The Jonas Brothers! They’re everywhere, and they’re going to be in even more places very soon, what with their recent booking on the MTV Video Music Awards and their Tiger Beat-ready mugs gracing the cover of the new Rolling Stone. (Nice that the editors gave a tip of the hat to last year’s Efron shirt-tug in the cover photo.) Now, obviously we’ve been covering the boys’ ascent since they first got sucked into Disney’s pop machine. So why is there something about all this JB love that seems a little, well, weird, even though it’s synced to the Aug. 12 release of their next album, A Little Bit Longer?
Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching how the Jonases’ ascent has been meticulously plotted by Disney over the past year, and how–despite being successful, and having a bunch of songs that I enjoy–one could argue that they’ve sort of fallen short in a relative sense. Having their Disney vehicle Camp Rock and its attendant soundtrack debut during the great Coldplay/Lil Wayne sales race probably didn’t help my perception of their potential for mass teen appeal; through last week, it had sold a good-for-2008 562,000 copies. And even though the teenpop crowd is supposed to be more immune from illegal downloading thanks to technological innovations like filtering software, sales of the JoBros’ forthcoming album’s lead single “Burning Up” softened in their third week, taking a 12% hit and just brushing the 400,000-sold mark. Meanwhile, their tour grosses this year have been decent, and their big headlining tour this summer is bringing out the StubHub profiteers once again, although the highest prices haven’t reached Miley levels yet.
(Speaking of Miley, one would think that if RS were really going for the teen-girl-squad demographic, they’d have put her on the cover long ago. Perhaps Jann still has lingering Billy Ray issues from the early ’90s, which, frankly, I couldn’t possibly blame him for.)
Perhaps what’s odd about the rush to embrace the Jonas Brothers–particularly on the part of the staid Stone–is that it seems like yet another naked attempt to champion The Way Things Were, i.e. when teenage girls all swooned for the same dreamy boys in unison, and the monoculture kept entities like RS and MTV in close proximity to the forefront of popular consensus. Even though the numbers haven’t really borne out that sort of mass appeal yet. Perhaps ticket sales for the tour and the scans for A Little Bit Longer will completely prove me wrong, and I’ll have egg on my face. That’s fine! I just get wary when the mainstream media seems sort of, well, desperate to get eyeballs at any cost.
Anyway, I’m sure this post will be swarmed by Jonas Brothers fans telling me that I’m wrong, that I’m a “hater,” etc. So let’s just post another picture!