Saturday, March 2, 2013

One Direction Makes Me Feel Older Than Usual!

As a former Teen People editor, I probably should know better -- or at least a little bit more. But somehow, despite an initial passing interest (read what I wrote about it nearly one year ago here), lately the One Direction phenomenon has been passing me by.

I can't even say for sure if, like Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync before them, the guys can dance. But dancing boy bands have always been more of an American thing, right? At least one or two of the boyz to men in The Wanted (the other hot new triple B -- British boy band) are hot in the other sense of the word that has nothing to do with actual temperature.

I do know that there are five guys in One Direction, and they are the biggest thing in boy pop since Justin Bieber. Girls flock to their concerts, follow them around the world, and faint in their presence. I haven't seen any actual video proof of the latter, but I assume it's the case. And thanks to my continued though somewhat wavering devotion to Billboard, I'm aware that One Direction was the only act to have two No. 1 albums in the calendar year 2012.

I even know what one of the boy band's songs -- "What Makes You Beautiful" -- sounds like. Enough to be certain that when Conan O'Brien's audience member was playing some name-that-song game on a recent episode of the late-night talk show, she mangled the title.

Just don't expect me to be able to sing more than the title of what I presume must be the group's best-known hit, name the titles of any other One Direction hits, or pick the members out of a line-up of barely post-pubescent boys with great hair. I'm not even interested enough to hate them because everyone and her mother (at least those under the age of 16) think they're beautiful.

Getting one of them to date Taylor Swift might have been the best career move yet. At least now I can tell one of them apart from the others. Though unluckily for him, he's currently best known as the one who let Taylor Swift get away (aka the subject of her next ex-boyfriend-bashing song).

Recently, I saw an interview with him in which he talked about Swift's performance at the 2013 Grammys -- during which she supposedly made some mid-song reference to their brief fling -- and he offered such insightful commentary along the lines of "She's really talented" without betraying even a hint of charisma. Clearly, like those marginally attractive guys who look better in packs of three or more, he comes across best in a group setting. In other words, he's no Justin Timberlake.

Which brings us to One Direction's forefathers -- New Kids on the Block, 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys -- all of whom seemed to dominate the pop-culture landscape more pervasively in their time. Or maybe I was just young enough to be paying attention. If I were the age I am now during New Kids on the Block's heyday, would I still think that "Please Don't Go Girl" and "You Got It (The Right Stuff)" were two of the best things to happen in pop circa 1988?

If I hadn't been an editor at Teen People during the golden age of 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys, would I be able to pick them out of a line up? Would I care that Nick Lachey's old boy band is reuniting for a summer tour with Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block as well as a new album (due on May 7, the day I turn one year older)? Well, actually, I still sort of don't. Is my indifference to the return of 98 Degrees, to One Direction in general, another sign impending old age? I used to be interested enough to at least drum up a healthy amount of hate for most of 'N Sync's singles.

Oh, to be 20 again. Or 30. Scratch that. If it would mean making me an expert on all things One Direction, I'll pass. My ignorance is bliss, which sounds just like something grandpa would say. I may not know for sure what makes you beautiful, but here's what makes you old: When you no longer care enough about teen-idol pop to love it or loathe it.
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