Fellow pop music lovers, I’m happy to inform you that boy bands are back, baby.
Look no further than PRETTYMUCH, a group worthy of your screams and your streams. The all-teenage quintet burst onto the scene earlier this year, armed with boyish charm, flawless harmonies, and dance moves not seen since the ‘90s. Whether you’re a disciple of the golden boy bands of yesteryear or you’re looking for something to fill the One Direction-sized whole in your heart, these guys are worth getting to know. So let me be your “teacher” (where they at?) and give you a primer on all things PRETTYMUCH.
So, who are these guys?
Like most iconic boy bands before them (Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, One Direction, etc.), there are five of them. Austin Porter is the oldest, having just turned 20 in August. He’s from a small town in North Carolina, and he’s the one with floppy blond hair and a super artsy Instagram. Nick Mara, from Manalapan, New Jersey, is 19, and got his start as a hip-hop dancer; he’s arguably the most fleet-footed of the bunch. Then there’s Edwin Honoret, a Bronx, New York, native who got his start singing cover songs on Instagram. You can usually find him rocking a fanny pack (and somehow making it look cool). The Canadian of the group is Zion Kuwonu, a health nut with dreads who’s 18 and from Ontario. And the youngest is Brandon Arreaga, a bespectacled 17-year-old from Corinth, Texas, who’s also a talented producer.
Where did they come from?
That beautiful brain of music mogul Simon Cowell. Each of the guys were pursuing solo careers when Cowell recognized their potential, plucked them out of obscurity, and melded them into a group that inked a deal with Columbia Records and SYCO Entertainment. Sound familiar? That’s because Cowell has done the same thing with One Direction and Fifth Harmony — clearly it’s a business model that works.
So, does that mean they’re One Direction 2.0?
Not exactly. For starters, 1D didn’t dance, while PRETTYMUCH are all about intensive, synchronized choreography. One Direction also had a more rock-based sound, but PRETTYMUCH pull from old-school R&B acts like Boyz II Men. Still, they call the comparisons to 1D an “honor.”
When did they come on the scene?
They were formed into a group in 2016, and moved into a house in Los Angeles shortly afterward. For a year, they worked on perfecting their vocals and dance moves, and also took time to get to know one another — they’ve said they wanted to become friends first, bandmates second. The official PRETTYMUCH Instagram account launched on February 14, 2017 (Valentine’s Day, awww), and they filled their feed with videos of them performing a cappella covers (everything from Drake to Michael Jackson), dancing, skateboarding, and throwing pool parties. Through word of mouth, buzz-worthy videos, and a constant social media presence, they quickly built up a fervent fanbase begging for more.
Where did the group name come from?
That’s all Zion. According to the guys, Zion and his buddies back home had an inside joke where they would talk in a baby voice, and their favorite phrase to say was “pretty much.” Z started doing it around the guys, it caught on, and the next thing you know, it became their official moniker.
Do they have a name for their fans?
Of course! This is a pop group in the year 2017, after all! Their fans are lovingly nicknamed BEANZ.
Let’s get to the music: What songs have they released?
The guys have shared two singles thus far. The first was “Would You Mind,” a massive, ‘90s-influenced banger written by hitmaker Savan Kotecha (who also wrote One Direction’s breakout hit, “What Makes You Beautiful,” along with The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and Ariana Grande’s “Side to Side,” to name a few). Once it became permanently lodged into the brains of all who heard it (seriously, it’s an earworm), they followed up with “Teacher,” a playful, R&B-leaning jam that, according to the guys, is all about “women empowerment.”
What do they sound like?
It’s tough to pin down right now — as I said, they only have two singles thus far. They did, however, perform a slower, unreleased song, “Open Arms,” at a Pandora-sponsored concert this summer. Speaking about the track with MTV News, Edwin said, “This song, we kind of wanted to showcase the fact that although we have personality and we can dance, we study artists like Boyz II Men and we practice heavy on our vocals.” They added in a separate interview, “Our sound is nostalgic, energetic, but also very new because we try to bring back those key elements from the New Jack Swing era, when dance was huge, and modernize them.”
What are they like live?
Performing for big crowds is something they’re still getting used to — their first televised performance was just two months ago, at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards. But their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, and you get the sense that they really, really love what they’re doing. That was crystal clear when they took the stage during the first week of TRL, and it’ll surely follow them on the road when they join Jack & Jack’s tour as the opening act this winter.
When is their album coming?
PRETTYMUCH haven’t announced a title or release date as of yet, but a full album is definitely imminent. Speaking to MTV News about it, they revealed that they have a “nice arsenal of songs” so far, with a French Montana feature, Spanish flavor, a cappella action, reggae, and even “campfire vibes” courtesy of Ed Sheeran, who wrote them a tune. Sounds like these guys are very much laying the groundwork for a PRETTYMUCH takeover.
Cool! Thanks for being my teacher.
You are so welcome. A+ for you.