MUSIC

"Happiness Begins": The Jonas Brothers Aren't Trying and That's Okay

A little bit better than the least they could do.

The currency of musical success is controversy, a theory proven true over and over again by artists from Ariana Grande to Kesha.

A pop song or album paired with a highly public break up or story of familial redemption is a recipe for a smash hit, regardless of the actual quality of the music. Take Grande's "thank u, next," for example. It's an average-to-boring song with an excellent back story—Grande's split from Pete Davidson and the death of Mac Miller, her former boyfriend. People listened because of the same impulse that leads them to read tabloids: the desire to feel connected to a celebrity and a part of a cultural conversation.

Similarly—after spending much of the last year in the headlines because of their respective weddings and familial reconciliation—the Jonas Brothers could have released just about anything and people would have listened, simply to be a part of the comeback of a 2000's teen-pop staple. What the brothers did release, a 14 track LP called Happiness Begins, is a little bit better than the least they could do. It wouldn't be fair to say that their decade-long hiatus ruined the trio's sound, because they never had much of a distinctive sound to begin with. A Jonas Brother's song from 2006 to 2009 can be distinguished by whiny vocal runs, a dated boy band sound, and a distinctly Disney channel sweetness. Now, in their 2019 renaissance, those things remain true—minus the juvenile innocence. On Happiness Begins, one thing is made clear: The Jonas Brothers have cast aside their purity rings and they want listeners to know it. Their new songs are decidedly and intentionally steamy, focusing on the ins-and-outs of love (they're practically begging you to think about Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas on their wedding night). The songs are essentially adult versions of the 2008 hit "Burnin' Up," in content and form.

The lead single, "Sucker," remains far and away the best the album has to offer, with songs like "Used To Be" and "Rollercoaster" still managing to hold their own by depending less on synthy effects and more on harmony and storytelling. Throughout the 14 tracks, the brothers' virtually identical singing voices intermingle and glide over basic pop beats, occasionally incorporating seemingly random genre influences, like the marimba on "Only Human" that gives the track a jarring reggae sound. Otherwise, the production doesn't differ much from that of the songs released in the era when the Jo-Bro's donned untamed curls and fashion scarves to the delight of tween girls everywhere.

Happiness Begins is decidedly one thing: a brilliant ploy to ensure sold-out concerts. It's an album just similar enough to vintage Jonas Brothers music to be nostalgic and just different enough to entice a new generation. While listening, you can almost picture the stadium show: the brothers rising from the stage to frantic screams and a sentimental slideshow of childhood photos playing in the background as they harmonize and strut the stage to a ballad like "Hesitate."

Summarily, it's an unremarkable, safe collection of tracks obviously written by the churning machine of the music industry for use by the highest bidder. But that's all it needed to be. We culturally welcomed the Jonas Brothers back to the forefront of fame with open arms, and consequently, they could have force-fed us any version of their tepid boy band pop and we would have gulped it down eagerly. Perhaps listeners can be grateful that it's at least a solid, listenable album—albeit formulaic and unsurprising.

Happiness Begins

Culture Feature

Why You Should Reconsider Posting a Black Square on Social Media for #BlackOutTuesday

White people: We need to look to BIPOC leadership before participating in any anti-racist actions, online or otherwise.

As protests against racist police brutality continue across the United States and the world in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd, many people are taking to social media to share their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Posts shared across Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook include information on how to help protestors, how to financially contribute to black led organizations, how to protest safely in the face of police force, and how to be a better ally to the black community. Much of this is vital information that shows how helpful social media can be when harnessed for good.

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They haven't been together very long (only about two months), but when you know, you know.

In the latest celeb couple news, the impossibly good looking Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra are engaged to be married! He is 25 and she's 36, but the one decade age gap means nothing to these sexy sweethearts. Fans of the celebs are likely in awe that they have decided to take their romance to the next level so quickly, but if you were dating either of these stars, would you have any doubt they were "the one?"

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From Bollywood to the big time, Chopra is now an international superstar, currently killing it on television's Quantico and considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the world. She has been named one of Time magazine's '100 Most Influential People in the World' and Forbes ranked her as one of the 'World's 100 Most Powerful Women.' It is no wonder Jonas is head-over-heels for his honey – she is brains, beauty, and overall brilliance packaged together perfectly.

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And Jonas is every girl's dream. He is talented, toned, and sadly for some, now taken. But if any woman deserves a fine fella like Jonas, it is Chopra. Some think they seem like a mismatch; he's the young, free-spirited, rock star-scruffy type, while she is charismatic, sophisticated, and seemingly more "mature." Perhaps their love is a classic case of "opposites attract" and what we see as oil and water is really the perfect blend.

According to People, "The couple got engaged a week ago on her 36th birthday while the two were in London. Jonas closed down a Tiffany store to buy an engagement ring." Must be nice to be rich and famous. Oh, and totally romantic! Jonas has now raised the bar for men to step up their proposal game. How could Chopra say no?

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So now we shall wait to see the ring (which is surely massive), and be on high alert for news surrounding the big day. Since these two are so high-profile, their wedding will have to be kept under tight wraps. But the guest list will be like Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy night all rolled into one. This event could be as exciting as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's royal celebration. Heck, they could even be at the "Jopra" wedding…Markle's a good friend of the bride-to-be. As per Bustle, "The Quantico star told People in September 2017 that she met the future royal at the annual ELLE Women in Television dinner. Chopra said about her first meeting with Markle, 'We bonded as actors. We just became friends, like two girls would.'" A royal bridesmaid? Why not!

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We wish Jonas and Chopra tons of love and happiness and a marriage that lasts a lifetime. Congrats!


Melissa A. Kay is a New York-based writer, editor, and content strategist. Follow her work on Popdust as well as sites including TopDust, Chase Bank, P&G, Understood.org, The Richest, GearBrain, The Journiest, Bella, TrueSelf, Better Homes & Gardens, AMC Daycare, and more.


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