Sunday, November 28, 2010

OTWOBBW: Big Time Rush

Let's just start off with the big disclaimer: we love the TV show Big Time Rush. It is completely delightful, and well crafted -- and it's hard to separate Big Time Rush the TV show from Big Time Rush the boy band. But since they now have two real videos and their debut album (the creatively-named effort "BTR") debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, they're also the biggest thing going in boy band-dom at the moment. So it's time to resurrect the OTWOBBW and do our best to objectively tackle the actual band in question.

Image: It's really, really hard to do this objectively, but flipping through the various promotional materials out there about the band, the image they're going for appears to be "fun-loving guys who are the best of friends and also cute." Since your humble bloggers originally fell in love with the Backstreet Boys and ‘Nsync because they projected fun-loving-ness, friendship, and cuteness, this is clearly a good angle to work. (And is the central theme of the TV show. Synergy!) They're always smiling and looking playful without looking dumb, and it certainly doesn't hurt that every single member of the band is easy on the eyes. Not even ‘Nsync had that going for them. 5 out of 5.

Archetypes: As in the show, when it comes to the actual band, James Maslow is very much The Heartthrob. He's non-threateningly attractive, and the camera just looooooves to linger on shots of his long eyelashes and rouged-up cheeks. I'd estimate he gets the most camera time in the videos. Coming in second, screen-time wise, is Kendall Schmidt, who presents a bit of a problem: the show gives the Kendall character to us as The Leader, but while that's fine for a Scooby gang, it's not actually a boy band archetype. Kendall's too old to be a Little Blond One and too boring to be the Bad Boy. After much thought and perusal of J14 images, though, we solved it. Kendall is The One Who Wears Hats, an occasional variant on The Other One archetype.

Like James, Logan Henderson gets to keep basically the same archetype in the real world and the fictional world; while he's The Smart One on the show, he's The Responsible One in real life. It's really just a matter of semantics. And Carlos Pena, Jr. is...well, his archetype isn't really clear on the show or in real life, but let's say he's some sort of hybrid of The Funny One and The Baby Brother and call it a day. (He's also our favorite, but more on that later.) 4 out of 5.

Music Video: Their two videos at this point are "The City Is Ours" and "Til I Forget About You." And they are actually both pretty good! In "City," you've got the boys driving around, then throwing a flash party on the roof of some random building, with lots of energetic teens dancing around them while they sing. In "Forget," you've got the boys performing at a stodgy country club, until they use a magic camera to create anarchic hijinks, and the video is complete with an intro scene of Kendall being dumped before the show. Both videos do good jobs of showcasing them as fun and attractive while fairly gracefully masking the fact that they aren't very good dancers. 3 out of 5.

Personality: In interviews, the boys make a big deal out of saying how much their characters and relationships on the show are pretty much based on the guys' actual personalities and the friendships they've developed since getting cast. Since we find all four boys delightful on the show, we assume they are delightful in real life, and all the behind-the-scenes footage we've seen has reflected that. 5 out of 5.

Oh Yeah, The Music: While the album is actually quite democratic when it comes to doling out solos (and also, we can't stop listening to it), the show itself is set on promoting James and Kendall first and foremost. And this is a problem for a bunch of reasons, but let's start with James.

We are certain somewhere in our heart of hearts that James Maslow has a lovely singing voice. It's just unfortunate that he doesn't actually use it. It's very clear that Maslow is trying his hardest to Sing Like A Popstar, which, unfortunately, he seems to think means Singing Like a Jonas Brother. If he would unclench at least some of the muscles in his body, stop singing through his nose, stop exaggerating all of his vowel sounds, and just sing, he would be a delight. But since he apparently won't do those things, he renders himself unlistenable.

Kendall, meanwhile, sings exactly like that guy in your high school who is super charming and a good actor, so he gets the lead in the school musical because he can carry a tune and won't actively hurt himself while dancing. Which is to say, he sings okay. This doesn't mean that he should necessarily have a career in singing, but he's not embarrassing himself, and with proper training he could reach Zac Efron levels of mediocrity (and hey, a non-singer acquitting himself well as a romantic lead in three musicals is a worthy goal to shoot for).* And Logan, with his pleasant but weak voice and tendency to go flat, sings like that guy in your high school who gets the secondary lead: the Kenickie to Kendall's Danny Zuko, the Riff to his Tony. (He's also often autotuned into oblivion. They all get the autotune treatment, but sometimes we think they just send Logan home and bring out his robot clone, Logandroid.)

But then there's Carlos. Oh, Carlos. (Please insert a million hearts here.) You guys, Carlos can actually sing! Like, really, really well! More than that, he can put across a song. When Carlos sings lead, our hearts go pitter-pat. Why oh why won't they change the band to "Carlos and the Rush?"

2.5 out of 5 (one for Carlos, one for whoever writes the mediocre but insanely catchy songs, and a half for Kendall, who really isn't that bad)

Bonus Hilarious Lyrics: "If you tell me where I'm waiting here/ Every day like Slumdog Millionaire/ Bigger than the Twilight love affair/ I'll be here/ Girl I swear"

Total: 19.5 out of 25. The highest score yet! Way to go, BTR.

* "Three musicals" meaning Hairspray and High School Musical 2 and 3, since Becky's dream man Drew Seeley does Troy's singing in the first HSM.

Images from