« Week 8: Tonight's Local News | Main | "American Pie" by Don McLean »

"Hero/Heroine" by Boys Like Girls

Fifteen years ago, I embodied teen pop culture: I owned every cassette that New Kids on the Block had made, I knew every word of every song (including the Christmas album), and my locker and bedroom were plastered with glossy posters of Danny, Donny, Jordan, Joe, and my favorite…Jon. (I recently learned they are making a comeback…I wonder if they will market their music to their old fan base who are 30 year old women?)
New Kids on the Block were big, but not revolutionary, as pop culture has a history of repeating itself. One of the popular boy bands on the market today is Boys Like Girls, of whom I learned when a student researched them for her informative speech. I chose them for this week’s project because, other than that student’s research, I knew nothing about them. I soon learned that they are the 21st century’s version of NKOTB.
I chose to analyze their song “Hero/Heroine? simply because there were two music videos on the band’s official website, and that was the first one I watched. I also wondered if there was going to be a double entendre with the term “heroine,? but I found none, thank goodness. Let’s take a look at the lyrics, first:

“Hero/Heroine? by Boys Like Girls
It's too late baby, there's no turning around
I've got my hands in my pocket and my head in a cloud
This is how I do
When I think about you
I never thought that you could break me apart
I keep a sinister smile and a hold of my heart
You want to get inside
Then you can get in line
But not this time

Cause you caught me off guard
Now I'm running and screaming

I feel like a hero and you are my heroine

I won't try to philosophize
I'll just take a deep breath and I'll look in your eyes
This is how I feel
And it's so surreal
I got a closet filled up to the brim
With the ghosts of my past and the skeletons
And I don't know why
You'd even try
But I won't lie

You caught me off guard
Now I'm running and screaming

I feel like a hero and you are my heroine
Do you know that your love is the sweetest sin?

And I feel a weakness coming on
Never felt so good to be so wrong
Had my heart on lockdown
And then you turned me around
I'm feeling like a new born child
Every time I get a chance to see you smile
It's not complicated
I was so jaded

And you caught me off guard
Now I'm running and screaming

I feel like a hero and you are my heroine
Do you know that your love is the sweetest sin?

(I feel like a hero and you are my heroine)
And I feel a weakness coming on
Never felt so good to be so wrong
Had my heart on lockdown
And then you turned me around
(Do you know that your love is the sweetest sin?)
I'm feeling like a new born child
Every time I get a chance to see you smile
It's not complicated
I was so jaded

(I feel like a hero and you are my heroine)
And I feel a weakness coming on
Never felt so good to be so wrong
Had my heart on lockdown
And then you turned me around
(Do you know that your love is the sweetest sin?)
I'm feeling like a new born child
Every time I get a chance to see you smile
It's not complicated
I was so jaded
[Hero / Heroine Lyrics on
http://www.lyricsmania.com/ ]

This song is a typical teen pop love song about a boy and a girl who fall in love. Who hasn’t heard the word pairs “feel/surreal,? and “complicated/jaded? matched up in a rhyming couplet? Shakespeare these Boys are not. However, they have capitalized on the “candy clichés? to which Ann Powers refers in her article, “Bread and Butter Songs: Unorginality in Pop.? Powers write that “Teenpop needs its candy cliches more than any other genre, since adolescence is all confusion, the time when music offers for many the first map to adult emotions.?
I remember listening to my NKOTB tapes until they warped or snapped from rewinding them. Finally, someone understood the heartache and deep despair of a teenager in love! NKOTB and BLG are the cartographers of their time, creating maps for teen girls feeling, for the first time, the thrill and agony of love.

When viewing the video with the critical approach of audience analysis, one can see, like Beach writes on page 34, “They are seeking to gain an audience’s identification with a certain set of activities or beliefs that can be equated with a product.? On the band’s official website, one can view the video: http://myplay.com/video-player/boys-like-girls/?bcpid=570322901&bclid=570333558&bctid=302034118
I wanted to embed the youtube video, but it was not the same one that I watched on the official website.
The “product? that BLG is selling is the romantic boyfriend. When you watch the video, you see a handsome guy who is head-over-heels in love with a beautiful girl. Rather than do “masculine? things, the activities that he performs are thoughtful, romantic, and fairly selfless. In order of their appearance, the lead singer: lifts heavy luggage, gives her a ride on his bicycle handlebars, cleanses her wound, holds her hand and kisses her (several close ups of this one throughout the video), gives her a puppy for her birthday, shares the music on his phone, dances with her, drives a cool car, apologizes after an argument, sings in a rock band, and lets her win a game. They have targeted their audience well, as women, young and old, want their men to think and do romantic things for them. The wise teen boy would watch videos like these and take notes! NKOTB sold the romantic boyfriend to me as a teen as well.

Analyzing the band BLG with media ethnography studies, one will notice that the BLG fans participate in music clubs, as noted by Beach on page 61: “Audiences also participate in shared community experiences in music clubs or rock concerts through dancing, singing along, or karaoke singing…or participating in online music group fan sites? BLG has an official fan club at their website, and from what I can tell, there are thousands of members. Typical blog postings sound like this:
• “i love your song the great escape everytime i hear it i go crazy !!:)l0l well ya i also have it as my myspace song ..... IT ROXS!!!!?
• “Boys Like Girls are SOOO awsome!!! They rock my sox off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<3 <3 <3?
Teens with technology have the ability to publish their love for a band online, to meet other fans and chat with them, and learn about their crushes based on their website info. Participating in the music and fan clubs that Beach writes about are ways that teens create a sense of community with each other. There were no online fan clubs in which I could participate as a teen, but I bought every issue of “Bop? magazine and gossiped about NKOTB with my friends.

BLG is not my new favorite band. However, exploring the genre of teen pop music as an adult helps me to understand why I developed such an affection for NKOTB as a teen and why teen girls continue to love boy bands today. They do three things: they create a “map to adult emotions,? as Powers puts it, they sell the product of the romantic boyfriend, and they allow for teens to bond with a shared interest in a community.