2005 – present (14 years)
Paris, Île-de-France, France
There are three groups called The Teenagers:
1) In a gust of pheromones and with a warm purr of guitars arrives the saviour of French indie pop, The Teenagers. 2008 has seen few Europeans garner more fevered hype than these three Parisian dreamboats, proving once and for all that style and substance needn’t be mutually exclusive. At a time when far too many seemed to be sat waiting for the next novelty bandwagon to jump onboard, this trio of hipper-than-thou ne’r-do-wells have reignited the imaginations of clued-up music lovers across the globe with a curve ball of pervy wit, classic synth-work, and sunshine strumming. Together vocalist Quentin Dalafon, guitarist/synth man Dorian Dumont and bassist Michael Szpinner, have created a daydream world of enchanting melodies and engrossing narratives, as life-affirming as they are insatiably hormonal, and of course all delivered with that trademark audaciously sharp Parisian attitude. Their invitation to either celebrate or recapture one’s youth has proved a hard one to turn down, with a hysterical fanbase growing by the second. And now on the eve of the release of their debut long-player, they stride from underground chic into the mainstream limelight, as one of the world’s most enticing and individual new musical sensations.
Fittingly the bond between the three twenty-somethings was formed in the midst of their teenage years, when childhood pals Michael and Dorian stumbled across Quentin, one of their high school’s true eccentrics. Together, like many kids in Nineties inner city Paris, they fawned over the import of American trash TV, revelling in the sickly-sweet coming-of-age melodrama of shows like Beverly Hills 90210, something that would stay with them. Growing-up together musically, trading mixtapes, they developed a rich tapestry of influences, from national hero Jaques Le Cont and his one-time collaborator Madonna, to classic Nineties rock like Weezer and Nirvana, and further afield to the metal cry of Slayer and Dillinger Escape Plan. Although both Dorian and Michael had spent their teens in and out of bands (Dorian trying his hand at pop and electronica, Michael doing the rounds on their local hardcore punk scene), it wasn’t until one boozy Christmas evening in 2005 that they finally decided to put their creative heads together. The result was 'Fuck Nicole' which prompted the boys to officially form The Teenagers and start a Myspace page. It wasn’t long before their unmistakable sound emerged, with tracks like 'Homecoming' and 'Starlett Johansson' rapidly causing a stir online. These tasters showcased Quentin’s sardonic, often spoken word delivery, and deliciously sleazy lyrics, against a sublime backdrop of woozy synthesisers, simple drum machines and fluttering, twee guitars. A familiar Noughties success story followed – insane online attention gave way to a record industry cat-fight – with label du-jour Merok/XL (having launched the careers of Klaxons and Crystal Castles) winning through in the end.
2007 beckoned with a slew of releases in the pipeline. First up was the group’s X-rated rallying cry, 'Homecoming', already an anthem in some circles by the time it hit shop shelves. The release was complimented by the couldn’t-be-more-perfect promo video by acclaimed director Kinga Burza (Kate Nash etc), nailing the track’s playful, saucy mood with startling poignance. Starlett Johansson – a heart-felt, and typically droll ode to their favourite Hollywood starlet - followed later in the year, coinciding with the group’s first full-scale tour, joining fellow trendsetters Crystal Castles and These New Puritans on Vice Magazine’s show-stopping Unitaur. The massive increase of commitments meant that Dorian and Michael were to join Quentin in the London.
From there they’d meet long-term collaborator Lexxx in the studio to ready their first album 'Reality Check'. The precursor singles are joined by huge new tracks like 'Love No', 'Feeling Better' and others. While the band’s components aren’t dissimilar too many an act of the moment, their implementation is unparalleled. Their candid commentary, both emotional and sincere and ferociously cutting, has resonated in a way that’s neither nostalgic or trendy, but timeless. Their press coverage, having ticked all the major music and style titles off within the release of their first single, has seen the buzz ripple out to tabloid newspapers, surely just a taster of the mainstream acceptance soon to follow.
2)The Teenagers are an American integrated doo wop group, most noted for being one of rock music's earliest successes, presented to international audiences by DJ Alan Freed. The group, which made its most popular recordings with young Frankie Lymon as lead singer, is also noted for being rock's first all-teenaged act.
The Teenagers had their origins in The Earth Angels, a group founded at Edward W. Stitt Junior High School in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan by second tenor Jimmy Merchant and bass Sherman Garnes. Eventually, Garnes and Merchant had added lead singer Herman Santiago and baritone Joe Negroni to their lineup and evolved into The Coupe De Villes. In 1955, twelve-year-old Frankie Lymon joined the Coupe De Villes, who changed their name to first the Ermines and later The Premiers.
The same year Lymon joined the group, he helped Santiago and Merchant rewrite a song they'd composed to create "Why Do Fools Fall In Love". The song got the Teenagers an audition with George Goldner's Gee Records, but Santiago was too sick to sing lead on the day of the audition. Lymon sung the lead on "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" instead, and the group was signed to Gee as The Teenagers, with Lymon as lead singer.
"Why Do Fools Fall in Love" was The Teenagers first and biggest hit. The group, known for both their harmony and choreography, also had hits with "I'm Not a Juvenile Delinquent" and "The ABCs of Love".
By 1957, the group was being billed as "Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers". This caused in-fighting, and by September Goldner had pulled Lymon out of the group to record solo. The Teenagers continued recording, bringing in new lead Billy Lobrano. Lobrano, as the group's first white member, made them even more racially mixed, now with two black, two Hispanic, and one white member. The group had little success with Lobrano, and he left in mid-1958.
Merchant, Santiago, Garnes, and Negroni continued as a quartet, but were not able to find success in any new recordings. They tried a quintet lineup again in 1960, first with new lead Howard Kenny Bobo, then with another lead, Johnny Houston, but to no avail. They continued mainly as an "oldies circuit" group from this point on. By 1973, the Teenagers had resorted to using a female singer to imitate Lymon's prepubescent voice; the last of their female lead singers was Pearl McKinnon.
Sherman Garnes died of a heart attack in 1977, while Joe Negroni died a year later due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Their replacements were Bobby Jay and Frankie's brother Lewis Lymon, respectively. By the 1980s the group had settled on a new lead, Jimmy Castor. Castor remained lead until the 1990s, when he was replaced by Timothy Wilson, former lead of Tiny Tim and the Hits. This lineup appeared on the PBS special, Doo Wop 51, in 2000.
Lewis Lymon left to join Beary Hobbs' Drifters around 2003. He was replaced by Dickie Harmon. Jimmy Merchant retired shortly thereafter, and the group continued as a quartet. The group's current lineup is Herman Santiago, Bobby Jay, Timothy Wilson, and Dickie Harmon. They are often billed as "Frankie Lymon's Legendary Teenagers". This lineup appeared on the PBS special, My Music: Doo Wop Love Songs, in 2007.
In late 2008 Bobby Jay and Dickie Harmon both left the group. Jimmy Merchant has come out of retirement and returned to the Teenager's current line-up.
3) A punk rock duo from Jersey City featuring Ryan Larsen of The H-Bombs and Dead Tired, and Peter Murphy
4) A generic group of performers from the musical Bye Bye Birdie
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