Tonight, the boy band One Direction will take the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards for a much-hyped performance. This fact is making me feel very old, because all the young people on the internet are freaking out about it and I’m like, “Wait, what is a One Direction?” This stands in stark contrast to my lifestyle in the ’90s, when my love for boy bands–namely the Backstreet Boys–was so intense I spent all my time talking about them, listening to them, watching their music videos, going to their concerts, writing them semi-desperate letters, making artful collages of their headshots, buying behind-the-scenes DVDs, and planning my inevitable BSB wedding. Yep, I knew–and still know–pretty much everything there is to know about the Backstreet Boys, but I know pretty much nothing about One Direction. Here are nine specific discrepancies that my 14-year-old self would be ashamed of…
1. Their names. Let’s start with the most basic information, shall we? If I were to run into One Direction at a pizza parlor, I’m sure my old boy band fan reflexes would kick in and I would scream and cry, but I would have no idea what to call them. I have the vague notion that one of them is named Liam? But that’s all I’ve got. Sad showing, Winona, sad showing.
2. Their voices. Back in my BSB superfan days, my best friend Brittany and I would sit on the floor of her living room listening to BSB CDs and argue over which Boy was breathing in the background of certain songs. Not only did I know each of their voices by heart, I could accurately identify breaths, whimpers, and growls with ease. These days, when One Direction songs come on the radio, I have no clue who is singing what, although even if I did, that whole not-knowing-their-names thing would make it difficult to do anything with that information.
3. The lyrics to their songs. Sure, I can flip my hair and get into the chorus of “What Makes You Beautiful,” but other than that, my attempts to sing along to One Direction songs are as futile as my boyfriend’s attempts to remember Carly Rae Jepsen’s name.
4. Their backstory. When I was 14, I was so well versed in BSB lore that I could have taught a college course called, “Larger Than Life: Charting The Course Of The Backstreet Boy’s Success From Orlando Auditions To World Domination.” If I had to resume my boy band teaching tenure today, the class would be called, “One Direction 101: They Are Maybe From England. Or Possibly Canada.”
5. Which one is the “bad boy.” Or if they even have a bad boy. The “Bad Boy” is a very important role in a boy band. BSB’s bad boy was obviously AJ, a brooding, gravelly voiced, tattooed, fedora-wearing alcoholic with artfully sculpted facial hair whom I loved so deeply that I prayed every night for his hand in marriage despite the fact that I didn’t exactly believe in God. Does One Direction have a bad boy? I know that one of them has a kind of gravelly voice, but obviously I have no idea who he is.
6. Their birthdays. The dates and locations of each Backstreet Boy’s birth is still taking up space in my brain. Which is probably why I can never remember my own phone number.
7. Their favorite snack foods. Those behind-the-scenes DVDs were very informative: I can even do an impression of Kevin Richardson professing his love for bagels, but yeah, don’t ask me about One Direction’s eating habits.
8.Their signature styles. Judging by photos I’ve seen, the One Direction guys love high top sneakers and jeans, but that’s about all I got. Meanwhile, on the BSB front, Brian’s sweater vests and Howie’s inexplicable penchant for overalls are forever documented in my mental catalog.
9. Their relationship statuses. By far the most important facts that any boy band fan must be aware of at all times is which boy is coupled up and how serious his relationship is. Hearing that your favorite boy has found love is a devastating blow, but it can be made bearable by gathering information about the flaws in his relationship or making contingency plans to marry your second favorite boy instead (Kevin, you’re no AJ, but you’ll do…). Are the One Direction boys all single? Do any of them have girlfriends? Boyfriends? Wives? And for the love of God, what are their names?