Have any of you heard of charming British boy band JLS? THEY ARE GREAT.
If you are British you have probably heard of JLS ALL TOO MUCH. That is because they have about five UK number ones now, and also they won some Brit awards or something. I don’t know what those are either, but apparently it’s kind of a big deal. They haven’t made much of a dent over here in the States, though, so here’s a little introduction from me to you. Study hard, and maybe one day you can join me at the fan table. It’s fun; we’ll make scrapbooks with our concert tickets and argue about which member of the band is cutest (it’s Aston).
JLS: A PRIMER:
JLS stands for Jack the Lad Swing, which is amazing. Apparently in the UK, where slang is hilarious and arbitrary, a “Jack the lad” is a sort of cheeky rascal and “swing” is a verb meaning “to sing songs that strike right at the center of my fluttery little ladyheart.” No, just kidding, swing is a type of music, of course. So the phrase refers to swing music for cheeky boys, the kind of music JLS presumably plays, which makes a lot of sense so long as you have never heard a single JLS song.
I have just had a look at Wikipedia, however, and apparently before they came up with JLS, they were calling themselves UFO, which stood for “Unique Famous Outrageous” and really gives “Lyte Funky Ones” a run for its money in terms of three-letter initializations that somehow managed to become incredibly dated the same moment they were invented.
The band consists of Aston and Marvin and the other two whose names nobody can remember (JB) or spell (Oritsé). They are also colo(u)r-coded, so that you don’t get confused about which one is which when you are buying merchandise. Aston is blue, Marvin is green, Oritsé is red and JB is yellow. I did not have to look any of that up, this are just the sort of useful factoids with which I have filled my brain.
Oritsé started the band to raise money for his mother, who has multiple scleroses. That is so amazing that I’m not even going to make a joke about his hats. Aston is approximately five feet tall, so all the preteen girls think he is extremely cute and non-threatening. Also he does back flips. Marvin is the tallest and his job is mainly to brood and wear ladies’ shirts that have been cut low enough to show off his pecs. And JB is usually there as well.
In terms of songwriting, JLS’s interests include: the club, macking on honeys, and passive-aggression. Their first single was a song called “Beat Again” which was all about JLS trying to convince a lady that a doctor had told them that their heart(s) would ACTUALLY STOP BEATING if she tried to leave. It is a great song, possibly the best thing I have ever put into my ears. They also had a single called “Everybody in Love” which you should try to avoid. Both of those were from their self-titled debut, which is solid gold from start to finish, except for the eight filler songs at the end. Also of note from JLS:
- “One Shot”: Third single. I guess it’s about JLS having a crisis of confidence over asking a girl out.
- “Crazy For You”: This is a serious song about JLS fighting with their girlfriend. It has a violin in it to represent emotion.
- “Private”: JLS doesn’t want you to tell anybody about your relationship with them because they are cheating on you.
Their second album, Outta This World, is a concept album about meeting a honey in the club (“The Club is Alive”) who they enjoy having sexual fantasies about (“Work”). On the seventh track, JLS finally gets around to taking this lady out on a date (“Love You More”) but then I guess she moves to Australia (“Other Side of the World”) and JLS spends the next five songs breaking up before heading back to the club (“Last Song”) to meet more honeys, repeat ad infinitum. Outta This World is better as a whole than JLS, but I don’t think there’s any one song on it that comes close to the sheer aural splendor of “Beat Again.” Highlights from Outta This World include:
- “The Club is Alive”: Fourth single. Everyone hates this song. It still went to number one, though. It samples “The Sound of Music,” so that’s pretty much all you need to know about that.
- “Outta This World”: Title track. Amazing. JLS just met their dream girl and they cannot even imagine where such a glorious being could have originated, so they advance some hypotheses for us. Theories include: London, Paris, LA, Chicago, Venus, Mars, or Saturn, or Pluto, Neptune, NY, Jupiter, and Toronto. At one point, Aston suggests that she may, in fact, be from “the sun.” Sure she is, Aston.
- “Work”: I guess this is from when JLS decided that they wanted to release a song that wouldn’t be relevant after six months, so they wrote one that references every female pop star currently in the Top 40 and then compares the lady in question to each of them—the lady in question being, I think, a stripper. There’s also a bit that goes “Baby I just wanna be your soldier … I’ll be at attention when I hold you,” which is a joke about boners. Probably Aston’s idea.
- “Love You More”: No, I love this song more! Fifth single, in which JLS meet and fall in love with you in only seven days. Fantastic. Music video is about JLS wearing blazers and taking you out on a date to the beach.
- “Superhero”: This song is about how JLS are superior creatures, not due to having developed actual Misfits-style lightning-related superpowers (contemporary British cultural reference, well done me) but because they are the best at sexual intercourse. It is strongly implied that they are once again in the club whilst making these claims, and my question is, JLS what are you doing in the club when your girlfriend has only just left for the Other Side of the World? This is why she’s going to break up with you.
Their third album is called Jukebox, and the lead single was “She Makes Me Wanna.” It’s about how JLS has met an attractive woman, which is what all their songs are about, but is notable in that they mispronounce “Africa” to make it rhyme with “Jamaica” and then the chorus goes “She makes me wanna oh-oh oh-oh oh-oh,” which I suspect is a euphemism for having an orgasm. The music video is your standard beach party, but for some reason they dressed Marvin in blue, Aston in pink, and Oritsé in green. Which is WRONG, and obviously undermines their branding, but maybe they’re phasing out the color-coding in an attempt to get more “serious.” If that’s the case, though, I question the decision to put Aston first in a mesh tank top and then in no top at all.
Also from Jukebox:
- “Take A Chance On Me,” in which Aston tries to convince you to date him and the rest of the guys kind of stand in the background going “ohh-ohh-ohh.” It’s a silly song, because, like, I have listened to “Private,” Aston. I already know that you are cheating on me.
- “Do You Feel What I Feel,” which samples a Bing Crosby Christmas carol. Oh, and also it is the best thing ever created, in music or the world.
I guess they have just released their forth album or something? I haven’t listened to it yet, though. The first single was called “Hottest Girl in the World” and I heard it was pretty bad.
The only other thing you need to know about JLS is that they have their own line of branded condoms called “Just Love Safe.” Each member got their own box design so you can pick the one you like best or you can collect the whole set. I keep mine on permanent display in my bathroom. (Side note: the day my husband came through US customs with twelve boxes of JLS johnnies for me was the day I knew I was going to marry him.) Every time I have seen these condoms in stores, Marvin’s row is always much shorter than the other three. This is because Marvin is the most handsome, except possibly for Aston, but all of Aston’s fans are twelve years old.
I hope that you have enjoyed learning about JLS with me today, but more than that, I hope that you immediately go out and buy all of their albums and then demand that your local Top 40 station play every single song in constant rotation until the end of time. For more information, you should go to www.popjustice.com and search for JLS; there you will find a man who really has a handle on the band not in a sexual way just in a way that I think he really understands where they’re coming from thanks.