To commemorate both the music of my early youth and the beginning of the month of May (yes, I’m talking about that Justin Timberlake meme) this post will be all about boy bands and their cultural significance.
*NOTE: the feminist in me is going to have to step out for this because I’m about to get really shallow, profess my love for Lance Bass (before he came out), and let the lyrics of popular boy band songs hyper-sexualize my view of love/relationships and skew my perception of happiness (as a kid).
My mom’s boy band was Menudo (same thing that happened to me with Lance Bass happened to my mom with Ricky Martin). My older cousin’s boy band was New Kids On the Block. My younger sister’s boy bands are way too many to name, from One Direction to a plethora of other teeny bopper, baby-face-but-really-21-year-old boy groups. The field has grown immensely. My boy bands were limited to… Let me count… Three, or four if you want to count 98 Degrees, but come on, did you really listen to any other song other than the one that came out in Mulan? Their stuff, thinking back to the time they were popular and the nature of their lyrics, were probably for early to mid 80’s teen girls going through their formative years in the 90’s. I could be totally wrong, but this is simply from my prospective, growing up with a bulky black stereo and compact discs of artists that my dad bought me.
I’m sorry, Dad, for drawing all over that Britney Spears CD, giving her missing teeth and glasses.
I grew up, like a number of you who are around my age, with boy bands like The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and 5ive. Is that last one too obscure? Watch the Disney TV movie Smart House again. That should freshen up your memory. I can still sit in my room and just listen to these songs for hours. Anyone else a fan of nostalgic YouTube videos dedicated to 90’s music and tacky metallic tops and lipsticks? You start with some old pop-punk from the early to mid 2000’s and end up watching “It’s Gonna Be Me” and doing your best impressions of JT’s facial expressions, lip syncing “me” to look more like “may” and “babe” more like “bae” (is that where it came from?) and dancing like a puppet. (I’ll most likely focus more on NSYNC for the duration of this post). It’s catchy. The whole boy band culture is catchy!
Thanks Simon Cowell, for both filling my adolescence with delusions of love and making the first couple of season of American Idol entertaining. It’s seriously time to end that show.
As an adult with a penchant for arguing about women’s roles, expectations, yada yada there is no way I could actually like this type of music. Women are essentially made out to be vindictive bitches that aren’t capable of appreciating our male counterparts, or we are too clingy (uh, hello, “Bye Bye Bye”). Oh, and worst of all is when the guys claim to be our saviors, saving us in a sexual context, shitty job, crappy relationship, whatever else us “damsels” can’t manage on our own. Boy Bands thrive off of this Damsel in Distress -slash- Knight in Shining Armor complex. We buy into this money scheme! Plus, because these are generally attractive young men, they have an agency that young women don’t. “I Want It That Way” and I can ask for it that way because I have a baby-face and two platinum albums and all you have is raging hormones and a skewed view of love.
However, let’s not turn down that road. It has multiple layers that can’t be explored thoroughly in a blog post. This topic could be turned into a dissertation!
Boy bands made life as a little girl so dreamy. I was way too young at 8-years-old to have a firm understanding of relationships and sex, but hey, it was lovey-dovey and it was easy to dance to in the privacy of my own room. I fell in love with Lance Bass and Nick Carter and hated Britney Spears’ guts. (FYI: I’m LGBTQ-friendly. If Lance Bass is Gay and happy, then good for him! And congrats on the babies, Ricky Martin.) My childhood is defined by – other than digging up holes and making mud pies in my parents’ rental house in Arizona – a big, black, WalMart-bought stereo and a stack of CD’s ranging from NSYNC to Green Day to Good Charlotte to Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits borrowed from my dad’s collection. This goes beyond boy bands. Music in general is important. I liked Cher when I was a third grader at Greenway Elementary.
But back on the topic of boy bands, this music even offers an escape from life as an adult. Do I want to be worried about the housing market and electricity bills all the time? No, so play me some boy band bliss! And as far as life goes, “Cry Me a River!” or I’ll go cry a river once the 90’s music streaming ends and deadlines slap me in the face again.
The funny side of this is that every boy band ages. Harry Styles is gonna not be cute later on, unless he ages well like JT. Sorry, Sis. Some members might not fall completely off the map. Hey, I see you cooking up a storm on The Food Network, Joey Fatone! And eventually we all get over our pre-teen hang-ups. JC Chasez- who? That was a joke.
Let the feminist in you step out and allow these misogynistic love songs wash over you. Come on, everyone, shoulder bump with me and enunciate those vowels with a dramatic neck roll!
*NOTE: this post is subject to future editing. I’ve barely skimmed the topic, so I would definitely like to add to this post.