“Just out of Curiosity: Who Exactly Raised the Excommunication on Boy Bands?”

This ’90s revival we’ve been suffering through this decade has taken many unfortunate forms, from The Onion thinking it’s just funny to say the phrases “Third Eye Blind” and “Marcy Playground,” to this one a**hole online defending his newfound affinity for Third Eye Blind’s Blue with the excuse “Our relationship with art changes over time” (first of all anybody calling this sh** “art” in the ’90s would have got his a** beat). Not necessarily, then, of increasingly malodorous disposition, but certainly of at least equal discouragement is this foul new school of thought which has it that boy bands in some way encapsulate the ’90s, as if grunge, alt-rock, folk-rock, hip-hop, gangsta rap, trip-hop and IDM weren’t enough.
Boy bands came along in 1997, sort of like a consummate affirmation of the fact that New Kids on the Block (early ’90s) had existed at all. They basically consisted of three to five dudes none of whom played musical instruments singing these Velveeta cheese pre-warmed pop songs many of which mimicked Led Zeppelin’s technique in “What is and What Should Never Be” of deconstructing the chorus toward the end of the song, many of which probably use voice-overs in concerts and sing through any of sundry tune-perfecting machines.
By 1999, when Eminem came out with all his lines bashing them, and even before that, it was generally held that they really sucked — their fans were mostly screaming 13 year old girls (come to think of it, this one BSB fan I’m friends with on Facebook would have been about 13 in 1999) who watched MTV’s Total Request Live [1] and saw music as a backdrop for a dogmatized aesthetic in dating. It’s not that the physical people themselves followed any specific form (although the lead guy tended to have no beard), but they definitely had to be white or lightly Hispanic, heterosexual or heterosexual-portraying, at least six feet tall, and, like Carson Daly, “painfully normal in every way.”
And whoa, is that Jimmy Fallon who uttered that about Daly in his early-’00s SNL skit? And whoa, is that Jimmy Fallon now on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon [2] inviting the Backstreet Boys on (talk about being “painfully normal” and a “massive tool,” another thing Fallon dubbed Daly on that same skit) and even dressing them up in the same get-up as The Roots, who were once a respectable musical entity?
There’s such a thing as being a music snob. It involves hating the bands The Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day and Led Zeppelin, not knowing how to play a fu**ing cazoo if it pinched you on the tongue but still holding a poker-faced, critical disposition to all burgeoning new art.
And there’s something else too: there’s such a thing as being an ENTHUSIASM snob, a behavioral snob, one who in their compulsive quest to have friends and to host a nationally televised TV show is willing to relinquish all artistic discern of individual entities and invite everything in, pump everything up, even if it’s kitsch, even if in the first place it was designed to appeal to horny 13 year old girls, which, yes, probably still watch TV in 2018 as they did 20 years earlier.
[1] Total Request Live was a countdown show on MTV which I guess was no different from their other 30 countdown shows they had, notable in MY opinion for its in its inaugural 1998 summer actual airing some cool stuff like Smashing Pumpkins – “Perfect” and Matchbox 20 – “Real World” before in 1999 having devolved into an avalanche of boy bands, Britney Spears and ’nem.
[2] Wow, I didn’t know the host was the one who “starred” in their own fu**ing late night show… so much for Denzel Washington or John Lithgow hogging the limelight, I guess!

Leave a Reply