Monthly Archives: July 2012

‘N Sync – Celebrity (2001)

Okay. Friends. We’ve been on this Boy Band Train for a long time now, have we not? We’ve seen it all. The highs, the lows, the cornrows. It’s a journey we have taken together, arms around shoulders, eyes forward to a better tomorrow. Three Backstreet albums, three *NSYNC albums. An entire Pop Saga beginning, now ending.

Wow. We did it! You, me, America. The World.

So I think now we are qualified to answer the eternal question: who won the Great Boy Band Battle? Street or Sync? Who escaped the tussle, bloodied and broken, with the Golden Teen Pop Ticket secured firmly in their gnarled, scarred fingers?

Well. In the name of pure objectivity, I will present the answer with raw, unquestionable data, gathered by America’s finest Post-Millennial Pop Music Scientists. Here is the truth.

Hold my hand.

Is that clear enough? Hm. Maybe not. Here’s another one:

Wait no. I’m not – this isn’t enough. Let me try again-

No. Nah. Fuck it ONE MORE GO

There we go!

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B*Witched – B*Witched (1998)

B*Witched were formed in 1998. Their debut record, B*Witched, was released in 1998. Their first four singles all hit #1 on the UK pop charts. One of them was a hit in America, too.

They were often referred to as the “Irish Spice Girls,” a comparison that only makes sense because they are also a girl group. There were not nearly as many girl groups at the time as there were boy bands, so the frame of reference was limited. It’s like calling Westlife the “Irish Backstreet Boys,” which nobody was doing at the time. (Well, OK, maybe a couple of people.)

B*Witched don’t have much of a story to tell. They got a manager because one of their brothers was in Boyzone, had a lot of hits, and then didn’t anymore. Yes you could say the same thing about the likes of LFO or SoulDecision or M2M, but B*Witched’s entry in the teen pop sweepstakes still feels small by comparison. Tiny. They were conceived as a gimmick pop group, marketed as a gimmick pop group, and then viewed as a gimmick pop group. Bright shiny Irish fun girls ready to smile and have some fun! That was it, really.

Nevertheless B*Witched is a record I have listened to front to back around 6 or 7 times over the past couple of weeks, and I am burned with feelings, good and bad. Stomach turning confusion and love. Caffiene-induced nausea. Shaking, cold sadness. Many tracks I could never listen to again, one or two that I could not imagine life without. I want everyone to hear B*Witched once and then never listen to it again, but it is obvious that most people will not bother to listen to it at all. That’s OK!

That’s OK. Because I am going to replicate the experience of listening to it here for you, now. We are going to go on an adventure, you and me. I am going to hold your hand and we are going to listen to all 38 minutes of the B*Witched album, track 1 to track 12. This, I have decided, is the only way to talk about this music that makes sense. I am wretched and weak and incapable of rational thought.

I hope you have a good time. I don’t know if I will. Let’s find out!

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New Edition – Candy Girl (1983)

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.

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