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Menudo to Be Resurrected

Latin boy band holding auditions this summer

March 10, 2004 12:00 AM ET

The Latin pop phenomenon Menudo will return this year, as a new boy band will be created in the mold of the popular original with members falling between the ages of ten and fourteen.

Menudo Entertainment LLC plans to audition aspiring pop stars from the United States and Central and South America in hopes of rekindling a cultural phenomenon that began in 1977 and continued into the Nineties until the project's guidelines were breached and the name retired.

Specific details will be forthcoming, but the first round of auditions will be submitted via audio and videotapes, narrowing down a field that will eventually take to malls and radio stations in key cities to find a new Menudo. The final auditions will be televised and organizers are hoping that some of Menudo's more than thirty alumni will participate as celebrity judges.

Menudo was formed in Puerto Rico in 1977, the brainchild of Edgardo Diaz, whose eight-year-old nephew Ricky Melendez was one of the original fivesome and became its longest-running member at eight years of service. Melendez was ushered out by the group's mandatory sixteen-years-old ceiling policy. In 1984 he was replaced by a youngster who would become a more famous Ricky, Ricky Martin. Menudo was already established as international superstars at that point, but in 1984 the group released Reaching Out, an aptly titled attempt to break into the American mainstream with an English-language record. The group failed to place a single or album on the U.S. charts, but nevertheless became a cultural phenomenon with a marketing savvy fed by the sale of obligatory non-musical merchandise.

By 1997, the group felt it needed to change its ways, changing its name to MDO and lifting its age-restriction, but MDO didn't make the same cultural ripples of their predecessor. The group's alumni, though, have fared fairly well since graduation. Martin has enjoyed chart-topping success in both the Spanish- and English-language markets. Former Menudo mate Robi Draco Rosa penned a number of Martin's biggest hits and also established a successful career of his own that steers towards rock more than pop. Ray Reyes, Ruben Gomez and other former members have also enjoyed solo success.

"The organizers just feel that there's a real market for it right now," spokesperson Cathy Callegari says. "A new, potential generation of younger fans that tend to be big purchasers, who aren't targeted by more adult-oriented music. And now there's also a group of parents who listened to Menudo the first time around, so it has possibility for a trans-generational impact."

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