(Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Philymack)
If you ask Jonas BrothersÂ diehards about that fateful day in 2013 when the band abruptly canceled their tour days before it was slated to begin, they’ll agree that it was one of the darkest times in the fandom’s history. But things got even worse roughly three weeks later when the trio announced that they were over for good. “We feel like itâ€™s time that the Jonas Brothers come to an end,” Kevin said on Good Morning America at the time, devastating those who had been loyal to them since their 2006 cover of Busted’s “Year 3000.”
Fast forward six years, and the Jonas Brothers are back and thriving. Their comeback single, “Sucker,” landed them their first-ever No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, their Happiness Begins album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and early numbers show that the Happiness Begins tour is doing better than any of their past treks. The tour is currently averaging $1.6 million per show, which, according to Billboard, “puts it on pace to be the top-grossing tour in the band’s history in terms of average per venue, exceeding the $1.1 million mark set by its 2009 world tour.” With numbers like that, we can’t help but wonder: Did going on hiatus make way for the Jonas Brothersâ€™s biggest era yet?
Heather, a devoted superfan, thinks so. “I think the hiatus has a lot to do with the immense success that they’re currently experiencing,” she told MTV News. “People like myself, who are mega-fans, thought we would never see them again, so we’re soaking up every opportunity we can get.” That includes reliving her fondest teenage memories at several Happiness Begins shows. “My friends and I have already been to multiple tour stops and plan on attending many more,” she said.
Kelly, a fan who “started sobbing at work” when she heard the reunion news, agrees that much of the bandâ€™s post-hiatus success is likely due to nostalgia. “Most of the fans are grown-ups now and have careers and families,” she said. “They want to bring back the life they used to have with the Jonas Brothers and share it with their families.”
But is nostalgia alone really to thank for the Happiness Begins tour pulling in better numbers than the brothers’ previous ones? And similarly, is their absence the reason reunion single “Sucker” became their first-ever No. 1? According to Dave Brooks, Billboard’s Senior Correspondent, Touring & Live Entertainment, those intense feelings are certainly part of it.
“I think there is a strong demand right now for nostalgia,” Brooks said. And because of this demand, fans are quick to take action by purchasing albums, buying concert tickets, and snapping up new merch. “Millennials and Gen X are willing to spend money to see the artists they grew up with because they like how those bands make them feel and remind them of simpler times before family and job demands,” he said.
While nostalgia is undeniably a big factor in a band’s post-hiatus success, profiting off years of absence in the industry also has a lot to do with timing. “The longer the hiatus and length of time these artists haven’t played, the more demand gets pent up and ultimately the more excitement fans feel for a reunion,” Brooks said. And although fans would probably agree that their hiatus was six years too long, it’s a relatively short break compared to artists who’ve made similar moves. Just look at the Spice Girls.
After announcing their indefinite hiatus in December 2000, the U.K. sensations reunited in 2008 for their sold-out Return of the Spice Girls Tour. They also briefly revved up fan excitement for another possible reunion with a performance at the 2012 Olympic closing ceremony in London. Despite just being a one-off, the performance gave fans hope that they’d consider joining forces again in the future. And so they did: The massively successful Spice World â€” 2019 tour grossed $78.2 million across only 13 dates. Their 2008 reunion tour, meanwhile, grossed $70.1 million over 45 dates, lending credence to Brooks’s point that the longer fans wait for a reunion, the more profitable and successful said reunion ultimately turns out to be. And the Spice Girls aren’t the only proof. In January, the Backstreet Boys’s ninth album, DNA â€” their first in six years â€” yielded the groupâ€™s first No. 1 album since Black and Blue in 2000.
With results like that, taking an extended break may seem like an appealing move for an artist to get a bump. “I think some artists know that a break is a good thing and there is a lot of competition for fans’ attention, so limiting their creative output and taking time off can drive demand and create an environment where fans are begging for new music,” Brooks said. But taking a break is a fine line for artists to walk â€” especially if they wait too long to make their grand return. And as Brooks pointed out, there’s a running risk that fan interest could completely disintegrate. “There are always new artists ready to fill the void,” he said. “If a band is gone too long, they might not be able to come back on their own terms.”
Fall Out Boy and Blink-182, two of the biggest rock bands on the planet, both seemed to re-enter the spotlight at just the right time after taking years off between past albums.Â Brooks called Blink-182 “bigger than ever” in light of their new album Nine, their third since reforming in 2009 and second since a lineup change in 2015. Fall Out Boy are set to embark on a stadium tour in 2020 alongside fellow giants Green Day and Weezer (whose own late-’90s hiatus and return has become a key piece of their story).
After teasing their comeback, there was a ton of fan anticipation for what the future of the Jonas Brothers would look like. But even though they’d stuck by them through their hiatus, fans definitely had concerns that whatever the brothers had planned might not feel the same as it did over six years ago. “I feared that they wouldn’t have any success this time around,” Heather said. Similarly, Kelly revealed that she had some reservations. “I was a little bit nervous,” she said. “But once the tickets went on sale and the tour started to sell out, I knew it was going to be just as big, or even bigger [than] their tour was back in 2009.”
This buildup of excitement was inevitable for the Jonas Brothers’s return, but according to Brooks, their comeback wouldn’t have been as enormous had the music not been up to par. “There is a lot of pent of demand for the Jonas Brothers,” he said. “But they also returned with a really strong album and single in ‘Sucker,’ which really was one of the top songs of the summer.” And unlike some older acts, the Jonas Brothers hadn’t yet solidified their place in music history when they announced their split. “They haven’t been around as long as bands like Backstreet Boys and NSYNC and they still have to create songs that are catchy and turn into hits to stay relevant, and I think they absolutely did that.”
The Jonas Brothers did do that. Their album, Happiness Begins, included more bops than just “Sucker.” “Only Human,” for example, is a groovy pop record that speaks to who the Jonas Brothers are now â€“ three grown, married men, who, despite being romantically unavailable, are still cool as ever. “Rollercoaster,” on the other hand, hinges on the hope that fans would feel nostalgic about their return. “It was fun when we were young but now we’re older,” they sing on the chorus. “Those days that are the worst, they seem to glow now.”
Overall, it seems that with the right formula â€” something like nostalgia plus solid jams multiplied by timing â€” a hiatus can usher in another wave of success for beloved artists. That is, if they’re willing to step out of the spotlight for a while and come back with the goods. So we have to ask: Which other acts, currently on hiatus, could have the same sort of impact if they were to come together again? Putting the question to Twitter reveals two words flooding your mentions: One Direction.
(Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic)”It would honestly be amazing,” said Labanya, a diehard Directioner. “The fact that they’ve had time apart to recharge creatively on their own will most likely amplify their sound and success.” Lexi, another devoted 1D fan, agrees, though she doesn’t want a reunion if it’s not what the guys â€” who’ve been on hiatus since 2016 â€” want themselves. “I obviously would be elated if they did a comeback tour,” she said. “But I want it to be an organic decision on their part.”
“I think initially it would result in a huge boost in sales like the Jonas Brothers reunion did,” she continued. “And ultimately, a nearly sold-out tour run.” Here’s hoping!
Janelle Monáe Leads The Revolution In Stirring ‘Turntables’ Video
YouTube “We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.” That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic…
“We are in the middle of a revolution right? What’s a revolution without a song and a song without a revolution.”
That’s the question the Grammy-winning artist Janelle Monáe posed to Entertainment Weekly when describing her latest single, “Turntables.” The song was released on and flips between cleverly rapped lines about “liberation, elevation, education” and a harmonic refrain with clear gospel influences. It’s Monáe’s take on a contemporary protest song, a call for a political sea change, in the vein of, say, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” or Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power.”
Courtesy of Atlantic RecordsAnd on Tuesday (September), Monáe released a moving music video — or, as she calls it, an emotion picture — that solidified that message. The visual opens and closes with the singer walking along the beach in a beige trench coat and military cap. At times, she can be seen singing into a retro microphone before an American flag; in others, she moves through staged breakfast scenes, with a family reading through newspaper headlines as they mouth her lyrics. The visual flashes through archival and contemporary footage depicting inspirational figures past and present: Where one scene shows the model and activist Jillian Mercado at a photo shoot, another depicts a conversation with lifelong activist Angela Davis.
What rings true without is a hopeful cry for change and for equality, and a recognition of those who have been leading that fight for decades. Monáe wrote “Turntables” for the new Amazon Studios documentary, All In: The Fight for Democracy, that shines a light on voter suppression, particularly through the lens of Stacey Abrams’s failed bid for the Georgia governorship. “Right now, I am focused on turning the election in our favor,” Monáe told Entertainment Weekly, “and I hope this song can inspire those who are on the ground doing the work.”
Joe Keery’s Reinvention, Mxmtoon’s Carly Rae Jepsen Collab, And More Songs We Love
Getty Images/April Blum The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new? Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by…
Getty Images/April Blum
The search for the ever-elusive “bop” is difficult. Playlists and streaming-service recommendations can only do so much. They often leave a lingering question: Are these songs really good, or are they just new?
Enter Bop Shop, a hand-picked selection of songs from the MTV News team. This weekly collection doesn’t discriminate by genre and can include anything — it’s a snapshot of what’s on our minds and what sounds good. We’ll keep it fresh with the latest music, but expect a few oldies (but goodies) every once in a while, too. Get ready: The Bop Shop is now open for business.
St. Vincent ft. Yoshiki: “New York”
St. Vincent, the intuitive musical goddess that she is, must have sensed our collective need for another quarantine ballad. Enter “New York [Feat. Yoshiki],” a classical arrangement of the standout single from 2017’s Masseduction. An added string section courtesy of Yoshiki, a Japanese multi-instrumentalist, beautifully complements the song’s original piano instrumentals. What more can I say? “New York isn’t New York / Without you, love” just hits different in the middle of a pandemic. —Sam Manzella
Djo: “Keep Your Head Up”
Last year, Joe Keery (of Stranger Things fame) released a glossy solo album under the moniker Djo. It was titled Twenty Twenty, and its sparkling arrangements ended up being quite far removed from the overall vibe of 2020 the year, but who could fault him for his optimism? Keery has also long been a contributing member of Chicago psych band Post Animal, but Djo is simply Joe — and latest “Keep Your Head Up” feels like several Joes ripping open a vortex in the funk-time continuum. This is a groove, peppered with buzzy synths and icy falsetto and an honest-to-god sax part. It’s akin to Todd Terje doing Tame Impala, a lightheaded cocktail rush that feels both clubby and bedroom ambitious. Positively galactic. —Patrick Hosken
Mxmtoon ft. Carly Rae Jepsen: “OK On Your Own”
When Mxmtoon’s Maia said she recorded “OK On Your Own” for the girls and the gays, she wasn’t kidding. The mellow bedroom-pop bop soundtracks a journey of self-reflection after a breakup, complete with the soft ukulele instrumentals that put the 19-year-old singer-songwriter on the map. Is it revelatory? No, but with pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen lending her sugary-sweet vocals to the second verse, it doesn’t have to be. Now I’m just waiting for “Party for Two.” —Sam Manzella
Video Age: “Aerostar”
Pleasure Line, the third album from emerging indie pop quartet Video Age, delivers perfectly escapist ’80s new wave vibes for when you need to get outta 2020 for just a moment. “Aerostar” is its punchy center, a hip-twisting, shoulder-shuffling groove that delivers quirky robot dance commands (“Slide to the left, now! Shimmy to the right!”) over hoppin’ funk synths and a kickin’ drum machine. It all harkens to a simpler time, one where dance floors were actually a real thing. Oh, the ’80s! —Terron Moore
Ruel: “As Long As You Care”
About a year ago, Australian middle-part heartthrob Ruel told MTV News that for him, “songwriting is exaggerating to an extent.” On his latest, the technicolor, soulful “As Long As You Care,” his exaggeration is so seamless, you’d be forgiven for believing the 17-year-old is actually a time traveler. The neo-soul groove he rides propels everything upward, even as the sound cheekily looks backward. “As Long As You Care” has one amazing hook, coupled with sonic candy that makes his upcoming third EP, Bright Lights, Red Eyes (out October 23) one to watch. —Patrick Hosken
Alycia Bella ft. Boogie: “Cue the Sun”
Something magical happens two-and-a-half minutes into “Cue the Sun,” the exploratory new collab between striking R&B voice Alycia Bella and rapper Boogie. After piping in the aural equivalent of stage smoke via jazzy piano and gorgeous vocalizations — “It feel like being lost in the right direction” — Bella’s song enters a more sparkly realm for Boogie’s recitations. By the end, you’re lighter, like your mind’s been cleared of all the cobwebs. Cue the sun. —Patrick Hosken
Carly Rae Jepsen
Michael Love Michael’s XO Is A Service To Their Queer Ancestors
Ross Days It can be tempting, as a writer, to compartmentalize, to define by a set of fixed words or parameters. Pinpoint the detail about your subject that most interests you — an unexpected gesture, a prime soundbite pulled from an interview — and flesh it out into a full story. But in the case…
It can be tempting, as a writer, to compartmentalize, to define by a set of fixed words or parameters. Pinpoint the detail about your subject that most interests you — an unexpected gesture, a prime soundbite pulled from an interview — and flesh it out into a full story. But in the case of the New York-based artist Michael Love Michael, who last month self-released their debut album XO, it’s simply not possible, in part because they do so much.
As the former culture editor at Paper magazine, the 32-year-old “Cancer-Leo cusp,” who grew up between Chicago and Gary, Indiana, crafted celebrated profiles of such disparate musicians as Paramore’s Hayley Williams and cyborg sensation Poppy, while also serving up weekly playlists packed with the best bops from Megan Thee Stallion, Yves Tumor, and beyond. One day, it seemed they were stomping a runway in New York in a leather tank top and a cherry pout for the queer designer Willie Norris; the next, they were escaping to a farm to study permaculture at an undisclosed location “out West.”
XO, by design, rejects easy categorization. The collection, which was produced in under a year in collaboration with Michael’s longtime creative partner Rich Dasilva, fluctuates dramatically between glittering power-pop — as on the synth-heavy “6 Jaguars,” which dissolves at the bridge into a biting rap (“They call me bitch if they don’t like me… Does that tell you who I’m voting for, honey?”) — and lush, emotional ballads. Michael’s voice boasts a similarly wide range, whether as a groaning whisper in a spoken-sung segment closing “The Hatred,” or as a looping, crystalline falsetto as they perform as their own backup singer on “Blueberry.”
Their first comprehensive artistic statement, Michael tells MTV News, was intended to dispel any notion of essentialization, particularly as a Black, nonbinary artist making their mark in the industry (in June, they left Paper, citing its treatment of its Black staffers). “I think Black, queer people can sometimes just be lumped together in sort of this really offensive, monolithic way, and it’s just a way of me saying that I have multitudes,” they say. “I am a very tender, spiritual, sensitive person. And I’m also fierce.”
Ross DaysMTV News: Did you record XO while you were on the farm, or was that all done before?
Michael: I basically worked on it from April until late July, so there was part of it that was finished here, but most of it was done during quarantine in New York, four or five tracks. I started recording my vocals on my iPhone and my computer, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out, because, at least in my opinion, none of it sounds like it was done at home. It has a uniformity, and it sounds kind of expansive in a lot of ways.
MTV News: I really connected with the song “Blueberry,” and there was this sound on it that reminded me almost of a dulcimer, though I couldn’t quite make it out. Given that much of it was produced at home, was there a lot of live instrumentation on this?
Michael: So there’s acoustic guitar, there’s whistling, there are actual finger snaps, and then the rest is electronic. So then there’s kind of the 808 bass drone and there’s that sound, which is like a fake electronic guitar. But I’m glad you like “Blueberry.” “Blueberry” is very, very sweet and comes from a sad place.
MTV News: Would you tell me about it?
Michael: OK, so “Blueberry” is about an unrequited love. When I was a teenager, I had this really intense crush on this guy who was closeted and involved with this girl as a way to kind of conceal, as we all do when we’re going through that journey. But we always had a connection, and it was very kind of the teenage lust kind of factor. And then, after high school, he went to the Iraq War and died.
There are lines about going off to war but also being brave and being who you are. There’s this line about purple hearts beating wild with red, red blood — the idea of a Purple Heart for bravery, while also referencing the bravery it requires to be out as yourself. There’s also the idea that both of us are sacrificing something, my jealousy and my self-reflection, and the blueberry gates became a place I would go in my mind when I would think of him. I wanted to find a way to talk about having a closeted relationship full of young lust and love, and to speak about what’s involved when two people sacrifice parts of themselves to make things work that can’t work, ultimately.
MTV News: What are some other songs on the album that feel special for you?
Michael: This is almost like my second coming out, as an artist and sharing my music with everybody. Even though I’ve been making music since I was 16, I’ve never actually had the courage until now to release anything. “XO” is my favorite track, because that’s the thesis of the project. It’s about overcoming some of my own personal demons to love myself enough to realize I had something to share and something to say, like a love letter to a damaged former self.
“Mother’s Day” is another one that I really love, because it’s kind of strange and cryptic. This one is more about people’s relationship to all things maternal, how you have to be a reciprocal give-and-take dynamic with whatever those things are, whether that’s the earth, someone you look up to who is a femme person or a mother figure. It has echoes of my own relationship with my mother and my grandmother. There’s a line about planting a garden — “Every Mother’s Day, I plant a garden for you / Every Mother’s Day, I water your flowers that bloom” — and that was something I used to do for my grandmother as a kid.
MTV News: Do you have a good relationship with your mom and your grandmother?
Michael: With my grandmother, yes. With my mother, that’s something that’s very much in process. It’s a tricky song. It’s really complex, obviously. But I love it for that reason, and I love that I feel like I’m learning how to be really good at writing about things that are personal broader and nuanced ways. I can be descriptive and I can also not be descriptive, and all of it’s intentional. It kind of reminds me of a St. Vincent, Brian Eno vibe. It feels kind of stompy, crunchy, stadium rock or something.
MTV News: What made now feel like a good time to release an album and share this project?
Michael: It was something that I didn’t intend to happen. I was happy with just having some demo recordings and maybe an EP released on SoundCloud, and then I had friends who really encouraged me to think bigger. Also, I had my own aspirations that I buried because I was trying to be realistic and I was trying to hold down full-time jobs and I was trying to be sort of a traditional careerist, and it’s just like, no bitch. Don’t dull your own shine, don’t gaslight yourself just because society gaslights you.
And so, that’s what kind of really motivated me to kind of come out with it all, and I just feel really grateful for the ability to have unlocked this avenue of creativity. Even for this to happening, for us to be talking about my album for MTV is fucking cool. Everything is luxury now, I just get so excited about everything else because creativity begets more creativity. So I don’t take any of it for granted, it’s so fucking cool.
MTV News: Yeah, I can really relate with feeling vulnerable in sharing something creative.
Michael: This is an exercise in proving something to myself. I really do believe, if you see something missing and you have the capacity to provide or be that missing link, then do that. If you feel empowered and you feel like you can and you have the resources and the energy, do that. Where queer voices are sort of becoming less and less marginalized, people want to hear what it is we have to say. Remember that there are so many people who fought and died for so much of the freedom that I and many of us take for granted. Part of being a person with a voice and sharing it is also being in service to your ancestors who came before you.
MTV News: In listening to XO as a whole, there are songs that are very soft and almost indie-leaning in a way, and then you also have these songs that are very fierce and very hard. I wondered what your intention was, or were you expressing different sides of yourself?
Michael: Well, I love that you picked up on the contrast, because that was the exact point. I definitely wanted to present duality. It’s an introduction to me as a musician and, hopefully, if there ever were any expectations, it surprises, maybe it shocks. Maybe it’s exactly what people expect — I have no fucking idea. I called it XO because I thought of X-O as sort of an expression of contrast, because it’s like hugs and kisses are sort of opposite things, but then so is the idea of being open and being closed.
I think Black, queer people can sometimes just be lumped together in sort of this really offensive, monolithic way, and it’s just a way saying that I have multitudes. I’m a complex, fully realized human being. So it was important for me to show a hard edge and a softer, gentler side, because at the end of the day, I am a very tender, spiritual, sensitive person, and I’m also fierce. The Cancer-Leo cusp is really that, it’s very that.