11/27/2015

Confessions of a boy band skeptic

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In my 22 years of existence, there is only one thing that I regret saying: “I never had a boy band phase.” If it was still 2014, I guess that would be applicable. But times have changed, and that phrase bit me right in the butt.

Long before curating was a necessity in the millennial’s day-to-day life, I curated my music collection. I was in grade school and I only listened to things I found cool. And that meant boy bands were out of the equation.

While my classmates obsessed over Backstreet Boys and NSync, I liked The Corrs, S Club 7 and Steps. Just to be clear: pop songs didn’t annoy me. It was the fact that five boys hanging out and singing about love and romance felt unnatural. Throw a bunch of girls in there and I’m good. Maybe it’s my inner Beyoncé talking, but boy bands were a no-no.

I remember going to my best friend’s house for the first time and seeing her poster of A1 stuck in her bedroom wall. My 10-year-old self seriously considered bolting out of the door and reconsidering our friendship. But since she was my only true friend in elementary school, I sucked it up and hung out with her. This, of course, led us to listening to Like a Rose three consecutive times. It was fine until she followed it up with Bed of Roses that I recognized it was a boy band obsession. And in my book, that was a big bag of Nope.

When I got to high school, I started easing into “real” boy bands a.k.a. the ones that actually played instruments. I cried to My Chemical Romance’s I Don’t Love You, cried even more to Coheed and Cambria’s Wake Up and dedicated my whole life to Sugarfree’s “Dramachine.” In other words, I was starting to become a stan. I made sure that I listened to all the albums by my favorite bands. Not because I thought they were cool (okay, maybe they were still sort of cool), but because I was emotionally invested in their music and the stories behind it.

It wasn’t until early this year when the big miracle happened. Marga, our managing editor, and I were assigned to cover the Manila leg of One Direction’s “On The Road Again” tour. All thanks to Top 40 radio and to my close friend’s initial briefing of One Direction conspiracy theories — which included Larry Stylinson, duh — I was prepared to see the boys live.

Now, let me tell you something: watching an artist live onstage in front of thousands of crazy-eyed fans does something to your soul. I found myself singing along to their songs and gushing whenever there was a cute interaction onstage. I erased my early memories of One Direction — ones that included myself rolling my eyes whenever their songs would play on the radio — and replaced them with fun times dancing under the rain and having the best time of my life. For the first time in 12 years, I genuinely liked a boy band.

Like any other stan, I went straight to Tumblr the moment I got home. I watched past interviews of the band, videos of underappreciated moments of my favorite ship, and downloaded a sh*t ton of fanfic. I was knee-deep in the fandom. It dawned on me that there might be no turning back after that. And strangely, that was okay.

Boy bands, I have come to realize, are just like regular bands. Yes, they sing about love and might be slightly (weirdly) more fascinated with roses — and in One Direction’s case, anything nautical — but they are so much more than their matching outfits and unnaturally heavy makeup. Some of them actually make good music.

If there’s anything to be learned from these boys, it’s the fact that they constantly need to step up their game to bring something new to the table. They have the disadvantage of not having an instrument to use as a prop or crutch in their performances. They have to give their all to make themselves more vibrant onstage.

Living a life of extreme fame at an early age seems like a whole lot of pressure. Just imagine the feuds that are happening behind the scenes with One D’s managements and record companies over their carefully created images and creative freedom. The boys’ ability to keep their chill (excluding Zayn, sorry) and hustle harder for their fans is admirable. And that alone won over my boy band-skeptic heart.

After all that, I must confess: I’m 22 years old and I have a Tumblr and Twitter account dedicated to One Direction. (#noshame) Finally, I’m ready to admit that I’m having a boy band phase. And it might take me a while to get over it.

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