I thought this would be fun. I thought it would be fun to sit here and watch these boys sing and dance. Maybe they’d live in a house and there would be some drama. Maybe we’d even get a new third-tier catchphrase like, “It’s not the boy in the band. It’s the band in the boy!” But that isn’t happening. Instead, we’re getting an abridged cruise-ship version of Rock of Ages. This is not fun. I’m not having any fun. I swear Timbaland tried to look somber when he announced which boy was up for elimination, but he just looked sad.
This week, they mix the boys up AGAIN to make new bands. How are we gonna figure out the best band if they keep making new bands? How do we figure out which boy is best? This isn’t good. This is actively bad.
It’s “throwback Thursday” because some 60-year-old man who is charge of this show saw his teenage daughter’s Instagram and thought it would be “fun.” So what does this mean for us? For the viewing audience? A 14-boy version of “Uptown Girl.” I will posit that not a single one of these boys had ever heard this song before in their lives. I’m not faulting them for that; I only hear that song at white weddings. But everything they do feels hollow. It’s like watching Boy Scouts do a skit for the jamboree. Rita Ora also prances around with these chumps.
Rita Ora comes out with a bustier and a long sequin jacket and she refuses to take her hand out of the pocket. She looks like a kid whose mom made a Michael Jackson costume. Rita Ora introduces the Architects and she says that Timbaland “only has four Grammys.” That’s pretty rich coming from the actual Rita Ora. The three new bands are Timeless, Maxed, and Next Up. Let’s get to the alleged singing.
Timeless is singing Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Why? Who made this crack decision? They go to meet Tim Davis and instead of his very curated suit experience, he’s wearing an ’80s wig and a white fringe jacket. After a little montage of the boys dancing around in wigs, it’s time to get to the song. Michael says, “It’s a test to see if I can’t hide behind my rapping.” This is preposterous. The song is so high. Bon Jovi sings so high, and in order to arrange the harmonies someone has to sing so high and then when that key change kicks in, oof. They’re all dressed like Bon Jovi cosplay. One of them has a long blazer with epaulettes. How is that rock and roll? That’s more Bonaparte than Bon Jovi. Guys. I’m really pleased with that little piece of wordplay.
Anyway, they’re all doing high kicks and playing air guitar. This is the least cool thing I’ve seen. It’s both bad and wrong. This is not good and incorrect. Michael Conor moves his hands when he’s singing like he’s still rapping so it just looks like he’s conducting himself. Nick Carter says they’re rock ‘n’ roooollllll and they’re ready for a stadium tour. He says that Chance looks like James Dean and I’m into it. Emma says they have the hardest song to sing, but Andrew Bloom looks like he’s thinking about what’s coming next. Timbaland says that Marcus is any producer’s dream. Timbaland says, “You’re not a violinist no more” to Michael Conor. That’s really weird praise in a singing competition.
Up next is Next Up. Although it’s probably the coolest boy-band name, it’s also really hard to introduce. It feels very “why don’t we just call ourselves ‘The Band You’re About to See.’” They’re singing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” Who is making these decisions? The thing about every Cyndi Lauper song is that her voice has such a unique quality that any attempt at replicating it feels like a cheap imitation and any attempt at this song just feels like a photocopy of a photocopy. When it was revealed that they were doing this song, my boyfriend had a fit and stormed out for 30 minutes.
There’s a version of this show that would work. There’s two versions, actually. The first one is they just sing goddamn boy-band songs. Oh, it’s throwback week? Sing a Jackson 5 song and some Monkees. Boom. Done. Or there’s the version where a group of songwriters and producers create original songs for the bands and they perform them. Timbaland is right there. Just ask him.
But this version of the show? Where four boys are singing an iconic Cyndi Lauper gay anthem? What are any of us doing here?
Next Up do not sound good together. Jaden is such a great singer that you can feel everyone get insecure and they try to outsing each other and it’s … not great. They don’t understand the dynamics of the song. It’s quiet and pleading and they’re all trying to do a thing rather than just sing the damn song. Jaden was singing for his father, who has been in and out of jail and that’s actually sweet. Jaden, GO BE A SOLO ARTIST. You’re cute and you can sing. Dorian tells Timbaland that he has learn to pronounce his words. What kind of feedback is that.
It’s time for Maxed. They’re singing Lauryn Hill’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” Again, they could sing Frankie Valli’s version but sure. I guess this is where we live now. J. Hype is being tasked to sing and we’re all supposed to be sympathetic that he’s finally learning how to sing on a singing competition. Here’s what so aggravating: J. HYPE ALSO CANNOT BEATBOX. He screws up the intro beatboxing. He’s off. I would bet that he fundamentally doesn’t understand that beatboxing is supposed to approximate real instruments or records. He probably thinks it’s just noises. Fun hip-hop noises. Sergio and Drew crush the song and Devin is, like, okay.
Time for one band to be safe. Those dumb School of Rock wannabes Timeless are saved. That means Dorian from Next Up and J. Hype from Maxed are up for elimination. I swear to God, if I were eliminated from a singing competition before a beatboxer who cannot sing, I would burn that place to the ground.
America only has two-and-a-half minutes to vote and guess what happens? J. Hype is saved. I guess the only people who were watching live to vote were his parents. This is embarrassing and I want to go home.