(WTNH) I’ve written a lot about pop and rock music over the years, but never about boy bands. So for your benefit, and mine, let’s start our discussion of Zayn Malik’s decision to leave “One Direction” with a definition of this particular art form. From Google:
boy band; a pop group composed of attractive young men whose music and image are designed to appeal primarily to a young teenage audience.
And from the always colorful Urban Dictionary:
a group of (usually 4 or 5) sissy boys who do NOT play instruments. sing crappy pop music; stupid love songs that they didn’t even write themselves. only pre-teens and teenie boopers like them.
Anyway. So Zayn leaves in the middle of a tour, wanting his own life out of the limelight, or as he put it, the life of “a normal 22-year-old.” I know, it’s hard to believe any guy would walk away from money, fame, and — as Motley Crue puts it — girls, girls, girls; but there it is; more proof that ANYTHING can eventually get old if not supplied in moderation.
But young Mr. Malik is probably dancing away at the right time. “One Direction” has been together five years, and that seems to be pretty much the sell-by date for boy bands. In the “modern era,”if you will, it started with New Edition. Then came New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, 98 Degrees. I’m forgetting a few. One Direction was the latest. They all have the same game: they jump about, they’re very cute, and they perform catchy hook-laden but mostly disposable pop tunes. They don’t really — what’s the word I’m looking for? — sing that well. Some of the groups have one genuine talent, like Bobby Brown in New Edition, Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids who has a solid acting career, and the uber-example, Justin Timberlake of N’Sync. These guys tend to leave their groups at the first opportunity to get their big time solo careers underway.
In fact, even as news of Zayn Malik’s decision has young girls around the world rending their garments, pop music websites are reporting that Harry Styles, the breakout member of One Direction, wants to start a Hollywood acting career sooner rather than later.
Rock dudes like me tend to disparage boy bands. And I will continue to do so. But I must say, there have been good boy band tunes here and there; I think “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys is a really pretty song, and One Direction’s “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” is wicked catchy.
But I moved on, they move on, and so will the girls nursing broken hearts today. Anyway, the bands often reunite at some point, long after the term “boys” isn’t remotely accurate. Backstreet Boys are currently on a massive world tour. So the girls who loved them way back in 1999 can be the mothers now who take their own daughters. Might help them get over this One Direction tragedy. Give them perspective.