Boy Bands Gave Me More Than Just Good Music, Which Is Why I’m Grateful

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

I’m thankful every day for the safety of my family and my good health and all the awesome opportunities I’ve been given (including writing for this blog!). I’m fortunate to have loyal friends and a stable income and a supportive family. But I have to say I’m also thankful for something that I’m sure seems extremely childish and stupid to some: I’m thankful for boy bands for many reasons.

I know, I know; I’ve already written two posts (see my ode to *NSYNC here and my piece on the Backstreet Boys here) on my obsession with all-male pop groups (and you can probably expect a few more) but hear me out…

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Boy bands made me feel cool in elementary school. While I was skeptical of the trend at first, I also got teased quite a bit for being a bookworm and listening to my mother’s music exclusively. It felt good to enjoy something most of my peers also relished. I no longer felt like my interests were so far removed from those of my classmates (although now I take great pride in my eclectic tastes).

Boy band music has been there for me when I longed for my friends at home, while I was away at school and when I was exhausted from working two jobs after graduating college.

Boy bands have also brought my friends together for multiple concerts and for a couple of hours, we forget we are bill-paying adults who have to be at work the next morning.

Boy bands have ensured that I’ve remained young at heart (even though I still look like a teenager most days); I can slip right back into my childhood simply by putting in a pair of earbuds.

Boy bands have reminded me that there is no shame in liking something that makes you feel good and is not harmful. Being a boy band fanatic for almost 20 years has taught me that times change, fashions go out of style but if you have a passion for something, you should not give up on that.

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I’m thankful that every generation has had a boy band (or it’s equivalent) to call its own; my mom had the Jackson Five, my cousin had New Kids on the Block and New Edition. I was lucky enough to have *NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees.

I’m thankful we all got to experience those first celebrity crushes on someone talented and (seemingly) wholesome. I’m glad we spent hours memorizing song lyrics and dance routines instead of getting into trouble. I’m grateful that hearing a song on the radio on my way to work can make my whole day a little brighter.

Being a fan has also made it clear that people grow out of things like favorite pop groups or even friendships, and that’s okay too.

As I paused for thought while writing this list, I began purchasing more New Kids on the Block tracks. I want to be fully prepared when I see them at Fenway Park in 2017! I told you: I have a problem!

Why I’m a Boy Band Addict, Part 2

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Since the dawn of music there have been great rivalries – but perhaps none greater than the competition between two groups born from the same money-making blueprint, by the same man. That man was Lou Pearlman and the two bands were *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.

The Backstreet Boys were the first group that Perlman formulated, and 20-something year old me isn’t afraid to say that the boys paved a lot of the way for *NSYNC. Eight-year-old me would have insisted that *NSYNC was clearly the better band — but over the last ten years, I’ve had quite the change of heart.

Back in my day there was no question –- you were either team *NSYNC or team Backstreet (or, like some independent party, a 98 degrees fan) and choosing your allegiance was a serious decision. I was staunchly team *NSYNC as my future husband Justin Timberlake was a member and I never once questioned my loyalty to his boy band. That was… until I heard As Long As You Love Me.

On the way to dinner one evening, the radio was blasting in my mother’s car when an upbeat guitar riff started to play and the sounds of a teenage boy filled my ears. By the time the chorus began I could hear luscious harmonies and my heart sank.

The song was catchy (albeit slightly naive sounding) but there was one major problem: this group was not *NSYNC! The DJ confirmed those heavenly voices that blended so well together belonged to none other than *NSYNC’s arch nemesis… the Backstreet Boys! Though I tried to resist, I slowly started to warm up to BSB.

No one could have predicted the smash success of BSB’s leading single from their second U.S. (third international) release, Millennium. I Want it that Way was so popular even my mother knew the lyrics! The track was an unstoppable force on radio and my dance school even decided to create a routine to the album’s next single, Larger than Life.

The boys pushed through a gruesome court case against one-time manager Pearlman and came out on the other side with an album that remains my favorite BSB album to date – an album aptly titled Black and Blue. I credit this album (and my mom who bought for Christmas that year) with solidifying my status as a BSB-fanatic. But there was more heartache to come for BSB and their fans…

Armed with a husky voice and a bad boy attitude, AJ McLean will admit to his fair share of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He had arms full of tattoos and had the edgiest sounding voice of any of the boys, but his tough exterior was a mere mask for the inner turmoil he kept hidden from the public.

While filming the music video for fan-favorite The Call, McLean stated he used cocaine for the first time. But the dabbling did not stop there and soon, his life was spiraling out of control, threatening the future of the band.

On a stop in Boston, the BSB were expected to show up to a little league game. Hungover and uninterested, McLean refused to take part in the outing. Eldest BSB member, Kevin Richardson, infuriated with McLean’s carelessness broke down his bandmate’s door. McLean called his mother and manager announcing he wanted out of the band. His family and friends had other plans, and McLean was instead admitted into a treatment facility to begin to fight his demons.

The BSB released a greatest hits album before taking the longest break of their collective career. Fans and critics were markedly split regarding BSB’s 2005 “come back” album, Never Gone. The new album saw a departure from the band’s dance-pop fare and leaned more towards adult contemporary. Never Gone would also become the last BSB album featuring original member Richardson until his return in 2012.

In 2007 I was a college freshman with few friends besides the ones I left behind in my hometown. As ever, I found solace in the music I love.

That year, the BSB released their first album without Richardson. Inconsolable- and Unbreakable in its entirety remained on repeat in my dorm room (although my always-drunk roommates never complained). The only thing better than a new album was of course a tour to promote said album and in 2008, I went my to very first BSB concert. I have seen the boys six times in as many years and celebrated Richardson’s glorious return during the last two.

2015 gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of BSB’s eighth studio album and a glimpse into the early days of the band dominated by sleep-deprivation and endless touring thanks to the documentary, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. My sister and friend jumped at the chance to watch the film in theaters and sang, laughed and even cried with about 20 other BSB fans (and got judgmental looks from the guy that collects the tickets…whatever, dude).

Thankfully, the boys have no intentions of stopping after more than 20 years together; they’ve got a new record slated for release sometime this year!

Thank you Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ and Nick. All of your time spent keeps us… (fangirls)… alive…

Why I’m a Boy Band Addict, Part 1

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Ah yes, the specific sub-genre of pop music so hated and loved by so many: boy bands.

I’m a 27-year-old with a Bachelor’s degree and a job in my chosen field, but I’ve still got a thing for guys who sing songs about love while gesturing toward their hearts — you know the move I’m talking about, and I’m betting you just pictured it too. After nearly 19 years as a massive pop fan, I’m resigned to the fact that I am, and probably always will be, a boy band addict.

The appeal for me is simply undeniable. Their marketing is brilliant, their songs are always so darn catchy and it’s fun! I guarantee if you bust out a boy band track it will have you dancing before the first chorus comes around. Truth be told, I’ve had a love affair with multiple boy bands over the years — Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, 5ive, Westlife and One Direction (I’m not ashamed to admit it, that concert was super fun) to name a few. I’ve even been known to listen to The Wanted, 98 Degrees and O-Town.

I wasn’t always this way though, I had a life before boy bands… a life before my first headlong dive into bubblegum pop… a life before *NSYNC…

Okay, so I didn’t have much of a life. I was eight! The year was 1998 and boy bands were on the rise again after grunge had invaded the airwaves a few years prior. I for one was vehemently against boy band pop… at least for a little while. I grew up listening to my mother’s music in the car. Lady powerhouses like Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston and my idol Celine Dion filled up the soundtrack of my life.

Girls in my elementary school were already fangirling over boy bands but I just didn’t get it. I didn’t want to be into what everyone else was going crazy for. So what if they were good looking boys?! So what if they could dance?! I wanted to be different! I was not going to like something just because it was gaining popularity! And then it happened…

It seems strange that one of the strongest childhood memories I can recall involves a band. But I think this is the exact point where I began to appreciate other styles of music beyond what my mom listened to. It was February vacation and my then 13-year-old cousin was sleeping over at my house. My cousin turned around from her place in the front seat of the car and took out a CD. She asked me if I knew the band pictured on the front and of course I didn’t. The band was called *NSYNC and within ten minutes, she made sure I knew each of the members by name.

Chris was the one with the messy hair hanging down in front of his face, Joey had a goatee and mustache. JC had brown, spiky hair and Justin and Lance were both blonde. As soon as we went to my room and set up the sleeping arrangements for the night we popped *NSYNC’s album into my boom box (there I go again, making myself feel old).

From the very first line of Tearin’ Up My Heart I was hooked! To make matters worse, my eight-year-old heart had been captured by one blue eyed, frosted haired guy — Justin Timberlake.

I watched the Disney Channel concert special, memorized the choreography from I Want You Back and Tearin’ Up My Heart and I even liked to pretend Justin Timberlake was singing God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You just to me.

*NSYNC’s sophomore album No Strings Attached smashed CD sale records but also brought up unpleasant feelings against former boy band mastermind, Lou Pearlman. When you hear your favorite boy bands (yup, that’s more than one) have been cheated out of hard-earned cash, the fangirl claws will come out! Pearlman threatened the band members with stripping them of their name, and fans came out in droves to support them.

*NSYNC got the last laugh as their second album gave them the chance to defy the manager who sought to ruin them and poke a little fun at him as well (get it? Because they cut ties with him… and they won’t be his puppets?) all while selling millions of albums in the first week. I wore the No Strings Attached album out-so much so that I had to get a replacement for Christmas that year!

On their third studio album, Celebrity, Justin Timberlake took the lead for a whole song, a track entitled Gone and perhaps this should have been a sign of things to come. Breakout single Pop promised fans that the band wasn’t going anywhere and anyone who didn’t like their brand of music was jealous…but it wasn’t meant to last. Chris, Lance, JC, Joey and Justin went on a break and although fans assumed it was in preparation for a new album after a successful tour, those rumored plans never came to fruition.

In August 2013, *NSYNC reformed as part of the opening medley performed by Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient and band mate Justin Timberlake on the occasion of the MTV Video Music Awards. After a few moments of the 15-minute set, the eight- year-old who first fell in love with pop music was back and squealing louder than ever!

Even after 14 years, I can still listen to *NSYNC’s albums and not feel one bit badly that I’m a (sometimes) grown-up who jams out to the bubblegum music that made up her childhood. After all this time I still know all the words and can vividly picture myself rocking out in my mom’s green Oldsmobile or watching Disney Channel for a second’s glance at the guy who is still the man of my dreams.

So here’s to my first favorite band and my first favorite boy band and the band that started this unending obsession with slick dance moves and multi-part harmonies. “Do Your Thing.”