Three weeks ago, they quietly stormed the Billboard; soft guitars burnished then glazed, harmonies blended like frozen coffee in a soccer mom’s hand; the British (well, British-Irish) came, this time in the dark and danceable night.
Their method of attack was neither land, nor sea. It was an auditory onslaught. Though it did not bear a bowl cut nor was it blue-eyed soul, the sounds were a style recognizable to stateside audiences. These sonic invaders worked in a quintessential American idiom: The Boy Band Sound.
You hear that Tea Partiers? We have outsourced production of Plasticine affection objects and sexualized but not explicitly sexual music to the British. I would expect more outrage from persons cloaked in the garb of the revolutionary early American, half expecting boxes of CDs to be thrown into the sea. They destroyed Dixie Chicks albums for saying something about being Texan, why not destroy the works of boy-men who are taking the jobs and hearts of Americans? Has the Tower Records near you closed down too?
I find it strange that the, we’ll call it art form for the sake of criticism, of Boy Bandery has actually flourished on the Isles for decades. Though they supplied us with the glittering girl bands of the late 90s, were thought our Lou Pearlman-produced juggernauts, all seeming to hail from the swamps of Orlando, had stated our pop group supremacy. We fended off the handsome of BB Mack for the most part, we thought we could do anything.
We didn’t realize they were lying in wait, testing sounds and theories on bands like Blue and reuniting Take That well before out New Kids reunion. This shit has been Cold War for at least a decade and the limey bastards knew just when to strike. Right when a Canadian interloper, Le Petite Beibes has made a hole in our enlarged American hearts, Simon Cowell sneaks over from his original X Factor the third Place finishers, One Direction.
Here they are, perfectly dressed, nicer than a hipster fashion zeitgeist: tight pants and bow ties, scruffy hair on most but at least one with a pompadour—and when they wear polos, even Vampire Weekend and every Todd in the Hamptons quakes with fear at the shade of their pastels.
Direction is the most noticeable of the two leading the charge. They sing to girls about how they can’t believe these girls don’t know they are beautiful and that they feel so many things. Though I understand all of them are past the federal American age of consent, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling like a pedophile/insecure-now-pretty-feeling girl when I hear their songs. This is the power they hold, even on grown-ass men. Don’t worry, their charms can be easily shaken with a “Wait, what, no. Fuck this.” They still have held in the Top 10 with album sales (Debuting at number 1, then to 4, now at 6), and are currently climbing the singles chart with “What Makes You Beautiful” – from the “Limited Yearbook Edition;” that my friends is the most beautifully niche-marketed-to-tweens sentence I have ever heard.
Direction has its hold on the younger set, yet there is another to account for the mature pop consumer—because that’s a thing too. This would be, The Wanted, whose single “Glad You Came” has been holding in the Top 5 for twelve weeks, even holding the number 1 spot for some time. A friend of mine has actually seen them perform at Roscoe’s within the last few months, it was their second show of the night after performing at The Bottom Lounge; only one of those is a gay bar, surprisingly, but I think they are well aware of their audience. They are handsome, wear nice suits often and are fit, and they are in general over the age of 20, so it is fine to speculate about their sexuality without seeming like you are defiling something pure. In laymen’s terms this band was built for gay club worship, tying up the other end of the pop listening spectrum in America.
So with their markets covered the Brits seem poised for further take over, or at least an increase in our pop market. These men could well be the harbingers of a Boy Band Revival—like Amy Winehouse heralding Duffy, Adele and a somewhat revival of 60s sound. Should Americans be knuckling down for imported sanitized synth jams?
Honestly I don’t have this much real rage within, but if Glen Beck were to make the argument that this could signal people taking from I would kiss him on the spare chin’d weepy face. For some time now we have been pilfering from across the pond concepts from Anglo television (game shows, talent competitions, comedies), possibly now they could be returning the favor; after years of scrubbing and resurfacing it, the British have given us back the concept of Boy Band—sweet voiced, personalities dictated, ever smiling and sensitive. Its like a nicer version of colonial mercantilism, because there’s t no slavery and were not actually dependent on pop music: we supplied them with the raw materials and frame work through the 90s ending in the 00s, now they have shipped us back the final product. Let’s see what else they have for us.