Boy Bands Ruined Me


During my youth, my family could easily predict my mood. Happiness? Jay-Z. Sadness? Linkin Park. Teenage lust? Boy bands.

Looking back, I think what did me in on the latter was the cheesy charm.

“I’ll never break your heart.”

“You’re all I ever wanted.”

“For the rest of my life, you don’t have to think twice.”

These lyrics may have echoed across the globe, but for an insecure girl in a little mountain town with limited dating options, they offered a sunnier forecast.

Only what I didn’t realize then is this: I was sowing the seeds of future discontent.

Eventually, I did mature and became repulsed by heavily manufactured pop music. This happened when I entered college and discovered new layers of hip hop. I also stumbled into my first serious relationship. As it turns out, he was no Justin Timberlake, though he did have a horrible blonde dye job.

It has only been in my marriage, however, that I have seen evidence of unrealistic expectations involving love.

We hurt each other. He doesn’t sing outside my window…in the rain…shirtless.

My life can’t revolve around him. He doesn’t wait on his knees to meet my every need.

And romance is a child-free, biannual dinner on the town. There is no bubble bath…roses…or diamonds.

But I would argue that the real thing is better than the smooth melodies that wooed me all those years ago. Marriage means pushing play together.

As a parent, I wonder about the trappings of pop music with my own children. My son already has an ear for the sound. A few months ago, I came to this painful realization.

[Insert Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” here]

Son: “Oh, Mommy! It’s your favorite song!”

Thanks for outing me in the middle of T.J. Maxx with your outside voice, Kid.

I couldn’t help but stare with wonder and remember the teenage girl who fell asleep to the promise of male affection. He’ll learn, too.

But every pop song has a hook.

On one of our first dates, my husband replayed the sounds of his own childhood.

“And you’ll never guess who my choir teacher was…Lance Bass!”

[Drops mic]

One Year Ago: Walking the Distance

10 thoughts on “Boy Bands Ruined Me

  1. The Daytime Renegade

    I love this! Love songs–and much pop culture in general–really don’t do much for the mental health if young people when it comes to love and romantic relationships.

    Falling in love is only the beginning, really. There aren’t too many songs about what happens in year 15 of a marriage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Can you imagine a multiplatinum album about making marriage work after the first few years?! Perhaps the divorce rate would be lower? 🙂 Looking back, I can now see how youth like myself were manipulated in a much larger money-making machine. Those kids didn’t even understand what they were singing! But, if I’m honest, it is but one of many things I have had to unlearn as an adult. What we consume informs our thoughts, decisions, and relationships – even when we can’t see it for many, many years.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Daytime Renegade

        Well said. Now, there’s nothing wrong with love songs. They’re kids’ stuff, and a little wide-eyed innocence and romance never hurt anybody. But we eventually grow up, even though the pop culture stays pretty adolescent. Or pre-pubescent.

        Time is another factor. We’ve gone from “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” to, basically “Let’s Get Drunk And Hook Up On The Dance Floor.”

        Progress? You tell me.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Indeed. I can always appreciate good writing. Disposable pop garbage, however, is no more than a suit and tie trying to ride the back of an adolescent – or even a delayed adolescent – until their voice changes or they rebel. I miss original songwriting and music that, as you suggest, captures the essence of childhood and young love: innocence.

        Liked by 1 person

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