HEART2HEART's "Facebook Official": In Which Lance Bass Proves He's Got The Internet-Attention Calculus Down Pat
Last night, Lance Bassformer 'N Sync member, aspiring astronaut, and now apparently boy-band guruoffered a tutorial on how to get your probably-jokey, possibly-somewhat-serious musical project noticed by those folks on the Internet who are looking for things to giggle at as they while away at work.
Meet HEART2HEART, a group of Bass-mentored dudes who have just put out their first video, "Facebook Official." (In case you were wondering: "Their group name stands for the connection they would like to have with their fans across the world.") The clip has a six-figure view count as of this writing, and people are willing to take a stand on whether or not the band's any good: The clip has 1,906 likes and 15,531 dislikes, a ratio that puts HEART2HEART in the pantheon of such divisive pop acts as Rebecca Black and Justin Bieber, although they don't have quite the momentum of those acts.
Let's first talk about the song. The lyrics, which are about the crucial step of making a relationship between two people "Facebook official," are inanenot since Prozzak's "www.nevergetoveryou" has romance on the Internet been depicted with such wide-eyed goofiness. The music melds the glossy sound of boy-band tracks of yore with a hyperactivity that's somewhat reminiscent of K-pop, and the simply sung chorus is pretty much brain velcro.
But then there's all the extramusical stuff that seems designed for reaction not unlike the curious disgust that propelled Black's "Friday" to being covered by the Glee kids and Katy Perry. There are the haircuts worn by the band members, which seem snatched from Hot Topic's wig clearance rack. There's the "dance break" that consists solely of arm gestures. (ARM GESTURES! They dance in other parts of the video.) There's the aesthetic jacking of the video for 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye." And then there are the individual bios for each band member, as spotted on their Facebook page:
CHAD FUTURE Role: Leader, Rap, Vocal Birth Name: David Lehre Birthday: 8/8/88 (23) Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan Height: 6'0" Weight: 145
PETE Role: Vocal Birth Name: Cody Saintgnue Birthday: June 15th, 1993 (18) Height: 6'3" Weight: 160
BRAYDEN Role: Vocal, Sub-Rap Birth Name: Colby Cote Birthday: September 24th, 1990 (21) Height: 5'11" Weight: 145
NICO Role: Lead Vocal, Acrobatics, Youngest Birth Name: Julian Mracky Birthday: June 28th, 1994 (17) Height: 5'9" Weight: 140
KX Role: Lead Dancer, Choreographer, Sub-Vocal Birth Name: Kai Mcminn Birthday: August 8th, 1992 (19) Height: 5'10" Weight: 150
"Youngest"! Height and weight counts! Surely this is, if not an out-and-out parody, at least a wink and nod to the Tiger Beat tropes of what stats are most important abot singers. (Also, "Chad Future"? Really?)
Whether or not HEART2HEART is serious is, of course, beside the point in a way; the song is catchy enough and the content absurd enough that "Facebook Official" is being passed around by even those sites that aren't pop-specialist outlets, and in the current moment where record sales mean less and less because there are fewer of them happening the idea of attention as currency is ever more important. Which might be, at least in part, why this year has been defined by musical artists getting attention for being, in some way, annoying. The list runs the gamut, from Rebecca Black's half-swallowed ode to partying on the weekends "Friday" to the insufferable "You suck, but please don't say mean things about me" posing of young turks Kreayshawn and Tyler, The Creator to the whole Lana Del Rey mess to even that first taste of the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. Negative attention can help get artists out of the music-specialist ghetto and onto places like the "never saw a cheap laugh it couldn't mine for pageviews" clearinghouse BuzzFeed, which whips the traffic ass of all but the largest music sites.
You can call the genre "trollgaze," although its appeal transcends any sort of musical style; this is actually why it works as a marketing strategy, because the potential for laughing at/being annoyed by/saying "wtf" at a piece of art trumps its aesthetics. The result, of course, is a somewhat toxic cycle where those people who are willing to wear lampshades on their heads over and over take attention away from artists who are trying to figure out what the hell they're doing, and who don't want to play for laughs to the cheap seats in order to establish a foothold. But it's probably not going to stopor even decelerateanytime soon as the hustling for attention on all sides of the Internet spectrum becomes more frenzied, and as editors realize that writing a piece on why a certain highly bloggable artist is terribleor even overratedbrings in more eyeballs than, say, an enthusiastic post about a good song that just bubbled across a writer's transom.
At least this song is almost up to the funny-boy-band-song standard established by the deliberately parodic 2Ge+her's "U + Me = Us (Calculus)"; let's just hope Bass's veteran status means that he's in on the joke enough that he doesn't direct his charges to put out a weepy riposte to the "haters" as their next single.
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