Middle-aged man rails against boy bands


September 24—Boy bands have been the bane of my existence since I was in college. That’s when I first heard about New Kids on the Block – basically the first ever boy band.

Their first album came out in 1986, but I don’t remember hearing about it until “Hangin’ Tough” came out two years later. I remember riding around in a van with my youth band and all the girls were playing along to the title track. It was torture.

Say what you will about NKOTB – for example, their music was terrible – but they set the pattern for future boy bands. Take “Hangin’ Tough,” in which they try to come off as tough or pissed off in an effort to gain some kind of street cred that they’ll never get.

One of NKOTB’s most famous regurgitations is One Direction, which my eldest daughter used to listen to until she was sick when she was a teenager. I’ve been compelled to listen to them on family trips, at home, and everywhere else you can imagine. One Direction was the quintessential boy band: five random guys with ridiculous hair thrown into a studio by music producer Simon Cowell.

Like their predecessors, 1D sang tasteless songs about young love. And like New Kids, they tried to convince us that they were rockers with the track “Rock Me” from the album “Take Me Home”, then the following album “Midnight Memories” as a whole.

And I applaud 1D’s efforts to evolve their sound. Regarding this latest album, “Story of My Life” is actually quite listenable. But that’s offset by the boring anthem “Best Song Ever.”

The band went on “hiatus” in 2016, and my daughter is confident they will get back together at some point. She’s probably right. I mean, the Backstreet Boys did it a few years ago with the “Holy Crap We’re Broke and Need Money” tour.

The latest iteration of the boy group is in the K-Pop (Korean pop) genre, and it looks like BTS is the big act right now. I heard a snippet of a BTS song once, and that was more than enough.

Boy band songs are usually the same recycled guts, written by a bunch of middle-aged bald men. No seriously. Didn’t you see “Making the Band” 20 years ago? It was that show on ABC where budding artists were fighting over a record deal. I watched an episode or two, and the songwriters were, well, a bunch of middle-aged balding men.

These guys wrote lyrics that made teenage girls swoon, and I don’t know what to do with it.

Of course, it’s not the lyrics that hook the listener when it comes to boy bands. It’s not about the music at all. This is a certain look, tweaked slightly over the years, that fulfills teenage girls’ fantasies about a handsome young prince sweeping them away. It is an infallible formula.

Who is responsible for the existence of boy bands? You could say it’s the Beatles. Four silly haired English dudes singing pop ballads, making young girls cry at their gigs. But there’s a big difference between The Beatles and bands like NKOTB, NSYNC, 1D and the rest: The Beatles actually played their own instruments.

BRAD LOCKE is senior sports editor for the Daily Journal. Reach him on Twitter @bradlocke or email him at [email protected]


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