Jonas Brothers: Threat or Menace?

27 Aug

I don’t know whether to thank my friend Geoff Carter, or curse him. It is solely because of his blogreader’s shared RSS items that I read the Chicago Sun Times review of the Jonas Brothers, and the deeply amusing Idolator blog post commenting on it, the latter of which gave me more of a glimpse than perhaps I needed into the world of tween music-fan flame wars.

Strangely enough, the Jonas Brothers have been on my mind lately. Not that I’ve ever heard a single one of their songs…it’s just that somebody has writ large their love for the band in sidewalk chalk, on the walkway in my favorite dog-walking park. Which then briefly makes me think that as a freakish Disney fan, I should at least be giving one of their songs a listen, at some point.

The Chicago Times makes me think that one song should be “BB Good,” even if only for the fact that I then could join into the debate over the lyrics. From the Sun TImes:

So what exactly is their genre? Here’s the rub: The Jonas Brothers are clearly selling pre- and just-post-pubescent sex via glossy, glitzy, mildly tuneful and gently rocking power-pop–the oldest game in the history of popular music–but they’re treading a fine line by trying to do it in the most asexual, non-threatening way possible so as not to alienate a single wary parent or trepidatious 10-year-old.

Witness the carefully crafted double entendre of “BB Good,” the opening track of “A Little Bit Longer,” and a prime example of Jonas music. Over a recycled Pat Bentar/Journey guitar riff, the boys sing about a seemingly innocent date–“I’ll pick you up at seven/We can drive around and see a movie”–with a subtext laid bare in the choruses–“You gotta be be good to me/I’m gonna be be good to you/We’ll be happy as can be/Just gotta be be good to me”–and a tension that explodes in rather creepy fashion during the spoken-word climax: “Listen girl, you gotta be good/I don’t wanna hurt you… I wanna kiss you!”.

That could just as well be dialog from a date rape as the prelude to an innocent teen make-out session.

If I were to go ahead and listen to the song, I suspect I may be more deeply offended by the recycled Pat Benetar/Journey guitar riff than by any possible subtext in the lyrics. Which is really saying something, given my politics. (And actually, I take issue with the term “date rape,” which seems to me a rather glossy euphemism for sexual assault.)

I think, though, that as appealing as entering into that debate might be, and even with the encouragement of my sidewalk chalk-wielding neighbor, I’m still not sufficiently motivated to go out of my way to hear the song (and I doubt anybody’s ability, including my own, to effectively analyze song lyrics without hearing them in the context of the music and production). Don’t go thinking that this is because I’m put off by the deliberate boy-band manufacturing process though…I’m still a fan of the Sex Pistols, whom Malcolm McLaren practically knitted himself from scratch.

2 Responses to “Jonas Brothers: Threat or Menace?”

  1. collateraldamage August 28, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Hey! Someone wrote something about them on a sidewalk near my house, too! What are the odds of that?

  2. sambycat August 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm #

    wow! thats truly bizarre!!

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