Don't get me wrong, I don't have a stick up my ass about Boy Bands. I know a bunch of Backstreet Songs I like, and I have to admit that except for his fast hands and instant coward (who? What? Me grab the titty? NO!) routine with Janet Jackson at the Superbowl - I generally respect Justin Timberlake for taking Britney's virginity. (We all know somebody had to do it, eventually -right? At least he waited couple years first like a semi-gentleman.)
But this episode was just fucking pathetic. Ok, sure, I was mildly impressed that Nick's original group 98 degrees actually put themselves together, and weren't arranged by some outside empressario. (Technically N'Sync did the same thing, but let's not quibble). I also thought it was cool that they moved to Hollywood and lived in the same type of rat and roach enfested hovel's that Motley Crue and Poison did back in the day - only without the groupies and the parties, or the drinking, the puking, the fucking and the - well - the Rocking.
It was neat that they were "discovered" backstage at a Boyz II Men show - just like Boyz II Men themselves were discovered backstage at a - I think - a Bel-Biv-Devoe performance. (They didn't mention this irony during the BTM, I just happen to realize it while the show was on).
After that they signed to a management deal, showcased for Motown records - fucking MOTOWN if you can believe that - got sent to the scary inner-city of Harlem to "learn some soul" for 90 days, then out on the road in a Winnebago.
Can you feel the glamour? Almost reminds me of Goo Goo Dolls and their 11 years of touring in a van. Ok, not quite -but close.
Things go a bit sideways when their benefactor, the President of Motown gets fired. New people come in, decide to "Pop-itize" the largely R&B stylings of the band - actually I can't legitamately call them a "band" since they don't play any instruments, they're a singing goup - and once they've thoroughly sold what little souls they ever had to the beast of the musical corporate machine - they start selling in the millions. Yeah, the devil always makes you "Buy in" before you sell out, doesn't he?
The thing about 98 degrees and their rising heart-throb Nick Lachey is that they don't really have any songs. I watched the entire episode and I didn't recognize a single track. Even as I type this nothing sticks. Nada. You play "Backstreet's Back" and I'm humming along, even if I've never heard the track before. These four generic pasty-faced white guys may sing pretty and do nice barber-shop harmony but they frankly got nothing on Colour Me Badd. (Ah, Mi Amour...)
Fucking Huey Lewis and the News do better barber-shop than these guys. Seriously. And the ROCK too, even in their 50's.
It's during their main heyday and staduim tour that Nick meets, you guessed it, Jessica Simpson. The wannabe diva Christian cookie from Texas who couldn't cut it as a Mousekateer, she couldn't dance (so she was obviously no competition for a mega-performer like Britney) and then broke down, ran away and cried after she heard Christina Aguilera's audition. (The upside of this being she actually bothered to learn to sing after the experience) When she met Nick she was a mouse, one who had yet to learn to roar. Eventually she became the opening act for 98, so Nick got his groupies screaming after him and a veritable live-in girlfriend on tour with him too.
Then came September 11th.
Nick and Jessica had been drifting apart after the end of the tour , but this made them refocus back on what was important. They decided it was each other and got engaged, meanwhile the rest of 98 degrees decided their priority should be "family" and took a break from music.
This move in particular pisses me off. If you have people's attention, if you have a platform, if people are gracious enough to listen to you - I believe you have a responsiblity to fucking say something. These guys, at the height of their career, when one of the most devestating tragedies of the last 50 years occurs - decide to go slink home. Music wasn't important anymore.
Ok, well let's just be honest - their music wasn't important - ever. Not everyone can by Dixie Chicks. Or Neil Young. Or Pink.
Most Behind The Music's have a point. Usually there's some big tragedy that personally befalls the members, one that they have to struggle with and overcome. Like Def Leppard's Rick Allen losing his arm in a car accident. Metallica's bassist Cliff Burton dying while on tour. Riots and destruction when Axl Rose stormed offstage in Canada. Twice. Ratt's Robin Crosby and his heroin addiction, which led to his contracting Aids. Billy Joel getting ripped off for millions by his brother-in-law. Leif Garrett getting high, crashing his car and paralyzing his best friend - then facing him for the first time over 20+ years after the fact. Nikki Sixx dying of a speedball overdose and then coming back because one of the EMTs was a Motley Crue fan and refused to let him die!
So, what's the big tragedy in Nick Lachey's life? What horrid struggles has he had to overcome?
He got too famous because of the TV show he and Jessica decided to make about their married life. I'll be honest, I had barely ever heard of either of them before "Newleyweds" came on eMpTyV. After that show debuted Jessica became a superstar for saying stupid shit like "Chicken of the sea: Is it Chicken or is it Tuna?" Yes, really. This catapulted them onto the tabloid pages with the main issue being - their marriage.
Now I have to say, when you put your marriage as being the big reason people should pay attention to you - it's pretty damn lame to then turn around and whine that too many people are paying attention to your marriage. Are they breaking up? Is Nick Cheating? Is Jessica getting into a Jonny Knoxville and Bam sandwitch between shooting scenes of the Dukes of Hazzard?
You delt those cards Nicky, now you gotta play 'em.
Tabloids are disgusting, but they do serve a purpose for your stars and starlets. They let them know that they still matter to people. People aren't doing tabloid stories about Corey Haim anymore. First off, he's gained weight and they wouldn't recognize him, and second - Nobody Fucking Cares! He's got the TV-Q of a gerble.
TV Networks and Movie studies bank upon people identifying and fantasizing about their young hunks and stunning starlets so that they'll watch the shows and pay $10 bucks a seat in the threatre or $4 bucks to rent a DVD. The only difference is that in one case the studio provides a script and makes up the story and in the other case - the magazine does it. None of it is real. None. Both are a means to an end. Making money in Hollywood by giving people sordid stories (on the screen or in magazine form) about people who have their attention.
Amazingly, it seems that according to Nick, he and Jessica broke up not because of anything either of them were doing, or not doing - but because the tabloids kept talking about them breaking up. Talk about self-actualization. Speak of the break-up, and it will come?
Ok, so Nick's single now. Boo hoo, now he has to find a fresh new blond who'll refuse to give him head. He still has both his arms. He still has all his money, for now. Would one of his fans bring him back from the dead or just let him turn blue? (Probably the former, but the the latter might wipe that smug look off his face at least for a while)
But wait, Nick's gonna be fine - why he's got a brand new CD of soul baring songs to sell. A CD of songs which sound amazingly like Coldplay, which I guess is natural since everyone criticized his previous solo record - the oh-so-brilliantly titled "Soulo" - for sounding too much like the only band - uh, group - he'd ever been in, which would be 98 degrees. VH-1 has just brought you this entire 48 minute of slumberfest just to treat you to several well shot sequences of studio recording scenes and live performance from the new disc.
It's a TV show, it's a Biography, it's a Tabloid, it's an Info-mercial - it's like the latest Swiss-Army video from Ronco - it's got dozens and dozens of uses.
Vh-1 used this show on the Star of sister station MTV's highest rated show ever and therefore ensured lots of re-run residuals and DVD sales as people pick the programs apart for clues of the couples future break-up. Oh, and Nick might sell some CD and concert tickets too. I haven't seen anything so shameless since the so-called Nirvana:Behind The Music, which was nothing more than a very thinly veiled 48 minutes commercial for then just released Nirvana box set.
If this new album is supposed to be Nick Goes Rock in the way that Alanis Morissette was able to redefine herself in her post-teen pop years or our former teen-idol Tiffany managed to dig deep into her heart and return to the music scene with a powerful CD that was a major hit with critics, or even how Ashlee Simpson seperated herself from her big sis by "rocking out, like totally" - I think Nicky has got another thing coming.
And if this Behind the Music was supposed to take us through a trip through the depths of his heart and soul - then I think most of us probably didn't get our ankles wet.