Thursday, February 01, 2007

I still reject boy bands. Do you?

I'm happy to say that just prior to me really getting into music when I was 15, I wasn't really taken with the boy band types. I did like Bros for a little while, but I hated New Kids On The Block. I can't think of many other opportunities for me to get into boy bands. I was more into film and TV stars and my number one crush was Michael J. Fox. He was a safe, non-threatening figure for a pre-teen and I still carry a torch for him to this day. I'm very loyal like that.

When I was 14, my previous interest in music, which never went beyond top 40 was, dare I say 'expanded' as I ventured into rock music in the form of Ugly Kid Joe. Yes, laugh. Get it out. I'm use to it. As laughable as that is now, I will always be thankful for them leading down a more interesting path which would lead me into other things and eventually broader musical horizons. That certainly wasn't going to happen listening to the charts in 90s. And once I got into rock music, I got into rock star boys. And this made sense to me. They had passion, wrote music and recorded it, then performed it. Those are seemingly cool guys! Of course when you get older, you become more aware of all the smoke and mirrors, but on the surface, it's a good way to go.

While Ugly Kid Joe may be laughable, at least they were dirty, slobby, drank booze and were into screaming and vomiting: like real men.

So, I never understood girls who liked boy bands. These are boys that prance and dance like gay men. I have no problem with gay men, but as a straight woman, straight men are what I find appealing. What is with teenage girls who are attracted to men who display very little masculinity? They sing with high, feminine voices and PRANCE! As far as I am aware, prancing on the part of the male was never part of the homo sapien mating ritual.

What's appealing about this picture to a straight girl?

When I was in Scotland last year, sitting in my hotel room, I watched a special on 90s British boy band phenomenon, Take That while I knitted. Since their reunion was the talk of the town, I thought I should find out more about this group which I loathed in their hey day. It should have come as no surprise to me to find out that the man who assembled the group was in fact gay. When they first started out, they were playing in gay clubs and were well received there. So why does an act that is made to the tastes of a gay man and appreciated by gay men, so 'sexy' to straight teenage girls? I find it puzzling as that sort of 'harmless' guy goes against the norm for primal attractions between men and women.

Holy crap. I was just looking for any old picture of Take That, and never imagined this would turn up on the first page. I don't need to say any more.

I'm not going to use to example that Howard of Take That told in the special about how the five of them had a jerking off competition together, a contest which Robbie won. No, that doesn't necessarily make them gay. It's also not pertinent to note that Lance Bass of N'Sync has now come out and is openly gay.

But having established this, I feel that the interest in boy bands lies with a very specific type. Teenage girls who want something harmless to obsess over. I'm not going to pretend for a moment that my teenage obsessions with rock stars were particularly beneficial, but I felt I was on a more realistic path in terms of what straight men were like. More perplexing than the teenage girls, there are the teenage guys who like that stuff. I had a male family friend who liked Boyz II Men, and I just didn't get it! What was the appeal of boyz singing effeminate music to another boy? I received an email from him recently where he told me how much his taste has changed and he tried to get through a Boyz II Men album he'd found amongst his old stuff and was incapable of doing so. Whatever the case, it seems safe to say that that kind of music has the target audience of hormonal teenage girls who are afraid of men and aren't particularly interested in music if they are willing to listen to completely worthless, throw away pop garbage. That's not to say all pop is garbage, but that's the output of boy and girl bands.

One thing that was always pretty reliable was that none of my rock oriented friends, or anyone with decent taste would pay a moment's attention to any of this crap. It was something to be hated, end of story. As time has gone on, and we've all grown and tastes have expanded, boy bands have not become an option, until recently. I have talked about this with so many people because I feel like I am living in a world gone mad, but what is with the wide acceptance of Justin Timberlake? thanks.

As I was reminded today after being sent some hilarious NKOTB You Tube videos, these kinds of acts have their hey day, their fans grow up, and the former heart-throb spends the rest of their lives trying to reclaim lost glory. That's the tried and true formula. It's certainly the case for Jordan Knight of New Kids On The Block, Matt Goss of Bros, Leif Garrett and David Cassidy. People saw them all for what they were: teeny bopper acts, and snubbed them accordingly when they tried to be taken seriously as artists. So what has gone wrong? The Spice Girls all fell flat on their faces and are only in the public consciousness when scandal surrounds the. But Justin Timberlake, by people who should know better, is being heralded for his work. And I'm not so fucking uptight that I can't admit when a song is good, but I heard Cry Me A River at my friends behest, only to hear what I expected to hear which was whimpering boy band vocals. How good was the music on the track? I have no idea. I couldn't get past the vocals. After all, it is a vehicle for a VOCALIST, right? So how can I appreciate something in which the centrepiece makes my skin crawl and defies all my better judgement and taste?

David Cassidy has given up and settled into to being a nostalgia act, not that he has much choice.

A Matt Goss promo ad on You Tube advises us he's the finest British songwriter! Too bad nobody is listening to the fine songs he wrote.

Poor Leif. Made for dancing behind bars, apparently, after being busted (repeatedly) for heroin.

Jordan's appearance and attempt at songwriting on The Surreal Life showed he hadn't grown a bit, musically, since 1988.

I could accept people saying that it's not him, but "that Justin Timberlake song is pretty good." but it's been simplified to "Justin Timberlake is pretty good." Not true. Every conversation I have had with his apologists have indeed concluded that it isn't him, but the music, production and the people he's working with. This information is important and cannot be dropped when addressing this. HE is not necessarily good. He's just working with the right people. It's another case of Madonna, though enough people are blinded by her good business sense which passes her as an artist, so I can't expect everyone to see the error of their ways.

No matter how good his accompanying music is, how can so many people, people whose taste I respect, get by his SUPER FUCKING LAME BOY BAND VOCALS??? I don't even need to spell it out. It's all there on the record. That is when you can hear it. For the most part it's so busy with effects and layers that there doesn't even really need to be any particular person under all that. It's more obvious now than ever before that a pop vocalist does not need to be a good or interesting singer.

Can I get a shitload of credibility by shaving my head and wiping the cheesy grin off my face and pretending I'm not a complete goofball?

George Michael is one example of someone with boy band appeal who has risen above it. But for one, his vocals aren't so fucking wimpy like Justin's and furthermore, he really is an artist who can write his own music (let's see one thing Justin has done that isn't 'co' written or produced!). He wrote all of the Faith album. He deserves the musical credibility he has, and who doesn't like Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, anyway? The word 'artist' is used in conjunction with Justin Timberlake way to often and it really makes me laugh, at least I think that's what's happening until I realise that I am vomiting.

Could it possibly be that in the last ten years we've become so starved for decent pop music that isn't designed for people aged 13-22 that we have given up and are sifting through the garbage for the lid of a tin of lima beans to call a treasure? Because at best, that's all Justin Timberlake can be.

And if you think I am crazy for even caring about this, see my older blog about the problem we face with the dumbing down of our culture!
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