girls, everyone wondered what her next move would be… Geri decided to embark on a solo career, and released her first single, Look At Me.
The track was about as subtle as a hurricane, and was intended to launch Geri into the solo world with her Spice Girl days put behind her – the video even showed the funeral of Ginger, Geri’s Spice name.
We wanted to like it, believe us we really did, but it just didn’t work for us. With the exception of Mel C’s duet with Bryan Adams, none of the post-Spice solo material did it for us. We promptly let down our pigtails, burned our Adidas pants and forced our hands out of the peace sign we’d been making since 1996.
Verdict: Ugly

Friday Hill (Blazin’ Squad)

It was never cool to like Blazin’ Squad, but when did we ever let a little thing like street cred stop us openly loving the music we love? When the Squad disbanded and the eleven members went their separate ways and started using their big-boy names, arguably the three most talented (and, let’s face it, the sexiest) Strider, Flava & Kenzie AKA Mus, James and Kenzie (yep, he stuck with it) formed Friday Hill. The trio enjoyed chart success, and we loved them – they were less rappy than Blazin’ Squad and didn’t have that faux gangsta thing going on.
Verdict: So bad it’s good