Like the tides that roll in and roll out, mega popular boy bands will always flow in and out of the musical ocean and onto the shores of pop culture. Some will be small waves like 98 Degrees; some will be surfer sized waves a la The Beach Boys, Hanson, The Jonas Brothers.
And every now and the ocean floor will shift and a tsunami of love, adoration, and hysteria will overtake the globe.
In my parenting career that has meant NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and now One Direction.
I have sat front row with Culley at a BSB concert. I flew Kendall across the country to be close enough to reach out and touch NSYNC in concert. And a full year ago I watched as Carson and her BFF, Ophelie, shelled out their own big $$$ to snag two third row seats to see One Direction in Houston last month.
I "get" it.
I may not be 13 wearing Bonne Belle on my lips and glitter in my hair, but I have been 13 and have not lost touch with how it felt to see The Bay City Rollers on Tiger Beat (oh, Derek), or to fantasize about being the object of Shaun Cassidy's Da-do-ron-ronning.
(Holy Mary, Mother of Plaid...did I really lust THIS??)
I became aware of One Direction long before their fanbase grew like crabgrass on steroids, overtaking the globe. Kendall brought them into our home when they were still only known in the UK from their stint on X Factor. Carson quickly jumped on board and was watching their video diaries and every snippet of You Tube 1D available.
I liked them immediately. Their story is the stuff that made American Idol what it once was. That magical, stars-all-aligned, Joe-public-has-a-hand-in-it pull from obscurity to fame.
Five normal guys who auditioned for X Factor as solo singers. Five normal guys who tried their best, but when the final cuts came down on the boys side, they were left "gutted."
Fast forward 10 minutes. Literally. Simon Cowell decided in the space of ten minutes - the time from them being cut and crying backstage to him having them pulled, still in tears - to throw them together and have them compete on X Factor as a group.
By his own admission, even as good as he is at predicting success, spying the "it" in a performer, he could never have known what he set in motion in those serendipitious 600 seconds.
They went on to perform each week. Making video diaries, being goofy, and becoming five "mates" who were able to sing together and move forward in the competition.
Their fan base grew exponentially each week.
Did they win? No. At least not the X Factor.
They may have lost the prize, but their fans demanded more One Direction. If ever there was a grassroots effort to propel a music group, this was it. By virtue of Twitter and all manner of social media, their UK fans spread the word, spread the love. Before there was even an album, there was a voracious appetite waiting to devour one.
What happened next is that tsunami.
Five guys making infectious pop, tear inducing ballads, and topping every chart they hit. Posters in bedrooms, ringtones on phones, tshirts declaring devotion. And selling out a 2013 tour before the 2012 tour had truly commenced. 2014 is already in motion and selling out, too.
I enjoy them. I make no excuses or apologies. I don't hide behind "Oh, I have no choice because my girls like them." I genuinely like the songs they put out.
Just like you might jones over old Three Dog Night, Metallica, or Eminem or Imagine Dragons. It's all a matter of preference. My not "getting" your love for Tim McGraw doesn't mean he sucks or you are stupid. It means I enjoy a different sound.
I just returned from a viewing with Carson of One Direction: This Is Us, the new movie about the boys.
IT. WAS. AWESOME.
Seriously, I tapped my toes, laughed, and smiled all the way through.
For those of you who don't "get" One Direction, here is my take on why they have such an immense fandom.
There is nothing slick or perfectly packaged about them or their concerts. Yes, there is a well oiled machine that gets them from A to B to C, but there is no NSYNC choreography, nothing overly handled or manipulated, no one taking themselves too seriously. In fact, they don't dance. Their choreographer lost that battle early on. Their choreography is best likened to a soccer game. They know their area, their marks, but if one makes an overlapping run, another slides in to cover that space. The rest they make up from show to show, leaving room for fun, laughter, hijinks - an air of unpredictability that fans love.
These guys are goofs. They are funny. They are all very different and they all know they fell backassward into luck. They do not take it for granted. And they are also all aware it will not last forever.
And therein lies the magic. They remain, despite the mountains of security that must now protect them from the overzealousness this kind of fame brings with it, "accessible" to their fans.
Oh, and they can all SING. Not with backing tracks, not lip syncing - they SING. Carson was most blown away by that during the concert - they sound as good live as on her ipod. And they somehow manage to make a venue with 20,000, 30,000, 65,000 people feel like a house party.
There are interviews scattered throughout the movie in which the guys candidly talk about how they could not do this without each other. They are best friends, not just coworkers. In one scene as they sat around a campfire during some rare downtime they spoke of how they are living the best times of their lives right now - so young - and how surreal that is. It was Liam who hoped that it will be like a Benjamin Button scenario - kind of living backwards - where they had this amazing life and all these experiences now and that life will eventually slow down and become normal with wives and children. Louis talks about how it will just be cool for their fans to one day tell their daughters about how "One Direction was MY boy band when I was your age."
I guess what I am trying to explain is that these guys are not full of shit, and certainly not full of themselves. That's what there is to "get." That is their appeal.
For those of you who are dreading being "dragged" to see this movie with your daughter, niece, grandchild - WALK IN WILLINGLY. Hell, listen to some of their songs beforehand. And then leave your tight ass at the door. Let your inner 16 year old out to play. If you do that, you will have a blast.
And to the reviewers already dipping their pens in poison, these boys don't take themselves half as seriously as you obviously do, so lighten up, Francis. Your derision, faux criticism, and selective memory about the follies of your own youth are only going to make the flames of fandom burn brighter. Remember, it's not the boys who compare themselves to the Beatles. That's YOU.
These guys know they are just guys. In fact, that is what Louis wants everyone to one day look back and remember when the hysteria has died away...
"They were just normal guys but terrible, terrible dancers."
Don't worry, Louis. We won't for"get' it. :)