CURVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM (2)
July 5, 2023
One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of reconsidered passions, reassessed hates, and reversed feelings everywhere in-between. Series edited by Adam McGovern.
I grew up backwards.
I was an old soul at age twelve. I’d read epic science fiction novels and lived through the deaths of at least five hamsters. I barely knew what pop culture was, but I could rattle off the shrinking habitats of endangered species on a whim (thanks, Zoobooks). I didn’t give a crap about music until I was 15… which is the prime age to get into boy bands, right?
Wrong. I was a teenager having a midlife crisis. I was weird and aloof and overly serious. I had social anxiety and desperately wanted to be invisible. I was horrified by the prospect of someone seeing me experience joy or abandon or gods forbid, delight.
So I got into metal. Tool and Korn and Deftones and Helmet and the most disturbing angst imaginable. During the teen pop explosion of 1999, I was 18 — prime boy-band age — but my favorite bands were releasing songs about child abuse and the apocalypse. My bands played their own instruments. My bands wrote their own songs. Boy bands didn’t. They just danced around and lip-synced into headsets.
When I went away to college, I was roommates with a former cheerleader who put baby pictures on her walls and had no books and no real hobbies. She threw pop music parties for her friends. They would invade our room and blast the Backstreet Boys. “Come on, Holly, you know you like it!”
Sometimes I did. But I would never admit it to them. Vapid Midwestern gossip girls who didn’t read and thought being queer was creepy and questionable.
Screw boy bands, I thought.
It was a difficult association to drop.
A decade later, I had a brief love affair with the Jonas Brothers, who had released a pretty badass album (A Little Bit Longer) and actually played instruments, which helped me deny their boy band status.
Fast forward another half a decade and the world was obsessed with One Direction, whom I naturally dismissed. Screw boy bands. But then, in 2014… Who was this cute queer kid with curly hair and no shame and a completely awkward countenance despite his fame?
It was Harry Styles. He was a member of One Direction. And against my better judgment, I listened to a few of their songs. Catchy. Even badass, at times. Harry was a weirdo and Louis was snarky and Liam was a puppy and Niall was Irish. They didn’t wear headsets or lip-sync. They sang off-key, at times. They were super awkward and never danced. And against all odds, I adored them.
Eventually, I started to admit things to myself. I kinda loved Nick Jonas’s solo album. I’d always loved George Michael and Wham!. I went back and listened to earlier songs I’d pretended to hate, like “MMMBop” by Hanson. And damn it, the Backstreet Boys had always been awesome.
It took years, but I finally let go of judgment. I blasted pop music and joined fan communities and got over my hangups. I was 35 and finally free of shame.
My metal tastes have also evolved, and when someone asks me what music I like, I tell them, “Boy bands and death metal.” They usually think I’m joking. But it’s my current self’s perfect reconciliation with that angsty metalhead kid who was too scared and embarrassed to enjoy things.
I’m not fifteen anymore. I’m just twenty years past giving a shit.
Written to a sizzling combination of George Michael and Slayer.
BONUS: A Boy Bands and Death Metal playlist!
CURVE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Adam McGovern | Tom Nealon on PIZZA PURISM | Holly Interlandi on BOY BANDS | Heather Quinlan on THE ’86 METS | Whitney Matheson on THE SMITHS | Bishakh Som on SUMMER | Jeff Lewonczyk on WHOLE BELLY CLAMS | Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER | Nikhil Singh on LOVE ISLAND UK | Adrienne Crew on CILANTRO | Adam McGovern on MISSING PERSONS | Art Wallace on UFOs | Fran Pado on LIVERWURST | Lynn Peril on ELTON JOHN’S GREATEST HITS | Marlon Stern Lopez on ADOLESCENT REBELLION | Juan Gonzalez on STAN & JACK or JACK & STAN | Christopher-Rashee Stevenson on BALTIMORE | Josh Glenn on FOOTLOOSE | Annie Nocenti on SIDEVIEW MIRROR | Mandy Keifetz on BREATHLESS | Brian Berger on HARRY CREWS | Ronald Wimberly on GAMING AND DATING | Michele Carlo on HERITAGE FOODS | Gabriela Pedranti on MADONNA | Ingrid Schorr on MAXFIELD PARRISH AND SUE LEWIN | Mariane Cara on ORANGE.
JACK KIRBY PANELS | CAPTAIN KIRK SCENES | OLD-SCHOOL HIP HOP | TYPEFACES | NEW WAVE | SQUADS | PUNK | NEO-NOIR MOVIES | COMICS | SCI-FI MOVIES | SIDEKICKS | CARTOONS | TV DEATHS | COUNTRY | PROTO-PUNK | METAL | & more enthusiasms!