Monday, June 29, 2009

OTWOBBW: Varsity Fanclub

Our second boy band on offer is Varsity Fanclub. We don't know whether they came up with their name before or after V Factory came up with theirs, but someone should have done a little asking around first. It's like if Lou Pearlman had sat down with his second batch of fresh-faced Orlando-ites and said, "Okay, for you I'm thinking Frontstreet Boys." Also, what the hell does "Varsity Fanclub" mean?

Image: Well, it ain’t good. Everything about Varsity Fanclub is unappealing. It looks like someone sanded them all down with a fine-grit sandpaper, then dropped them into Panic at the Disco’s castoff wardrobe, after it had been dyed neon colors. The amount of shriekingly bright scarves, skinny jeans, ruffly or low-cut shirts, and terrible, terrible vests is appalling, and the one in the trucker hat has apparently not twigged to the fact that “trucker hat” is shorthand for “douche.” It doesn’t help that at least three of them are seriously unattractive. Yes, that’s shallow and mean, but come on, this is a boy band. 1 out of 5.

Archetypes: Jayk, by virtue of his misspelled name and trucker hat, is clearly The Bad Boy. However, he is also the incredibly unappealing one who we hate, so that’s sad for him. Drew Ryan Scott, he of the three first names, is The Little Blond One, but one does not suspect, by looking at him, that he will pull a Carter/Timberlake and become The Heartthrob. The Heartthrob is kind of up in the air right now; it used to be Thomas, who also appears to be an aspiring gay porn star (see below), but he has since left this train wreck of a band, presumably to star in gay porn. Way to go, Thomas. (He also gets points for listing DuckTales as his favorite movie, even though it’s not a movie.) He has been replaced by another guy named Thomas, or T.C., but Varsity Fanclub’s terrible, terrible website still only has pictures of Thomas 1.0 on it, so we cannot speak to T.C.’s role. Bobby, who has the gratifying credentials of having appeared on Veronica Mars, may be the new Heartthrob, or possibly The Shy One, based only on the fact that he looks kind of like a normal dude and not a lunatic. And then there’s David, who we forgot about until we counted, which makes him The Other One. Surprisingly, 4 out of 5.

(Thomas may also have been brewed in the same genetic experiment that created Drake Bell and Zac Efron. We are investigating.)

Music Video: You'll have to click the link, as VFC's ex-record label has disabled embedding. Because why would a record label want one of their music videos to be easily disseminated? You know, this is actually a great boy band video. They’re wearing silver on some futuristic set with girls admiring but not touching them, there’s choreography, they introduce them all, Thomas winks and all the confused middle school boys feel funny…it’s great. Unfortunately, they’re really unappealing, so although the video contains all the ingredients for entertainment, it falls flat in execution. Also, there’s a “dance break” towards the end that appears to come from another song entirely. 3 out of 5.

Personality: On the Varsity Fanclub website, there’s a tab for comedy videos. It doesn’t work, because the Varsity Fanclub webmaster should be fired. But if you look on their YouTube channel, you can find a video of Drew Ryan Scott lip syncing to a terrible, terrible song called “I Hope You’re Not a Man,” about how gross it would be if you accidentally danced with a man and/or ugly woman in a dark club instead of a hot chick. And, you know, it’s good that Varsity Fanclub realizes that they need to put out footage of themselves being likable and funny. Unfortunately, they are incapable of being likable and funny, and Drew Ryan Scott’s performance comes off as simultaneously homophobic and offensive, while also the gayest thing that has ever happened in a boy band, including Lance Bass coming out. This is a pretty good example of how awful the whole band is (except for Bobby, who seems like just some dude). Also, they are already at a point where they are suing their label, and their album has been delayed a couple of times, and they’ve replaced a member, and their website doesn’t work, and basically the whole thing is an insufferable train wreck. 0 out of 5.

Oh yeah, the music: So boy bandy. Way more so than V Factory; they almost sound like a parody of a boy band, like 2Ge+her or Kim Possible’s Oh Boyz. Or, you know, O-Town, who were basically a parody. (Don’t tell them that.) The voices we heard on the three songs available on the website were seriously not good, but the music itself was pretty catchy. Sung by a JC Chasez or a Brian Littrell, it would be in frequent play on our iPods. 2 out of 5.

Bonus hilarious lyrics: “I think I gotta get your hair right/ Loosen up, you’re so tight/ Baby come on (Let me in tonight)/ You got me lost inside your circus/ You got me feeling nervous/ Baby come on.” GEE I WONDER WHAT THAT’S ABOUT?

Final Score: 10/25. They divided up nicely into archetypes, but that’s because they were put together by somebody who knows boy bands. Don’t let the not-completely-abysmal score fool you, though – we hated them.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

OTWOBBW: V Factory

First up is V Factory. And really, we can’t give you a better introduction than Wikipedia can: “The members have yet to confirm what the ‘V’ stands for. Wesley Quinn, in an interview with Popstar! Magazine, stated that ‘the V is a hidden meaning between the five of us.’ He also states that the meaning will come out like the FedEx box in the movie, Cast Away, which stars Tom Hanks.”

Image: Well, they certainly look like a boy band. Flipping through their gallery made us nostalgic for the late 90s, so thumbs up to that. The cuteness quotient could be higher, but that’s their Svengali’s fault, not theirs. They’re smart enough to put the Cute One front and center at all times, and vaguely coordinate the outfits, but they’re striving for legitimacy too much right now, what with the moody backlit promotional photos and Hoodies of Despair. They need more primary colors and jumping on each other. Fake legitimacy can come later. 3 out of 5.

Archetypes: Asher is clearly The Heartthrob, as he is the cutest and the lead singer. He will heretofore be referred to as “Ash Kash Bigash.” Wesley, who is little and blond, is The Little Blond One. Look out, Ash Kash: history indicates that he will eventually usurp your position (see also Carter, Nick; Timberlake, Justin). At first we thought Nathanial was The Other One, but after seeing him list He’s Just Not That Into You as one of his favorite books and Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List as one of his favorite TV shows, he has been upgraded to The Gay One. Nicky T. has the boy bandiest name; he’s usually wearing a tie and/or cardigan, which makes him The Responsible One. (Also, he was apparently a member of Quest Crew, which is pretty hardcore.) And finally, Jared, though apparently the “template” on which the band was based, appears to serve no purpose. Sorry, Jared. You’re The Other One.

Missing: The Bad Boy. Hurry up, Jared! It’s not too late! We also have yet to identify The Funny One, so start short sheeting the others’ beds. 3 out of 5.

Music Video: Nothing to write home about. They seem to have misread their audience, because twelve-year-olds don’t want you grinding in a dystopian bunker, they want you frolicking in a meadow (see above). The dancing, too, has a goofily joyous quality that smacks of HSM, which is appropriate for a cheerful musical about singing and basketball, but not for a faux R&B song playing in a club made out of a converted bomb shelter. They have also made the rookie mistake of allowing a sexy girl to actually touch them in their first video. I assure you that if V Factory makes it big, that girl will be receiving countless death threats on Hello Kitty stationary. 2 out of 5.

Personality: We did watch a video of Asher spilling a milkshake on himself and Nicky T laughing his ass off at him while Nathanial broke into song and the other two pretended not to know them, so that was entertaining. There’s potential for endearing BFFness/bromance, which is vital for boy bands, but they will need to step it up withthe wacky interviews – possibly ones in which they argue over who has the messiest bunk on the tour bus. Also, Nathanial is super gay, which we like. 4 out of 5.

Oh yeah, the music: Vocally, nothing too impressive, but on “Love Struck,” which is clearly intended to be their big single (and is inexplicably two words), they have managed to obscure the weakness of their singers with judicious application of almost every button on the soundboard. It’s hard to tell whether whoever’s singing lead on “Love Struck” is genuinely better than whoever’s singing lead on the other three song clips on their site – or even whether it’s a different guy – but it certainly sounds a bit better, by which we mean less nasal. There has certainly been no effort made to showcase anyone’s vocal performance, which makes us suspicious that there is nothing to showcase. 3 out of 5.

Bonus hilarious lyrics: "She bad/ She bad/ She bad/ She bad/ She bad/ She bad/ She bad/ She bad..."

Final Score: 15/25. Out of the various boy bands we’ve looked at, they appear to have the best lineup and the best chance, but they’re lacking the crucial element of looking like they really are having fun. Smile, boys. Your tweens demand it.

The Official Tweenage Wasteland Official Boy Band Watch

In the late 90s and early 00s, your bloggers were hardcore boy band fans. For the past few years, we have missed seeing groups of three to five clean-cut young gentleman dancing in unison to catchy, inoffensive pop hits. But, like the swallows returning to Capistrano, boy bands are a cyclical phenomenon, and we’ve been watching for warning signs that they are making a comeback.

There are several boy bands out there now, still in the embryonic stage, but ready to dance for your amusement. And so Tweenage Wasteland is proud to present the Official Tweenage Wasteland Official Boy Band Watch, in hopes that boy bands will soon be tearing up our hearts, and the dance floor, once more.

We’ll be rating these groups in five categories: Image, Archetypes, Music Video, Personality, and Oh Yeah, The Music.

Image is, of course, the most important aspect of a boy band. Don’t lie and say it’s the music. It’s what strikes you visually when you first encounter the band. Good image makes you want to find out more.

Archetypes are very important. 2Ge+ther famously delineated the boy band archetypes as The Heartthrob, The Cute One, The Shy One, The Bad Boy, and The Older Brother, but there are other equally valid ones like The Old One, The Funny One, The Other One, and most importantly, The Little Blond One. Take a moment to think about it. You recognize these archetypes. A boy band does not require all of them, but it does require a good sampling of the key ones, and clear delineation of who is who.

The Music Video is self-explanatory, and also key – less so now that Total Request Live is no longer a cultural zeitgeist, but still very important.

Personality is what comes after Image. It’s what makes you fall in love with a band, or make you want to leave nasty comments about them on their YouTube channel.

Oh Yeah, The Music. Whatever.

So put on your 98 Degrees T-shirt, turn on “I Want It That Way” on iTunes, and stay tuned for the Tweenage take on the latest wave of boy bands.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Morning Open Letter

Dear Zac Efron,



Via Ocean Up. Also baffling: At some point while putting gas in his car, Zef switched out his trucker hat for his trademark "I'm an enormous tool!" wool cap. And if these pictures are in chronological order, he then switched back. I guess he's just loves that devoted to looking like a tool.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Most Dramatic Drama of All Time

I've been half-heartedly planning an epic post for awhile now, but haven't bothered because it can be boiled down to this: OH MY GOD YOU GUYS, I LOVE STERLING KNIGHT. In all caps. Just like that. But now I have an excuse!

When I very grudgingly admitted that I enjoyed Sonny With a Chance, I somehow skipped over mentioning Sterling's character, Chad Dylan Cooper.* If Demi is the weakest link on the show (look, writers, she's just not as funny as you think she is, talking in a silly voice ≠ comedy genius, and she's not even that good at silly voices), then Sterling is by far the strongest one. In an episode I accidentally watched recently (because I do not actually seek out this show, surprisingly) he had a gag in the background and, without delivering a single line of dialogue, was funnier than the entire rest of the cast in the entire rest of the episode. And while his dialogue is generally the best on the show, that isn't saying much (it's akin to being the most talented Jonas brother, for example), and a lot of it is squarely thanks to Sterling.

What Sterling does well is actually, you know… act. Chad Dylan Cooper is an archetype I'm already fond of -- the smug but charming jackass. For all intents and purposes, he's the same character as Hannah Montana's Jake Ryan, who I also enjoy. But unlike Jake (or, if you're being technical, Cody Linley) who only has to pull that off in small doses, Sterling has to do it in almost every episode, consistently keeping Chad on the fine line between obnoxious and appealing, and, let's face it, he's got act for two in any scene where he's playing against Demi. Which is most of his scenes. But he not only pulls it off, he does it well -- and he's ultimately hilarious because he plays the character without a single hint of irony. There's no wink to the fact that Sterling knows how ridiculous his character is; there's no overacting (except, of course, for when Chad-the-character is on the set of Mackenzie Falls, on which he plays the eponymous Mackenzie). He's just straight-up funny. Let's get this kid a real role!

Wait, that would be where 17 Again comes in. Obviously 17 Again was, above all else, a Zac Efron vehicle; it wasn't what I would call a good movie, and there were some moments that were outright infuriating, but it was incredibly entertaining, and Zef managed to carry it along well. (It was interesting to see him in a role where he had to convey thoughts and emotions beyond "confused" and "my girlfriend has awesome boobs," which is about all we saw from Troy in the HSM franchise, but I digress.) Sterling Knight, as Zef's son Alex, was only a supporting role, though an important one, and Sterling was actually quite good in it. He was awkward without going into Television Nerd mode, he was quietly funny, and his subplot with the cheerleader was pretty cute. But what's really notable is that it means Sterling Knight can pull of what relatively few Disney kids** have attempted: he can play at least two distinctly different characters. And play both of them well. Who knows what he could do besides comedy? Period pieces? Space opera?

Dare I suggest... Drama?

And THAT is why I am writing this blog entry. As I said, Sterling plays Chad Dylan Cooper with nary a trace of irony, which is great. And the script gives it to him that way, if only because it's very, very rare that anything written for Disney has the self-awareness needed to be ironic. But someone on the writing staff knows what's going on, knows irony, and perhaps knows that Sterling Knight is the funniest guy they've got on set. And whoever that is, he or she also, clearly, loves me personally. Because Disney has seen fit to give me Mackenzie Falls minisodes, starring, of course, Chad Dylan Cooper, at his Chad Dylan Cooper-iest. All we have is an opening sequence at the moment -- boo! -- but the character profiles alone amuse me greatly. It's Gossip Girl's bitchy rich kids meets Dawson's Creek teen angst, with, for reasons I don't entirely understand, a score ripped off of Harry Potter; I don't think it would work long-form -- few jokes really do, and obviously Mackenzie Falls is an extended gag -- but if they keep the minisodes to a minute or two each, there is some potential for actual good parody here. And you know who would totally be able to pull that off? Hint: he's got the most awesome name of anyone, ever.

You guys, I really, really love Sterling Knight!

* They did a good job with that character name, but frankly, his real name would have worked even better. Oh, Sterling. Your parents were either crazy geniuses or they really, really hated you.

** "Disney kids" meaning "people who play kids on the Disney channel" as Sterling actually 20. Though by that definition, Jason Earles is also a Disney kid. And he's what, 75?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Comment Policy

We've neglected to put a comment policy up here so far, but here goes:

We love your comments. Even when you disagree with us, we love your comments. But if you make an off-topic or rude comment, we will delete it. So if you're wondering what happened to your "DON'T MAKE FUN OF SELENA GOMEZ U JELLUZ HOORS" comment - it's gone. End of story.

Now, let's all practice appropriate comments by talking about how hilarious and awesome Sterling Knight's name is. That's his real name, you guys! Amazing!

Friday Flashback: The Beatles

While I'd argue that the Beatles were definitely not a boyband, they definitely were teen idols, especially in the 1960s.

The Beatles on Ed Sullivan (February 1964)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

This is going on my NOTflix queue

So I'm doing a Google search for Cole Sprouse, as you do, and this is the first image that comes up:

Yes, that's really him, from a movie called The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things. He and Dylan both played "Older Jeremiah." Who apparently wears negligees.

My brain: I have to see this movie!

Then I read more about it on IMDB, and apparently that picture is from a scene where Cole's character seduces his mother's boyfriend, played by Marilyn Manson, who then rapes him.

My brain: I have to NEVER, EVER see this movie.

I am, however, not surprised that Disney seems to have convinced the Sprouses to leave this particular film off their resumes. Gaaah.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Here's another for the "I'm like this in real life, too," files. My boss and I have a weird habit of twittering at each other, despite the fact that we work at desks about five feet apart, in the same room, and if I swivel in my chair I can see his computer monitor as he types the tweet. So today, this exchange happened:

Me (upon seeing this news in my Google alerts): Wow. Even Kenny has backed out of High School Musical 4. That does note bode well for the franchise.

My boss: yknow what else didn't bode well for the High School Musical franchise? the first three.

Me: Says you. HSM2 had the best ratings of any program on cable, ever.

My boss: and now i'm terrified for the future of humanity. this is no way to start a week!

Also, my coworkers now bait me by asking whether I'm going to see the Jonas Brothers on tour. Because they hate me. (Or, more accuately, think it's funny when smoke pours out of my ears.)

Anyhoo. Speaking of fourths that probably shouldn't happen, Hannah Montana gets a fourth season. Quoth Miley, "The producers have proposed a change of setting for Season Four that will provide the catalyst for wonderful new characters and further expand the storytelling opportunities."

The only way that's good is if it leaves room for a spinoff consisting only of Oliver, Lilly, and Jackson as Miley goes off to have idiotic adventures elsewhere.