I will wait, I will wait to blog.

Considering that this week has been dominated by conversation about Miley Cyrus’s abhorrent “performance” during last Sunday’s VMAs, I thought I’d take this time to discuss an actual, legitimate, authentic live performance that I witnessed last night by none other than Mumford & Sons.

On Wednesday, Aug. 28, the band performed in Queens at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. If you live in New York and are unfamiliar with the venue, it’s because it hasn’t hosted anything major in more than two decades.

However, back in its hey day, it hosted performances from iconic musicians such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix. But even more than as a concert venue, it was known for hosting the U.S. Open tennis tournament for more than 50 years until 1977.

Undoubtedly aware of its rich history, Mumford & Sons took it upon themselves to restore the venue back to its glory, and gave one hell of a performance. The picture you see is my own, and that’s why it’s of shitty quality. But not bad for a phone picture.

Obviously I am biased because I love the band. I’ve loved them ever since I first heard “Little Lion Man” on the radio a few years ago. Normally, when it comes to music, I tend to develop a hipster attitude and only listen to stuff that is lesser known and isn’t often played on the radio. But Mumford & Sons’ popularity does not bother me.

In fact, if anything, it restores my faith in humanity. With the garbage that exists in music today — including Miley Cyrus — it’s a breath of fresh air to know that a group like Mumford & Sons can still be universally appreciated.

I had seen the group once before, in Memphis in 2011, and while I liked them at the time, I wasn’t extremely familiar with them. But I thought they sounded great, and I’ve longed to see them again since. They’ve since put out a new album, Babel, and thus expanded their catalog. I’ve listened to both albums abundantly, and I pretty much love every song they’ve ever written.

Needless to say, I was very excited to see them live, and I had very high expectations.

First, I arrived in Forest Hills approximately three hours before the band was set to take the stage, and I decided to meander around and check out the bar scene. It didn’t take long to sense the buzz that existed in the area. In fact, the neighborhood felt like one big party. Forest Hills natives may have not been too thrilled with it, but I thought it was awesome, and I can’t recall ever experiencing anything like that before.

The first bar I walked past was packed to the core, so I chose to enter the next establishment. The first thing I heard was Mumford & Sons blasting over the speakers. I knew I found the right place. Indeed, tons of 20-somethings were all over the bar, guzzling beers and obviously pregaming for the concert. I can’t even imagine how much extra business this show must have brought to the area.

After a couple of hours of this, it was showtime. The arena was packed — too packed, in fact — but I somehow managed to squeeze my way near the stage. Finally the band came on, and they sounded exactly as I figured they would: awesome.

While on tour, bands play a ridiculous amount of shows in such a short period of time, that’s it’s only natural to think they might become bored sometimes. This was Mumford’s fourth show in six days, and they just played in Canada the night before. However, you’d never have known. If anything, the band performed like their lives depended on it. And that’s all you can ask for from an artist. I could not have been more pleased with what I saw.

Here is a video I recorded of them playing “I Will Wait,” probably the most recognizable tune from their previous album:

You wonder how a band can go from nonexistent to obtaining worldwide popularity in just a couple of years, but then you realize how young they all are. Marcus Mumford, the group’s lead vocalist, is only 26 years old. When their first album released, he was 23. So that kind of explains that. It’s not often you see a band of young adults become so popular, and their youth only means that there is plenty more to come.

Humorously, the group paid tribute to the venue’s history — during the end of their set, they brought out a container of tennis balls and used their guitars as tennis rackets to whack them into the crowd. Again, awesome.

So forget Miley Cyrus, people. Just eliminate her from your minds.

Instead, you should take comfort in knowing that there are true musicians out there, playing their hearts out to deliver music to people the way it was meant to be.

The faux outrage last week over Ben Affleck was hilarious

I know I am a little late with this one, but it presents a major problem for me when breaking pop culture news occurs on a Thursday night, after I have already completed my week’s worth of blogging.

However, it’s better late than never, and this news I am about to discuss has seen such a widespread outcry that I am pretty sure it still maintains its relevancy.

So again, on Thursday, it was revealed that Ben Affleck had been cast to portray Batman in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman Marvel extravaganza. 

And in one simultaneous moment, the entire Internet screamed. The reactions were so severe and so fiery, that I’m surprised its impact didn’t stretch beyond the Internet and reverberate onto the physical world. Just like how small increases in greenhouse gases can cause worldwide global warming, I expected the Internet outcry to ripple through the earth’s sound waves and cause some type of earthquake in Micronesia, or something. Maybe it did. Who knows.

The criticism manifested from people’s disbelief that Ben Affleck has the ability to pull off such a role. Because, you know, it requires so much talent to speak while wearing a mask.

Alright, fine, I don’t mean to sound pretentious or judgmental. I know there are people out there who truly are fixated on the Batman franchise, and have its best interests at heart. However, for 99 percent of people, that is not the case. And therefore, when people were posting on Facebook, or Twitter, or speaking aloud about their disagreement over Ben Affleck, I found myself wholeheartedly amused by the whole thing.

There’s no way that that many people truly care about this. They just heard the name “Ben Affleck,” and knew that the true Batman supporters would disagree with the decision, and jumped right onto the bandwagon.

I also loved how people looked back into Ben Affleck’s filmography to attempt to prove that he was incapable of it. “Remember Daredevil?” was a common mantra this past weekend.

Film producers searched far and wide for an actor to play the role. I’m sure they considered many people, and they settled on Affleck. End of story. Whether the movie is successful will not be contingent on him, but if the producers select an appropriate director and craft a compelling script.

When Superman was cast a couple of years ago, nobody said anything because it was unknown actor in Henry Cavill. He’s also British, and Americans have some weird notion in their heard that British people are amazing at everything. So nobody complained.

But when a well-known actor was chosen for Batman, people immediately reacted negatively simply because he once was in a movie called Gigli.

Affleck has been in the film industry for 20 years. He just won an Oscar. He’s directed and starred in plenty of quality movies. The good outweighs the bad.

Val Kilmer once portrayed Batman, Think about that. It’s not like this role is reserved for the holiest actors in the world and that Affleck is desecrating it. The part requires a Caucasian male, who can speak raspy when needed, and who lacks body fat. That limits the field down to every single white actor that exists minus Seth Rogen and Zach Galifianakis.

And finally, it’s not even a true Batman movie. People are acting like he was selected as Christian Bale’s successor, meanwhile, all we know is that he was chosen to play Bruce Wayne in this movie.

So, in conclusion, everyone needs to take a deep breath, settle down, and probably start worrying about more important things than who is portraying a superhero who models himself after a nocturnal rodent.

Go home VMAs, you’re drunk

MTV may be fading deeper and deeper into obscurity, but somehow, its Video Music Awards show maintains its relevance more than ever. It’s no Grammy Awards, but one can certainly make the argument that it’s the biggest conglomeration of popular music stars besides the Grammys. Which may come as a surprise when you consider that nobody has watched an actual music video in 15 years.

Taking place in Brooklyn this year, it marked the 30th annual presentation of the VMAs, and like its predecessors, was not immune to controversy. And speaking of the Grammys, it was well publicized how the producers of that show implemented a strict dress code earlier this year, forbidding women from showing too much skin.

Well, after watching the first 10 minutes of the VMAs, it was evident that it had no such code. In fact, if anything, it appeared that the producers may have sent out a memo to encourage more bareness from its female performers. Indeed, seeing Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus strip down to practically nothing made me feel like I was watching some type of cheap burlesque show as opposed to a concert.

However, I should not lump the two together, for that would be a giant insult to Lady Gaga. But let’s start with her.

Being her truly theatrical self, her opening number involved several bizarre facial expressions, a giant Tom Hooper/Les Miserables-esque closeup and a costume in which words cannot truly describe. It was actually my first time hearing “Applause,” and not that I was expecting much, but I thought it sucked. It’s disappointing because she truly has an amazing voice, and yet she uses it to create generic pop techno songs that can be sung by practically anybody.

But anyway, I recall reading reports recently about how Lady Gaga had gained weight, so I feel like she was on a mission to prove the world otherwise. She stripped down to a sea-shell bikini, and, yeah, her body looked pretty good to me. She must have went on a furious, Karen Carpenter-like dieting binge to get her body back to bikini shape. Heck, she even kept it on throughout the duration of the show. Since this is a PG-13 blog, I’ll allow you to look it up for yourself. Or just click here.

As for Miley Cyrus, the same absolutely cannot be said. And honestly, I really don’t know what to say about whatever she did on that stage. It certainly wasn’t performing, and it most definitely wasn’t singing. It was like some type of weird theater art piece gone completely and utterly wrong.

I flat out refuse to post a photo because that would require me to Goggle image her and have to weed through dozens of photos, and I just ate, so that’s not going to happen. But her appearance can only be described as repugnant, vile, offensive and grotesque. And that was before she started twerking on Robin Thicke, who, I have no idea what he was thinking by agreeing to collaborate with her.

All the good vibes Robin Thicke accumulated from “Blurred Lined” may have been counteracted by that decision.

Cyrus’s performance can be summed up perfectly by the reaction of every single member of the Smith family, seen here:

To put a close on this, Miley’s performance was so horrid, and set the bar so low, that every other performance that followed was awesome simply by virtue of it not involving Miley Cyrus.

For example, Kanye West performed next, and watching him made feel like I was witnessing the Beatles. The lack of twerking, tongue protruding and foam fingers was an absolutely refreshing sight. Instead, it was just a guy singing a song, and in result, I have never appreciated Kanye more.

And then came the moment that everybody was waiting for: Justin Timberlake with four special guests.

True to my prediction, #NSYNC was a top trending topic nationally on Twitter for the entire night, and not just during their arrival on stage. Although, a lot of people probably became upset by their lack of prominence during Timberlake’s performance.

In what was an incredible 15-minute, 12-song mashup, Timberlake blended his entire catalog into one major performance, and somehow left out Dick in a Box. But seriously, he performed, sang actual live vocals, danced, and not only made it look effortless, but he didn’t even break a sweat. He was about 10 minutes in by the time his NSYNC cohorts joined him, and they were the ones who looked like they had just been prancing around on stage for the last quarter-hour.

They all looked a step slower, and like they each gained whatever the post-boy band version of the Freshman 15 is called. But in their short cameo, the group delivered three of their past songs, and then descended back into the stage, probably not to be seen again for at least another 10 years.

Something that has become pretty apparent about Timberlake is that he’s somehow managed to become universally liked and respected. And I understand why, because the dude is talented as hell, but it still deserves mentioning because that is very hard to do. There’s always a group of “haters” for everything and everyone, and yet, Timberlake seems to have escaped that.

The thing I do like about him, though, is that the man embodies class. He was well dressed for the occasion, was well-spoken and humble during his acceptance speeches, and threw in a couple light-hearted jokes along the way. Heck, he deflected his accolades to his prior groupmates when accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. So with the night being all about him, it was only appropriate that he took home the biggest and final award at the show’s conclusion.

Other items of note were the infinite amount of camera pans on Taylor Swift throughout the night. I’m wholeheartedly convinced that Swift vmasMTV had a camera devoted solely to her, and made a point to telecast her reaction to practically everything. And I must admit, I’m a little disappointed in Taylor. Not only did her outfit make her look like she was in extra in The Great Gatsby, but the girl just can’t go one night without making a cheapshot at one of her exes. While accepting the “Moon Man” for Best female Video for “I Knew You Were Trouble,” she had to throw in a comment that went something like, “I’d like to thank the person who inspired this song, because he knows exactly who he is.” And of course the camera panned immediately to Harry Styles.

Sorry, I love Taylor with all my heart and soul, but I am convinced that if she was not famous, then she would be the girl who posts ambiguous, sorrowful messages on Facebook.

She’d say something like “Sometimes you just have to accept that things don’t work out…”

And then a non-famous Selena Gomez would “like” the comment and ask, “What’s wrong honey? xoxo ❤ you!”

And Taylor would reply, “Oh, nothing…”

Speaking of One Direction, it’s laughable that their song “Best Song Ever” won the award of Song of the Summer when “Blurred Lines” has now sat atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 straight weeks. But that’s the beauty of fan voting, I guess.

Furthermore, when One Direction won that award, I laughed when the camera panned to Daft Punk for an audience reaction shot. Just a tip, MTV, when searching for an emotion-filled shot, avoid the guys who are wearing masks.

Finally, the show ended with a Katy Perry live performance under the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought it was a clever idea, and I guess it speaks a little towards her artistic nature, but, I must say, the performance itself was so dull that I enjoyed watching the backdrop of the bridge basking in the moonlight behind her more than actually looking at Perry herself.

Still, at least she didn’t do any twerking.

It pains me to say it … but the plaid shirt is dying

There was one a time in my life where I was in that “in-between mode” as far as my sense of fashion.

I cared about how I looked, but not to the point where I was going to run from store to store and spend a lot of money looking for the perfect apparel.

The result? Plaid shirt after plaid shirt after plaid shirt. It was so easy because for the past few years, they have been “in,” and every single clothing store sold them. And when it comes to plaid, you really can’t go wrong. I had a plaid shirt for every color of the rainbow. Heck, I think I have one that comprises every color of the rainbow by itself. Except indigo. Fuck indigo.

It’s a seasonal shirt, yes, but by golly, once the leaves turned brown, it was plaid all day.

I’m not entirely sure how this trend started, but I know that the popularity of folk-pop music has not hurt. Bands like Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers and Of Monsters and Men have brought back not only plaid, but sweater vests, straw hats, boots and even overalls. And also just the color brown in general.

However, as of late, my fashion sense has began to evolve a little. When I shop, I have found myself strolling past the plaid shirts and onto other things. I buy cardigans, sweaters that zip down halfway, and I’ve become really big on collarless shirts.

At first I didn’t think much of my waning interest in plaid. I already own enough as it is, so I didn’t really need to buy anymore anyway. But now the weather is starting to get a tad bit chillier again, or as I like to call it — plaid weather. And yet, I still find myself disregarding my collection of plaid.

And then it hit me. I don’t really see many people wearing these type of shirts anymore. Two years ago I could step into a bar and see nine out of ten guys wearing plaid. But I don’t believe that is the case anymore.

I firmly believe, that, after a good four or five year run, plaid is dying. And that saddens me terribly.

Throwing on a plaid shirt was the trademark of every guy who lacked fashion sense, but could still make himself look trendy. All it took was a plaid shirt, a quick swipe of gel to muss up the hair, a fourth consecutive day of not shaving, jeans, and we looked like a fucking fashion model. And it took such little effort.

But now we are coming to the final quarter of the year, and who knows what fashion trend is in coming in 2014. Perhaps plaid will see a revival, but something in me — something deep in my heart — tells me that it is not going to be as popular again as it once was. I feel like a small piece of me has died as a result.

Even girls bought into it. I have never heard a female critique a male’s choice of clothing when he was donning a plaid shirt. Not once. And on the opposite side, I stand by my belief that a girl in a plaid shirt is one of the sexiest things imaginable. So if plaid does go away, it’s disappointing in many different ways.

Maybe it’s my fault. Perhaps I became too greedy earlier this year by wearing a plaid shirt and a cardigan at the same time. The world may have just not been ready for that yet.

But I guess like an old song on the radio, it just got plaid out.

You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

You’re gonna miss me by my walk
You’ll miss me by my talk
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone

No this blog post is not meant to be my swan song, it’s merely a reference to one of the songs that is sweeping the nation, “Cups (When I’m Gone)”, sung by Anna Kendrick for the movie Pitch Perfect.

Pitch Perfect is film released at the end of 2012 that really kind of flew under the radar. It’s about college a capella groups, and therefore I think it didn’t garner any attention because it’s an unoriginal topic. As far as the demand for capella entertainment goes, Glee has been satisfying most people’s fix.

But by now, most people have seen it. They’ve either caught it on HBO, rented from their local Red Box, or possibly even downloaded it illegally and can expect a cease and desist letter from Universal Pictures in a few months.

And if there is anything I’ve realized about Pitch Perfect during this summer, it’s that this show is the anti-Glee. I actually meant to write a blog about this exact topic a little over a month ago, but then Cory Monteith died, and I thought the timing might be a little insensitive. But that grieving window has passed and it’s all good now.

Pitch Perfect, starring Anna Kendrick, Skyler Astin and Anna Camp, among others, actually comprises a full arsenal of solid singers. As opposed to Glee, which has Lea Michele, and then a bunch of other people using AutoTune.

Also, the movie contained some genuinely funny lines, and provided an entertaining mix of both older and newer songs. It even had several Breakfast Club references to boot.

In other words, where as it’s uncool to like Glee — at least for 20-something year-olds — it is cool to like Pitch Perfect. It didn’t hurt that Kendrick is totally rocking shit right now. She’s got that laid-back, chill, “I’m over it” vibe down pat. As far as universal likability goes, she’s just one notch below Jennifer Lawrence.

She’s obviously extremely pretty, but what I like about her is that she actually has an incredible singing voice, and you wouldn’t have ever known it if it wasn’t for this movie. When actresses can sing, they usually flaunt it any chance they get, whether it’s in movies, YouTube videos, talk shows, whatever. They waste no time informing the world they can sing.

But Anna Kendrick has been a star for four years now (ever since her Academy Award-nominated performance in 2009’s Up in the Air), and it took that long for her to show people what she is truly capable of. What that tells me is that she’s not in the business for the sole purpose of impressing people.

But, inevitably, she’s now reached the point where she is impressing a lot of people. What was meant to be a simple song to further the plot development of a film, has now turned into a hit single. Not only is “Cups” all over the radio, but it’s reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100, and its YouTube video has been viewed more than 46 million times. 

Artists spend their entire lives trying to crack the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. Anna Kendrick did it without even trying. And that’s why it’s hard to not like this song.

And before any one says it’s “trendy” to like this song now, let me enlighten you about its origins. It’s actually a cover version of a 1931 folk song performed by a band called The Carter Family, who were an American folk group active during the years 1927 to 1956.

So how could this song be identified ad trendy? It’s sung by someone who isn’t even an actual singer, it’s a cover of a folk song, and the instrument used for its initial recording is actually a cup. If anything, this is the most hipster song to ever become popular in the history of music.

And if you think Kendrick’s voice was modified for the studio version, then listen to her singing the song on the Late Show with David Letterman last year, while doing tricks with a cup at the same time. If that’s not true talent, then I don’t know what is.

Until I saw that video, I thought cups were good for two things — consuming beverages and playing beer pong.

Anna Kendrick has shown me differently, and now, I shall never be bored again when I am in the presence of a cup.

At least not for about five minutes.

NSync’s return only confirms the revival of The Boy Band

By now there is a good chance that most of you have heard the news — this Sunday, during the MTV’s annual Video Music Awards show at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NSync will reunite for a one-night-only performance.

Justin Timberlake, of course, is one of the most popular acts in America right now, and recently released a new album. Needless to say, he was going to be a big part of this night no matter what. But in a day and age where viewers mean everything, MTV executives pulled the rabbit out of the hat and somehow managed to convince Timberlake to perform with his old band mates.

What the other four guys have been up to for the past decade, God only knows. But on Sunday, they will be on center stage in Brooklyn.

Before I carry on, I must ask, do people still even watch MTV anymore? What was once such an iconic network for Generation Y has seemingly dwindled into irrelevance. As far as I remember, they started showing exorbitant amounts of reality television rather than actual music videos, and that’s when I started to tune the station out. I know it had a slight revitalization with the popularity of Jersey Shore, but what about since then?

I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I even put MTV on my television, even for a few seconds.

That being said, the one thing it does still have is the VMAs. That awards show has not lost its reputation for being an eccentric, diva-driven, glamorous conglomeration of the world’s biggest stars. Whether it’s Lil’ Kim appearing borderline topless, Rage Against the Machine’s Tim Commerford climbing the stage rafters after losing an award to Limp Bizkit, or Kanye interrupting Taylor, there’s always something crazy that happens at this show every year.

And MTV is hoping an NSync reunion will have a similar effect.

But let’s get back to the main point here. On Thursday, my blog centered around the reemergence of another male singing group, the Backstreet Boys. In that post, I described my firm belief about how “The Boy Band” has finally become accepted again by our current world.

And now, the return of NSync only confirms that.

It’s no coincidence that the Backstreet Boys and NSync are both being welcomed back my national media in the same exact time period. BsB just performed nationally on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, and now NSync will do it on MTV. Except only one of them is a reunion.

America is ready once again to support these bands. If it was five years ago, and these bands performed, their supporters of old would have enjoyed it internally, but on the outside, they’d have been like, “Yeah… I remember I used to love these guys, but now? I don’t know…”

But in 2013, with their old fan base being wiser and more mature — and past the age where we care about petty embarrassments — it’s go-time. Old NSync fans will be glued to their television sets on Sunday night, mark my words.

Whenever they perform, you better prepare yourself for a social media earthquake to rock your Facebook and Twitter feeds.

My personal hope is that while NSync is performing, the Backstreet Boys will suddenly emerge from the crowd, step on stage, and challenge them to a no holds barred boy band-versus-boy band showdown, similar to the crunk battles that occur in those Step Up movies. That would be epic. Nick Lachey could even moderate.

Whether this will actually means that newer boy bands will step forward and take advantage of this newfound limelight remains to be seen. But the platform is there for the taking. With One Direction and The Wanted already popular, and the Backstreet Boys and NSync back in national consciousness, this is the best time since the late ’90s for a new boy band to step forward and give it a shot.

And that is why, as soon as I finish typing this blog, I am going to meet up with the four dudes who responded to my Craigslist ad to begin rehearsing to form our own male quintet.

This should go actually as I planned.

You’ve made a bad life choice in general if you still haven’t begun watching Breaking Bad

About two years ago, I decided that I wanted to start watching television shows again. With the ability to watch TV instantly online, and the invention of digital video recording, there was no reason not to.

Watching movies is great, but it’s a whole different experience to become engaged in a television show, and get to enjoy it over years at a time.

The first television show I decided to start with?

Breaking Bad.

The show had just completed its second season, and I was hearing some pretty good things. Plus, at the time, it will still flying under the radar a little bit, likely because it was on an obscure channel in AMC. So being the true hipster that I am, I decided to start with that one. Within the show’s first minutes, I was hooked, and have been ever since.

There’s no need to waste anyone’s time discussing what the show is about. Either you watch it and you know, or you don’t watch it and you’re sick of hearing people talk about it. Either way, that’s not the purpose of this blog post.

What the purpose is, however, is to state simply and factually that if you still — as of Aug. 19, 2013 — have yet to watch any of the episodes, then you pretty much just suck at making life decisions.

I typically try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but in this case they do not deserve it. This show has been touted, praised and discussed for years now. By 2012, it was must-watch TV, and even before the show has concluded, is widely accepted as one of, if not the, best television drama of all time.

And now, with the show airing its final episodes during the next six Sundays, the chatter is only going to expand and intensify. The point is that you’ve had more than a year to listen to people tell you how good this show is, how original it is, and how refreshing it is to finally see some quality programming amid the drivel that exists on other networks.

And yet, there are still some who haven’t done it? Don’t tell me that “you watched an episode” and gave up, because the show is so good, that one episode is all that should be needed to draw in people’s attention.

The “I don’t have time” excuse won’t cut it either, because as it’s a cable show, the episodes are only about 45 minutes long. If you can’t spare 45 minutes of your day, then your life sounds pretty miserable for reasons other than the fact that you don’t watch Breaking Bad.

There are very few shows in the world that are as universally liked as Breaking Bad while it is still airing. Normally, it takes a show to end for it to be truly appreciated. However, Breaking Bad already has that distinction, and it’s not even done. And when a show is this big, and still churning out new material, it’s amazing weekday conversation fodder for work. Amazing.

So by not watching it, and excluding yourself from these conversations, you’re just doing yourself a great injustice.

Sunday nights belong to Breaking Bad, and through October, nothing else will matter on those nights.

Alright, so perhaps I’m exaggerating somewhat by wholly discrediting anybody’s life who chose not to watch Breaking Bad, but with all the acclaim, popularity and love that this show garners, for someone to still not find the motivation to even give it a try — well, it at least makes me think a little less of them.

But as I said, there’s six weeks left until the show ends, and that’s enough time to bang out the entire series before it’s done.

Because if you don’t know who The One Who Knocks is … well, you deserve to be knocked on.

Has anyone ever been on a rooftop bar and not posted about it on Facebook?

Standing on the rooftops
Everybody scream your heart out.

I think we’ve finally reached the point where Facebook check-ins have lost their allure.

People still do it all of the time, of course, but now tend to do it when they are at a place that is actually interesting. When check-ins became popular about four or five years ago, people were essentially checking in everywhere.

Any bar, store or restaurant we frequented was documented on Facebook. And I’m guilty of it, too. It was cool to be able to record your whereabouts at any given time, and simultaneously be able to publicize who you were with. The other part of it is to boast about your social life. In essence, by checking in at a bar with a bunch of friends, it’s like telling the Facebook world, “Yeah peeps, I go out on Friday nights and I have a bunch of friends, check it!”

Of course, it might not be so much that checking in has lost its luster than it is that people just lose their motivation to do it as they age. When you’re 26, it’s not as becoming to brag about being drunk on a Friday night than when you were 21.

So now people check-in mostly from interesting places. Sporting events, concerts, foreign cities are all included on that list. And bar-based check-ins have slowly faded.

But not all of them.

Again, being at bar is a pretty generic and unremarkable thing, so the majority of the time it isn’t worth a check-in. But there are some unique types of bars that people like to flaunt when they attend. Breweries are one. Beer gardens maybe.

And the most popular bar for checking in? Rooftop bars.

If somebody you know is at a rooftop bar, you absolutely can expect at least one check-in, one photo of the view from the rooftop, and another photo of the person with their friends on the rooftop, so as to confirm that they are there.

And I’m not trying to be too judgmental, because rooftop bars are pretty cool places. Especially in New York City where you gain a perspective of all the high-rise buildings that you wouldn’t see anywhere else.

They’re also pretty exclusive, too. I’ve only been on a legit rooftop bar — as in one at a fancy hotel — once in my life, and it was only because I was with a group of attractive girls at the time. A guy like me, who is not famous and doesn’t usually dress to impress, is going to have a hard time getting into such places unless he has some decent looking arm candy with him. But the one time I did go, it was pretty ballin’.

So because of all those factors —  the view, the mystique, the exclusivity — I would bet money that everyone who has ever been to one of these places in the Facebook era has posted about it 100 percent of the time.

It’s almost as if you would think it’s mandatory. Like when the bouncers check your I.D., they also check your phone and refuse to let you in unless you show them that you checked in on Facebook. The check-in almost always comes with an obnoxious and ostentatious message along the lines of “Normal Friday night … Just chilling on a rooftop in NYC. #CityLiving #ILoveNewYork.”

It’s just not enough for people to stand near the edge of a tall building, absorb the magnificent view and internally acknowledge it in all of its awe. Instead, they must sabotage the moment by using their phones, essentially staring at a small screen instead of the beautiful landscape directly in front of them.

Again, a huge motivation for check-ins is to brag about where you are. So if people have the opportunity to brag about being on a rooftop bar in the most densely populated city in the world, then they are not going to pass up that opportunity. And the rest of us, as Facebook bystanders, simply have to live with it. Or utilize the “Hide” option in which we are allotted.

Which bears a thought — Facebook allows you to hide or block people, but it doesn’t allow you to block certain types of posts, regardless of who wrote it. Zuckerberg, get on that.

Anyway, maybe there has been one person in the world who went to New York City, got into a rooftop bar, looked at the view, shrugged, and kept their phone stowed away in their pocket during the entirety of their visit. But I have yet to meet that person, and until I do, I will safely assume that rooftop bar visits and Facebook check-ins go hand-in-hand like selfies and Sundays.

There’s no better way to describe the feeling of standing thousands of feet in the air then the way the Lostprophets do in their 2006 single, “Rooftops” (whose lyrics I also started this post with):

Standing on the rooftops
(Wait until the bombs drop)
This is all we got now
(Scream until your heart stops)
Never gonna regret
(Watching every sunset)
We’ll listen to your heartbeat
(All the love that we found)

Notice that nowhere in the song does it say, “Checking in on Facebook.”

The Lostprophets get it.

I’m not ashamed to admit it … the Backstreet Boys still got it.

The past couple of years have seen the reemergence of the “boy band.”

While some boy bands have made names for themselves in the past decade or so, such as Hanson or the Jonas Brothers, not for quite some time has such a group become big enough to be called one of the biggest acts in the world. Well, that all changed with the popularity of One Direction, a British-Irish quintet, all of whom are under 21 years old.

There’s also The Wanted, another English-Irish group who have had pretty substantial success.

These groups are known as boy bands because, well, for the obvious reason that all members are of the male gender. What distinguishes them from being simply known as a “band,” is that boy bands tend to be more pop-oriented, sing exclusively romantically driven songs, don’t play any instruments, and may or may not dance.

But that’s not to say they lack talent. What makes a boy band unique is their ability to harmonize. Five people singing together in a pitch that accommodates each other’s voice perfectly is an extremely difficult thing to do. And that’s why you don’t see many groups of this genre gain international popularity. So One Direction does deserve a lot of credit in that regard.

However, people forget, that for there to be a reemergence of boy bands, there had to be an emergence to begin with.

The Backstreet Boys say hi.

BsB hit their peak in the late 90s, which has come to be known as the golden age of boy bands. At that same time, groups like NSync and 98 Degrees also experienced great success. Of course, one can argue that these three groups were all pioneered by The New Kids on the Block.

But of the four, Backstreet Boys are the only ones who’ve stuck around.

The main problem with boy bands is that they really have one shtick. The only thing that can evolve is maybe their lyrics, but otherwise, their style of singing does not really change. At all. Their fans, on the other hand — who grew up with them, and adored them with all of their heart — will change.

Being a 22-, 23- or 24-year-old girl and drooling over a group of five guys is a lot less socially acceptable than doing it when you’re 14, 15, and 16, and thus, the boy bands lose their buzz. And the 14-, 15- and 16-year-old girls now are growing up with much different types of music.

And thus, the boy bands fade.

In 2000, the Backstreet Boys released Black & Blue, which went platinum in America 8 times. Their next 3 albums, released over the course of 2005 to 2009, went platinum once — combined. A little bit of a drop in sales there.

I think it was kind of a weird phase for the band. NSync and 98 Degrees had already disbanded, and the Backstreet Boys were kind of hanging in that Purgatory phase, where they didn’t really have a fan base anymore. Boy bands were out of style, the members were all in their 30s now, and the young girls they once so greatly appealed to now no longer knew if it was cool to still like them.

It wasn’t until late 2010 when the group reentered international consciousness, when they performed with the aforementioned New Kids on the Block (forming the supergroup “NKOTBSB”) during the American Music Awards. With this performance, they essentially reminded people that they still exist.

But the luster of the performance didn’t last too long. It was a nice nostalgic moment, but it came and went.

And now, three years later, these guys still exist. But it’s different. We now live in a world where boy bands are back. So unlike 2010, where they didn’t have a place in music … now they do.

They put out a new album, In a World Like This, and continue to do what they’ve always done. Harmonize, and sing about love. They sang a mashup of their new single and their biggest hit to date, “I Want it That Way,” Wednesday night on America’s Got Talent, and I must say, I thought they delivered a hell of a performance.

It no longer felt like a befuddled group of young 30-year-olds searching for their place in life. Amazingly, two of the band members will be in their 40s by the end of the year, and, I don’t know, maybe it’s experience, maybe it’s confidence, or maybe it’s an inner satisfaction that this type of music is once again accepted by the masses — whatever it was, they gave a very current, pleasant performance.

And the people they once appealed to so greatly as teenagers are now in their late 20s and early 30s. With jobs and families. At that age, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about anymore. If you want to listen to the Backstreet Boys, then who gives a shit? In your late teens and early 20s, you cared about that type of thing, but not so much anymore.

Humorously, Wikipedia now lists the Backstreet Boys as an “American vocal harmony group.” Come on, Wikipedia, you’re not fooling anybody.

But anyway, you hear a band like One Direction on the radio, and you realize that these kids could learn a thing or two from a group like the Backstreet Boys. And ironically, it’s because of these five Brits that the Backstreet Boys are relevant again.

Will they ever reclaim the popularity they amassed in their heyday? Of course not. But can they fill a void in today’s music industry, delivering classy, romantic-bordering-on-naive pop ballads? You betcha. I think a little romantic-bordering-on-naive is exactly what this world needs, you ask me.

So, in conclusion … wait for it…


Backstreet’s back, alright!

Blackouts were less big of a deal before smart phones

Exactly 10 years ago today, the lights went out in the northeast. Just before 4:10 p.m. EST on August 4, 2003, a software bug in Ohio caused 55 million people, ranging from southern New Jersey to Canada, to lose power for about two days.

At the time, it was the second most widespread blackout in history.

Most people probably remember exactly where they were when this happened. I was 16 at the time, and I recall swimming in my friend’s pool, when his mom came outside and said that the power went out. Of course, whenever that it happens, you assume it’s a local problem. It wasn’t until a little later when we learned that millions of people had been affected.

I went home shortly after, and spent the rest of the day listening to the news on a battery-powered radio, reading some books, and hanging out with my mom and dad. And when it got dark, for lack of better things to do, I went to sleep.

This was years before smart phones, iPads and Facebook. I didn’t log onto social media to complain. In fact, I didn’t complain, period. I don’t mean that to say that I handled it better than most people, but, it was my summer vacation from high school at the time, and there really wasn’t much else I needed to be doing.

In fact, I remember being intrigued and even excited by the whole thing. It was obviously a unique experience, so I took it in stride and made the most of it. There were no technologies that I desperately missed. We had a computer, of course, but I had no problem going one day without AOL Instant Messenger.

If anything, the night was blissful and cathartic.

Flash forward 10 years, and many people who live in New York and New Jersey endured an even worse experience in the recent past, when power outages lasted anywhere between seven to 14 days in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Except this was different. Why? Because of smart phones. Now that we’ve lived in the era of the iPhone, the Droid and the Samsung Galaxy, there’s no going back. So when the lights went out at the end of 2012, people did not know what to do with themselves.

They had to sit there, and actually… talk to people. And open a book. Or *gasp* … go outside.

Things that we did as teenagers — with or without electricity — suddenly were alien to us. We couldn’t sit on a couch for minutes at a time and not access our phone to see what the rest of the world was doing. And even worse, there was no outlet to vent our frustration because Facebook was inaccessible. Oh, the horror!

And I’m not judging. I remember myself becoming a little antsy during the days after the storm. I tried to make the most of it, but I felt secluded, isolated from the rest of the world. It wasn’t the same when I was 16, when the muffled audio of a radio, and the silence of the night brought me inner peace. And that saddens me.

To see how reliant our society has become on technology, all we need to experience is a good, old-fashioned blackout. In 10 years, blackouts went from being a fun and zany affair to being as traumatic as spending a week on a deserted island with no food or shelter.

But, who knows. Maybe I am being cynical. Perhaps, someday, we will all be able to channel our 15, 16 and 17-year-old selves and once again enjoy a power outage.