Confession Time: I’ve been binge listening to the Backstreet Boys’ entire body of work. For those keeping score at home that’s 18+ years since their first album was released in the US. Not that I’m a BSB hipster or anything *looks around all shifty like*. I do owe them a debt of gratitude. “Everybody” is what got me into dance in the first place. I had a VHS (yes, I’m that old) of a behind the scenes of the production of “Everybody” and “As Long As You Love Me”. Each section, of course, culminated with the video itself. I literally stood in front of the TV with the remote in my hand for days and taught myself the choreography for “Everybody”. After driving my mother nuts, she put me in dance classes. The rest was history.
In the process of going through the songs, it hit me how wildly unhealthy most of them are. It’s not 50 Shades of Grey unhealthy, but sets up ridiculous expectations of what relationships should be. When you’re thirteen, it doesn’t really sink in. “As Long As You Love Me” immediately leaps to mind. Moral of the story? I don’t care if you’re a felon wanted by state and federal authorities, it’s no big as long as you’re head over heels for me. *facepalm* Other messages include “I dumped you like a year ago, but I want you back now so I’m going to stalk you either by phone or in person” or “You dumped me, but that’s cool. I’ll still stalk you in person or over the phone”. There’s the handful of “I’m a total douche, but you keep me around anyway” or “I cheated on you, but I’m totally sorry and you’ll totally take me back. Right?”. It’s not a case of I wouldn’t let my daughter listen to their music because ultimately it’s what sells and I’ll take that over pimping hoes and capping homies. Just sayin’.
It is, however, a little insidious. I found myself starting to think some of it was okay. That’s romantic, right? No, Emily, it’s not. Tell your thirteen year old self to get her shit together. Their music spoke to a thirteen year old girl who had very little common ground with her peers. Being into one of the biggest pop groups in the world was something that bridged the gap just a tiny bit. Other girls liked them, so I wasn’t *that* weird. I did, however, steadfastly hide my Butch Walker and Goo Goo Dolls albums. That negated the normal that my BSB habit brought me. They also did put on epic concerts. I believe their show at the Georgia Dome during the Millennium tour still holds the record for largest indoor concert ever. I was there and witnessed all the pomp and circumstance. For the longest time on Facebook under my dad’s interests he had “Whatever my daughter are into”. Thanks Dad. 😀
It took me a long time to learn to let my freak flag fly. I wish I could tell my thirteen year old self that it’s okay. It’s okay to be weird and different. It’s the weird and different people who make a real impression in life. Be into something because you like it, not simply to fit in. Even if it’s “over” and you still like it, own it. If it’s “in” and you actually are into it, go for it. If it’s something that causes people to give you the side eye, fuck ’em. Of course, she wouldn’t believe me, but it might have stuck with her a little bit. There are still days that my thirty year old self just wants to fit in. Then I remember that normal people scare me. I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but it bears repeating. I stand out regardless of what I’m wearing or how many tattoos I have. I’m the kind of person who walks into a room and the record screeches to a halt. People I haven’t spoken to in years remember me. Sooner or later, when you know you literally can’t disappear into the crowd, you learn how to embrace it rather than fight it. Thirteen year old Emily didn’t quite have it figured out yet, but she got there, Backstreet Boys or no Backstreet Boys.
P.S. If AJ showed up at my door and asked me to have sex with him, I’d do it. No more risk of statutory rape!
P.P. S. If you’re into N*SYNC we can’t be friends any more. Ever. You’re dead to me.