Guest Post by Ren Stewart
I’m not a violent woman but there are times when turning the channel is just not enough and I have to throw something at the TV to Just. Make. It. Stop. For days NBC’s Today Show had advertised the heck out of the One Direction concert they were going to have and the momentous day had finally arrived. The Today Show is my preferred buddy for making my son’s lunch and having my morning tea, so even though my buddy was about to veer off into a direction I wasn’t quite cool with, I went with it. Thousands of fans gathered while a melodramatic countdown neared “0” and from five red English phone booths (yes, because in England no one uses cell phones and a spoon full of sugar still helps the medicine go down?) emerges five shiny gents that are there to play what is no doubt the epitome of bubblegum pop, wrapped up in today’s dollish versions of Justin Timberlake et al. My mind was a-buzz with questions as they began their performance, like “why does that kid’s hair start in the back of his head?” and “what is it about Zayne that is cooler than Zane?!” But amidst my clearly jaded music-was-better-when-I-was younger attitude I saw something that changed my mind: thousands of crying children and adults. Adults!
Allow me to get a little Bunsen burner here for a minute… music has a way to communicate with us in a way that transcends language and can travel deeper into our minds to evoke emotions, to even elicit physical responses like uncontrollable sobbing from us. In fact, a recent study has shown that music has the power to actually CHANGE the way we experience reality giving us instant rose-colored glasses after listening to happy music. Of course, I’ve realized the ability of music to emotionally manipulate the audience, having worked as a composer and music editor in television, but I haven’t thought about the impact of live music experienced by a group of fans with their musical clocks in sync. Having all of those things align creates a force capable of creating widespread change in the afterglow. It’s the ultimate power of The Boy Band.
So with a segue like that how can I not talk about The Beatles? Sure it’s unfair to compare the two bands, there are more differences than similarities (other than the fact that they all hail from the UK and have huge followings of crying fans). Put aside the quality of the material, whether you are a fan of either band, and just consider how cool it is to have a sea of people all feeling such an excess of emotion that it brings tears to their eyes. It made me instantly jealous. For a moment I wanted to feel something that deeply, to be caught up in something so saccharin, magical and pure. Further, I want my son to be able to be touched and moved by music with reckless abandon of his coolness. One Direction reminded me that Beliebers aren’t evil minions, they are just tribe members beating their drum to the same beat as Bieber and for that I give them their due credit. My icy rancor towards the pop group has melted since. I may even go out and buy that sparkly One Direction folder… you know the one with Zayne on it?