Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mandy Moore – So Real (1999)

Sometimes this hurts. It really hurts.

Gosh, maybe this was an ill-conceived idea to begin with. You think? Reviewing teen pop albums, and only teen pop albums? Oh, I thought it was a fun concept at first. I did. I enjoyed it enough to turn it into something I started doing almost every week! Can you imagine that!!

Here’s the problem: a lot of teen pop is garbage. Most of it, actually. Stinky scumhole garbage crafted by Earth’s Scummiest Cretins. Evil stuff. Scary stuff. Spooky Halloween scares. Cynical, unloved anti-music pushed at teenagers by droopy old men. Everything that is rotten and morally questionable about the music industry, rolled into one neat little genre.

This shouldn’t be news to anybody. It is not news to me. I’m not America’s hugest moron. But most of the time this doesn’t bug me because I know that – most of the time, at least – the worst of teen pop never comes from the artists themselves. It really doesn’t! Even if they’ve achieved their fame through more-than-dubious means, I truly believe that teen pop artists are by and large pretty fucking talented, and that’s part of the reason why this kind of music is so exciting to me. Some of these people are so talented that they actually manage to fight back – and win – against the insidious teen pop machine that created them, like robots gaining sentience and ripping off their creator’s heads. Your Robyns and your Timberlakes and whathaveyou, biting hard on the hand that feeds them and becoming fully formed autonomous Music Beings, Kings of their World. It’s a beautiful, titanic struggle, one that makes writing about teen pop records entirely worthwhile for me.

But it doesn’t always come easy. Of course not. If you’re a teen pop kiddo starting out young in the industry, it takes a long long time for you to realize the kind of shit deal you’re getting, and the kind of garbage songs you’re being thrown like picked chicken bones, the kind of uncomfortable way your airbrushed face is being marketed to millions of people. To put it bluntly, some teen pop artists start their careers making poor, poor music.

Sorry, Mandy.

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One Direction – Up All Night (2012)

Ah. So this is it. The Next Big Thing. Who knew it would come so soon?

Gosh, it’s interesting how quickly this all happened. Shucks. When I started Digital Get Down a few months back, my belief was that the classic “boy band” model was an artifact, a moldy old concept that became forever outdated by the turn of the millennium and the ascendance of Timberlake. I could write my dumb little Backstreet Boys epitaphs with the comfort of knowing that boy bands would never, ever come back. Never ever!!

Because why would they ever come back. Why. Come on now. A silly trifling pop music fad, they were! Remember all that painfully choreographed dancing? The bleach-blonde hair? The corny string-laden ballads?The goatees? The horribly green-screened music videos featuring ugly men fox-trotting in suspicious clear liquid? Blah, yeesh. Right? We wouldn’t stand for this garbage in 2012, right? Not a chance. Not with Mr. Obama in the White House. Times have changed, man. We’ve grown.

But no. Nope. Almost exactly a decade after the Sword of Damocles fell on the last boy band in 2002, the concept of a four-or-five-dude group of mostly non-musician vocalists has once again become a popular thing in the United States, with brand-new Hunky Dude Troupes scoring top-ten Billboard hits and raking up millions of YouTube views all over the place. And, really – I don’t want to overemphasize, but this a thing that practically just cropped up over the past few months, and I feel like a genuine dope for not even noticing that it was happening when I stared this blog. I mean, even my greatest rival the AV Club are talking about it! How could they have beaten me to the boy band chase! Foiled again!!

Now, if I’m being honest, I never had any intention to write about any of these new acts in DGD. Believe it or not, the idea of a “boy band revival” was never something I cared about or actually wanted to happen, and I feel uncomfortable speculating on what’s going on in the here and now. I always wanted this blog to focus more on pop history, on artists with a clear-cut beginning and end to their careers. With these new groups, I honestly have no idea how long they’re going to be sticking around, or how much real staying power they’re going to have. Jesus, how the fuck would I know? Talking about the past is safe and easy for someone like me, but when it comes to predicting the future I’m like a deer in the headlights. Terrifying.

Also? And forgive me if this is a little petty? I think a lot of these new dudes kind of stink. Or, to be a little less harsh, none of them fit my idea of what a boy band should be in 2012. They all reek of instantly dated fashion and a sincere lack of, uh, fun. In the modern boy band spectrum, here’s what we’ve been handed so far: The Wanted, a bunch of boring clubby creeps; Big Time Rush, a Monkees-wannabe TV band with the worst choreography known to man; and Mindless Behavior, an admittedly sweet-hearted cross between Bieber and New Edition that is nevertheless a little trifling. As successful as all these groups are, none of them elicit any real feelings from me, and I am perfectly willing to stand aside and let them spin their pop history wheels.

But there is one exception here. One shining beacon of light in this boy band morass. One dream come true. One hope.

One Direction.

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