This is me taking off my “serious music blog” hat and really getting into the Throwback Thursday feature. The Jonas Brothers phenomenon might be hard to understand if you weren’t a tween/teen girl back in the mid-’00s, but I’ll do my best to explain.
Their sound was much more rock than the soft pop/R&B of *NSYNC or The Backstreet Boys, and it certainly wasn’t the cherubic four-part harmony of Boyz II Men. (Joe Jonas definitely had the requisite “bad boy” flat iron hairstyle that many white male pop stars were sporting back then, though.) Yet within that sound, the JoBros managed to create sweeping ballads, such as “When You Look Me in the Eyes”: “Dreams can’t take the place of loving you.” Swoon.
They perfected the pop anthem, too, with songs like “That’s Just The Way We Roll.” I remember listening to that one a lot back then and feeling inspired, but on re-listen, the lyrics come across as rather dorky. “So call us freaks/But that’s just the way we roll.” Oof. The Jonas Brothers make a grown-up nod to that song with “Sucker,” where they sing, “I’ve been dancing on top of cars/And stumbling out of bars.” They might still be “rebels,” but now they’re rebels who drink.
On re-listen, some of the songs sound cutely dated, such as “S.O.S.,” which discusses a miscommunication over IM, of all things. “S.O.S.” also features the angst-tinged line, “It’s like I’m walking on broken glass/Better believe I bled.” They capture the feeling of being that age, where all your feelings are almost too much for you to contain. You want your crushes to be something more, as in “Just Friends,” and you’re wanting to find purpose, as in “Hold On.”
The Jonas Brothers’ pop formula served them well into A Little Bit Longer and through their subsuming into the Disney machine. (Let’s put Jonas L.A. into the rearview mirror; they certainly have.) But it’s Jonas Brothers that will always be a classic of that genre, where they revived the art of putting fan posters on your wall and deciding which was the cutest. I never was into posters, and I’ll never reveal which one I liked, but I will say that I always felt sorry for Kevin. He was the oldest of the group and often seemed to be out of the spotlight.
Listen below and take yourself back into a simpler time of Teen Beat and Disney Channel Original Movies: