Why Michael must re-learn to rock

THE SCANDINAVIAN boy-band, Michael Learns To Rock shot to fame with their songs I'm Gonna Be Around and Paint My Love - both topping the charts worldwide with the band's interesting blend of soft instrumental accomplishments and `feel-good' lyrics. MLTR, as the band is popularly known, has just hit the stores with its sixth studio album, Take Me To Your Heart. Let's rewind to some of the chart-topping hits of MLTR that, even today, are soothing music to our ears.

The name of the band has an interesting story to tell. In 1988, when Jascha Richter, Kare Wanscher and Mikkel Lentz, three young guys from Denmark, decided to form a pop band (those days, amateur bands had not many choices except mainstream pop), their first breakthrough was winning a talent contest, for which the guys submitted a demo tape titled Michael Learns To Rock. The organisers of the competition had a hunch that the name would strike a chord with the listeners and insisted on retaining it. Hence, to date, the band continues to be called Michael Learns To Rock.

The band debuted on the international music scene with their self-titled album in 1991. Inspired by the likes of the Beatles, Elton John and the Eagles, the music produced by MLTR was soft and sentimental. While Jascha was on the vocals and keyboard, Kare was the drummer and Mikkel strummed the guitar. A handful of chart-topping singles from the album like The Actor, gave a trademark sound to the band that cut down the noise level whenever possible, but nevertheless maintaining the positive energy in their songs.

Hardly a year later, MLTR released their second album, Colours, which continued the band's winning streak. Interestingly, this reprise album produced more hits than the earlier album - and to the band's surprise, songs like Sleeping Child and Out Of The Blue swept through the charts in unexpected places like Thailand and China.

Played On Pepper was MLTR's third album, which was swiftly followed by an album in 1997 called Paint My Love - The Best Of MLTR. The title song from the album was performed in the function that marked the handing back of Hong Kong to China. Followed soon by Nothing To Lose and a second Greatest Hits album, the band impressively maintained a consistency in their music. But then, it had a downside too.

The band never tried to experiment. Though hardcore MLTR fans didn't mind listening to the same stuff over and over again, newer listeners seemed to prefer other bands that mix-and-matched their music.

This could be the reason why the previous album, Blue Night received just a mediocre

response. To make things worse, even the new album sticks to the same formula, and fails to give anything new to the listeners. These are the days when even successful bands like Blue are resorting to innovative hip-hop influences in their music. There is no denying the fact that MLTR is a very mature and successful band. But judging by the current musical tastes of listeners, the band badly needs to improvise.