Record companies have been manufacturing groups since the days of the Monkees, but at least Mike Nesmith had the balls to threaten bodily harm against "musical supervisor" Don Kirshner unless they were given some artistic control. Not so with the A*Teens, a prefab Swedish teen pop group, whose debut came in the form of an ABBA covers disc.
We spoke to A*Teen Dhani Lennevald on the phone, just before the opening night of the group's debut American tour supporting Britney Spears two summers ago. From what we could make of his nervous, broken English, he seemed a nice enough tyke, but frankly, we've chased off kids sitting on our car who had more chutzpah.
For their part, blond Marie and brunette Sara are a lot cuter than ABBA's Agnetha and Anni-Frid were in their prime. Sadly, though, they don't share their predecessors' flair for atrocious outfits. Perhaps they were afraid of being confused with Björn Again, the sensationally campy ABBA tribute group that's been performing for more than a decade. On the plus side, these new girls share the old ABBA gals' curse of having to sing English phonetically (witness the "I wish I under-stewed" line in "SOS"). Unfortunately, they won't be performing our favorite English ABBAration, "The Wiener Takes It All."
After a while, the block harmonies and chipper voices begin to grate and sound like the Muppet Babies -- another heinous knockoff of a once-good idea. The band recently released its sophomore effort, Pop 'Til You Drop, which eschews the ABBA covers, but doesn't fare much better than the group's debut, with its bland, '80s-leaning kiddie pop. That's why we don't feel bad when we ask you to resist the A*Teens. Don't worry about causing any great psychological damage by not buying their records. Sure, they're kids, but they're resilient and Swedish, so chances are they'll always get laid.
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