Self-described as “five grown-up gays from Toronto covering songs originated by girl groups,” MANifesto are basically what happens when you get nostalgic and put on Spice Girls while you clean your house, if you added a massive amount of talent to that equation.
“The band is very much something that you didn’t realize was missing until you’re in it, and then it’s like, ‘Why haven’t I been doing this my whole life?’” explains band founder Kelly Clipperton. “To sing songs written by men, for women, the way they sound, it’s just awesome.”
While the concept is simple— combine the classic nostalgia of girl groups with queer covers and sultry tones— it still comes out like a novel concept, simply because of the clarity of delivery the band bring to their covers.
“It’s just been received so well,” he continues. “We’ve had nothing but positive reviews so far on the videos, and we haven’t heard anything negative. It’s just been a steady momentum of wonderful.”
The band appeal to anyone who misses the ’90s heyday of girl groups and everything they represented.
“I think the largest demographic now that we are reaching are people who would appreciate this, who are nostalgic,” says Twaine Ward of the group. “For the most part, the majority of the songs are straight lifts, so they sound very similar to the originals. There are a few changes, and I think we’re getting braver as we go along, and taking more risks, but for the most part, they sound true to the originals.”
And through this kind of connection with the songs, the band are able to reach queer folks and nostalgic millennials aching for some girly realness.
“I think for the most part, that’s how we’re hoping to get the fan base to keep growing, because we’ll get people who are like, ‘Oh, there’s a new cover,’ when it comes to their favorite song, and then they can just sort of sing along in the car and see the aspects we’ve updated.”
While the band could definitely appeal to anyone who loves the songs they cover, they hold a special place in the queer cannon, not only due to their identities, but because of the connotation that comes from flipping the songs.
“We definitely appeal to the LGBTQ community, since we’re a group of gay guys singing girl-group songs,” says Dionisio Silva.
“We haven’t changed any of the lyrics to these songs, so we are singing songs to men that are traditionally sung by women,” adds Icarus Devdas. “Men don’t usually sing pop love ballads to each other in public culture, so there’s something about that that is unexpected, and at the same time familiar.”
Photo courtesy of MANifesto