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Music / Menudo

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The 1981 lineup of a Revolving Door Band

Menudo was a Puerto Rican Boy Band (1977-1997, 2007-2009) formed in the 1970s that became one of the biggest boy bands in history, being one of the progenitors of the boy band movement of the 1980s and 1990s and leading the way for groups from the U.S. mainland like New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men. Their producer, Edgardo Díaz, required that members leave the band when they turned 16 in order to maintain the band's popularity with young girls (though this rule was removed in 1988), necessitating a rotating lineup over its 22 years that included Ricky Martin.

Menudo released a total of 44 studio albums and 16 compilation albums, and their success during the 1980s led to their appearances on Silver Spoons, Sesame Street, and The Love Boat, and the release of two feature films, Una Aventura Llamada Menudo (for which they also recorded the soundtrack) and Menudo La Pelicula. Additionally, they supplied the Season 2 opening theme for Nickelodeon's run of Spartakus and the Sun Beneath the Sea.

On 2022 HBO Max released a four-part docuseries titled Menudo: Forever Young.

This music group contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Menudo reached its "golden era" in the early 80s, featuring curly perms, teasing, and mucho mousse.
  • The Board Game: Yes, there was a Menudo board game. Just one among the oodles of merchandise plastered with Menudo's name and image.
  • Boy Band: The Trope Maker and Trope Codifier in Latin America, and one of the Trope Codifiers in the U.S.
  • Child Popstar: Enforced until 1988, when the rule of expulsion at a certain age was eliminated.
  • Growing Up Sucks: By way of a kill switch in the members' contracts.
  • Height Angst: The subject of "Y yo no bailo" (And I Don't Dance). The narrator invites a girl to dance, unaware that she is much, much taller than him. He is so embarrassed by the height difference that he turns red and spends the rest of the party not dancing.
  • Revolving Door Band: The Logical Extreme. Due to members being fired when they turned sixteen, grew facial hair, experienced a voice change, or even got too tall, Menudo has had 38 members during its run.
  • Shout-Out: In the song "Voy a America", the narrator describes his dream of going to the United States, NYC to be specific, and sing that song next to Olivia Newton-John.
  • Stage Mom: To avoid having to deal with stage parents, founder Edgardo Diaz had the parents of incoming members sign contracts where they essentially signed their parental rights away, giving Edgardo full control. One parent chose to travel with them and act as a subverted version: instead of pushing his son to work harder, he would interfere with rehearsals, filming, etc. so the boys would have a chance to take meal and rest breaks.
  • Target Demographic: At the time of its creation, there were two markets for Spanish-language music: adults and young children. There was nothing out there for preteens and teens. That was the audience Menudo sought.
  • Teen Idol: At the height of their fame, they were this for millions of teenage girls who bought their merchandise, listened to their records, and attended their concerts.
  • Translated Cover Version:
    • Early in their career, Menudo released a Spanish version of ABBA's "Chiquitita". A later album consisted of one half of re-recordings of their own songs and one half Spanish covers of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" (Queen), "I Was Made For Loving You" (KISS), "Can't Stop the Music" (The Village People), and "Xanadu" (originally performed by Olivia Newton-John and Electric Light Orchestra).
    • Later on, their first record in English, Reaching Out, consists mainly of covers of their previous songs but translated to English. For example, "Sube a mi motora (Súbete a mi moto)" became "Motorcycle Dreamer"
    • The album Mania contained Portuguese covers of songs from their previous four albums. The aforementioned "Súbete a mi moto" became "Suba Em Minha Moto". Mania sold over one million records in Brazil.