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14 November 2012 @ 11:34 am
In Defense of Boy Bands: Why True Love is worth the Wait  

Summary: Music critics and the general population are quick to scoff at pop music and boy bands in particular because their lyrics are considered cheesy and overly sentimental and set unrealistic expectations for what to expect with love in the real world. But I argue that this is not the case.




In Defense of Boy Bands: Why True Love is worth the Wait

I admit that I went to Target before work yesterday morning and bought One Direction’s new CD, Take Me Home. I did so deliberately and without shame. While I refrained from playing the record while I was at the office it was not out of embarrassment but rather because I had no headphones with which to listen and didn’t want to drive my male coworker who sits next to me completely insane. As it was, he already had to endure a conversation about how one of our other coworkers’ shirts was especially flattering because it showcased her breasts particularly well. (We call our office space the Estrogen Den because, with the exception of Kevin, we are all female.) But I digress.


As soon as I got back to my apartment yesterday afternoon I popped the CD into my computer to take it for a test listen-through. My first response was “meh.” I was neither impressed nor disappointed by what I heard. The boys of One Direction can definitely sing, but I was not blown away by the new songs. Perhaps I am too used to the boy bands of yesteryear (*cough*NSYNC*cough*) and was making an unfair comparison. To be honest, the face of pop music has changed since the release of *NSYNC’s last record in 2001. However, upon re-playing the album for the second time, I came to better appreciate what I was hearing.


Now, less than 24 hours after my first listen, I confidently give my stamp of approval to One Direction as the rightful heirs to the boy band throne. I feel that I am qualified to give them this honor because of my nearly fifteen years of dedication to the boy band scene.


But that’s not really what I want to talk about. This is not meant to be a glowing review of Take Me Home. Rather, it is meant to be an examination of the lyrical merit of boy band music in general, using One Direction’s latest album as an example.


You see, music critics and the general population are quick to scoff at pop music and boy bands in particular because their lyrics are considered cheesy and overly sentimental and set unrealistic expectations for what to expect with love in the real world.


But I would like to argue that, while they may be cheesy and sentimental, the love songs are actually good for One Direction’s mostly pre-pubescent and adolescent female fan base. Lyrics that we “grown-ups” perceive as saying “someday your prince charming will come rescue you from the throes of puberty” are actually sending a completely different message: “Don’t settle. Your prince charming is out there and you will know when you find him because he will treat you right.”


The difference may seem subtle, but it is very important. Skeptics hear a message that tells girls to wait passively for the right guy to appear. Believers hear that hard work and persistence pay off, that it is worth waiting for the right person.


Uber-feminists may bawk at the notion of a prince charming fantasy, but let’s be real: that’s what most girls want. They want to find that special someone to sweep them off their feet and love them for who they are, flaws and all.


Now, I’m not saying that all boy band songs send this message. There are, as there were back in 2001, songs that say, “Hey girl, I know we just met in this club but I ‘love’ you so let’s go back to my place and see what happens.” Points in case: *NSYNC’s “Up Against the Wall” and One Direction’s “C’mon, C’mon.”


But for every “love in the club” song there are usually two or three more sincere tracks about how true love is worth waiting for. (And no, I’m not talking about the pros or cons of avoiding premarital sex. I’m talking about the emotion you feel when you’re “truly, madly, deeply” in love, to quote One Direction.)


And so I leave you with the lyrics from the song on Take Me Home that I feel best embodies this message, “Little Things,” and the (somewhat sappy, but still genuine) hope that one day we will all find that special someone who loves us not in spite of, but because of who we are. Because that is someone worth waiting for.


Little Things


Your hand fits in mind

Like it’s made just for me

But bear this in mind

It was meant to be

And I’m joining up the dots

With the freckles on your cheeks

And it all makes sense to me


I know you’ve never loved

The crinkles by your eyes

When you smile

You’ve never loved

Your stomach or your thighs,

The dimples in your back

At the bottom of your spine

But I’ll love them endlessly


I won’t let these little things

Slip out of my mouth

But if I do, it’s you

Oh, it’s you they add up to

I’m in love with you

And all these little things


You can’t go to bed

Without a cup of tea

And maybe that’s the reason

That you talk in your sleep

And all those conversations

Are the secrets that I keep

Though it makes no sense to me


I know you’ve never loved

The sound of your voice on tape

You never want

To know how much you weigh

You still have to squeeze

Into your jeans

But you’re perfect to me


I won’t let these little things

Slip out of my mouth

But if it’s true

It’s you,

It’s you they add up to

I’m in love with you

And all these little things


You’ll never love yourself

Half as much as I love you

And you’ll never treat yourself right, darling,

But I want you to

If I let you know I’m here for you

Maybe you’ll love yourself

Like I love you, oh


And I’ve just let these little things

Slip out of my mouth

‘Cause it’s you

Oh it’s you,

It’s you they add up to

And I’m in love with you

And all these little things


I won’t let these little things

Slip out of my mouth

But if it’s true

It’s you,

It’s you they add up to

I’m in love with you

And all your little things


 
 
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