Iraq's bungled reconstruction effort and continuing instability have put a damper on the rise of up-and-coming boy-band Unknown to No One. Just under a year ago, western journalists in Baghdad had swooned over the fun-loving members. They dreamed they would soon see their names in lights, joining the ranks of their idols: Wham!, Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, and Westlife. Despite its new freedoms and expanded possibilities, the new era has not made pop life any easier, and it has brought plenty of disappointments, even for the jovial Baghdad group comprising Art Haroutunian, Nadeem Hamid, Hassan Ali, Shant Zawar and Diar Delyar. 'We don't have to fear being summoned for military service or hunted by the intelligence officers. But we fear terrorist bombings and insecurity. Even though we have more money, there are no nightclubs and no entertainment,' said Haroutunian, the group's leader. Indeed, the light-hearted band's experiences since the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime last year encapsulate many of post-war Iraq's successes and failures. The band members, who sing and speak perfect English, thought they had paid their dues, trying to live out their rock and roll fantasies under Hussein's brutal dictatorship, where satellite dishes were outlawed and western music had to be smuggled into the country. Once they wanted to get their song Hey, Girl on a radio station controlled by Hussein's son Uday, killed by American troops in Mosul last summer. Keyboardist Haroutunian said they were told no way, not even through bribery, unless they came up with a birthday song for Hussein. They whipped something together: 'Shining through the times, Your light never ends, You're the one who helps us find the truth out of lies ...' Uday's radio station aired the song on the hour for a week. 'Then our love song, they broadcast it only once,' said Haroutunian. For Haroutunian, an Iraqi Christian, and his Sunni, Kurdish and Shi'ite band members, the US invasion liberated them from tyranny. It was time to party, or so they thought. 'My whole life I was living this lie and it was gone in a twinkle of an eye,' Haroutunian said. 'I laughed and cried. We celebrated.' Indeed, the invasion transformed Iraq's pop landscape. Record stores became filled with bootlegged copies of Britney Spears, 50 Cent and Christina Aguilera. Satellite music channels pumped out the latest Arabic pop tunes from Beirut and Cairo. Just after the war, the group was invited to England by Channel 4. Promoters and media descended on them, vowing to make them the next big thing. But Iraq's Foreign Ministry burned down after the war, and since the boys did not have passports, they have been waiting a year to leave the country. The band would have loved spending the last year in Baghdad putting together a new album. From Now On, their first, sold 2,000 copies at about US$2 each. But the Baghdad music scene is even more moribund than before. All the studios have been cleared of their equipment in fear of robbers. 'Nobody's producing songs here,' Haroutunian said.