Is there anything scary about boy bands? Aside from their chart-crushing popularity, not really. They’re specifically designed and marketed to be sexually non-threatening, but with just a hint of cheekiness so that the tweens get hot under the collar and a little bit giggly whenever they come around. They’re an excellent product. Problematically, a lot of them take themselves a little too seriously, which is why you end up with scenarios like the following. Last week, One Direction member Zayn Malik got into a little Twitter tiff with rival boy band member Max George, of The Wanted.
Malik was obviously having a bad hair day (or whatever it is that makes boy band members grumpy) and called George a ‘geek’. Oh…snap? I guess? Whatever. What followed was the Twitter equivalent of a pair of 12 year olds battling to be the biggest, baddest boy in the playground. Take a look:
Things stepped up a knotch when Max George’s band mate, Thomas Parker decided to insult Malik’s hair. In the world of boy bands, hair is serious business. One need look no further than the luscious, early-2000s stylings of NSync’s JC Chasez to know that a lot of time, effort and mousse goes into having the perfect quoiffe. It is not something to be trifled with. So being compared to a skunk is like, so uncool man.
Finally, after accusations of sexually transmitted disease and (gasp) weed-smoking, like the pre-pubescent boys they are, the pair then threatened each other to a fight (minus the burly security men who protect them round the clock).
In short, it was all a bit of a fart in a bath and neither party came away looking half as tough as they had originally intended.
I pay a lot of attention to boy bands because a significant part of my brain never really grew out of enjoying appallingly cheesy pop music, and because their existence represents a really interesting marker on the pop cultural landscape in terms of teen girls, their sexual identities and their buying power as a target market. (Hi, my name is Alex and I minored in Gender and Cultural Studies. Can you tell?) Having said that, I still had no idea who The Wanted were until I started writing this post. Apparently they’re an English/ Irish band who were big in Canada before hitting the big time by being big in both Canada AND the US and having a UK #1 single or something. I went forth and watched a video. It was pretty bad. I thought I’d share.
I wasn’t really sure where to start with the visuals of that clip, but I think that the main reason that I haven’t paid any attention to this band before is that they’re the wrong set of stereotypes for a boy band. Boy bands are all about stereotypes, to give the consumer something to latch onto. You’ve got your bad boy, your nice guy, the funny one, the handsome/charming one (may also randomly be really into Jesus) and the one whose name no one can remember because his only real purpose is round the band number out to five because everyone knows that looks more aesthetically pleasing on stage and maybe he can dance or something, I don’t know. The Wanted has the ratios all wrong. I sat down and worked it out and this is what I came up with:
As you can see, they clearly have too many potential knife fighters and not enough charming/funny guys. Don’t get me wrong. I am not defending One Direction in this scenario (or any scenario, really). What I am actually doing is setting the scene for One Direction and The Wanted to the Sharks and the Jets in my revamped version of Westside Story. I figure, since they’re clearly not good at being macho over the internet, they should be macho in a way that will accentuate their talents – by performing a highly choregraphed song and dance routine about gang committments, rivallry and ultimately, love. I am having a little trouble deciding which band corresponds best with which gang but picture following scene with say, 1D as the Jets and The Wanted as the Sharks.
Imagine if, instead of insulting each other’s hair over the internet, Zayn Malik and Max George resolved their conflicts as all true men should – via the magic of musical theatre. That’s a world I want to live in people. A world I want to live in. Well… that post certainly took an unexpected turn.
IMPORTANT NOTES ABOUT THIS BLOG: I am taking a much deserved holiday to a music festival down South. To save myself scrambling around the Australian bush trying to find a non-existent wifi connection the next two posts will be cancelled. Regular blogging will resume on Friday Dec 14th. In the mean time, put on some Celine Dion or something to ease the pain. You’ll be fine.