The way manufactured pop SHOULD be. Backed by some of the best songwriters ever (Goffin/King ( who did a bunch of their stuff like the exquisite "The Porpoise Song" (as well as some stuff for Phil Spector, including the incredibly unsettling "He Hit Me And It Felt Like A Kiss"),), Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond, among others), and actually had some say in how their career went – not to mention a sense of fun about the entire thing. And, really, can you picture Britney Spears giving people Head? (Er, perhaps that should be rephrased.) And they had their own TV show which had Frank Zappa on once. The same Frank Zappa who also showed up in their awesome feature film Head.
And, hey, even though on the early stuff, they didn't play their own instruments, on Headquarters they did, and some of the Monkees (especially Mike Nesmith) were good musicians and songwriters. They got a lot of flak for stuff, but most of it was undeserved. And, besides, can you deny that "Pleasant Valley Sunday" is an awesome song? You CANNOT.