Music Peer Pressure

As a teenager we all felt the peer pressure of our friends and society about the kind of music we should like, or what is considered ‘good’ music.  As an adult, we read reviews, follow trends, and still allow society to dictate what we buy and listen to throughout our lives.  So what is it about society and the need to follow the crowd?  Recently, I have been reading a book entitled Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elberse, who talks about how people want to follow winners, whether it is the head of a record label pushing an artist to superstar status, to targeting a group of people to grow the popularity of said artist.  The goal and need of the label is to make this artist a winner and to gain followers and momentum within their career, because if they don’t, the artist is dropped and everyone fails, including the artist, the label, and the fans.

A big controversy when I was a teenagers in the late 90s to the early 00s was the battle of the two biggest boy bands in the world – N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys.  You couldn’t like both.  Nope, you only had the option of liking one or other.  As a teenager I had a secret, which was the fact that I had albums of both bands, and yes I broke the rules.  Do you think I would have ever told my friends?  No way.  As I got older, and got more into the liner notes of the albums I bought, I realized that the  music was written by the same person!  So why couldn’t I like both bands when the music was not only written by the same person, but the same manager developed both groups too?  Another hater group when I was growing up was the group of kids into hip-hop.  The years of the popularity of the Wu-Tang Clan, the Beastie Boys, Diddy, the Fugees, and the starting of Eminem.  Basically, anyone who liked pop music was not in any kind of agreement on what constituted as good music.  Again, I had albums of both the Wu-Tang Clan and Beastie Boys and I can still recite every lyric to ‘Intergalactic.’  Finally, you have the group that is into alternative music, like Jimmy Eat World, Less Then Jake, Goldfinger, Radiohead, Oasis, and Fall Out Boy.  I’m sure you have started to see my pattern here, but this group was more opinionated then anyone.  If this group of teens found out you listened to pop music then they had more then a few words to make you feel degraded and question your own taste.

Like everyone, I had a big fear of what my friends thought of my choices from music to fashion, but why does it matter if the music you listen to is considered winners?  Can’t individuals like music because they like the song?  The voice of the artist?  The technique and the sound of the band?  Back in 2010, when I first heard of Ariana Grande, she was a reoccurring character on a show called Victorious, and everyone of my adult friends made fun of me for watching it since it was a kid’s show.  Now, the majority of them listen to her since she is a superstar.  Leading the trend is always better then following it.  So, sing those songs that get you dancing in the car, or better yet grab that hair bush as you are getting ready for work and become that pop star singing your favorite jam, because guilty pleasures never go out of style.

Love this song, Elizabeth Gillies, and Ariana Grande – circa 2010


Girl Power!

If you haven’t noticed, I love to highlight women who have made a mark on society in music and dance.  There have been many women who have created a legacy, changed the world for future generations, and developed magic for others to experience everyday.  International Women’s Day was on March 8th, but in my opinion everyday is Women’s Day!

Pop music is one of my favorite music genres.  It has broken boundaries and changed over decades, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the harmonizing quality girl groups have incorporated into their sound.  Starting in the late 1930s when the Andrews Sisters changed the music scene and the up-and-coming popularity of girl groups began.  In 1955 was the year that girl groups started to grow.  In 1960-1966 over 750 girl groups charted songs in the United States and the United Kingdom.

While listening to girl groups over the decades, I came across a group called “The Chantels” which was formed in the 1950s.  No words can express how excited I was to find this group.  I have a weird obsession with my name that date backs to when I was a kid.  When you don’t have a common name, you can never find cool things with your name on them.  Having a younger brother who has the most common name to man I was jealous.  Anyways, this girl group was revolutionary since it was the second African American girl group to have success after the Bobbettes.  Their first song to hit the billboard charts was “He’s Gone,” but their most popular hit was “Maybe.”  Many of the girl groups such as the Chantels, the Bobbettes, the Shirelles, and the Marvelettes have that doo-wop groove including the harmonized vocals, the simple instrumentations, and those claps that help to keep the rhythm tied together.

Jumping a few decades to the 1990s through to today, girl groups still have a hold in popular music.  During the 90s the sound of girl groups changed.  TLC brought a contemporary R&B sound to groups.  The harmonies were still there, but the style had more of an edge.  After TLC, one of the top selling girl groups ever hit the scene, the Spice Girls.  The Spice Girls is not only embedded in my childhood, but they were the women who taught the 90s generation about girl power and how important friendship is to your life.  Emma, Victoria, Mel B., Mel C., and Geri created a huge fandom and their legacy still lives on in popularity as the best selling girl group ever.  Their mix of dance party type songs like ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Spice Up Your Life’ to their soft ballads ‘2 Become 1’ and ‘Say You’ll Be There’ resinated with the 90s generation connecting their music to life.  The girl groups continue through today with the up-and-coming group Fifth Harmony who have some of the most amazing voices together.  Their vocal range, projection power, and instrumental simplicity to highlight their voices is something exhibits true talent.

In the US, we rarely see artists from foreign speaking countries (besides EDM) in the general popular music scene, but girl groups are huge in Japan (J-Pop) and South Korea (K-Pop) and have hit the music scene hard in the late 2000s with some catchy dance club tunes which include artists Morning Musume, 2NE1, and Girl Generation.  These girl groups bring in techno sounds of EDM, the R&B edge and rap style that TLC had back in the 90s, and power vocals such as Fifth Harmony and Little Mix.  This sound is going to continue to blow up especially now that EDM is hitting the pop scene with artists like Zedd working with numerous female vocalists such as Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande.

Watch out One Direction, Rixton, and The Wanted the girls are coming for your music crown and I think they have the power to take over.  Click here for a list of girl groups that have affect the music scenes from the 1930s through today, and celebrate the power of women everyday.

*All date information found through wikipedia.

An Ode to the Early 2000 Pop Music Era

Currently, I have been watching reruns of the S Club 7 series that came out in the late 90s through the early 2000s.  All of you millennials out there know exactly what show I am talking about and are secretly hoping that their 2015 UK reunion tour becomes a world reunion tour.  Needless to say watching this show brought back some nostalgic memories growing up and how great pop music is on top of being catchy as hell.  So, this is an ode to those bands and that great music genre that I secretly had dance parties to in my room as a teenager.  Where I bruised myself a lot trying to come up with cool dance moves while banging into brass bed posts and large wooden furniture.  Good to know that nothing has changed now that I am almost 30; minus the fact that I don’t really do it in secret anymore.

Being a teenager in the late 90s through the early 2000s, music was my escape from life.  Because as a teenager every problem means your life is over.  I don’t know what it is about society, but when you are a teenager, no matter what decade, music has such a profound affect on you for some reason.  Sometimes its relatable lyrics, a catchy tune, or a way to block out your parents from yelling at you about something.  So here are five songs that stick out in my mind the most during “my life is over” phase:

S Club 7 “Bring It All Back” – The years of fox family where my brother and I would be fighting over the TV and I was yelling at him to stop switch between channels.  Something we still fight about to this day when we are watching TV together.  Anyway, this group of British singers, four girls and three boy who came to America to find fame and fortune which they did once they finally got to Los Angeles and Greg Brady (Barry Williams) became their manager.  “Bring It All Back” is one of those inspirational songs about believing in yourself and it doesn’t hurt that it has a nice clean four count beat.

LMNT “Juliet” – Before Matthew Morrison became Mr. Shue on Glee he was in LMNT.  The band was a one hit wonder and I didn’t buy the single till a few years ago after I heard it on a sound system in an H&M store.  After that day, I began frantically searching for what band sang that song.  Every friend I asked had no idea what I was talking about since there are a ton of songs with the title “Juliet.”  But after being on YouTube for a few hours I finally found “Juliet.”

Hilary Duff “Sweet Sixteen” – MTV was starting to come out with a bunch of various reality shows.  “My Super Sweet Sixteen” was all about bratty rich girls and their sweet sixteen parties.  I only watched to see the yelling fit they would pull whether it was that the convertible she got was the wrong right color or that her best friend embarrassed her by dancing the wrong way at her party.  This show is the whole reason why I cannot stand most reality TV shows.  The one good thing about the show was the theme song used.  “Sweet Sixteen” from Hilary Duff’s debut album “Metamorphosis” came out during Duff’s popularity high of the disney channel show Lizzie McGuire.

Fountains of Wayne “Stacy’s Mom” – This song is a classic and for some reason everyone thinks Bowling for Soup sang it, but it is really the pop-punk band Fountains of Wayne.  This song is inappropriate at every turn between using a girl at school to get to her mom to hitting on a woman who is out of your league and is never going to give you the time of day in any sexual way.  This song is for all those boys who have fantasies of older women who they will never get.

Backstreet Boys “Larger Then Life” – The forever feud of Backstreet Boys verses N’SYNC.  Personally, I had all the albums from both groups, but I probably would have been killed if I told a teenage girl that back in the 90s/00s.  Before their was One Direction there were the Backstreet Boys who I know didn’t play instruments, but they danced so it was just as good in my opinion.  This song has a special place in my heart because at one of my many dance camps that I went to growing up we became obsessed with this song.  Five us decided in our weekly talent show that were going to dress up like the Backstreet Boys (with wigs and using mascara and eyeliner pencils to draw facial hair) and create our own choreographed routine to this song.  I can still do that dance by heart, but hey just like the Boys go big or go home.

Oh the memories of my youth.  Everyone says that their generation was the best growing up, but I can honestly say that if you were a 90s/ early 00s kid you had it made.  Don’t get me wrong I still like pop music to this day and you might catch me dancing to some Austin & Ally tunes in my Boston Apartment or One Directions “One Thing”, but I am always excited when I hear a song that brings me back to my years of no responsibilities.  To all the teenagers out there, try not to grow up too fast because your youth is the best time to indulge yourself in pop music and dance like a crazy person.  Adulthood will be there after you have left the phase of “my life is over.”