The Stonebrook Institute of Higher Thinking is proud to announce the arrival of the newest faculty member, Terri Schaefer, who has accepted the post of Director of Estrogen Affairs. Terri works in communications in the Philadelphia suburbs, where her hobbies include trying to survive the winter. She will be blogging regularly about pop culture and women, since the Institute was becoming a sausage-festival. Look for her work on Mondays (alternating at first, but hopefully arriving weekly very soon.)
Welcome to a new blog, Five Faithful Fans! For my first “chick pop culture” entry, I submit to you my ramblings on a completely appropriate topic—and something dudes hate: BOY BANDS. And yes, I realize the following groups are neither boys nor bands, really.
This inaugural blog post grew out of my absolute giddiness over plans to take a day off from work in June, drive down to DC from the Philly burbs, and make my way to the Verizon Center with some of my best girlfriends to see … wait for it … the New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys!
If you’ve been living under a rock, quick update: the two boy bands are touring together this summer under the oh-so-clever combined name of NKOTBSB. Are they a supergroup? Will they sing all their hits separately? Together? Who cares? For twenty-somethings nearing thirty-somethings like me, this is pure, unadulterated awesomeness.
But really, it’s the 7-year-old and the 17-year-old in me doing cartwheels. And that’s why I am just so excited about this show. It’s about reliving my childhood and my teenage years all in one—hanging out with girls I’ve known since we were just kids and having an absolute blast. We’ll sing all the lyrics, whip out the dance moves we love, and laugh as we remember moments together we spent listening to these songs.
Let’s start with the New Kids on the Block. Their first single, “Please Don’t Go Girl,” came out in 1988. I was in first grade, and the girls were going crazy. Up until this point, my musical tastes were a complete product of my father. We listened to Aerosmith, Kansas, Guns N Roses—whatever he put on. But this boy band music wass totally different. You can dance to it! It’s on the radio all the time! That one guy sounds like a girl, but he’s a guy! Whoa.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was, but every girl I know was obsessed, quick. If they said they weren’t, I still think they were lying. We constantly rented the Hangin’ Tough concert VHS from the video store, saved up our money to buy those inane pins as big as dinner plates, and put New Kids sheets on our beds.
The really lucky girls got to see them in concert. I, however, did not.
So, you know the story. The group tries to grow, gets a little cheesy, and basically sort of dies out. The last thing I really remember from the new kids is officially changing to NKOTB (somehow cooler?) and releasing a song on the Free Willy soundtrack. Then a couple years back, they regrouped.
We start growing up, wearing flannel and listening to depressing music. Fast forward to 1997, my sophomore year in high school. My friends and I are hanging out and playing MTV for background music. A video starts—awfully catchy—with guys jumping around in the rain with their shirts open. In sloooow motion. Fun music is back. It’s the Backstreet Boys’ “Quit Playing Games (With my Heart)” video, and so another obsession begins. This one feels a little more legitimate now that I’m older. They’re not that much older than me, so we are allowed to have legitimate crushes. And we have licenses, so we can totally see them in concert. They’re good guys! They’ve never done anything wrong! They use incredibly bad grammar, but it’s okay because they don’t really write their own songs!
For a good two years, it’s like these guys are our everything. I’ll spare you the details, but we knew all about their lives, their families. We were legitimately upset when Brian had to get heart surgery, and we were ecstatic when the group is famous enough to get its own Pay-Per-View concert. There were other boy bands, but they didn’t matter.
So went the BSB love affair. At its very height, in 1999, my friends and I met A.J. at Penn State University—a long story that involves us running through the streets of State College at 2 a.m. after having gotten a page that he was across the street from McDonald’s. The exchange went something like:
Us (breathlessly): “Hi A.J.!!!!!!!!!!’
AJ: “Hello, ladies.”
(A.J. gets in the hotel van and drives off)
I’ll stop blathering. While the Backstreet Boys did peter out, they were always sort of around, even though Kevin (my favorite—sigh) is no longer with the band. So when we discovered the two groups would be touring together, it was a freak-out moment.
And look, I understand this is a little weird. The youngest person on the tour is Nick Carter, and he’s 30. All of the New Kids are in their 40s, except for little Joey Mac, who is dangerously close. They still have slightly dirty dance moves and wear inappropriate clothing and some have receding hairlines.
I don’t care.
Here’s the bottom line for the readers who may have made it this far: at one point, the New Kids and the Backstreet Boys were hunky. They have nice voices, came across as nice and down to earth, and made us all fall in love a little. Now they’re older, we’re wiser, but it doesn’t matter—I already know spending time with my dear girlfriends at this show is going to be one of my top moments of 2011. And get excited: I promise a full review, in all its girly glory.