Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One girl's New Moon is another girl's New Edition

Ah, boy bands. Is there anything more wonderfully corny and tweenaged? I’ve had my share of fixations with these well groomed groups of “Tiger Beat cover boys”, to steal a phrase from Ocean’s Eleven. Their melodramatic lyrics and polished choreography have haunted the dreams of PTYs long before NSync/Backstreet Boys. (I always confused them, sorry.) Here are some of the groups I think of, when I hear “boy bands”…though none of them really play instruments – that’s curious. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are many groups that came before and many more who will surely come after, but I have a soft spot in my heart for these fellas:

Oh Ronny, Bobby, Johnny, Ricky, Mike and Ralph. (I know Johnny came much later, but that sequence sounds best.) These guys were equally coveted as boys and men. We LOVED New Edition in my house – from “Cool It Now” to “Can You Stand the Rain”. How serious was it? Well, when “Can You Stand the Rain” came on Video Soul, we sang the song in 5 part harmony. There were 4 of us at the time.

More near and dear to the hearts of me and my sister were The Boys, ABC (Another Bad Creation) and ultimately Immature. Don’t judge. “Dial My Heart” and “A Little Romance” are the sweetest songs – even today. So lovey-dovey and yet so age appropriate; I appreciate the latter more in hindsight. My crush was the lead singer. He was the second oldest brother; I was the second oldest sister – we were kismet.

ABC was a little more street, but no less cute – and again with the age appropriate lyrics. “At the Playground” and “Iesha” were their biggest hits, and every girl with a 3-syllable name that ended in “A” was happy to put herself in the song. (“Te-res-a! You are the girl that never had, and I want to get to know you better…”) After all, what good are boy bands, if you can’t convince yourself that they’re singing to you?

As mature, junior high school students of a certain age, we discovered Immature upon seeing them in House Party 3, though the group had released an debut album by then. The 90’s trio was so inappropriate. Their first hits (to me, anyway, since my personal catalogue begins with album #2), “Constantly” and “I Will Never Lie”, were chock-full-o teenaged melodrama. That was fine, but the bird chest of a shirtless Marcus Houston was a bit over the top. (That’s right, Marcus. Some of us remember). But they were cute, and not so grown up as Jodeci or Genuine, so we listened. We listened all the way to “We Got It”. (And man, did they.)

In occasional fits of frenzied nostalgia, I go to YouTube and listen to all of them - never fails to put a smile on my face. Not as innocent as Jackson5 but less pornographic than…well, most recent stuff (I’m looking at you, B2K and Pretty Ricky), these R&B boys struck a happy medium with the little ladies and the Powers-That-Be who bought the CDs and posters and concert tickets. Being an ex-tweenager who may one day find herself buying such posters and concert tickets, I really appreciate the happy medium. And the happy memories.

Honorable mentions: Soul For Real, Mystic, 112...and the list goes on

Monday, November 16, 2009

The soul of wit

He asked
how I got such long lashes.
I said
I water them regularly.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Untitled first draft

I have learned too well
what is acceptable--
what is good and right.
I have learned so well
that I police myself.
Nothing muzzles quite so well
as a tongue afraid to move.
Nothing bounds so tightly
as an uncertain self.

I know all the words to say.
I can turn a phrase,
sprint a rebel word run
that will have your mind
meditating on freedom.
I can sing a song that will incite
a riot. I can do all those things for you,
but not for me.
When we all go our separate ways,
and the picket signs are scattered
in the streets like so many bodies.
I count myself a casualty—
the living dead.