Originally published on January 11, 2014
So don’t judge me, but I saw the One Direction documentary and actually enjoyed it. It’s no secret I like boy bands, so why should this one be any different? Plus, I also enjoy a good story, being the journalist and all, and the fact that these five boys were put together in a group after they didn’t advance to the judges’ houses as solo acts during the seventh series of the X-Factor UK, making their tears of rejection into tears of redemption, got me hooked even more. We got to see their growth as they ended up winning third place and learn that these young dudes are just like us with dreams and insecurities, but with accents.
My appreciation for the boy band dates back to my elementary school years. I mean this goes back to the days of New Kids on the Block. Granted I didn’t learn what “the right stuff” was until much later in life, but that’s OK. I wouldn’t want my seven-year-old niece to know what One Direction really means when they want to “live while their young.” But I loved New Kids. I watched those cheesy cartoons on Saturday mornings. I read and owned the comic books. I had not one, but two t-shirts of theirs, a watch, buttons, keychains, posters on my bedroom walls and a Jordan McKnight doll.
Looking back though, I don’t really know why. Danny was my favorite.
My high school days were defined by boy bands. And nu-metal, but that’s a teen-angsty story for another day. The spark was reignited with the Backstreet Boys and then moved to *NSync, Hanson and a little bit of 98 Degrees. Does Hanson really count though? They did play their own instruments. Not only did I learn the lyrics to the songs, I also learned some of the dance routines. I mean, how else to commemorate your love and appreciation than with the hard work the guys put into their performances? It shows that we care.
Obviously, boy bands aren’t really taken seriously. I don’t blame you. It’d be hard for anyone to take a group of guys singing about love wearing camouflage pants and army vests without shirts. I know boy bands are part of a big ploy by some middle-aged bigwig (Lou Perlman, in some cases) looking to trick teenaged girls into spending their money on false hope. Lest not forget the reality show that’s sole purpose was to put together a boy band. O-Town, anyone?
MTV put together 2Ge+her (pun intended) as their tongue-in-cheek response to the boy band phenomena, even though these were the bands that dominated TRL and their award shows. However, their lyrics were still relatable. Getting back your stuff is the hardest part of breaking up. But I still think the idea of boy bands is genius because let’s face it, it works. And dammit, it works on me.
Five attractive guys (for the most part, there’s always the unfortunate, unattractive one) professing their love for me through the TV screen in matching outfits, usually in an open shirt drenched by random rain, saying (usually with a choreographed dance routine) they’ll never break my heart, ‘cause they’d rather die than live without me would make any girl swoon. Seriously, what girl doesn’t want that!?!
You see, boy band world seems a lot like living in a romantic comedy. “It’s OK that you cheated on me with your ex that one drunken night. I don’t care who you are, what you did; as long as you love me, it’s all good.”
Although there are times when they do put their foot down. They’re still men after all. And they will be unsure, just like us, and want to know are we just friends or is it how it ends. Quit playing games with their heart, girlfriend.
It’s because of boy bands, I have naïve notions about romance. That and John Hughes films.
I should say though that most of my best friends are dudes, and I know based on our conversations, the majority of guys don’t think this way. If any. And that makes me sad. But yet, here I am, a woman in her early 30s, still hoping I’ll get my John Hughes ending with the object of my affection declaring his love for me in a musical number with four of his conveniently coordinated friends.
Now what I noticed with this round of boy bands, (i.e. One Direction) is that the guys seem a little more in touch with the real world and less in touch with a Nicholas Sparks film. The lyrics relate to today but still aim straight for the girls’ hearts.
Like I said earlier, the One Direction dudes seem like normal dudes. I think crying over what you thought was the end of your time on X-Factor, thus crushing your dreams as a singer, on camera no less, shows you have feelings. They’re sensitive.
But they’re also young adults coming to grips with their new fame from what I’ve also seen in interviews and behind-the-scene videos all over YouTube. They can be silly. They can be crass. The guys admitted they’re not dancers, so we won’t be seeing dance numbers from them. Zayn bought his mom a house when he could afford it, just like he always said he would. That’s sweet. He’s not even of drinking age until tomorrow, but he’s also engaged, so hey, they’re not all perfect. Taylor Swift already wrote a song about one of them. She knew Harry was trouble when he walked in, but yet she still dated him. Did she not watch X-Factor? He’s a flirt and a charmer. You got what you asked for, Swifty, but at least you got a Moonman for your troubles.
So boys will be boys. If we’ve learned anything through Joe Jonas’ tell-allfor Vulture or through the lives of Miley Cyrus, Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Amanda Bynes and anyone else that tried to present themselves as angelic during their youth, it’s just gonna blow up in their face eventually. I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through that stage of your life with the rest of the world watching your every move, let alone, trying to suppress said growth, because someone made the unfair decision that being a role model has to be just as important as selling albums. So let them be real, well as real as possible.
One Direction seems to be doing it right, at least at face value, and that’s cool.
Although, I’m sure the rest of the world would love for the boy band to go away completely. But as long as there are preteens and teenaged girls swooning over these five adorable guys that are telling them what makes them beautiful, overlooking their blemishes and awkwardness that comes with adolescence, there will always be boy bands.
This I promise you.