Rushing home from junior high used to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Your parents were at work, younger siblings at the babysitter’s, and suddenly it was just you and that pre-iPod boom box. You slipped the plastic CD case from the grips of its confining home in your backpack, carefully opening the jacket crowded with men (or at least pre-teens).
You begin to sing along, your female voice eerily in tune with theirs as you seductively dance along with your pre-recorded VHS tape of the music video. (If this does not describe your junior high experience, perhaps I’ve shared too much.)
The focus on boy bands in the late ’90s was a phase in American history that is now mocked on VH1 and MTV along with many of their unfortunate comebacks in our high school days. They were like those old familiar friends that you see in the hallways, but because of pride or social phenomena too complicated to explain, you pretend like you never knew them.
However I feel this era in music history should be mocked with caution. While it may have caused these flocks of junior high females to become overloaded with emotions they didn’t yet understand, that was kind of the point. The naivete of this generation left parents and educators in the driver’s seat, more or less, even if it was just hanging on for dear life.
The newer generations are being exposed to an entirely new crop of entertainers – one that has no problem telling those hormone-crazed pre-teens what to do with them.
The love ballads of N*SYNC and the Backstreet Boys are now juxtaposed with images of Lady Gaga’s “disco stick” and Ke$ha’s personal hygiene issues (I’m quite sure Jack Daniels never intended for his liquor to be used as a substitute for toothpaste,
although it has had wide success as a meal replacement.).
Eminem has garnered renowned success as the first artist in the “you can’t say that on the radio” club. Others are taking note and following suit.
Not all industries are affected by this corruption. The country music stations are seeing a lot less booty shaking than the more popular ones, but many teens are not about to commit social suicide by jumping into the highly stigmatized world of twang and cowboy boots. However this area of music seems to be undergoing a transition of its own with the introduction of MySpace pop princess Taylor Swift, who is adding to the action by playing for both teams.
In my mind, this had become less an issue of profane music, and more an issue of the effects on the virgin ears that are exposed to it. Are we really a product of the music we listen to? The majority of these stars (I would even venture to say all of them) are just looking to get the biggest rise out of the greatest
amount of people. I get that shock value sells, but there comes a point when the leaders of this country need to step back and diagnose
the problems that are causing disconnects in education,
family life and, ultimately,
Now, I’m not one of those mamby-pamby, letters-
to-the-editor writers that blame everything that is wrong with this country
on what’s playing on the radio. But I am saying that the N*SYNC generation
seems to have had a lot less problems coming out the gate. (But for arguments
sake, the Michael Jackson generation seems to have passed with flying colors.)