The band was named after Orlando, Florida, despite the fact that none of the bandmembers came from the city.
O-Town was assembled for the first season of the ABC reality television series Making the Band. Originally Ikaika Kahoano was one of the five members selected but an undisclosed dispute caused him to back out, making way for Dan Miller who was selected by the four remaining members. The ratings of Making the Band were strong enough to warrant a second (and eventually third) season, which made O-Town the first cast of a reality TV show to remain the same on their second and third seasons. These subsequent seasons depicted their development as a pop group, following their tours and performances etc. Such events included the development of their second album, O2, their transition to a new record label (J Records), and an ongoing struggle to "prove themselves" as legitimate artists. The third season of Making the Band was broadcast on MTV, instead of the original network, ABC.
After season one, Clive Davis of J Records signed O-Town to his new label. Davis believed in the marketability of the group, and scheduled O-Town to be the label's debut act. Their first album, the self-titled O-Town, boosted by the publicity of the weekly television series, sold more than two million copies. Their first single, "Liquid Dreams", was the first single to reach #1 on the Billboard singles sales chart without making the Airplay chart. The single managed to peak at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
However, their novelty as television personalities soon wore off, and O-Town would enjoy only temporary success. Jacob Underwood even commented, on a Making the Band recap of seasons one and two, that after "Liquid Dreams", they alone had to prove themselves to the public that they weren't a "flash-in-the-pan" success. However, in the late spring of 2001, O-Town released "All or Nothing", and the song became their biggest hit of their career as a group. "All or Nothing" reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the song was nominated for numerous awards, including "Song of the Year" during the 2001 Radio Music Awards. The success of "All or Nothing" granted them the ability to air another season of Making the Band. Near the end of the third season, O-town fans and television viewers watched as they tried to take their careers to the next level by writing their own music, earn the respect of their industry peers, and market themselves beyond being labeled as a "boy band". They never found the market acceptance they sought. Their second album, O2, originally scheduled for the summer of 2002 (and planned debut single "I Showed Her" a few weeks before release), was delayed numerous times, and as time between their last U.S. single, the moderately successful "We Fit Together", and the anticipation of "O2", without any new singles to get radio airplay and no new episodes of Making the Band, the popularity of O-Town began to wane.
O-Town had burst onto the scene when boy bands and other types of bubblegum pop were beginning to decline and lose their influence. Sales of O-Town's second album, O2, were below expectations. Their debut single for O2, "These are the Days" eventually broke into the Billboard Top 40 at #40, and critics, such as those from Billboard.com, praised their second single, "I Showed Her" for being a well-developed song. Despite this moderate success, "O2" was nowhere near the commercial success of their first album, O-Town, and the band went on tour in the summer of 2003 to promote the album. J Records dropped the band from the label in November 2003.
Though fans tried to organize campaigns to get O-Town signed to a new label, their efforts met with little success. The group disbanded in late 2003, and O-Town sent a personal e-mail to all their fans, via O-town.com [defunct], thanking them for the great memories and experience they had shared together. In the e-mail, O-Town themselves stated that they had disbanded due to the changing climate of the music industry, along with certain financial problems, hinting that Lou Pearlman and his company, Trans Continental Records, may have been involved with these issues. At that point, Pearlman had already experienced many legal challenges by previous acts managed by his company, Trans Continental, including highly successful acts such as the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, and Aaron Carter.
The members of O-Town moved on to solo careers.
The most successful member of the group has been Ashley Parker,
who was signed to Universal's Blackground Records, and also given
his own reality show on MTV, There and Back. Released in 2006,
Ashley's solo debut album was heavily promoted, but did not achieve
solid sales numbers. In January 2007, he began playing the role
of Link Larkin in the Broadway production of Hairspray. Ex-bandmate,
Trevor Penick, now professionally known as "Tre Scott", was signed to Mach 1 Music, and worked with established industry producer Eddie
Galan. The other band members retained a fanbase and had success
in their own right, as evidenced by their Myspace profiles. Erik
eventually decided to join the Army and embarked on a training
programme. He had decided that it was time for a change and was
looking to experience different aspects of life.
As of January 2011, according to Jacob's Facebook
account and TMZ.com, 4 of the 5 original members are back together.
Jacob, Erik, Dan, and Trevor have reunited and are in the studio,
presumably recording a follow up to O2. Apparently the reunion
has been in the works for at least a year, when the 4 tried to
persuade Ashley to return. However, upon realizing he was not interested,
they decided to get back together as a foursome. Shortly after
Ashley opened up as to why he did not agree to a reunion. In a
statement, he tells TMZ.com, "O-Town was one of the greatest chapters of my life, so when the idea of a reunion
was brought to me, of course I was intrigued. However, I have made
the decision not to be a part of an O-Town reunion. It was a difficult
decision, but ultimately necessary to move on with the next chapter
of my career.” Erik Michael Estrada responded to the statement
saying "If Ashley really wanted to rejoin O-Town … he would have figured out a way to
'multi-task' the reunion and his acting career." Erik says he and the rest of the band have all come to terms with Ashley’s rejection
— but explains, “I would just think he would want to come on board
and be a part of it … but he doesn’t and that’s cool.”
Nearly three years after O-Town ceased to exist,
the Japanese group w-inds covered O-Town's "All or Nothing", calling it "Kaze Uta" (or "Wind Song"). "Kaze Uta" was released on May 25, 2006 on w-inds' single for the song "Trial". While the melody was retained, the lyrics were completely reworked by Takamitsu
Shimazaki, and are predominantly in Japanese with a less repetitive
chorus. In 2009, Irish boyband Westlife also covered "All or Nothing" on their eighth studio album The Love Album. The American punk band Fake ID
also covered it in an upbeat, pop-punk fashion for the compilation
album Punk Goes Pop.
Released: January 23, 2001
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Released: November 11, 2002
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