December 2012 Archives

Criminal/Heroin Chic

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I thought that the whole heroin chic discussion was one of the most interesting that we had as a class, and I liked the way that we expanded to drug culture in general. It's interesting how each sub-generation or decade seems to have it's own underground sub-culture going on. It's fairly easy to miss how much of a part that heroin chic played in the 90's unless you look for it and where it shows up is movies and advertisements. the 90's seem to be ripe with advertisements glorifying drug culture while being aimed at youth because that it who companies could impress their message on, and thus influence to purchase a product. What they didn't realize is that adverse affect of this advertisement was having the drug culture present in youth put directly in the glorifying spotlight and expanding it's hold on youth. It is best emphasized in "Criminal" how the drug culture is glorified, both back then and today, with the "don't give a damn" party culture, the substance abuse, and the blackouts that follow from which the subjects awake later in a disheveled state and have to pick up the pieces of their life that have gone missing in the past hours. While it all might seem like fun it's quite alarming just how many people actually believe that it would be okay or a good idea. This is why the heroin chic type cultures exist, both because of the public acceptance of this lifestyle in society and the influence of the corporate world on youth, and with how impressionable youth are, that influence is downright criminal.

vogue/pop

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The theme of individuality seems to be the focus of musical expression on a fairly regular basis. In the songs Vogue and Pop we can see two different interpretations of this topic. Madonna glorifies the individual directly through her lyrics by encouraging people to simply be themselves and find the beauty in everything. The approach taken by N'Sync is slightly more tangential as they claim that making fun, digestible music is something they truly enjoy, so people should try not to judge them for doing what they love. These different takes on being yourself and enjoying that state, effectively express the commonality of this idea in musical expression. It's interesting to consider why we feel we must be reminded so frequently that being ourselves is cool, enjoyable, and the right thing to do. I am sure they are out there, but at the moment I have a hard time thinking of a song that is unironically about how awesome it is to conform to the masses and lose your sense of individuality. Despite this, we are often warned about the dangers of peer pressure and people look to celebrities for the latest and greatest in fashion trends. This odd contradiction of expressing desire and support for individuality while simultaneously exhibiting conformity through our actions is the internal conflict that helps to drive the creation of these songs. Intellectually, we value being ourselves possibly through our search for meaning and the desire to leave one's mark on the world. Beyond this we may also be driven by the fear that, in terms of who you are as a person, generic can mean replaceable. These motivating forces, strong as they may be, are at odds with biology's drive for survival. I am unsure what the original evolutionary advantage was, but when an individual is placed in a group with similar visual features, they will generally be perceived as more attractive than before, and therefore a more suitable candidate as a mate.

Pop by N Sync: what is authenticity

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I do not totally agree with the opinion that in order to find their authenticity, people have to give up everything they own or break every law and the definition of authenticity. To me, authenticity is a complete "ego". Just like what N Sync sings in Pop, no matter which clothing we are wearing and the place we are standing on, we are still having our unchangeable individual characteristics. I believe that we are born with same soul and human mind; the family, personal experience, environment and culture influence the way we think and create our own unique characters. Sometimes people call it "destiny". This different "destiny" then endows us a distinctive way to think, express and act. Authenticity I believe is the instinct inside our mind, the thing that dominates our behaviors. Usually, we can see a great part of Authenticity through the way we think. I do not deny that money and status cloud some people's eyes. But throwing all of this wealth away also makes us lose a small part of authenticity--the way to treat money is also a part of "ego". Just like some people are born to be greedy. In order to see this characteristic, they have to stay with money and power. What's more, some people are born to be obedient, so they do not break any law to see this authenticity. People are using their authenticity to deal with every situation and every action also reflects their authenticity.

Criminal

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There seems to be a bit of a duality playing out in the music video between the audio and visual aspects. If you listen to the song without the music video, it more or less eliminates the heroin chic theme exhibited when the audio and visual portions are experienced simultaneously. The message of the song seems to primarily focus on how she messed up and feels she deserves to be punished justly. It's most certainly not the happiest or most upbeat song, but it does not seem nearly as bleak and depressing as when viewed with the video. The video on the other hand, gives me a low-level case of the heebie jeebies. Watching it without any sound leaves the video focusing on the haggard appearance of the women present, giving things a decidedly drugged out and rape-ey tone. Specifically the point at which she is sitting in the closet, she exhibits a numb and apathetic demeanor, which is a defense mechanism sometimes utilized by victims of sexual abuse to distance themselves from the situation in an attempt to reduce the emotional damage. I don't think it was the original intention while filming, but I feel that the static displayed on the television that rises out of the floor could be interoperated as a symbol of this emotional detachment from reality and protecting oneself behind a blank and unresponsive demeanor, emotional static, if you will. Despite this, the television then displays a brief recording of Fiona in what appears to be a compromising position, showing that for all one's psychological defense, the memory of being sexually abused persists. When the audio and video tracks are joined, things start to clash in interesting ways. The juxtaposition of her song of guilt and deserved punishment onto the carnally vulnerable environment of the video could be interpreted as a commentary on the absurd bias that some of the public seems to hold about women and rape. Essentially, that it is the job of woman to avoid getting raped rather than the job of men to just . . . not rape. This subtext is probably the single most unsettling aspect of this video for me.

Heroin Chic Criminal

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The video that I am choosing to write about is "Criminal" by Fiona Apple. This video is shocking to me because I have never heard of heroin chic before this. Once I watched the video I realized that I can remember this sort of style and seeing people that represent this idea but I just never knew what it was classified as. Now that I am informed on heroin chic and the background of it I can see why people enjoyed heroin chic. People constantly strive to be part of the "in" crowd and be part of the next big thing. This is all that heroin chic was it was just the fad at the time. Just like nearly every other fad the beginnings of it stem from celebrities. As soon as that first celebrity (whoever it was) got the idea of using heroin and dressing like you are basically homeless it has just snowballed into a bigger and bigger band wagon that people kept just jumping on because someone cool was doing it. Once this happened obviously the media and advertising got ahold of it and used it to their advantage. They saw the fad coming so they began designing things that would appeal to followers of the fad and then brought in celebrities to endorse their products and just make the whole idea grow more and more. Heroin chic was quite an extreme fad that people caught on to. Probably one of the most intense because the basic idea is to pretend you are on heroin and your life is falling apart. For this to somehow catch on as the fun thing to do amazes me and yet somehow it did and is still evident in culture in some ways.

Pop Nsync

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e video "Pop" by NSYNC is quite confusing to me. At first when I watched it I was blown away by the style and the overall theme of the whole video. The reason that I had this confusion in the beginning was because I first tried listening to the lyrics and the way I interpreted them made the whole video seem pretty hypocritical. I thought this because of how they claim that the clothes that they wear don't matter and the cars that they drive have no effect on them. I feel this is hypocritical because of the fact that they are famous, anything they do is a idolized, and they are dancing and singing just to make a video for a dong that they created in order to become famous. For them to say this stuff does not matter to them is hard to believe because the only reason they are at the level that they are at is because they worked hard for it, they worked hard to become famous and have all the privileges that come along with it. Once I listened to it again and paid more attention to the rest of the song I began to see what they were really getting at which was that at the time some people viewed them strangely and in this video they wanted to point out how they are just having fun and that the music they are making is enjoyable and people have fun with it. Another aspect of the video that I found interesting was the whole style of it. What they tried to do was make this one video that a bunch of people could relate to and enjoy whether the reason they enjoy it is the art style, their fashion, the beat, the lyrics, or the different styles of singing. They just simply wanted people to enjoy it.

Inspiration from Fiona Apple's Criminal

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When I fist saw Fiona Apple's Criminal in the writing class, I was shocked by every sexual senses appearing in the screen. Then both the reading and the MTV caused me to think about the difference between the United States and China.
In China, I never see any drug using, high-level sexual content or a great amount of violence used in a MTV because they are forbidden; we are not allowed to parade because are illegal; sex is a secret topic; one year old, a person wrote an article online to slander China government disappeared in next week and the article was immediately deleted by unknown people in the second day; even our historical event such as 1989's Tiananmen Square Massacre is deeply hidden by the government and our parents. It seems everything in China is controlled by the Communist Party.
Before I went to the U.S., I once appreciated the freedom Americans have in the U.S. and I wish I could be one of them, living in this space. Yes. I did find everything (especially bad side) that I could not find in China after I got to the U.S.: endless crimes on campus, uncontrolled sexual content, sex topic everywhere.
After I got in touch with some real cultures of the U.S., I realized something is not being correct in the U.S.--the U.S. government permits too much freedom. Guys are using too much and too casually; it is common to see a college girl changing her sexual partners every week; in almost every MTV, I can see sex. I believe that being open and liberal is advanced. But what I have seen in the U.S. also makes me worried: Americans have too much freedom.
I really hope Americans could realize these phenomena and make some changes.

Wannabe by The Spice Girls

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The hit "Wannabe" by the British pop band The Spice Girls hit number 2 on Billboard's Top 10 about fourteen minutes after its U.S. debut in January of 1997. Coincidence? I don't think so. So what did the band mates-Pop Spice, Sporty Spice, Baby Spice, Ginger Spice, and Posh Spice- do that made this song so infectious? They combined the bubble-gum pop music with a political message about a new kind of feminism. The Spice Girls found success through "Wannabe" because they used their fame to empower young females. Ironically, with this new sense of empowerment among the young fans of the Spice Girls, the beginning of an age where it was socially acceptable for women to embrace their unavoidable sex appeal began. In the video "Wannabe" the Spice Girls were showing enough midriff and cleavage to make my grandmother cringe, but more importantly, they were showing no concern and were radiating with confidence. This idea allowed the public to change their views of feminism from a need for gender equality to a movement that required only a sense of embracing a woman's ability to use sex appeal to her advantage. Brilliant. Instead of women spending time working to change the public's perceptions, women began using the assets men do not possess to their advantage. Although this idea of feminism may be criticized, I believe this is brilliant because celebrating and embracing differences is a much easier task than asking for other people to see you in a different light. The Spice Girls embody this idea in both their music and their image. Thus, "Wannabe" became an anthem for young girls across the world to sing along to and celebrate what makes them unique and powerful. Without the Spice Girls, women across the world may still be focusing on how to transform themselves into the superior gender, or male gender. This, ironically, was what was holding females back.

Video Killed the Radio Star

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Watching Video Killed the Radio Star made me reminisce about my childhood. This song is about the death of the radio drama, caused by the gaining popularity of TV. As a child I had the good fortune to be exposed to some old radio drama episodes. My dad listened to CBS Radio Mystery Theater when he was younger, it was actually airing when video killed the radio star was released. He managed to get recordings of a bunch of the old episodes, and we would listen to them as we fell asleep when we went camping. He also got some episodes of The Shadow, which aired back during the thirties. These radio dramas are really cool, I love listening to them. It's amazing how well the stories can pull you into your imagination as you lay back with your eyes closed, listening intently. I would create a whole visual world inside my mind while the episode played. I like The Shadow the most, he was an invincible, invisible superhero, who was the inspiration for Batman. Every time I laid down and started the next episode I was instantly transported into the Shadow's world with the iconic introduction; "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows..." But what I remember most was his laugh. The Shadow has the most sinister laugh I have ever heard, and I remember being so intrigued by the fact that he was so dark and frightening, and yet was always such a hero. I really miss radio dramas, the amazing, imaginative effect they have on you is in no way reproducible by TV. I really wish video hadn't killed the radio star.

Criminal

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I've noticed that almost every one of the blog posts on here about Criminal mention that they don't find Fiona Apple attractive, and that the lifestyle portrayed in her video is so terrible. I disagree. Personally I think Fiona is a very attractive woman, she's a bit skinny but that doesn't bother me too much, or at all, honestly, I like skinny girls. I also think that judging the heroin chic lifestyle portrayed in her video so harshly is probably a bit hypocritical. I think that this lifestyle is probably quite similar to the average partying college student. At least hopefully apart from selling everything in the house for heroin money... I would venture to guess that most college students homes aren't incredibly neat and tidy, and I'm sure there are times when a passed out drunk guy is sleeping on your floor. Maybe you know who he is, maybe you don't, but he looks comfortable, so you'll let him sleep on. I feel like things haven't really changed all that much since her time, leaving out style and changes in technology. Young people back then drank, smoked, and partied. Nowadays they continue to drink, smoke, and party. Their lives were very similar to ours today, and if you choose to judge it harshly that's fine, as long as you realize that you are judging the lifestyle of today as well. And I don't really think its that bad of a lifestyle, it could be better, but it could be a whole lot worse. Who are we to judge? Now I'm not trying to advocate the use of heroin, its a terrible drug that has ruined a lot of people's lives. I'm just saying that times really haven't changed that much.

Criminal

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After watching the music video Criminal by Fiona Apple, it makes me wonder what the intrigue in heroin chic was. I understand the thrill of having a wild party and trashing the place as portrayed in the music video, but not the scenes where she is out of control. Half of me likes to imagine the scenario of me waking up in a daze looking around trying to piece together the last night and why I woke up with a large mirror in my jacket (true story). But as I'm writing this I'm reminded how The Hangover glorifies these actions of intoxication because it is seemingly comical to try and figure out why there is a tiger in your hotel bathroom or a mirror in your jacket. While I agree that it is a funny movie my tamer half has to admit that these portrayals of being so out of control are unsettling, especially with the portrayal of heroin chic and the music video. I'd be lying if I said Fiona Apple, at the time 19, was not attractive but some of the ways she is portrayed in the music video negates all interest. Particularly at 1:30 when she looks crazy enough to rip off her own skin and be of harm to her self. She looks helpless and lost and to be honest if I saw that in person I would be pretty freaked out. I think I speak for most when I say its attractive to see someone who can handle there own and has a head on their shoulders. I'd say what confuses me the most about how heroin chic was attractive is how one can get past the emotionally weak, uncomfortable "look" of it.

Pop

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After watching Pop by NSYNC I'd have to say my favorite part is Justin Timberlake beat boxing at the end. It makes me curious how he feels when he watches the music video because when I watch the video it makes me wonder about pop music in general. A lot of people give pop music crap because they claim that it is not original or is just made for the purpose of beings popular and catchy. While I agree that the majority of pop music doesn't serve a purpose other then being catchy it is still art and music that someone is creating. It's like saying I don't like death metal because of the heavy guitar and overall loudness. It's kind of redundant to say that. People will like what they like and dislike music that doesn't give them their jollies. Its kind of hard for me to not rip on pop music because I would say that I am not a big fan because I don't find value in most of the lyrics. But when I take a step back from how I initially judge all pop music some of it, even though not lyrically moving, can still be enjoyable. Music is a really interesting thing because people make large generalizations about each genre, particularly about the sort of people who are associated with each genre. No one music genre is better than the other. Music is on a scale from either bad or good and everything in between. Lyrics from a song I enjoy by Murs says, "Good music transcends all physical limits, It's more than something that you hear, it's something that you feel, When the author and experience and passion is real." He is saying that no matter what genre it is that as long as music is real and true to the author the listener can tell it apart from fake music.

Pop Music and Aunthenticity

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I thought that this past week's discussion on authenticity was interesting in that our culture being so focused on consumerism and excess, has killed authenticity in all aspects of consumerism. Authenticity has lost its meaning when everything is so mass produced for the sole purpose of making money, with the goal being profit. This can be applied very generally in our culture, but the best example is the music industry. There is always someone willing to produce for cheaper and so in a dying music industry, artists simply make music to sell music. Music has less and less of a meaning everyday, when all it takes to sell a track is a half catchy beat to dance to even if the lyrics consist of two repetitive sentences. That is what pop and hip-hop culture has evolved to. An industry so focused on profit that it has lost sight of what it means to express oneself through music. N'sync exemplifies this, making a song such has pop that has so little meaning other than to try and salvage what little respect they can for themselves. The problem itself is the culture that has developed of always following the latest trend and stating what is "popular", thus allowing such poor genre such as "pop" to form. It is a genre that exists solely because of consumerism and because it is flagged as popular, specifically among youth. Then the consumerist culture of America jumps to the next trend and music that was "popular" is suddenly old and there is some new annoyingly repetitive track with the same shallow meaning as last week's as a replacement to take up the ranks. Authenticity simply can't exist on a commercial or cultural level. Whether it means buying local goods, or exotic goods, the concept of authenticity is in the eye of the beholder.

Mass-Sterilization is Criminal

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Fiona Apple's music video "Criminal" was interestingly different from the others that we watched in class. In many ways it looked more like a modern art project than a typical music video. The set and lighting were so carefully designed to look messy and dark that it was clear they were staged. In many ways this staged depravity is iconic of the entire Heroin Chic movement. The producers of the film obviously used actual disheveled houses as a reference point from which to create their own altered version, much as ad makers used actual heroin addicts as a reference for their own take on that theme. I think it's very interesting how the media machine has evolved to take anything interesting, popular, or avant gard and sterilize it for mass-consumption. It seems that as soon as a trend starts to take off among a particular group of people the media will seize on it and mold the trend into something that nearly everyone can get something out of. But in this process the actual essence of what made the trend appealing to the initial adopters is always lost in favor of a blander and more banal aesthetic. But one of the most interesting things about this phenomenon is that, as far as I can tell, there doesn't seem to be any way to stop it. If a group starts to fed up with the established order the media is just going to churn out a massively appealing anti-establishment campaign and weather it out. Unless the entire nation suddenly has a change of heart, this brand of mass-sterilized capitalism is here to stay.

NSYNC and junk music

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I think that NSYNC is an excellent and representative example of the boy band craze of the 90s. Their songs were played very often in gatherings of young people and yet, as we discussed in class, almost nobody ever wanted to admit that they liked NSYNCs music. I feel that in many ways this dichotomy between what people are willing to listen to and what they say they enjoy is representative of a lot of today's pop music. Junky songs get played (and overplayed) all the time and people listen to them. But ask most people if they actually enjoy, say, Rebecca Black's "Friday" and the answer will almost certainly be a resounding "no". So why are people so content to sit back and let crappy music flow over them like so much fetid manure? I think the answer is multi-faceted. First, I think that most people don't deeply care about the quality of music they listen to. Sure, they aren't going to want to listen to somebody who obviously has no clue what they're doing, but the differences between good music, great music, and masterpieces of music seem to be largely lost on many people. So why don't they care? Here's the second part of the problem: people don't really LISTEN to music. They let it wash over them or play in the background all the time, but how often do most people really sit down and just listen. Maybe if more people stopped to listen and analyze their music they would be able to see junk for what it is. And if they see it for junk, why would they tolerate listening to it?

Michael Jackson

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To continue from my last post on how society unjustly damns the successful, I also want to point out the flip side to this observation. Society will completely ignore any legitimate reason to dislike someone who is famous if they are popular enough. Many of the people that stand as some of the greatest role models in our society are convicted felons! How many rappers have spent time in prison for rape, assault, drug use and other crimes just to come out to screaming fans like nothing happened? Akon, lil wayne, Kid Cudi, and 50 cent all spent time in prison and yet you still can probably sing some of their songs. It's not just rappers that do bad things too that seem to be over looked. Kobe Bryant of the Lakers allegedly raped a girl, as did Big Ben on the Steelers. We all know what went down with Michael Jackson. Hell, there are still plenty of OJ Simpson fans out there and he killed people. Society still loves them all though. Of course you can argue that these actions don't affect their abilities to act, make music, or play sports and you would be right; however, these people are not the kind of individuals that we need to put on pedestals as our role models. When a kid says that he wants to be like Kobe when he grows up, everyone thinks he's cool and has a good goal, and when the same kid says he want to be like Bieber, they laugh and call him names. Society values the actions of a potential rapist rather than a harmless Canadian boy. This is something wrong in society. We might hate the successful because of envy and love the should be bad guys because we love them to much, but no matter what society has their ideals backwards. Of course, society doesn't exactly get their views right most of the time.

Nsync

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Don't you find it funny that sometimes society just decides to hate the successful? N sync for example, they were a wildly successful group making millions with their international hit songs, yet it became normal to hate them "they suck," "that's not music," "Justin Timberlake's hair looks like Ramen noodles," and so on and so on. However, they continued to make songs that topped the charts. There are only so many crazy 12 year-old girls in the world after all, so they had to have had some large fan base hiding somewhere. In my opinion, this is also happening with today's popular artists; Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and One Direction just to name a few. We all love to hate them for any reason we can even if we have to make up that reason. Justin Bieber sounds like a prepubescent 10 year old. Lady Gaga is bat shit crazy. We all know that all the One Direction members are sleeping together. Of course, all of these are false no matter how much people like to think otherwise. Now where does this animosity come from? Those artists never had a huge scandal that would turn public opinion against them. Heck Justin Bieber has one of the greatest nobody to somebody sob stories ever. The guy lived in a very unconventional family with his mother being only 17 when she got pregnant. He was discovered because of some videos of him singing that he put on the internet for his family to see, AND WE HATE HIS GUTS FOR IT! I myself am guilty of this shaming as well. I have never once listened to a full Justin Bieber song, yet if you ask me what I think of him as a musician, I will tear him apart based sheerly off of judgments I have made on him. I have no answers on why this happens. I just wanted to point out that it does.

Nsync Pop

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I think this song was an average attempt at best to gain respect for Pop music. Pop music is named that after popular, therefore it is whatever is mainstream at the time. More often then not that ends up being whatever song has a catchy tune that gets stuck in every bodies head or has an attractive male or female lead vocalist. Take for example Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe, a song with an okay looking lead singer and something that gets stuck in every bodies head even though it is not that interesting of a song. Or look at Justin Bieber's One Time, another song with an alright looking lead singer and a song that gets stuck in your head that is again not all that interesting of a song. In Nsync's attempt to fight for the validity of Pop music they made another song that is catchy and will stick in peoples heads due to its simplicity as they try to argue why Pop music is good. Unfortunately the only argument they really made was that Pop music is good for dancing as they sing "This Music gets you high? It takes you on a ride feel it when your body starts to rock". Last time I checked there is a lot more for music then just dancing and a lot more people listen to music when not dancing then when they are. So yes Pop is good for dancing but is there anything else it is good for?

Heroin Chic

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Fiona Apple's single, "Criminal," was released in 1997, and is an excellent exemplification of culture's heroin chic. Heroin chic was popularized in the 1990'2, and was essentially backlash against the traditional look of models. One of the largest proponents of this new look was the clothing company Calvin Klein, who often displayed Kate Moss as the face of their advertisements, creating a look of hopelessness as well as images that almost bring to mind a sort of dystopian society. This new vision of beauty changed the way advertising firms targeted their potential customers. Heroin chic as a part of semi-popular culture was unarguably very unhealthy for those who chose to engage themselves in it, many dying from the unintended effects of heroin usage. Additionally, the increasing popularity of heroin chic encouraged much illicit activity, and contributed to the spread of the AIDS/HIV epidemic. Those who participated in heroin chic culture fell victim to a ploy of self branding done by the models involved. One particular thing that can be noted where heroin chic is different than many other trends is that the visual appearance of the trend was spread mainly through advertisement of material and the lifestyle by clothing companies, rather than an introduction through music or television. In today's culture, much of the cultural trends that develop are based on musical influence, and the artists that don them. Heroin chic was not as widespread as many of the more modern trends, possibly because it was not given access to quite as many outlets and possibilities to spread as other trends are. Additionally, to some members of society, heroin chic remained unattractive due to the serious and almost imminent health concerns that became a possibility as soon as one began participating in the culture. Also, this is one of the only cultural trends that is based on drug usage; most other movements begin as a aesthetic appeal.

Indie Rock

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Needless to say the last few weeks of class were some of the best in my opinion as we dove into the rock and indie territory of music with videos such as Criminal by Fiona Apple and Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana. Being that these songs come from the two genres I listen to most I wanted to try and figure out why people would do Heroin after seeing a video like Criminal. It is a video where the lead looks to be anorexic due to the size of her body and the living conditions look horrid. I don;t know many people that would take a look at this video and think yea lets go do drugs!!!! So why is it then with these songs hitting mainstream that people did heroin? I believe that it is videos like Criminal pushing the idea of drugs mixed with videos like Smells like teen spirit where the video is pressing ideas of going out and having fun with lyrics like, "With the lights out, it's less dangerous Here we are now, entertain us", that cause teens who are more susceptible to outside influences to get into drugs such as heroin. Both of these videos came out within a couple years of each other and although one is not as straight forward as the other about drug use they both express partying and going out. The mixture of one video showing the negative effects mixed with another showing a lot of people just going out, letting loose and appearing to not have a care in the world causes some to think that it could be fun to do these very strong drugs.

All this being said, I do not always approve of the message being portrayed in this type of music but I am a big fan of the sound that is created through indie rock music. Therefore with this added on I can see how one can decide to try a drug as dangerous as heroin.

"Pop" by N'SYNC

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The late 90's pop sensation 'N Sync found itself at the top of the charts after releasing their album "No strings attached" and appearing in a plurality of events and children's television programs, making themselves a keystone part of American culture. They formed in 1995, and produced music as a group until 2002. I found that in the music video shown in class for their single, "Pop," the themes were very elementary, and largely stuck to themes that would appeal to teen culture. In this way, 'N Sync was a VERY commercial band. As most boy bands do, they produced music to generate revenue rather than to make a sizeable contribution to the music industry. Any impact that NN Sync had on music was merely a byproduct of their music production and likely was not intended. The music video includes many visual aspects that were new at the time, with a lot of digital editing effects that would have been largely unavailable to music producers before their time. Additionally, the introduction of digital audio editing played a huge role in the increase in popularity of the music coalition N Sync. N Sync was one of the first boy bands that utilized "autotuning" as well as pitch correction. The introduction of these tools to pop music has maintained a relatively stable presence in music ever since this time, and there is no foreseeable end in the near future. Additionally, N Sync continued the trend that developed with the first music videos- They place a huge, undeniable emphasis on physical appearance as well as the "importance" of keeping up with the trendiest, most socially envied styles of the time. This emphasis plays a role in self branding, as well as the sale of this self-branding to be applied to members of society.

Criminal

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Watching Criminal by Fiona Apple, I sense absolutely no desire to live the lifestyle portrayed in this video. The women in the video do not attract me in any sort of way. They seem to live the worst life possible, as they look as if they are drugged out and haven't eaten in weeks (Although there is pizza lying on the floor everywhere). I would like to thank this video for showing me the exact opposite way I want to live my lifestyle. I really want to know how "heroin chic" came to be, because in my opinion, it is stupid. I know people may do drugs just to be "cool." I don't understand what is cool about this lifestyle. How can someone possibly think it's cool to lay on the floor and not in. I know some people may even do drugs because they are peer pressured and want to fit in with their friends, but the people in this video don't even look like they have any friends. I know that for models, being very skinny is considered "sexy," but these girls are beyond skinny, they are to the point where they are only skin and bones. I also think it's stupid how this heroin chic was portrayed in media. How was there NO ONE who thought that portraying the use of heroin was the right thing to do? Is there not ONE person working for these companies that threw up the red flag and say "This isn't right...?" I just hope that most people have the same thought process as me, and when they see this video, they find it disturbing. I hope no one is like, "WOW! I want to be like those girls!" All I have to say to these producers is, HATS OFF TO YOU for making this heroin chic actually work and become popular.

POP

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I think it's really interesting that, apart from the videos from weeks 2 and 3, "Video Killed the Radio Star" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit", none of these music videos have anyone playing any music. Sure everyone is singing, but there is not a single instrument in any of these other videos. I guess this is the main reason why I dislike most popular music. Instead of carefully thought out songwriting, we just get songs full of catchy beats designed to "get you high" and "take you on a ride". Even most of the lyrics in songs no longer have much meaning. Gone are the days when rock and roll superstars were thoughtful musicians thrust out into the limelight forced to deal with millions of adoring fans. Gone are the days when music was a tasteful art form producing masterpieces like "Stairway to Heaven" and "The Wall". Nowadays we are stuck with women beaters and preteen boys singing about love, so craving attention that they mass produce songs that are repetitive and obnoxious, just because they sell records. Nowadays we have a woman only famous because her ass is abnormally large and her voice is abnormally obnoxious. Nowadays we have a man so full of himself and desperate for the world to look at him that he would climb up on stage during someone else's acceptance speech and steal her moment away from her just so he could talk. I wish pop music hadn't taken the turn that it did, and that the talented musicians and songwriters struggling to make a living today would receive the attention and respect that they deserve. But unfortunately people just keep running out and throwing their money at artists that are catchy and get stuck in your head, instead of well thought out works of art. Maybe if Justin is so tired of singing, he should dig deep down, find some artistic integrity, and pick up a guitar.

Pop-NSync

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Listening to the hit song "Pop" by NSync brought me back to my elementary days. I imagined myself getting a ride to school from my mom in our purple van. I remember turning on the radio saying "Wow, I hate this song." Secretly, I loved this song. I even had an NSync CD in my bedroom, under my bed, where absolutely NO ONE could see it. I would listen to it almost every night before going to sleep. NSync was the typical boy band that was "hated" by all my guy friends at school. Looking back on it today, I know there had to be other guys that liked NSync. I say this because NSync reminds me of the modern day One Direction. One Direction is the boy band "hated" by all guys and is only liked by the female race. One Direction has songs that make me want to jam out every time I hear them (that took me a lot of courage to say), just like NSync did. I know that other guys like One Direction because one day I strolled on over to my friends apartment, looked at the wall, and saw a One Direction poster. I asked him if it was a joke, and he said, "No, I love One Direction, I'm even going to their concert." His answer had me so surprised that I was speechless. I took his words carefully, however, and realized that someone shouldn't hide something from others just because they think they might look stupid to others. People need to just be themselves and not care what others think. So I'm telling all my guy friends- I know you guys love One Direction, so BLAST it as loud as you can as you're riding around town!!!

Madonna---Vogue

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Madonna, Madonna, Madonna-----what can I say? Not only is she beautiful and energetic but her ability to connect with her fans has had a big effect on the fame she has received. In her music video "Vogue", she does the smooth and elegant Vogue poses and quickly switches to dancing. When dancing she plays both the 90's dance girl while incorporating a bit of 70's disco dance. This is EXACTLY WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT----Madonna's ability to play many characters at once. However, I used to think that Madonna was just this amazing, ageless and empathetic woman that just knew how to "BE THE CHARACTERS"---she plays in her music videos, but I gave her "too much" credit. A big part of the reason she is able to display many scenarios in her videos is because they are a representation of her real life story. So "Does that mean that she accidently relates to people because her story seems to compare to theirs?" or "Is her story just similar to the stories of others?" I guess only Madonna can truly answer that question but either way It now makes sense to me why Madonna is able to put so much emotion and effort into her songs. Her songs like "Daddy Don't Preach and Like a Virgin" are songs that display particularly important moments in her life. Madonna's mom died when she was only five years old. When her mother died, her father married the family housekeeper; this made Madonna angry towards her father and she became rebellious. She began wearing fishnet stockings, lace lingerie and fingerless gloves----I know what a fashion statement. " Daddy Don't Preach" was a song relating to problems she faced with her dad and was meant to let him know that she didn't feel he had any authority to advise her or have any say in the decisions she made in her life. Silly me, all this time I thought she just made this song to dedicate it to all the kids struggling with trying to uphold their parent's opinions in their lives. Madonna's rebellious behavior has reflected in her other music videos like in the song "Like a Virgin". Over the years Madonna's songs became sexual and sparked the interest of her fans, especially teens. Teens are always dealing with virginity issues and learning and making decisions about sex. After this song, followed her marriage to Sean Pean---first of all I didn't even know she was married but anyway they separated due to domestic violence from Pean. Domestic abuse, blame and insecurity are problems she went through, as do many people. So now I hope it's clear to see that the reason it is so effortless for Madonna to bring emotion to her videos is because she is speaking right for the soul, but I can't help but wonder if her songs would have been as strong if she didn't have any connection to the topics!!!

Criminal and Pocahantas!

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What does Fiona Apple's video, "Criminal" and Disney's "Pocahantas" have in common? Well, to this young indigenous mind, the most prevailing thought/answer that pops up is the shared commonality in the marriage of art and commerce that we had read about. In this relationship, not only is love superseded by money but artistic expression is heavily swayed toward making the product more poised for marketing. Sacrifices are made! Like many artists, Apple's work is guided by her life experiences, which I am sure has many positive moments, but for this video, it is her drug related experiences (heroin chic) and a certain rebellious streak that is highlighted. To expose a realistic glimpse into one's world that is further substantiated by a drug related arrest while in Texas in the same year was quite revealing for her. For the sake of marketing purposes, she exposed herself to the world and has made sacrifices in that regard. For the world of Disney, the sacrifices are not made by the corporation but by the people whom they misrepresent in their movies like Pocahantas. Their $22 billion annual profits from a multitude of products like movies guide their operations despite being on the receiving end of endless stream of criticisms for their gender interpretations, misrepresentations of racial diversity, and not assuming their social importance and responsibility of making huge impacts on young minds. They have made strides in producing a character that has the same color skin of an indigenous tribe in the East, but still have ways to go in meeting authentic representations of not only indigenous women but other women too, from hyper-sexualized, thin waisted, subservient gender roles and behavior. Thousands of young minds' identities and knowledge are molded by their movies just as videos like Apple's. In the union of art and commerce, the emphasis is far from perpetuating love and social responsibility, but on keeping alive the "free floating desires of consumer capitalism."

Pop!

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"Tired of feeling all around me animosity," a line from their video, "Pop," gives NSync a platform from which to sing of their discontent to their critics and wanting proper validation that is befitting of the way they truly see themselves. They identify themselves as a legitimate pop group with comparable talent as any other popular group of their time. They want to be treated with respect based on the talent that they know they have and not the image that others portray of them as a phase that will pass. This by far echos the many voices that stream from so many young minds these days who are asserting their individualities, wanting to freely experience and express all the varying and highly youthful energies and emotions that are dancing inside us at any given moment. The true essence of being young where you want to taste all aspects of life all at once! This vitality wants to find release constantly and the remarkable thing is that most times you are able to. This free flowing vigor that pumps our blood may seem like it lacks sensibility when the waist of our jeans comes down to our thighs, when we decide to wear ear rings that make huge holes in our lobes, or dance late into the morning hours. Don't they see that we are trying to find our niche/purpose and fixating on playing our present role the best way our young minds comprehend for the life stage that we are in? The moment that we are tasting warrants that we enjoy it to the fullest and that is what we aim to do. We strive for our own true authenticity where the present moment is the most potent and displays a real aspect of ourselves! Ask Eckhart Tolle! In the midst of it all, these young minds are keenly mindful of following the traditions and customs that nurtured us by treating all as we want to be treated--with utmost respect. We are mindful that we are children of a certain community which is a part of a more global community and that we have a stake in making a difference in it. It's the rhythm and pulse of that music that we feel in our youthful bodies and it rocks us!

Video Killed the Radio Star

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Music videos have come along way from the first music video shown on MTV, Video Killed the Radio Star. They have change because of changes in technology, styles, genres, and mass media.
Music videos can be more complex and have more affects in them, because of improved technology over time. Music videos change according to what is new will people's styles and views in the world. Some of the videos even follow mass media to go along with trends in society.
Music videos have change from something new to something expected, and many of them today try and tell a story, or prove a point about their lives or society. They are not used as much to try and get people to buy an album in todays society, they are used more to get their music seen, and show that they are keeping up with trends in society.
Another thing that has changed with music videos is that many of them are lyric videos created by the record company. These videos may show a few glimpses of the band, but are mostly words against a changing background. The style of the text changes with the mood in the song and how different parts are sung. The words follow along with the beat of the song and go along with the singing.
The fact that they are using lyric videos instead of just showing the bands may be because the bands are not well know yet and they do not have the funds for a complex directed music video. It could also be a new way of branding. They could be trying to not show the band so that people will be curious about how they look and what they actually play like. And this curiosity can be used to draw those people into going to the concerts for those bands so that the can see them.

Pop 'NSync

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The song Pop by 'N Sync does a good job at relating to al the topics we talked about in class this semester. It relates to self-branding, youth, and authenticity.
The band is using self-branding through their song to try and show that they are an authentic band with authentic music. They are doing this, because people do not seem to be liking their music, and they are trying to show that it is not nothing, that it is something that people should purchase, and enjoy listening to. The band is really pushing to show that their music has authenticity, because they want to change peoples views on it and get their attention. They are making an attempt to get rid of the negative image people had of them, and the style of music. They are also trying to sell the pop lifestyle, which is what they are branding themselves with in the music video and lyrics.
Their main focus for who they want to sell their products to is youth. They use bright colors in their video to capture there attention, and then in the song they say that their music will make you feel good, and that what they are doing is not just a trend. By doing this youth may look at their music and get caught in the message and buy it to try and be cool.
So the band is trying to capture people's attention, show that they are authentic and the music is something people should want, so that they can sell more. They also are attempting to sell the pop style to youth through their song.

Pop - NSYNC

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Watching the music video, "Pop" by NSYNC, the other day in class really got me wondering about how Justin Timberlake is literally the only boy band member who is still relevant in today's society. Out of all of the boy bands, everybody except for Timberlake seemingly vanished. This was not the case with Justin Timberlake, who was a member of NSYNC. He actually became even more popular after he went out on his own. During the height of the boy band craze, Justin Timberlake was extremely visible, but people did not take him seriously. Nobody ever took boy bands seriously, and they always seemed to have a lot of haters. I, along with many other people, personally felt that boy bands did not have any actual talent. We all thought that they were just the results of successful marketing and a vulnerable fan base. Even if the individual members had talent, the dynamics of a boy band simply don't allow for those talents to shine. I thought that after NSYNC disbanded, all of the members would go into relative obscurity. Justin Timberlake, however, continued making a name for himself and actually showcased his ability as an entertainer. He had a successful solo career recording music and even began showing up on the big screen. In my mind, Justin Timberlake went from one of those feminine singers to a guy who made millions of dollars, married Jessica Biel, and ran train on Mila Kunis without being in a committed relationship (in a movie). He reached unfounded levels of popularity and legitimacy through his hard work and dedication. I never would have wanted to be in a boy band, but I would undoubtedly love to trade lives with Justin Timberlake right now. His story is all the more impressive considering the fact that he is the one outlier who was successful outside of his boy band.

Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana

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As a true American, I strongly believe in the Constitution of the United States. I respect Nirvana's right to dress and act howsoever they choose. But as an individual, I completely disagree with the band's ideology and style in their music video "Smells Like Teen Spirit." While Nirvana's music is actually quite good, their fashion and appearance leave something to be desired. They made the grunge look wildly popular during their rise to fame. The grunge look is extremely dark and requires very little effort. Many of those who followed it wore loose fitting shirts and jeans that were very distressed. Grunge followers also tended to have disheveled hair, not to mention the general dirtiness that they carried about them. I truly do not understand why any individual would want to look like that. I mean I am all for dressing comfortably, but this can be done tastefully. Heck, during high school I rocked sweatpants and a hoodie for an entire week, but I was still clean and sanitary. Dressing like a dirt squirrel just screams, "I don't care if I'm successful in life." There is no way that anyone could go into an important job interview dressed in grunge attire and actually be able to get a job. Having a good first impression is huge in the interviewing process. What will the employer think if somebody comes in with flannel, jeans, and messy hair? Their chances of getting the job seem pretty doubtful. Grungy people are well within their rights as Americans to dress however they choose, but hat does not mean that I have to like it. On a personal level, I can say with one hundred percent certainty that my kids will not dress in the grunge style. There is absolutely nothing wrong with following the norms of society if it will lead to success.

Wannabe - Spice Girls

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The Spice Girls were promoters of "Girl Power" and I think that Wannabe does a good job of promoting the idea. Wannabe brings up the idea of men meeting the requirements of women, and not the other way around. In society, the common view is that men have specific qualities that they are looking for in a woman and if they don't meet them then they move on to the next girl. In Wannabe, the Spice Girls are making the men change for them. That is what "Girl Power" is to me. For most of history, women were not equal with men. Luckily, that has changed in many aspects of life. However, I feel like in the realm of relationships women are still viewed as less than men. Women are expected by society to look and act a certain way around men. This idea is portrayed in the media frequently. Just look at something like How I Met Your Mother. The women Barney always picks up in bars are the hot ones with a great body, and aren't that smart. I like that the Spice Girls turned that around in their music video. Even their nicknames in the group suggest that girls don't have to act in a certain way. Their nicknames are Posh Spice, Sporty Spice, Scary Spice, Baby Spice, and Ginger Spice. This shows that girls can be sporty, or classy or anything that they want to be. I like that about the Spice Girls. Plus, their songs are pretty good!

Criminal--Fiona Apple

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I actually don't well know Fiona Apple but I feel that she may has some special life experience since the feeling in her song--"Criminal" is a little complicated. The whole song releases her feeling of strength and vulnerability, power and powerlessness. In daily life, everyone can feel vulnerable in some suffering but also can become more powerful so I think this song expresses some common feeling. After I listened to her other songs and gained more information about her, I agreed that she was a strong, powerful, assertive woman because of one humiliated experience in her life. It is true that people experiencing suffering and adversity can learn to be stronger, braver and more confident in some ways. In one of her interview, Apple mentioned that she was raped as a young girl. Most people think rape is most humiliating for girls so Apple may feel very frustrated about this experience. According to Apple, she learnt to grow up faster and became more powerful rather than more vulnerable in this bad experience. She told the interviewer "Now I feel like whatever I do, no one can hurt me. I cannot be violated, I cannot be humiliated, I cannot be disregarded, I cannot be disrespected. If I respect myself and believe in what I'm doing, no one can touch me." I started to appreciate Apple's some kinds of spirit after I knew more about her. She had a positive attitude toward her life because she could go out of the shadow of being raped and started her new life with more confidence and brave. Not all of people can learn from suffering or hardship. Instead some of people may keep complaining about bad encounter or feel frustrated about their future life. Tribulation can make people strong or depressed but their attitude can determine what kind of their future will be.

Wannable

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"Wannabe", a famous pop song, refers that female gain more power and increase their social status through the feminist movement and the development of the society but the society is still not safe and not equal for women and girls. In this song, the lyrics, such as "I will tell you what I want", "you gotta get with my friends", "what I really want", indicate that the society empowers female so they can have right to express their own thought and have right to vote, have opportunities to be educated, have freedom to seek for jobs, even have chances to become leaders in some political and business areas. However, in some developing countries, the fate of female is still under their parents', their husbands' and the society's control. It is sad to hear some tragic fate of girls and women. For example, in China, sixteen million girls are missing since some parents in the countryside prefer boys to girls so the abortion of girls is very high when they know their bodies are girl through illegal ultrasonic check. Indian men outnumber women by nearly 40 million so the gender gap is also very high in India. If the women cannot have baby boys, their husbands may think they are useless wives. It is very common to see a whole family go to pray for baby boys in some countries. Even though some baby girls were born successful, they are treated unequally compared to boys in a family. For example, girls have to do lots of housework and their literacy rate is very low. Their parents may tell them that their life goals are to marry a good man and to be a good wife. From unborn bodies to adults, they cannot totally make decision for themselves and pursue their own dreams. What is more, female may be seen as trading goods because of sexual abuse in some poor countries so they have no ability to protect themselves sometimes. Hopefully, female power can be increased soon and they can be safe and treated equally around the world.

Pop - N'Sync

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This was the first N'Sync song I had heard in a while, and it brought me back to second grade when N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys were all the rage. I remember me and my friends hanging out after school listening to all of their songs and singing along, because of course we knew all of the lyrics! The idea was brought up in class about being made fun of for listening to these bands, and I don't remember ever running into that problem. Well, except for the boys in our class. But I don't really count that, because they picked on us all of the time! However, I find myself today poking fun at people for liking One Direction, the modern day equivalent of N'Sync. They have that distinctive "boy band" sound and I feel that Mumford and Sons make better music. But I realize now that back when I was 7, I was one of those screaming girls that I see on TV all of the time. I'm feeling like a little of a hypocrite right now. I think most girls go through a boy band phase, and maybe that phase doesn't end after 4th grade. To be honest, I still enjoy an N'Sync song every once in a while. Like someone else said in their post, boy bands are going to be around for a long time. The least we can do is to try and enjoy their catchy songs.

Fiona Apple - "Criminal"

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Fiona Apple has clearly gone through her share of troubled and abusive relationships, as you can see from the lyrics of the majority of her songs. After viewing the lyrics and music video of the song "Criminal", it is quite obvious that Fiona is asking for forgiveness after cheating on the man whom she apparently "loved". However, the problem about this song is whether or not she actually loved this person, since she was clearly not satisfied with her current lover if she decided to have relations with another man. Many people, particularly those who are in troubled or abusive relationships, mistake love for something else. I suspect that Fiona Apple may be confusing a different emotion for "love" in this relationship, because it is doubtful that she would have even considered cheating on him or hurting him in any way if she loved him. She has revealed in her music videos, particularly in the video of the song "Criminal", that she has been previously abused in relationships, and she has apparently returned the favor to the boyfriend who had treated her right. Additionally, she repeatedly sings in this song "Because he's all I ever knew of love", hinting that she really doesn't know what true love is, but this boyfriend is the closest she has come to it. It is implied that the man in this song is one of the few men in Fiona Apple's life who had treated her with respect, but she ruined it. Therefore, it would not be unreasonable to claim that, due to her previously abusive relationships, she does not know how to act in a respectable and healthy relationship.

N'Sync - "Pop"

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Many people often make fun of those who enjoy listening to boy bands from the 1990's such as N'Sync, Backstreet Boys, and New Kids on the Block since they are considered to be "uncool" by today's society. However, clearly many of these boy bands must have had a particularly significant amount of fans in order to become as popular and as wealthy as they did. And, even though the boy bands of the 1990's have disappeared, new and improved boy bands, such as One Direction, the Jonas Brothers, and Big Time Rush have recently made a comeback in the 2000's. Yes, everyone likes to make fun of them, but it seems as though the world just can't get enough of them. So, what exactly is it about these musical groups that make them so appealing to us? Well, one of the reasons that boy bands become so popular and successful is due to the fact that the lyrics and beat of their songs are extremely catchy. And, whether you would like to admit it or not, you have most likely sung along to at least one song that was performed by a boy band. In addition, the boys who are members of these bands are also very attractive and sing gushy love songs, making them much more appealing to girls. This may be the reason most men highly dislike this type of music, thus providing an answer as to why boy bands have developed the reputation of being "uncool" by society's standards. But, regardless of whether you like or dislike boy bands, they will most likely remain popular for quite a few more years to come.

Thriller---Michael Jackson

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Even in scary movies the role of male masculinity is undeniable. Men have for long had the power to emotionally hurt women and to also protect them. For example, in the music video Thriller, it began like every romance story-----the boy took the girl out on a date, they had a good time and he asked her to be his girlfriend. Okay now what's next....probably the boy ending up disappointing the girl. This is exactly what happened to Michael Jackson in Thriller when he turned into a werewolf and is shown as "not being who he claimed to be". This makes us (the audience) and the girl in the video question whether or not to believe anything he had said before his dramatic transformation. The ability of boys to break hearts is prevalent in TV shows, movies and even music videos. Girls are such tender butterflies, they tend to love with all their heart and believe every deceiving word coming from their "prince charming". It isn't until you see the 'true colors" of a man that you realize you were falling in love with nothing more than a familiar stranger. What surprises me is how men have also been a representation of protection. In the Thriller video, even though Michael Jackson scared the girl when he turned into a zombie, when she woke up from what might have been "a dream" she felt safe with him being there. This caused her to believe that the whole episode was just a fiction of her imagination. I know most men are physically stronger than women but COME ON there has to be a bigger reason for this "male protection theory". Male protection has been heavily emphasized in movies and TV shows, it's as if boys are obligated to protect girls. Likewise girls have accepted it and have been supportive of this idea of male protection. I guess it's true what they say---Boys can't live with them, can't live without them!!!

Pop by 'N Sync

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Justin Timberlake and his posse of men who sing into microphones attached to their face and have above average musical abilities are singing, or more like complaining, in their video "pop" about the attention, or lack of, they receive for creating music that is relevant to girls sixteen and under. The irony here appears after a listener realizes they are going to "bring it til the end." I'll start by defining "end." In this pop boy band's case, the end came about eleven months after releasing the hit song "pop." Fortunately for JT, the end of his boy band meant the start of his solo career, where he not only won six Grammy Awards and four Emmy Awards, but also simultaneously became viewed as a man when he stopped doing hip thrusts with five other men, and later tore off an importance component of Janet Jackson's leather shirt at the Super Bowl... need I say more? Some may argue that JT's success is credited to his undeniable talent, but I would argue that talent alone isn't what made JT still, if not more, relevant from the start of career in 1995 until today. Justin did what every artist tries to do; he stayed relevant by following the demands of society and the listeners. JT was right in his sensational lyric from "pop" that states "we got the gift of melody we gonna bring it til the end." Grammatically correct or not, JT was the only member of 'N Sync who stayed true to his word. He saw the fallout of boy bands happening, and realized that his male listeners don't want to be ashamed of singing along to five other men singing about love and break-ups. He changed his musical styles just enough to appeal to a much larger audience that no longer only included young females. His brand changed from a young heartthrob to a man with much more than hip thrusting in his virtual toolbox. As a solo artist he not only incorporated other genres like hip-hop into his pop music, but also began songwriting and acting. This makes JT much more than a member of the dead form of music, the boy band, but a successful businessman who developed his brand alongside the demands of his fans. JT's career shows the success that follows changing your brand just enough to appeal to society's demands without ditching what makes him unique, and dare I say, awesome.

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