The music industry has rippled with a wave of surprise announcements in recent weeks: Justin Timberlake is making new music after more than half a decade; girl group Destiny’s Child and rap duo Kris Kross are both reuniting; and boy bands 98 Degrees, Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block are going on tour together. This string of seemingly random events has started 2013 as an especially intriguing year in music that begs the question — are comebacks on the rise?
Leading the industry throughout the early 2000s, artists like Justin Timberlake and Destiny’s Child defined the modern pop/R&B sound of the era. In the years since, however, the Billboard charts have experienced a massive shift, with dance, house and dubstep genres becoming king.
Timberlake’s last album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” was released in 2006, while Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams have each gone on to successful solo careers since Destiny’s Child went on hiatus in 2005.
Provo music blogger Scott Dransfield sees the comeback efforts of these 2000s power players as a positive thing.
“I’m personally excited for the returns of Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake,” Dransfield said. “Pop music lately has gone in such a dumbed-down direction. It’s designed mainly as dance music, and if it has a beat and a catchy hook, it’ll take off regardless of the artist’s real musical talent.”
Dransfield said he hopes the new music from the artists of his childhood will have an impact on the industry as a whole.
“I really hope the return of these (artists) signals the start of a new trend,” he said. “Not so much a trend of ’90s artist reunions, but a return to the basic and important elements of real pop music.”
Hayley Choate, an illustration major from California, had a mixed view of the burgeoning comeback trend. First, she could hardly contain her excitement at the prospect of a boy band super tour.
“Ten-year-old me, 13-year-old me and 16-year-old me are all totally psyched,” Choate said, regarding the upcoming 98 Degrees/Boyz II Men/New Kids on the Block tour.
However, Choate was less enthusiastic about the Destiny’s Child reunion, saying it felt “regressive” to the music industry.
“It doesn’t make sense for Destiny’s Child to get back together,” Choate said. “Unless they blow us out of the water with a new sound that doesn’t take me back to sixth grade at a sweaty middle school dance, I think they’ll fade away quickly.”
Cassie Bingham, an anthropology major from Washington, said regardless of whether this string of comebacks starts a legitimate trend for 2013, the new music will be refreshing to hear.
“I’m just excited to hear good music on the radio again,” Bingham said. “It will be good for today’s kids to know there’s better music out there than ‘Party Rock Anthem’ and Ke$ha.”