#16) Learning from the couple I (used to) love to hate

Ten years ago, I was jamming with some musicians, and we were joking about the “Boy Band” craze that was sweeping the nation.  One of the guys said, “You know, we’re laughing–but they’re laughing harder.”   Back then, if someone had told me that I would be writing a blog entry about Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, apart from not knowing what a “blog” was, I would have said, “Dude, you’re high.”

Yet that’s just what I find myself doing.  Pop culture phenomena that make everyone roll their eyes are common, and most of the time, they fade quickly.  (How have those record sales been lately, Paris Hilton?)  But every so often, one of these products passes the test of time, and I must tip my cap, however begrudgingly.

This was how I felt when I heard that Justin Timberlake is buying a share of Myspace.  I felt oddly impressed by this: the former N*SYNC-er (or is it Backstreet Boys?  Or New Kids On The Block?) is obviously welcoming the challenge of helping resurrect a dying institution.  I like that he’s not resting on his laurels.  Looking back over the last ten years, I have to admit that there must be something that Timberlake’s done right.  I refuse to believe that there is a single honest note in any of the music he has produced (hey, this isn’t “Positive Music Place“, I’m calling it like I see it); everything he’s done is 100% calculated.  But he’s gotten results, and I’ve got to give him props for that.

But what of his ex?  Britney Spears, at this point, reminds me of an outmatched boxer who simply refuses to fall to the canvas and tires out their opponent (kind of like Mark Wahlberg in “The Fighter.”  Speaking of Wahlberg, he’s another one who’s impressively moved past the skeletons in his closet.  Back in the 90s, when I was taking a music business class taught by a lawyer, he told us that the “low point” of his career was bailing Marky Mark out of jail, and we all laughed.  But it seems to me that this “Dawchestah, Mass” native has had the last laugh.  But I digress.)

Back to Britney: I used to like joking that maybe she was just some genius whose work went too far above my head, and that the other three Bs – Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles – were the ones that sucked.  But her weird ability to survive makes me feel like perhaps she is in fact some kind of evil genius.  We love building people up, we love tearing them down and we love it when they come back.  But few people besides Spears actually survive this process.

I highly doubt there will ever come a day when I am genuinely inspired or moved by anything either of these former Mousketeers has done, but it just goes to show that sometimes lessons can come from unlikely places.  I have to keep reminding myself that every time I want to open my mouth about Britney, a lot of what has been said about her was also said about the other three Bs.

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