Fast Company

The Return of the Boy Band

With the early success of the newest Jonas Brothers album, the American teen idol--as opposed to kid idol--has finally dusted itself off. So-called bubblegum pop last ruled in pre-9/11 and pre-TMZ America, when high schoolers still stood in line at midnight to greet a new album's arrival rather than browsing through new releases song-by song on itunes. The recent popularity of Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus has been seemingly contained into a much more limited demographic--one where concert outings still require a chaperone and celebrities still seem deserving of their fans' adoration. Even before her public fall from grace, Miley Cyrus was severely limited in her reach as an artist. Was anyone over her own age ever listening?

Enter the Jonases, sibling pop rockers sporting dark, dreamy locks, rings declaring their chastity and a long array of songwriting credits. The Disney Channel may have launched them to fame, but the trio has done just fine in the world beyond: While Miley's first publicized photo shoot for a grown-up magazine (Vanity Fair, of all places) was a major PR blow, the Jonases verified their status as artists to watch for when they appeared, sexy and untouchable, on the cover of Rolling Stone. Even music critics have been generally approving of their latest release, A Little Bit Longer. Mouse ears or not, this group seems to be for real.

Of course one glaring difference remains: While N'Sync's No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies in its first week in 2000, A Little Bit Longer has brought in 525,000 copies to land on the No. 1 spot this week. The age of the album is, simply, enough, over. But it seems that there are room for teen idols even in the age of ipods and badly behaving celebrities. With their new release, The Jonas Brothers became the first band since N'Sync to have two albums simultaneously in the Billboard Top 10. Because the Jonases, in fact, have a triple presence on the chart (including the soundtrack to Disney Channel's Camp Rock), they have set an all-time record.

"A Little Bit Longer could be a significant generation-gap closer; it's not difficult to imagine a scenario where Dad is demanding that Sissy put the Jonases back in the CD changer, right after he's chucked less-deserving labelmate Jesse McCartney out the car window," declared Chris Willman in his Entertainment Weekly review. "Assuming each generation gets the teen idols it deserves, then today's kids must have done something good — God knows what — to have merited the Jonas Brothers," he says.

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