Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blogmas Day 15: Let's discuss the best album of our generation

Guys, can you believe there's only ten days left of Blogmas? It's been going so fast this year, fam! Thank today, because I thought I'd totally alienate literally all of you, I'm going to review The Jonas Brothers' self-titled 2007 album, because in the past two days since I rediscovered it I've come to the conclusion that it's the best goddamn collection of music on this planet. The Beatles? No. The Rolling Stones? Eh. Fleetwood Mac? Nope. The JoBros are where it's at. Obviously I'm exaggerating to an excessive degree, but I'd be lying if I told you I had listened to much else in the past two days.

For those of you who might not remember the glory days of Disney, back when Miley was our patron saint and the Jonas Brothers were our Holy Trinity. The appeal of the Jonas Brothers were their (highly manufactured) rough-around-the-edges aesthetic and their pop-rock music. They weren't a boyband, because they technically played instruments. Kevin rocked the guitar, Joe "played" the tambourine on occasion, and Nick--objectively the most talented of the three--switched between the guitar and the piano. If you can't tell by my blatant bias, when I discovered the boys at the ripe old age of eleven, I quickly picked Nick as my favorite and my prepubescent celebrity crush. As the baby of the group, Nick was discovered first as Broadway child star, then later as a solo Christian artist. But, as precious as the little dark-haired cherub was, there just wasn't enough softcore edge. Thus, Joe and Kevin were roped into the deal, producing the genuinely marketed band of brothers the late 2000s knew and loved. Obviously, as recent Billboard stats have shown, Nick went on to eventually have that solo career after all, after the JoBros disbanded, which is only fair. But while the Jonas Brother were together, they were a force to be reckoned with. I was smitten with just the idea of them as a preteen, and when I met them in seventh grade (at their peak popularity) I just nearly died. But enough about me, let's discuss the best album of our generation.

Technically "Jonas Brothers", the album, was the sophomore album from the band, but who really remembers their first album? It was called "It's About Time," and was released under Columbia Records (aka pre-Disney). The only song on that tracklist you might recognize is "Mandy," a cutesy song about a former neighbor and ex-girlfriend (she definitely dated one of them, right?) that made the rounds on the Radio Disney circuit for a brief time. But the 2007 album was the boys' first record as official Disney-affiliated artists, giving the boys much more airtime and relevance among the tweens (aka me and my friends at the time). The magic behind their music are the heartfelt, yet sometimes immature, lyrics and their raspy, yet sometimes whiny, voices. Let's go track by track, shall we?



1) S.O.S.
Who doesn't remember this song? It was, and remains to be, a banger. One of my favorite things about music made starting in the 2000s are the references to technology and slang that eventually hilariously date the tracks after a few years go by. This song is no exception. My favorite part: "a conversation on IM, well I'm done. We're texting, sorry for the miscommunication." With penned lyrics about some mystery girl who is vapid and clueless, I can picture the music video like it was yesterday: If I remember correctly, one of them was wearing one of those newsboy caps that were popular at that time. What a way to kick off the album with a bang.

2) Hold On
This one was my favorite back in the day, and it's still up there. You can't help but smile and clench your fists when singing along to chorus. Honestly, I don't really know what the words are about to this day, but I love it nonetheless.

3) Goodnight and Goodbye
THIS. SONG. IS. A. BANGER. With an infectious beat that is just off-cadence enough, this song showcases Nick's breathy, sometimes shrill, solos. I picked him as my favorite for a reason: not only the cutest, but his voice is/was the most...unique.

4) That's Just The Way We Roll
WHAT IS THIS SONG ABOUT? I guarantee this song was the result of that one time Joe smoked weed with Miley and Demi Lovato. With lyrics like "I woke up on my roof with my brothers/There's a whale in the pool with my mother/And my dad paints the house different colors!" I'm not quite sure how they managed to sell this one to Disney, other than the fun, head-bopping chorus all about being yourself ("so call us freaks, but THAT'S just the way we roll!")

5) Hello Beautiful
Every boyband needs a good ballad or two, and the JoBros are no exception. This admittedly basic love song is very sweet, and if the boys really did write their own songs like they claim to, this is actually a really mature, nice song? It's not groundbreaking or novel by any means, but it's a sweet song to listen to in the background while you're doing something else.

6) Still In Love With You
ANOTHER ONE OF MY UNAPOLOGETIC FAVES. Another great one for driving around and singing along to, it also showcases Nick's whiny high notes (especially during the chorus: "not like I did. What's the point? You're not listening anyway") to their fullest. The only part of this song that makes zero sense is the chorus that immediately contradicts itself:

"You left without a single word, not even sorry.
It might've hurt the worst to hear you say 'I'm leaving goodbye!'"

Like...you just said she left without a single word...but she also said "I'm leaving goodbye"? Not the most logical songwriting, but a bop nonetheless.

7) Australia
Beat-wise, this song sounds super similar to track six, and is one of those kind of forgettable tracks that gets lost in the middle. Can't fault the Jonas Brothers for that; not every song on every album is the bomb. (Talking about this album has got me using slang from the late 2000s, if you can't tell)

8) Games
WHY DOES EVERY YOUNG BAND OF BOYS WRITE SONGS COMPLAINING ABOUT "CRAZY GIRLS" WHO "PLAY GAMES"? Feminist hang-ups aside, I still jam to this immature song about how ~*~unfair~*~ and *~*psycho*~* girls can be. I jam to it with feminism in my heart, of course.

9) When You Look Me in the Eyes
Another slow jam. This one is actually really...poignant and sweet? I remember the music video was black and white and featured Nick behind a piano being a troubled artist and I was so about it. I also think the way Nick and Joe switch lines, and the way the lines are written they kind of blend into each other. It's not musical genius by any means, but I still fuck with it.

10) Inseparable
No other song on this album feels like true, authentic pop-rock quite like this one. Heavy electric guitar and drum riffs for no reason, this one feels like it better belongs on a Blink-182 or All American Rejects album. And I looooove it. I have a not-so-secret occasional affinity for whiny pop rock, because let's face it: my taste in music is garbage.

11) Just Friends
THIS SONG IS SO ODD BUT I LOVE IT. I remember sending the link to this song on YouTube to my friend Mercedes via AIM (AOL Instant Messenger for all of you who weren't hip in 2007) because it reminded me of her and her friend Jake, who I was convinced was in love with even though they were Just Friends. Songs about unrequited love get written all the time, but what makes this one so odd is it's from the guy's perspective, yet is super...girly? I know that's a shitty thing to say, because gender is a social construct, but this song literally features the lyrics: "I've been making lots of plans, like a picket fence and a rose garden/I'll just keep on dreaming, keep on wishing" What? I'm expected to believe a fifteen-year-old Nick Jonas was planning his future home's landscaping? (I still love this song, though. I laugh and shake my head all the way through because the lyrics are so absurd, but I love it nonetheless.)

12) Hollywood
This song is about how the JoBros won't change or be turned into "robots" by Hollywood and the pressures of fame. Which would be a nice sentiment...if this album wasn't heavily produced by the Disney Network. That's all.

13) Year 3000
WHAT DID WE AS HUMANS DO TO DESERVE YEAR 3000? THIS SONG IS SO PERFECT. THIS SONG FEELS LIKE MIDDLE SCHOOL, AND IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. This one is a Busted cover, and fixed up by Disney Channel to be a little more tame ("your great, great, great granddaughter is mighty fine" got changed to "your great, great, great granddaughter is doin' fine," for example). Every single person who was between the ages of 8 and 16 during the late 2000s has an opinion about this song and vivid memories that accompany it. I feel like if you were to play this song at a college party, everyone in attendance would lose their minds in the best way possible. And if that's not the sign of a bona fide JAM, I don't know what is.

So, there you have it. Why I chose to write this blog post today is beyond me, and if you actually read this far, I love you. You have all the patience in the world. I promise I'll talk about something relevant tomorrow.

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