"What's your favorite Jonas Brothers song?" asked the nine year-old girl I was babysitting.
"What's a Jonas Brother?" I asked.
"You don't know who the Jonas Brothers are?" she said as steam rushed out her tiny ears.
"I know who Hanson is," I said, figuring they must be a band or something.
"What's Hanson?" Clearly, we weren't speaking the same language.
It's official: I'm too old for pop music, too young to die. Back when I was nine, all of twelve years-ago, Hanson was it. They nailed the family band with precision. Three teenage brothers. Long blond hair. Catchy pop tunes. What more could you ask for? Millions of girls loved them, and millions of parents regretted allowing their daughters watch to MTV.
I remember the first time I heard MMMBop on the radio like it was yesterday. It was at JCC summer camp in 1996. I was toweling off after group swim when suddenly I heard a hypnotic sing-song melody coming from the lifeguard's boom box. I was hooked. For the rest of the day, my head was MMMbopping. One summer day of bopping gave way to my entire fifth grade year.
My heart beat for Zak, the goofy drummer and youngest Hanson brother. His long hair and baby fat may not have been dreamy, but his perfect timing in MMMBop made me MMMhis. I knew all of Zak's stats: his birthday, favorite food, and even the names of his pets. Then there was Taylor, the lead singer and keyboard player. My heart would have gone to him, but at 15 he was too old for me. The oldest brother was Isaac, the guitar player. I didn't find him as attractive as his brothers, but as a tripod they were drool-worthy.
I listened to their CD Middle of Nowhere until it was scratched. And by sixth grade I was all bopped out.
For ten-year-olds today the Hanson brothers might as well have walkers and hearing aides. I didn't feel right as I walked home from my babysitting gig that night. Physically I felt fine. My knees felt sturdy, my lungs breathed hearty, and my skin still tight. Yet my head felt old and decrepit. I'm only 21. How I could I possibly feel old? I'm young and vibrant, damn it. It's been years since I last begged my parents to buy me an issue of Tiger Beat but that does not make me a candidate for the AARP.
If being a Hanson fan can make me feel old, then my parents generation must feel ancient. And if that's the case, it won't be long before Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas vanish from the charts. In ten years, the Jonas boys, who are in their mid- to late-teens, will be a decade older. In pop culture time, a decade is more like a quarter-century. By then, today's teeny boppers will become tomorrow's hipsters. Hits like "Burnin' Up" will have long cooled down. And whether Nick is dating Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomes will be forgotten like the Aaron Carter-Hilary Duff-Lindsay Lohan love triangle.
The foundation that the Jonas boys stand on is strong. They are talented musicians and song writers, unlike the other boy bands that have blown through the scene. Two of them aren't even old enough to vote, I don't know which two, but they have many impressive accomplishments under their belt. This year they starred in Camp Rock, a made for TV movie on the Disney Channel, sold out dozens of shows, and released a platinum album. But as many boy bands before them know, there is always the threat of temporary stardom.
The regeneration of boy bands began long before the Jonas Brother's were even a twinkle in their mother's eye. Let's reverse: before the Jonas Brother's there was Hanson, N*Sync, the Backstreet Boys of the 90s. New Kids on the Block (who apparently are still loitering on the block) and Menudo kept girls screaming in the 80s. The disco reigning BeeGees and the Osmond brothers ruled the 70s. And then in the 60s there was this little band from England-maybe you've heard of them-the Beatles.
As popular as the Beatles were at their peak, their songs are absent from today's charts. If you want to listen to the Beatles on the radio, you have to listen to the oldies station. They are the quintessential exception to the rule when it comes to boy bands. It's been over thirty years since they broke up, yet their impact on the pop scene is still felt. In fact, the Jonas Brothers recently covered the Beatles' song "Hello Goodbye" for a Target commercial.
A reporter once asked John Lennon why he thought the Beatles were so popular at the time. He answered, "I don't know, it must be the weather."
The Beatles are still in the weather pattern, but it'll be a while before we find out if the Jonas Brothers can stay on the forecast. And who knows, by then I might actually be a member of the AARP.