In Depth

Why JLS should be thanked for pulling the plug

Fans are 'devastated' by boy band's decision to quit, but the nation owes them a debt of gratitude

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SIMON COWELL expressed his deep sadness today at the sudden demise of boy band JLS. The act, spawned five years ago by his reality TV show The X Factor, will be sorely missed – and not just by their grateful record company and team of accountants.

"Don't goooooo," tweeted one devastated JLS fan after Aston, Marvin, JB and Oritse announced they would hang up their V-neck sweaters after a farewell tour in December.

In truth, JLS should be congratulated heartily for calling it a day. When you've sold 10 million records and launched your own brand of condoms, you've every right to put your feet up.

More importantly, the whole point of boy bands is that they feature fresh-faced adolescents for whom school detention, pimples and first kisses are recent memories. Generally speaking, we don't want boy bands to listen to The Archers or take an active interest in ISA accounts.

JLS are pensioners compared to One Direction, an act featuring several members who have only recently acquired the right to vote. JLS's oldest member, Marvin Humes, is 28 and expecting his first child with his wife, Saturdays singer Rochelle Wiseman. JB Gill, 26, recently expressed an interest in farming during an appearance on the BBC's sedate rural programme Countryfile.

It's not known if 25-year-old Aston Merrygold is devoting more time to a passion for steam locomotives or topiary, but it would come as no surprise if he was.

The point is: no-one likes ageing boy bands. They're a bit embarrassing, the musical equivalent of a tongue kiss from a great aunt, or dirty joke at a wedding reception. The 2006 Australian movie BoyTown - about a fictional Eighties boy band taking one last crack at the big time 20 years after their heyday - capitalised on the squeamish feeling we get when gone-to-seed teen idols reappear with a paunch and a receding hairline.

Sadly, no-one passed this information to New Kids on the Block, who announced a new album in January. NKOTB, as they are known to the handful of people who still care, are in their mid-40s. They will be touring this year with another ancient boy band, Boyz II Men, whom archaeologists recently unearthed doing dinner shows at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Robbie Williams managed to flip the argument on his head late last year when he said he was rejoining Take That because he was "too old" to be a solo pop star. It's an odd argument, and not one that appears to trouble 66-year-old Elton John or 68-year-old Rod Stewart.

Solo stars have a certain dignity as they age. But nothing is sadder than five 40-somethings trying to remember the crotch-grabbing choreography they performed with such enthusiasm in 1985.

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