Culture

No One Cared About the Jonas Brothers Until They Became Wife Guys

For years, the former Disney stars struggled to maintain relevance. Until they walked down the aisle.
09 March 2020, 9:41am
Rebranding As Wife Guys Put The Jonas Brothers Back on the A-List
Images via Getty | Collage by VICE Staff

This article originally appeared on VICE US.

Last month, Just Jared exclusively reported that Sophie Turner, 24, and Joe Jonas, 30, are expecting their first child together. The rest of the tabloids have run absolutely wild with the news, which Turner and Jonas have yet to confirm. In the absence of details about the pregnancy, gossip outlets have published a stream of paparazzi photos of the couple and breathless stories about their "perfect" relationship, just to fill the void. (E! News: "Why Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas Are One of Hollywood's Coolest Pairs.") It’s almost enough to make you forget that until very recently, the public had mostly lost interest in Jonas and did not care much about his personal life.

The same goes for his brothers and some-time bandmates Nick Jonas, 27, and Kevin Jonas, 32. The Jonas Brothers were insanely popular in the mid-aughts, but when they decided to embark on an extended hiatus in 2013, they fell off the A-list. Nick and Joe both pursued solo careers and enjoyed varying levels of success. (You probably can still hum “Cake By the Ocean,” which Joe released with the band DNCE in 2015; Nick’s most successful single “Jealous” went to No. 7 on the Billboard 100.)

Kevin, meanwhile, mostly abandoned music and focused on domestic life: He married Danielle Deleasa, a former hairdresser, in 2009. (All three brothers famously wore purity rings when they were teenagers; Kevin is the only one to confirm that he waited until marriage to have sex. “I could’ve gotten married the day after we got engaged,” he told People after the wedding. “We’d have gone crazy waiting any longer.”)

It’s not easy for teen idols to grow up and maintain cultural relevance, and for years, the former Disney stars struggled to find their angle. Until, that is, Nick and Joe followed their older brother down the aisle.

Nick married the actress Priyanka Chopra, 37, in a series of elaborate celebrations at the end of 2018, and Joe married Sophie in a shorter series of not-quite-as-elaborate celebrations last summer. In between the two matrimonial extravaganzas, The Jonas Brothers officially reunited and released their first studio album in ten years. Chopra, Turner, and Kevin’s wife Danielle Jonas all appeared in the music video for the album’s first single, "Sucker." This personal-professional synergistic approach led Happiness Begins to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and we are now living through a documented Jonas Brothers renaissance.

This career resurgence is due in no small part to the fact that the brothers have been able to market themselves as grown-ups, not teeny-bopper Disney stars. And they did it by becoming—you guessed it—Wife Guys.

It’s a path that other millennial stars have recently walked successfully: Chance the Rapper, 26, married in a splashy ceremony last year and subsequently released an album full of “newlywed dad raps.” And Justin Bieber, 25, has leveraged the interest in his recent marriage to Hailey Baldwin to promote his latest album, which was released on Valentine’s Day.

Of course, the transition from teen idol to Wife Guy can be fraught, and not every pop star is successful in convincing the public that they truly love being a husband. It took former 98 Degrees frontman Nick Lachey two tries for the Wife Guy image to stick: While his performance on Newlyweds with first wife Jessica Simpson was memorable, he didn’t fully evolve into a family man until he married his second wife, Vanessa Lachey (nee Minillo), in 2011. (The Lacheys booked their current gig as co-hosts of the dystopian Netflix dating reality show Love Is Blind on the apparent strength of their coupledom.)

And some would-be Wife Guys never find a way to make it work. Just look at Justin Timberlake. So how did the Jonas Brothers pull off this and find relevance in 2020? Let’s discuss.

They got the tabloids on board

Seeds of the JoBros renaissance were planted in 2016 when Joe began dating Sophie. The Jonas camp seemingly made a concerted effort to promote the relationship and paint Joe as a committed partner in the tabloids. Sources told People that Turner was "the one" for him and that he was serious about her. "He was playing the field, but he really likes her and is willing to settle down for her," said one source. In October 2017, Joe and Sophie announced their engagement on Instagram, and sources continued to insist that Joe was totally popular with women but also newly tamed—he was, indeed, becoming a Wife Guy. "He was such a dater before her but their relationship was much different from the start," a source told People. "She was just the one for him."

Six months later, rumors about a possible relationship between Nick and Priyanka bled out through the tabloids. By July 2018, the not-so-secretive couple got engaged, and sources made familiar claims about how Nick was totally ready for marriage. From People: "His friends and family have never seen him like this, and they’re all really excited for him. He’s definitely very serious about her." Another source said the age difference between Nick and Priyanka was "not a big deal," and that Nick has "always been very mature for his age" and is "an old soul."

The stage, then, was set: Both of the younger Jonases were ready for marriage, and for a career comeback.

They walked down the aisle, a few times

Obviously, the most crucial step toward becoming a Wife Guy is getting legally married. Nick ended up beating Joe to this milestone, even though his relationship with Priyanka started much later. Nick and Priyanka married in a three-day, two-ceremony affair in Jodhpur, India in December 2018, and they hosted several different receptions in the following weeks. (Many elements of the weddings were highly publicized and appeared to be sponsored in some way.) By the end of 2018, it was extremely clear to most people on Earth that Nick and Priyanka were officially MARRIED.

Six months later, Joe and Sophie legally wed in a Vegas ceremony that occurred directly after the Billboard Music Awards, where the Jonas Brothers had performed. (Synergy!) Diplo live-streamed the event, which the couple said later was not planned. A few weeks after the Vegas show, Joe and Sophie had a more formal celebration at a chateau in France.

Both couples promoted their weddings to the public: Joe and Sophie shared photos on Instagram, and Nick and Priyanka appeared in Vogue.

They hired their wives for their music videos

In the midst of all of the wedding celebrations, The Jonas Brothers released an album and multiple music videos, appeared at awards shows and other red carpet events, and embarked on tour. Their wives were dutifully present for almost all of it. After Sophie, Priyanka, and Danielle all appeared in the music video for their first single, "Sucker," the collaboration sparked numerous headlines, and the band hired the women again for their "What a Man Gotta Do" video, which was released last month.

For their part, the women seem to be just fine using their relationships to promote the music. Priyanka and Sophie, especially, often tag photos of each other with #TheJSisters, and all of the women regularly appear at their husbands' concerts and tequila launches.

But they could have just done a reality show

The easiest way to display your domestic bliss to the world is to bring cameras into your home. Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson did it with MTV’s Newlyweds in 2002; Justin and Hailey Bieber followed suit last month with Seasons, which premiered on YouTube in the run-up to Justin’s album release. And—you may have forgotten this, but—Kevin Jonas did it with his wife Danielle in 2012.

It’s true: Years before Nick and Joe had the bright idea to marry famous actresses and ride the publicity wave up the Billboard charts, Kevin tried it. In 2012, he and his new-ish wife Danielle made a deal with E! to document their lives and The Jonas Brothers' (first) attempt at a comeback. The resulting show, Married to Jonas, was almost fascinatingly boring—most of the scenes were shot in Kevin and Danielle’s empty McMansion in New Jersey—but it could have really worked if Nick and Joe had gotten on board.

In a documentary that the brothers released last year, Nick and Joe said they were embarrassed by the idea of a reality show at the time, which explains why they were mostly absent during filming. But looking back now, poor Kevin had the right idea: All The Jonas Brothers needed to do to mount a comeback was to become very public Wife Guys. It apparently took six years for Nick and Joe to come to this realization themselves, but now, everyone benefits.