By all rights, this show should be terrible: it is about (and features the music of) a (fictional) Christian Rock boy-band. But surprisingly, this is actually a fairly pleasant and charming spoof, although I’m not entirely sure why it became the long-run hit that it did. The show is, essentially, a satire of religion and, specifically, Catholicism, but it’s no Book of Mormon; the religious satire is quite gentle, although the mockery of boy-bands is a little more vicious.
The big dance number “Rhythm In Me” follows the homogenized, synthesizer-heavy pseudo-R&B associated with NSync, while the unexpectedly literal “The Calling” and the surprisingly sincere “I Believe” are more in vein of the Backstreet Boys’ more reserved Soft Rock balladry. The Mass how-to guide “Church Rulez” captures the sound of Hanson’s manic sugar-high bubblegum, while the mock-Latin “La Vida Eternal” is, obviously, a Ricky Martin pastiche. “Body Mind and Soul” goes for the cheesy New Jack Swing sound of New Edition, while the show’s Villain Song, “Number 918 (Get the Hell Out)”, fittingly, comes as close to Rock as this show gets. “The Miracle Song” even incorporates the styles of early Nineties Pop-Rappers like Marky Mark and Gerardo. (Yes, all the Nineties boy-bands, while they were marketed in very similar ways, all had surprisingly different sounds. Even I can’t believe I know that.)
Anyway, as reprehensible as the marketing process for most of these bands was, their music definitely had its pleasures, and it’s easier to appreciate those pleasures when the manufactured boy-band element is presented ironically, and thus less insulting to the intelligence, so I completely understand why people enjoy this score.
The two funniest numbers are “Something About You”, a paean to abstinence that parodies the New Kids On the Block’s Bieber-esque lascivious crooning, with a wicked subverted rhyme at the end, and the clever “Epiphany”, which is about the closest the show ever gets to biting satire. I guess the show lasted so long just because it was so utterly inoffensive, which is an odd thing to be able to say about a religious satire, however tame, but there you go.