Oh yeah… that’s me up there, in all of my awkward, brace-face glory. Just breath it in (That one’s actually not the worst… my 6th and 7th grade school pictures were, just, whew).
Middle School was truly a strange time. I don’t know if I can think of any other time in my life where I felt so uncomfortable and confused in my own skin. I had NO CLUE what to do with myself during those pre-teen days, and school was the absolute scariest/worst place to be at while feeling that way. I was unfortunately not in the district to go to middle school with any of my friends from 4th and 5th grade, and remember thinking my life was over because I couldn’t go to Palmetto middle. I ended up being in the school zone for Southwood Middle, which was also a magnet school for the arts. But I didn’t even have the benefit of calling myself a magnet student- I was just going there because I had to.
In thinking back on those days and mainly laughing at how ridiculous I was, I’ve wanted to start a series featuring my life, thoughts and beliefs during that time. The other night, Daniel and I were watching a recent documentary on The Backstreet Boys, and that inspired this post, of course! What better place to start this series, than a convo about boy bands from the late 90’s/Early 2000’s…
Let’s set some ground rules for liking boy bands in middle school, shall we? You remember these:
1) You could like several boy bands, but you had to have one favorite.
2) Obsession over these teenage/early adult males was completely normal to you. You didn’t even consider it a problem.
3) You had at least one binder with cut outs from TMZ pasted on it, and your walls had boy band posters all over them.
4) There were the main boy bands, and then there were the off brands. They all played their part.
Ok, so Hanson was my ultimate, all time favorite Boy Band. I started listening to them in 4th grade? I think. That definitely carried on into my middle school years, but it was kinda one of those things I kept on the D.L. (that stands for down low, in case you forgot) for 6th grade. I was afraid people would think I was super lame for listening to them- I had the same weird insecurity about it that I did in 1st grade when I was still watching Barney.
Zac Hanson was the boy I loved the most and wanted to marry so badly. When we moved into a new house before 7th grade, I finally had my own room, which meant 4 walls to put posters up on. One wall was dedicated to Zac and his brothers.
If my memory serves me correctly, I became aware of NSYNC at a sleepover birthday party towards the end of 5th grade, when someone put on the music video for their single “I Want You Back”. I remember being captivated by this very white, kind of urban looking dream boat wearing a giant silver hoop earring. There was literally nothing cooler than 5 guys dancing on a wet cobble stone street in baggy clothes. They remained one of my favorite bands throughout middle school and early high school. They reserved a decent amount of space on my walls. J.T.’s ramen noodle hair was all over my room!
Here’s the deal. In middle school, you were either an NSYNC girl, or a BSB girl. I was an NSYNC girl with closet BSB tendencies. I acted like I didn’t like them, but I knew EVERY single that came out on the radio. I didn’t have any of their cd’s, as to continue to throw my friends off of the sent. It wasn’t until later high school when all of this became silly (and we were debating over Hoobastank and Lifehouse) that I started to nostalgically and publicly appreciate the Backstreet Boys. The other night when we watched that documentary, “Show Em’ What Your Made Of”, I came to appreciate them even more. It was nice to hear their stories and see how they live and deal with their lives post-boy band. I also didn’t realize the complete crummy douche lord that was Lou Perlman, and how he screwed over these young guys and used them. I discovered that Lou fashioned NSYNC to be their direct competition, which now explains the middle school boy band wars.
I will say that even though BSB has a little place in my heart, none of their voices even come close to Justin Timberlake’s voice. It’s a fact we all have to accept.
The Off Brands
Ladies… I just. I can’t. So, 2Gether wasn’t even a real band, they were a parody band making fun of boy bands. But I DONT THINK I GOT THAT at first, because I adored them. My bff Allison and I were obsessed with these guys in 8th grade, and the fact that they came onto the scene with an MTV original movie was the best. I remember saving up to get the 2Gether cd at Spec’s Music. Remember when we used to buy c.d.s?!
“Bugaloo shrimp and pogo sticks…” Ya’ll, what even was this band? I didn’t listen to them at all with the exception of their hit single, “Summer Girls”. Everyone knew it, it just happened to all of us without warning.
Ok, I was oddly captivated and into this band for a little bit. I love that they played acoustic guitars and were British. Also, the guy in the middle reminded me of Proto Zoa from Zenon (Girl of the 21st Century)
Honestly, I could keep going with my musical choices of the late 90’s/Early 2000’s, as this post doesn’t even account for B-Spears, Mandy Moore and DMX. But maybe we’ll save those gems for another day.
Overall, I love all of the terrible music I listened to as a kind-of-child-almost-teenager. It was one of the few things in my life that made me feel ok, during a season of constant confusion, heartbreaking crushes and the overwhelming fear of my peers. These dudes helped me keep it together… for the most part.