Take That weren't big in America (gasp!), and I was actually the right age for boy bands like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys (well I was a freshman in high school so perhaps a tad old but many of my classmates worshipped their snazzy dance moves and low slung jeans). I, however, resisted their urge. By the age of twelve I was onto R.E.M. and opening the window into alternative rock (back then still called college rock). I was mature, I was far too cool for boy bands....that is because at the tender age of eleven I had my heart irretrievably and forever devastated by the breakup of a little known outfit known as "Wham!." I was never going to dance again, certainly not with a boy band.
It's easy to mock Wham! (I only just realized via Wikipedia that the exclamation mark is official!) in hindsight, George Michael and Andrew Ridgley's awkward charisma, George's luscious blonde wings and tiny white shorts. The obviously camp as Christmas early work like "Bad Boys" or "Club Tropicana"(the videos from the first Wham album are priceless). Can we even talk about Wham without mentioning the disturbing-ness of "Wham Rap"?
But the confessional lyrics and pop anthems sung to my young soul like no one had before (or since?!). "Everything She Wants" - the wicked woman who stole George Michael's baby or some such (I was always a little fuzzy...."If my best isn't good enough then how can it be good enough for TWO?"). George Michael's beautiful voice and epic twirls of despair, no one ever made misery so glamorous! For a tween-age girl he was perfect, a man but not a man, almost like a living breathing Ken doll. So sensitive, so heartbroken, so full of guilt his very feet were rhythm-less, the poor soul! My first stay up all night slumber party was spent listening to Wham!, I remember dawn breaking and my best friend Andrea and I feeling as though we'd unlocked the secrets to the universe while listening to Wham! (on vinyl!). Our love for them was deep and not marred by petty jealousy, because she was that rarest of girls, an Andrew Ridgley fan.
All was right in the world, George and Andrew were dancing their hearts out in China like the revolutionaries they were, and I was on track to grow up at super speed and marry George. Then, out of the blue, came a day of darkness not seen before or since. I remember I heard the news on the radio, I was outside in the sun, feeling like life was never going to get any better, and then boom. In a bittersweet move just after they'd played the new Wham! single, they announced news so horrific and inconceivable it didn't seem real. Wham were over. News was thin on the ground as to why, but this album was to be their last, the daring duo were no longer to be Wham!
I went home and into my room, at that point nothing but a purple walled shrine to Wham!. As the news sunk in, I descended into a grief and despair and hiccuping sobbing fury so extreme that I could no longer speak. My Mother likes to fondly reminisce that she was so freaked out by my state she thought I had been abused or something truly horrible, so apoplectic with hysteria was I. Eventually she got it out of me "Whh-whh-whhhham BROKE UP!!!!" -were harder words ever spoken? I think not. Life was over, that was all there was to it.
It took time, but slowly I got over it. And I never loved another boy band again. There's no love like our first love, and in truth I never quite forgave George. Oh sure, I enjoyed his solo work because who can resist George Michael, he's awesome, but we were through romantically once he grew stubble and stopped highlighting his hair. Once Wham! broke up the dream was over. What for a brief time consumed my every waking thought and inch of wall space all but disappeared within a few months.
Boy bands are fragile, precious things, only here for a short time. When their breakup is a slow, painful trickle, as it was with Take That or the Spice Girls, or the one with Justin Timberlake, it must be a slow torture for their devoted fans, so I for one will not be gloating or mocking their crying Vines or bad poetry. Because they know now that their time left with One Direction is finite. The one who hit the high notes has left, the one who, even an old lady like me can see, was the one that the girls who liked the quiet boys, the pretty non-show off boys like Harry or the rest of them, will feel the most. Zayn was different, he wasn't a Robbie Williams show off with no particular value to the band. One Direction were even more of a Svengali (Simon Cowell) balanced creation than most boy bands, so any upset to the balance is a dangerous one.
Mocking the loss of childhood hopes, the despair that feels more real to these girls than anything they've felt before, is not particularly mature or kind. There have been quite a few obviously parental filmed videos of hysterical girls, and yes, it's mildly amusing, but please stop exploiting their pain for a bit of brief notoriety.
Try to remember how you felt at their age. I hope some of their Mom's remember what it's like and remember not to dismiss their feelings, but in this modern age it does feel like exposing our frailties sometimes takes precedence over nurturing them. Well, that's taken a turn for the serious, but I do think it's important. If my Mom hadn't been there to hug me and reassure me, but instead video'd me and put it online for everyone to mock, I don't think I would remember that time as fondly as I now do.
Anyway this too shall pass, I promise young Directioners. Who knows, some day you might be able to laugh and wonder how you ever took it all so terribly seriously. If it makes you feel any better, this is what broke your Mom's hearts: you can now totally make fun of them forever! :-) x
|Mesh vests, oh yes! http://bitly.com/1Cd8FSx via flick cc c/o katchyna|
|God Bless the 80's!|