There’s only one place where you’ll see herds of girls (and the occasional boy) of all ages walking ferociously together as if they were zombies who have found where the living are hiding out and need nourishment pronto– a stadium or arena where a boy band is performing live.
I recently experienced this as I attended the One Direction concert in Cleveland just a few nights ago. Custom-made t-shirts, light-up signs that would blind an ordinary human if looked at too closely, temporary (at least I hope) tattoos that matched the body art of band members to a tee, and vocal warm-ups, because the screaming and singing that happens at these things will shatter ear drums. I’m guilty of only the vocal warm-ups because, well, I’m 25 and needed some shred of dignity to be left knowing that I was among the older demographic at this concert.
The show itself was remarkable; One Direction can certainly put on an entertaining, spunky, comedic, flawless performance. Everyone in the stadium could feel the ominous “elephant in the room” so to speak, however. Just a few days before One Direction came to Cleveland to perform, it was announced that the band would be taking a “one-year hiatus” once their fifth album is released. No tour for it, no promotion, nothing.
Rumors have been swirling ever since.
So, I asked myself a very important question after I finally regained my voice yesterday: Where do boy bands go when they die?
And who’s responsible for the upkeep of Chris Kirkpatrick’s hair?
I grew up in THE boy band generation. I’m not ashamed of it and in fact, I am kind of obsessed with it. Other generations may try to be like, “hey- we had The Beatles” or “NKOTB was like, the ultimate boy band.” Oh really? Try having to choose between Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC (wtf was the asterisk ever for?), 98 Degrees (if you were into the less popular, older guy thing), O-TOWN (yeah, don’t think I forgot, Diddy), AND One Direction. Don’t even try to prove me wrong on this one. I’m far too dedicated and have way too much time on my hands.
I imagine where dissolved and lost boy bands go is a curious place; one where velour jumpsuits line a never-ending closet and where waterfalls flow with hair gel. Ex-band members don’t walk places; they moonwalk poorly. Off in a distant meadow, those who still can’t accept their fate try to sing scales and scat, only to fall on deaf ears.
There’s a bell off in the distance that rings the tone of AJ McLean’s voice every time a new heart is broken by the dissolution of a boy band. In that same area is a screen to the real world, the world where some members didn’t die. It’s a sad and pathetic sight to see Howie Dorough and every member of O-TOWN and half of 98 Degrees cry in desperation every time Justin Timberlake wakes even more popular than the day before and where Zayn Malik’s withering stare makes passersby crumble to the ground.
In Boy Band Purgatory, failed band members get 50 cents every time a group of people my age play their music on a Throwback Thursday. Kevin Richardson whispers to Ashley Parker Angel in that incredibly deep voice of his, “A.P.A., get a load of this– Nick [Carter] just got selected to be on Dancing With the Stars.” Angel replies, “Damn, Kev. At least your members are still getting a glimpse of the spotlight. Jacob lost his damn mind and starting dreading everyone’s hair over in the meadow.”
Am I sad that One Direction is supposedly “breaking up?” YOU BET YOUR GODDAMN ASS I AM. Who else is going to tell me what makes me beautiful? I’m holding out hope for them, which yes, I agree is foolish and I need to let it go. But one thing a boy band generation gal like me will tell you, is that we don’t give up. We persevere and pretend as best we can to like some band members when they go solo and then wish the others best as they make their way to Boy Band Purgatory.