Congrats, Priyanka! You’ve done it again, you’ve forced me to talk about you and all of us to think about you. And I was so happy just talking about my new dog! Speaking of, “Nick” as a dog name?
The Jonas Brothers just released a video, “Sucker”. Which is also a reunion video for the band/brothers. They broke up in 2013 after having canceled a tour days before it was scheduled to start. So something super dramatic happened.
Kevin, the oldest Jonas, was in the middle of a reality show when the band split and lost out on that. He rebounded by appearing on Celebrity Apprentice, and then founded a construction company. Construction lead to an appearance on the reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey as “Kevin Jonas, contractor”. And he developed an app called “Yood” and founded a company that deals with “social media influencers”. So, your basic “struggling to stay relevant somehow” kind of has-been career.
Joe Jonas, the middle brother, tried to start a new band called “DNCE” (“dance”, but miss-spelled, because they want us all to slowly lose our minds). That didn’t quite take off, he ended up writing a song for Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, and taking a job on an Australian TV talent show as a judge. After a series of brief high profile relationships (Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, Gigi Hadid, etc.), he started a long term relationship with Sophie Turner in 2016 and they got engaged in 2017.
And then there’s Nick. He had the most successful career post-split. Started with a guest spot on Hawaii 5-0, released a semi-successful single and then a very successful single, toured with Demi Lovato, and finally released an album that was extremely successful in 2014. That is, a year after the band split up, indicating he was planning a solo career all along, unless this was the fastest album written in history. He also had a series of shorter high profile public relationships (Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and Miss Universe), and then started a relationship with the much older Priyanka Chopra and married her within months.
And now here we are, with this song video that attempts to tie together the brothers and all they have gone through in the past 6 years through including their significant others in the video. It’s not a bad idea to acknowledge that they have gone from an innocent boy band (famously wore “promise rings” that they wouldn’t have sex until marriage) to 3 grown men with relationships and lives of their own, but I am not sure how I feel about the execution.
There seem to be two concepts here. There is the idea of the wealthy upstart British boy band, harking back to the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, rock stars living in ancient landed estates. And there is the idea of the British aristocracy, the women in grand impractical dresses yelling at servants.
The British boy band is the origin of the whole boy band concept, with The Beatles. The clever lower class talented boys who became more popular and wealthy than the landed folks and traditional powers. The whole 60s “mod” version of London, with supermodels and rockstars mixing together with young royals and aristocrats and creating a new class. So, sure, The Jonas Brothers can hark back to that tradition as a modern boy band.
And then there is the gendered twist to it, making the boy band “slaves” to the aristocratically treated women, positioning them in the traditional role of “I love you so much that I will do anything for you.” It’s a simple wish-fulfillment idea that should work well for the Jonas’ aging fans, no longer teen girls who want to have a boy slipping them notes, but now 30 year old women who want to have a man support their dreams. Plus, of course, the overt sexuality of it announcing they are no longer a “Boy” band, just like every former teen idol has to do.
There are two things that make me uncomfortable with this whole thing. First is the odd Anglophile aspect. You could have a similar message by picking up on, for instance, the Graceland tradition. Why not a kind of “good ol’ boys” concept of a rich house and fried peanut butter sandwiches, combined with elite WASP women? Sophie Turner is British, but no one else in this song is, and it’s almost disrespectful to the “real” British Boy Bands to play act their lives. No, scratch that, it is actually disrespectful. It may seem like a fun kind of imagery to use, but it came from all kinds of historical moments in England that turned powers upside down, not to mention the very real struggles of the lower class musicians who managed to get out of poverty by talent alone. I don’t think the Jonas’ upper middle class upbringing and turn to music has much in common with The Beatles’ struggling working class origins.
And the other thing that makes me uncomfortable is the game they are playing of “see, we are acting super fake which is what makes you know it is real”. Like, they are just real people and real couples who are enjoying themselves play acting, just like you and your friends would enjoy play acting. I can see the reasons to spin away from trying to be “real”, that’s what Nick and PC did with their video before the wedding and the reaction was a resounding “what??? is this real? should I care?” But this play acting feels like it is trying too hard, like they have to throw themselves into it and be super intensely fake. They never break character, I never feel a moment of actual enjoyment.
One final thing that isn’t necessarily good or bad, just interesting, is that this whole idea of “sucker”, that is, just worshiping and obeying your significant other seems very unbalanced towards the couples. I haven’t been paying attention, but I don’t believe Joe or Kevin’s relationships are known for being about them worshipping their lovers. But Nick and PC definitely present that front, she is the strong older beautiful one, he was knocked dead by her at first sight, and so on. And it seems like the video is giving them a little more screentime than the other couples. Seeing as Nick is the one who has had the best post-break-up career, and his brothers need this more than he needs them. So why not craft the video a little more to center on him than on them? I won’t complain about that.
Okay, that’s all my thoughts! What are your thoughts?