Juniors 5 - “POPFATHER II”

Power Records
2007 (1386)

Although having a decade of experience with manufacturing girlbands in various editions of SILHOUETTT and the planned FASHION5 which was never realised, it was first with the addition of Kamran and Hooman to Black Cats that Shahbal Shabpareh tapped the boy band water, though not the whole formula considering the rest of the constellation. But with Juniors 5 he has followed the formula of the Western industry letter by letter with the generic uneven numbers of five, each member with an own persona and image completing each other accordingly and providing for every taste in the female audience! According to Jordan, one of the lead-vocalists, he met Shahbal through a friend. Shahbal gave him the idea of a boyband which he wasn't too crazy about at first, but then decided to go for it because of the success Shahbal had had with his similar projects in past. They started auditioning other vocalists and in 2006 they released their first video, a cover on old Ricky Martin World Cup-anthem "Cup of Life" as "Teame Maa" for the World Cup 2006. Their 1st album and the 2nd POPFATHER album which was leaked a few months back is now finally released and features material by Shahbal, Jordan, Arash Sherbaf, Farshad Soheili, Shane, Shahrod and Sahara Monadi. The album features 8 tracks and is released on Power Records.

The album opens with the sequel to POPFATHER, which was preformed years ago by Kamran and Hooman in Black Cats, namely POPFATHER II. In the same fashion, yet another "awkward" tribute by Shahbal to himself! I'm sorry but there is no other way to put it! If the boys had written this as a tribute to their founder it would have been normal and understandable but the strange thing is that both parts have been written by Shahbal himself for himself as the POPFATHER of Persia! But while there were references to the POP history in part one part two is completely dedicated to POPFATHER himself and his Black Cats! Its as if late Viguen would have written a song called "Soltane Jazz" and let a bunch of young artists sing it as a tribute to himself! With the difference that his title was given to him by the people! Since this semi-franchise is inspired the GODFATHER trilogy something tells me that there will also be a POPFATHER III someday in the future.

Jordan created "V.I.P" at school while being bored and not wanting to listen to the teacher! He recorded the beat on his phone and later wrote part of the lyrics for it. This is a progressive FUNK fare with a lovely performance by the female guest-vocalist Rana!

Now to "Leili" a more generic song with the typical Shahbal flavour a la Black Cats! This was expected to appear sooner or later on the album and thankfully it turned out to be one its better specimens. A bit too short for the DANCE-FLOORS though!

The song "Mikhaamet" features its creator and the album's producer Arash on vocals. The song is nicely done but the chorus falls a bit flat and prevents it from standing out! Love the surprising guest performance of the guitar, rather unexpected in this particular setting!

Now to the BEST song on the album and my sole favourite! First time we heard Persian R&B being performed was by Afshin in his song "Delam Havaato Karde" a few years ago. And though we have heard a few remakes of Western songs coming from the Tehran underground and also a few crossovers from Europe no song has really managed to take the next needed step in the evolution. But now the waiting is FINALLY over! "Bemoon Baa Man" a song composed by Shahrod, the second lead of the group, redefines Persian R&B by taking basically everything into consideration and making it work seamlessly! And doing so with a TRIPHOP groove, in time and present. This song is basically PERFECT from all aspects, composition, lyrics, arrangements and vocals! Well, except for its video which possessed a good idea but a mediocre realisation. Unfortunately! BRAVO Shahrod! I really want to see him being more involved in the creation of the music in the future. This is by far my most favourite Persian song of 2007!! PERIOD!!!!

"Che Konam" is another typical Shahbal creation. Its one of those songs that doesn't really know where its heading! Blends rather freely but not eclectically! If it wasn't for the chorus the song would hardly be kept together! Rana makes another performance in this song.

Suddenly the album drops the pace and takes us back decades to the 70's, with its happy harmonic FOLK-POP style reminiscent of songs by late Giti and her generation of singers! "Khosham Miaad" is sugar-sweet and makes me nostalgic! Not exactly what I had expected to hear on this album but now that I do its appreciated. But will it also affect those who cant associate with its RETRO style positively? Or be a big bump on the track list?!

The REGGAETON "Eskenaas" reminds me thematically of Black Cats' good old "Poul" and judged by the references its obvious that it has deliberately tapped on the well-known theme! After decades of playing in the background "Poul" was namely the song that brought Black Cats MAINSTREAM, back in the 90's as a band with own songs and cutting-edge videos!

The Juniors 5 are good as a manufactured boyband, really good! But not great! And its a shame, because they could have been! If the material wasn't kept so generic and their true potential was realised. There have been brave attempts to innovation here and there, but not enough to overwhelm us! The album is diverse which is normally a good thing but here at the price of a harnessed innovation, without really serving the commercial purpose either! I wish they had ignored the risks and instead stepped on the R&B gas and delivered more songs in style of "Bemoon Be Man". Because THAT is what these guys are made for! Their voices are perfect for the R&B genre. I'm really impressed, its not everyday we hear such promising young voices coming from the Iranian industry! Strong and soulful, despite their young age and appearance. Just need the time and experience! "POPFATHER II" is an adequate debut, a good attempt to explore! But I truly hope that they decide to elaborate further on the R&B/FUNK styles and focus on a genre that is practically missing in the Iranian industry and history! Even though 100% compatible with our mentality and musicality. There is a vacancy which needs to be filled and we have the right candidates with right calibre here, with Shahrod as composer and Arash Sherbaf as producer!

But no matter how good Juniors 5 are the fact that they are a boyband per definition and therefore not a timeless project is unavoidable! Boybands are made for the moment and the market, with an expiration date hanging from the word "boy". Especially if a boyband is named "Juniors"! Something which from the day one is bound to be dissolved once the members are no juniors anymore. But when it happens or if they happen to break up before that, it doesn't necessarily mean the end! Then a new chapter may begin, the solo-careers. And you don't have to be a lead-vocalist to continue as a successful solo-artist! Something which Robbie Williams of TAKE THAT proved when coming from the background of the boyband to be the sole successful solo-star of them all! While encouraging all members of the group its hard to miss that the future stars of this band are Jordan and Shahrod! Because of their vocal abilities. Jordan in particular whom I predict a very bright future for, if he invests in his talent and career wisely he can be an Iranian Justin Timberlake! He certainly has got the talent and looks for it!

Note: thanks to Jordan and the boys for submitting the album.

Overall Performance: ++
Artistic Ambition: ++
Commercial Potential: ++
Technical Quality: ++
Aesthetic Presentation: ++
Ethical Adherence: +++
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Review by: Pourya E.

Reviews described herein are mere opinions, and must be construed in that manner only! In other words they are not absolute!