Why The Wanted Play Gay Clubs: Marketing, Music And The LGBT Community's Mainstream Music Clout
Why The Wanted Play Gay Clubs: Marketing, Music And The LGBT Community's Mainstream Music Clout

Could the Wanted usher in a new wave of British pop to American shores?

The five-piece male U.K. vocal group -- which has notched five top five singles on the Official U.K. Singles chart and a pair of top five albums -- is taking a serious stab at U.S. stardom.

The act (@thewantedmusic) made its American TV debut on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Jan. 10 and appears to be a priority for Mercury Records. How serious? Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun), Justin Bieber's manager, has been recruited as the Wanted's U.S. manager.

Though the United Kingdom is rife with pop acts that seem perfect for American audiences, few ever successfully cross the pond. There isn't one simple reason why British acts fizzle in the States, but one could count on two hands the number of U.K. imports that have gone largely unnoticed in the past decade.

That's why the commitment from Mercury to the Wanted, along with the enlistment of Braun, is notable.

The group will head out on the road for a U.S. club tour beginning Jan. 17 in Orlando, Fla., at the Social. The quick 10-date jaunt will wrap at the Roxy in Los Angeles on Feb. 8.

The Wanted's Tour Schedule:
Jan. 17 - The Social - Orlando, Fla
Jan. 20 - Rock 'N Roll Hotel - Washington, D.C.
Jan. 22 - Irving Plaza - New York
Jan. 24 - Theatre of Living Arts - Philadelphia
Jan. 26 - Bottom Lounge - Chicago
Jan. 27 - Fine Line - Minneapolis
Jan. 31 - Prophet Bar - Dallas
Feb. 2 - Club Sound - Salt Lake City
Feb. 7 - House of Blues - San Diego
Feb. 8 - The Roxy - Los Angeles

While touring, the band is also scheduled to make appearances at gay clubs and high schools. While details on the latter are still being ironed out, the group will hit at least four gay venues including Town Nightclub in Washington D.C. (Jan. 20), Splash in New York (Jan. 21), Roscoe's in Chicago (Jan. 26) and Saloon in Minneapolis (Jan. 27). A visit to a Los Angeles-area gay night spot was in the works at press time.

The gay clubs-and-high school trek shouldn't be surprising. It's no secret that many pop vocal groups' core audiences are teen girls and gay men. In the United Kingdom, many pop acts devote substantial promotional attention to their gay fans and it's standard practice for them to make appearances at gay clubs and grace the covers and front pages of popular LGBT magazines and websites.

The Wanted's current U.S. single, "Glad You Came," is lifted from its most recent U.K. album, Battleground, which hit No. 5 on the U.K. Albums Chart. "Glad"-a former No. 1 U.K. hit-is making inroads on U.S. radio and has already seen a jump in sales thanks to the group's "Ellen" performance.

The five piece act (Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, Tom Parker and Nathan Sykes) may see "Glad You Came" debut as early as next week on the Mainstream Top 40 airplay tally. "Glad" previously peaked at No. 31 on the Dance Club Songs chart on Nov. 19, 2011, while a previous club tune, "All Time Low," reached No. 19 on Aug. 27.

"Glad" has received a national push by Sirius­XM's Hits 1 top 40 channel where it's been played more than 500 times, according to Nielsen BDS, since September. On terrestrial radio, WXRK (92.3 Now) New York leads the way in total plays with 400 since October, including 42 in the seven days ending Jan. 11.

Label sources say that sales of "Glad" shot through the roof the day of the "Ellen" gig-moving from a couple hundred downloads to more than 5,000. That's pretty handsome, considering it sold 7,000 downloads in the week ending Jan. 8.

While a release date for the Wanted's debut U.S. album isn't confirmed yet, perhaps the building momentum of "Glad" could help firm up a street date sooner than later.

THIS MUST BE POP: While the Wanted is making a go at America, there are a number of other successful U.K.-based pop acts that deserve some stateside attention. Here are three:


One Direction

The 2010 third-place finisher on the U.K. "X Factor" program is a runaway phenomenon in its homeland, and the act has only released one album. The five young gents (ages 17-20), have 1.2 million Twitter followers (@onedirection), nabbed two top three U.K. singles and reached No. 2 with debut album "Up All Night" in November. They will support Big Time Rush on tour beginning Feb. 24 in Chicago. Further, "Night" will be released March 20 in the United States on Syco/Columbia. Prepare for mobs of screaming American fans.

Girls Aloud

The female vocal quintet has notched 20 top 10 singles in the United Kingdom between 2002 and 2008 and is on hiatus while the members each pursue individual careers. (Rumors abound that they'll re-form for a gig at the London Olympics this year.) Americans almost got to know one-fifth of the group in 2011, when Cheryl Cole (@CherylCole) was briefly a judge on Fox's "The X Factor."

McFly

The pop-rock band (@mcflymusic) has claimed 17 U.K. top 10 singles and six top 20 albums since 2004. Most recently, the cheeky quartet of guys have expanded their appeal to a wider (and older) audience, thanks to their foray into reality TV competitions. Drummer Harry Judd (@mcflyharry) won the latest edition of "Strictly Come Dancing" (the parent show of America's "Dancing With the Stars") while in December, bassist Dougie Poynter (@dougiemcfly) was crowned champion of the famous-people-stuck-in-a-jungle show "I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!"