Boy Band Blues

I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me

The boyband phenomenon of the 1980s & 90s may not have been the paragon of contemporary musical artistry, but its back-catalogue of melodic musings left us with fascinating insights into the male psyche.

The profusion of monologues, directed to an audience of prospective girlfriends, filled the vacuum left by an inability of the average bloke to express the rich palette of his emotional vocabulary with any more variety than Picasso’s blue period.

In 1984’s The Kinda’ Girls We Like, New Edition introduced themselves with a wanted ad for future soul mates:

I’m Ronnie D and I’d love to meet                                                                                       A girl that would knock me off my feet.
A girl that’s fine and divine.
A girl that wants to be all mine.
A girl that can grant my every wish.

I sense that Ronnie’s ideal partner is probably not Jeanie from next door, but the genie from Aladdin. Incidentally, no mention from Ronnie of what he plans to contribute to the relationship. Male privilege starts early in boy band land.

image: www.allmusic.com
image: http://www.allmusic.com

And when a boy band member’s expectations prove a tad unrealistic, he can adjust those expectations, or simply bully the girl into compliance. Boys to Men showed how it was done in 1991, with End Of The Road.

Girl, you know we belong together
I have no time for you to be playing with my heart like this
You’ll be mine forever, baby, you just see

Two words of advice for girl in question: ‘restraining order’.

Quite conversely, Take That realised that there was a place for nice boys, who bring your daughter home by 11pm, in roughly the same state as when she left. But, if the chorus of Want You Back For Good, in 1995, was any indication of the boys’ level of emotional intelligence, a wise girl would probably keep her options open.

What ever I did, what ever I said, I didn’t mean it, I just want you back for good.

It’s the quintessential male damage-mitigation strategy: I am going to apologise because I have a strong suspicion that it’s my best hope for getting sex again this week, but frankly I have absolutely no idea what just happened.

All this heightened emotion can drive a young boy band member to ultimate despair. That’s the state in which we find New Kids On The Block, in 1997, as they plead their way though the chorus of As Long As You Love Me. The lyrics might have suggested unconditional love to the thirteen-year-old target audience, but they don’t fool me for one little second.

I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me

Translation: I have absolutely no interest in you or your personal history. As far as I’m concerned, you may have filleted your last boyfriend and consumed his giblets with a nice Chianti. My sole requirement is undying love from anyone who will tolerate the stench of my desperation for longer than the duration of this fatuous song.

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