Brought to the masses by the same people responsible for the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, Natural represented Trans Continental's next venture into manufactured boy bands. Unlike the two aforementioned teen sensations, though, Natural wasn't so much a dance-pop act as it was a real band. The five boys actually play their own instruments and dress in standard rock fashion for the time -- namely, all black clothes, short spiky hair, and more growl than smirk on their faces. Natural debuted with the single "Put Your Arms Around Me," written by proven teen hitmaker Steve Kipner ("Genie in a Bottle"), in late 2001 and hoped to conquer the world of MTV, teen magazines, school hallways, and little girls' bedrooms much like Backstreet and 'N Sync had previously done . Having been assembled as a group in summer 1999 in Orlando, FL, group members Ben Bledsoe, "J" Josh Horn, Michael Johnson, Patrick King Jr., and Marc Terenzi began singing a cappella at auditions before being signed to a local production company. But it would be nearly a year before Natural would get the break they needed. That break came when the group appeared on 24 Hours, a German reality television show. The show did well and the band traveled to Germany in August 2000 to capitalize on their sudden fame, culminating at the Pop-Komm festival where they played the main stage. Upon the group's return from Germany, Orlando-based industryman Louis J. Pearlman signed Natural to a management deal and began arranging their commercial breakthrough in America. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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