98 Degrees have a released a new song. Remember 98 Degrees? They were like the poor man’s Backstreet Boys in the late 90s, and by that I mean they were a completely destitute hobo version of them. Despite the crippling odds, the boys are BACK and they have a NEW SONG, which is called, very unimaginatively, “Microphone." Even more unimaginatively, “microphone” is a metaphor for “hard cock.”
I’m curious to know how this was conceptualized, and indeed, allowed to happen. I imagine Nick Lachey hanging out in L.A. wearing a Hollywood Bro staple outfit (baggy jeans, white shirt with a half un-done skinny tie, casual blazer and baseball cap), listening to some Top 40 Jamz and having a light-bulb suddenly short circuiting somewhere over his chiselled, gel haired, head. Inspired, Nick picks up the phone, pausing briefly as a wispy, nostalgic memory of Jessica transports him momentarily back to a more innocent time, and calls up those other dudes who were also in the band. “Dudes,” he says, “We totally need to get the band back together. Like, yo, man, this David Guetta guy--have you heard him--he’s dope. We totally need to make a dancey track, the kids love that shit, and we’re still hot and not too old or irrelevant for that, like, look at my abs.” Nick then lifts up his shirt to expose his abs to no one in particular.
And a dancey track they did; “Microphone” is all dance (aside from the thinly veiled innuendo, but more on that momentarily). It also happens to be the worst dance track of all time, the kind of thing that if it’s blasting in your corner bodega you’re forced to make the executive decision to put your milk down and RUN before your brain explodes and you start bleeding from ears. Why must EVERYTHING be dance-inducing? Why can’t things just make you want to tap your toe? Or sway gently from side-to-side? “Microphone” isn’t even a song that you’d dance to ironically if you heard it at a club, partly because you’d never hear it at a club unless there was a planned mass suicide moments later, but also because it’s just that fucking bad.
It’s not like I can even say “Well the dope beat sucks, but at least the lyrics are nice,” because they're not. “Microphones” is flasher-pervvy at best, misogynist in the middle, and marginally-rapey at worst. It’s essentially just a song about how 98 Degrees’ (possibly collective, like one big giant Voltron) penis is a microphone that a “lady” should “grab.” It could be that I’m a filthy pervert and that really, the song is about some nice washed-up pop stars trying to coach a promising young woman for her X Factor audition, but I’m going to go with perverted sex act by a pack of affected, just-can’t-let-fame-go jerkbags.
My favorite line of the song goes, “Put this in your hand / Hold it up to your lips.” Because who doesn’t love a song about a group of men who are “ready to blow” urging a woman to “sing” into their super-charged mega man-cock? And then telling her to “Promise to try and do the best you can,” before changing tone completely and threatening her with, “You BETTER do the best you can.” Romantic!
What happened to pop music? Have we seriously reached a point where no one can come up with better a better analogy than penis to microphone? This is a world where Katy Perry sings things like, “This is transcendental / On another level” and Taylor Swift genius ode to being 22 includes the lines, “We're happy free confused and lonely at the same time / It's miserable and magical,” and 98 Degrees thought they could just ejaculate out this piece of crap into the world and everything would be OK? THIS SONG IS WORSE THAN THAT ONE NELLY SINGS ABOUT THE PORSCHE.
And what happened to boy bands? Remember when they were The Best? I do (I hope it doesn’t make me old that I remember getting the sneeze feeling between my legs when Nick Carter was dressed as a mummy asking me if I thought he was sexual). Now they’re—not-so-subtly in this case—turning being in a boy band into the musical equivalent of driving a sports car. That is to say, the point of grown-up boy bands is to wield gaudy, unnecessary penis extensions. I mean, what even is One Direction? They’re like 12-year-old dudes in dinner vests trying to be “bad” by getting “too many” tattoos which is basically ruining tattoos and by default the lives of everyone in Bushwick. And like “Microphones” all their songs demand women be submissive, subjects of their misleading cherub-faced gaze. Which is you know, super fun for women.
Every time a 90s boy band reunites, a puppy dies. And it doesn’t matter if it is the Backstreet Boys; a group of old dudes with frosted tips hip thrusting in satin shirts just doesn’t have the same thrill now as it did then. Probably because now we have Adam Levine who is wankier, sexier and more earnest than a re-hashed 90s boy band could ever be. If you doubt me, think about it like this: Justin Timberlake is impeccable, but would you really want to see the original *NSync lineup, including Joey Fatone, gyrating on stage and singing euphemistically about their dicks? Didn’t think so. And 98 Degrees doesn’t even have a JT equivalent.
If you thought “Microphone” was weird, just plain weird, it gets weirder: 98 Degrees are TOURING this year with New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men. To be honest, I’d expect this kind of horseshit from NKOTB (just let it go, guys), but Boyz II Men—for shame! Maybe Beyoncé was right—bitches (and by bitches I mean boy bands) need to bow the fuck down and leave it to the ladies.
Kat George hates pop music because she loves it. She's on Twitter - @kat_george