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Il Divo
When American Idol judge Simon Cowell - not exactly known for his easy-to-please disposition or tact - says a performer is good, it's clear that it's time to bring out the fireworks, pop that champagne and most importantly rush out and take a closer look at the act that he is talking about.

The fireworks and bubbly are to celebrate the finding of a worthy act, a much-needed change from the mediocre offerings that the music industry seems to have an endless supply of. And the 'rushing out to take a closer look' is exactly what happened when Il Divo, four talented singers backed by Simon, made their first appearance on the prestigious UK talk show, Parkinson's. Three hours after the show aired, Il Divo's debut album went to the number two position on the pre-release charts. They also became the first group since Led Zeppelin, 25 years ago, to debut at number 1 with no prior single release.
If you haven't caught on to the Il Divo phenomenon yet, the good news is that it's not too late. After last month's brief introduction to the four talented musicians, we bring you a more detailed look inside the world of music's first full-fledged pop-meets-opera band.

The idea for this unique band originated not in a board-room filled with music executives but in front of the television as music mogul Simon Cowell watched hit mobster-drama The Sopranos. The episode featured a song by legendary opera vocalist Andrea Boccelli. The question that came to Cowell's mind was “What would happen if you found four guys who could sing like Andrea Boccelli, but also looked fantastic?” The answer was 'Il Divo'.
A worldwide search for four such singers ensued and the band was put together in December 2003. Swiss tenor Urs Buhler, French vox populi Sebastien Izambard, Spanish baritone Carlos Marin and American tenor David Miller came together and were christened Il Divo, an Italian word meaning 'Divine Performer - or a male Diva'. Their multi-national identity reflects the universal appeal of the music and, keeping in character, the songs are sung in a mix of Spanish, English and Italian brewing enough exotica to keep the message of love that they bring refreshing.

Central to the idea of Il Divo is the stunning soundtrack that they provide. Pop songs are re-fashioned into operatic arias and the effect is spectacular. Some of their songs are familiar, like Regresa A Mi (a re-working of Toni Braxton's big hit Unbreak My Heart), Nella Fantasia is based on Gabriel's Oboe from Ennio Morricone's penned score of The Mission and A Mi Manera comes from the Frank Sinatra's classic My Way. The quartet shares the lead throughout and comes together effortlessly for powerful choruses.

SIMON COWELL: Il Divo is the brainchild of this master conceptualiser and he is unusually generous with the praise. He says, “They are great singers, the songs are fantastic and it's different. I always thought they were like the classical Beatles in a strange way. They're just good! In everything I've ever done in my career, the most satisfying was when I got the news that their album was going to debut at number 1.”

SONNY THAKKAR: Vice president, SYCO Music, Thakkar pulled out all the stops to ensure that this band was top quality. He says, “We employed a number of experts from all the prestigious opera houses from all around the world to find these fantastic singers. And 2005 is about breaking Il Divo around the world.”

Since the release of their debut album in November the band has made an impact across different countries. The album sold 1 million copies in just eight weeks, has gone platinum in Norway, triple platinum in Ireland and four times platinum in the UK. Worldwide the Il Divo album has already sold more than 3 million copies. It also debuted at No. 4 in the USA, becoming the highest US chart entry for a debut album from a UK-signed act.

You can read the rest of our feature on Il Divo in the May 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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