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Season 1 of 'Making the Band'
Everett Collection

The singing competition show has become a staple of reality television and the launch pad for many a pop star’s career. While the average viewer probably associates this model with American Idol, it was actually predated in the U.S. by ABC and MTV’s pioneering coproduction Making the Band, which debuted in 2000 at the height of the boy band craze. The premise was simple, smart, and, at the time, entirely novel: contestants would compete in a national talent search with a panel of judges led by Lou Pearlman, the record producer behind the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, all for the chance to become the newest pop sensation. The show’s first season produced the popular boy band O-Town, a quartet whose subsequent release of a platinum-selling debut album was no doubt due to the exposure they got from the show. More importantly, it offered a blueprint for how the singing-competition model could yield hits for both the music industry and the small screen—one that would go on to fuel a 12-season run that also yielded Danity Kane and ultimately swapped in Sean “Diddy” Combs for the soon-to-be disgraced Pearlman. —Cady Lang

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