Let's get one thing straight: every batch of tween/teenagers have their own stupid idols. I like to pretend I wasn't into the corny stuff that was popular when I was in middle/high school, but some stuff is irresistible: I will straight-faced tell you that the Backstreet Boys were the best out of all the late 90s boy bands. But for the most part, the bad rap that the teen-aimed music gets is deserved.
Yet it still comes back every few years, just in new incarnations. While we haven't really seen a return of the boy band, here are some new versions of some of the stuff I grew up with.
Part One: The Studio Produced Large Group
S Club 7 was a group that had 7(!) members singing in unison. Apparently the guys singing an octave lower = harmony? Whatever. A studio produced group (from Spice Girls producer Simon Fuller--awesome), they had success with their dorky children's sitcom S Club 7 in Miami. They were the masters of cheesy pop songs that you were forced to line dance to in middle school choir. Here's "Bring it All Back" from 1999:
Remember belly shirts?
Hey, sound familiar?
"We're All Into This Together" (2006)
The High School kids are basically the new S Club 7, hand-picked by a producer, really bad at acting, and singing cliche filled lyrics. And if I was in middle school when this came out, I'd probably watch just like I watched the S Club 7 series--knowing it was kind of dumb, but enjoying it anyway because I'm 12.
Part two: The Brother Band
Oh, Hanson. I still kind of love this trio of brothers. They were actually competent pop music writers (who are apparently still doing good stuff). Too bad they couldn't break away from being teen idols. Here's "Weird" from 1998:
Prepubescent or whiny-teen voice? Which one is better/worse?
At least we can say this for Hanson: they never did a terrible TV show, and all of them play instruments. Unlike the Jonas Brothers who are participating this year in Provo's annual Apocalypse. Admittedly, I think the Jonas Brothers' songwriting, though cheesy, is getting better comparing the two songs of theirs I've heard.
Anyway, here's their newest release, "Paranoid" (2009):
Can I admit that I don't hate this song? I'm such a pop music whore.
Part Three: Disney Punk
Avril Lavigne encompassed everything I hated about the early 00s "punk" renaissance. It was poppy and involved calling people skaters and preppies--and then saying that labels were dumb. Kill me now.
Anyway, the hardest birthday gift I've ever received was Avril's Let Go album because how do you thank someone for that? I listened to the album a couple times, and the straight ballad-pop songs were okay, but her "punk" songs were unbearable. Here's "Sk8er Boi" (2002) in all it's yearbook spelling glory:
I feel like I'm on the school bus and in 9th grade right now.
Miley Cyrus'* career was a result of her show Hannah Montana. She's the benficiary of the rockin' teenage girl demographic with her apparently still going recording career or something. Thanks, studio execs.
Here's last year's "7 Things," where she harnesses all her country/punk powers into one song:
Did you see her angry face?
Part Four: The Mediocre but Mostly Naked Girl
A few months ago, someone randomly put Britney Spears' debut album on in their car, and I realized the horrifying truth: I knew all the words to at least half of those songs. I don't even remember liking her when she first came out and was almost normal/clothed. While she was never a great musician, she was pretty good performer who could actually dance.
Anyway, here's 1999's "(You Drive Me) Crazy" when she was still kind of cute, had decent pop songwriters and Melissa Joan Hart had a career:
I totally wore my hair in pigtails when I was 12...sigh.
It blows my mind that Lady Gaga isn't even a year older than me. It makes me sad in fact, even though she's actually getting a ton of money for wearing ridiculous outfits and singing in her limited range. But how long is someone who fully embraces 80s style, white-girl raps, and has a high dependancy on computer remixes really stick around? Probably forever, if Britney and Madonna are any indication. Damnit.
Anyway, despite myself, "Poker Face" (released 2008) gets stuck in my head all the time. That chorus is so hook-y:
I'm so sorry.
*Who was part of last year's Apocalypse