On a hot August night in 2019, I stood in the middle of a crowd of 20 and 30-something women at a Pandora and Sirius XM concert inside New York’s Webster Hall — screaming along as the Jonas Brothers performed their hit song “Year 3000” and the floor bounced beneath us. We thrashed and shouted and sweated as Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas belted the tune like it was 2007, the year “Year 3000” premiered on Disney Channel, launching the group into superstardom within months.
Even as far as pop songs go, “Year 3000” isn’t exactly genius. It’s a G-rated rewrite of a Busted rock hit — as Busted fans will remind you whenever a viral tweet comes up about the song and its global warming predictions — that over time has become a somewhat surprising Jonas Brothers crowd-pleaser, even as it reveals the most Disney of their Disney days. When Kevin first plucks out that iconic electric guitar riff, your heart races.
At 26, my heart raced as much as it did when I first saw the Jonas Brothers at 15. Watching them now, reunited and refreshed, I’m reminded of how the things we love as teens may change, but loving something that much is forever.
At the beginning of my Jonas Brothers fan journey, in 2007, I was 13-going-on-14 and bridging the gap between middle and high school. The year prior, two major events occurred in my life: I received my first MP3 player, and I discovered fanfiction. As I waited through extremely slow Limewire downloads, I immersed myself in the Harry Potter Fan Fiction Archive, filling in the spaces between J.K. Rowling book releases with tragic songfics and Marauders/OC romances. At some point that summer, the Jonas Brothers skinny-jeaned into my life, covering the pages of the M magazines I read at the grocery store and keeping me up past midnight reading excessive amounts of Joe Jonas/OC fanfic (and pretending I was the OC, of course).
That wave of my Jonas Brothers obsession stabilized me through years of deep insecurity. It was a greater story to fall into when I didn’t know what was going on in my own — the same way people find comfort in any kind of fiction.
Even then, I think I saw my fandoms as existing on some kind of connected plane. Before the Jonas Brothers, it was N*Sync and Britney Spears. Before them, it was Barney the Dinosaur, which I watched rapturously on repeat for a large chunk of my childhood. Now, I like thinking of the things I love as paths to each other, markers of my tendency toward adoration, but also of the comfort and creativity that fandom has always brought into my life.
If I were in school now, I might be journaling about how I spent my summer. The answer for summer 2019 would be… with BTS, the seven-member South Korean pop group that is currently the biggest boy band in the world. After being a casual BTS observer a switch flipped around May, bringing me back into the world of fanfiction that I had left behind for a little while. As an experiment, I added up the word counts of every fanfic I read over the past three months. The number came close to one million words of BTS-related fanfiction.
The instinct to be embarrassed about this is real. When I’m deep in a Run BTS haze, or when I shed several large tears at the end of a particularly moving fanfic, I console myself that the members of BTS are still more or less my age; the oldest, Kim Seokjin, turns 27 this year, while the youngest, Jeon Jungkook, is almost 22 (just my sister’s age, I think to myself). But why bother being embarrassed that you were interested in something so deeply that it became emotional? It’s not shameful to feel things and relate to people and learn by heart the lyrics to songs that so easily transcend language.
In my current fandom wave, BTS is reminding me what’s so exciting about pop music, which is that it’s an art form where the people making it are integral characters to the songs they produce. It’s where an entire ecosystem of fan exchanges and inside jokes and YouTube compilation videos can become something that’s so much f*cking fun. It can remind us we never walk alone.
If I live long enough, I’m sure I’ll fall into another musical obsession, and another, and nine more after that. Maybe I’ll be 75 and the Jonas Brothers will have finally sold their seventh album and I’ll find a way to stan whatever new boy band the kids are all about. I’ll look at them and see them as another fun, pure thing for people to enjoy and connect to when they so deeply need to be part of something.
I’ll look at them and their young fans and think, isn’t it nice to love something so much?
Check this out:
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue