Yes, there was once a world without teen pop. A world without boy bands and pop divas and blonde highlights and sleeveless tees and nose piercings and enhanced CDs and Aaron parties and backup dancers and terrible movie soundtrack tie-ins. It was a stupid and senseless world, one that I am glad I was not alive to see. Fuck the past, dad!!
But sometimes – sometimes – it is good to take a look back at those sad old days. If not just to take stock in what we have, and cherish it. So let’s do that why not.
There are two big questions I get about Digital Get Down. One of those questions is “please update your blog every day if you can, I need your writing in order to live my life with joy and real feeling, I am sad all day every day and want to see your face to kiss,” which is not a question at all so I often ignore it. The other question is “So, how far are you gonna go back for reviews? ’70s? ’60s?”
It is an interesting question. My only criteria for this blog is “write about teen pop,” and “teen pop” can mean a lot of things. Teenagers have liked a lot of music over the decades. Elvis, right? The Beatles? Herman’s Hermits? Ahh, yeah, well. Those guys were rockers. Teen pop has to be fluffier and lighter. The 70’s? David Cassidy? The Osmonds? The Jackson 5? The Bay City Rollers? The fucking Raspberries? They all fit the role, right? Big flashy pop stars that the teen kids love. Soft-padded teen pap. It’s not a new thing. I could dig pretty deep, if I tried.
But nah. No. None of those folks fit into my definition of “teen pop.” The Sean Rose textbook definition. Without sounding like a young jerk, those fogeys are too old. Their definition of “pop” is not the same. We are living in different, funkier, dancier times, ladies and gentlemen. We need a definition of teen pop that reflects the Now Generation.
To these ears, the teen pop we know and love can be roughly traced back to the early 80s. When Michael Jackson assumed his mighty Pop Throne, when R&B started to rely more on synths and drum machines, when electro and hip hop came into the forefront. Post-disco, you could say. Hard-hitting dancefloor boogies, scrubbed up and pushed into teenage girls’ laps. That is what teen pop is to me.
So if you’re wondering how far back into pop past I am willing to crawl, this week’s review will be your answer. We are going to take a look at the humble beginnings of five sprightly kids from Boston who may or may not have formed the first modern Boy Band: New Edition.