I have recently made clear my opinions about Disney and the dangerous delusions it proliferates. Interestingly though, through a nice combination of being a goofy, gawky tom-boy during those impressionable early years, I myself managed to remain fairly impervious to the Disney destruction. My downfall was early noughties RnB.
From about 1999 onwards my musical diet consisted of hip hop, garage and, most of all, RnB. We’re talking 112, Joe, Jodeci, J-lo, Ja Rule and his Murder Inc compadres, Fabolous, Ashanti, Usher, Dru Hill, Sisqo, Nelly, Destiny’s Child, Mysteeq, Fat Joe… you get the idea. And the things I learned were not, in the long run, useful! In terms of what I wanted to be like (primarily a ‘ride or die bitch’) and what I was searching for in a man (a troubled gangster I could save/change/make an honest man of – we would live happily ever after, poppin Cris on his yacht!) The scruffy boys of my early teens, with their plectrum necklaces and baggy cords now held few charms for me and were left teetering on their skateboards in my dust as I began my quest for a blinged out RnB crooner or rapper with whom I could duet in my Burberry-trim bikini and Timberland heels (both fake). I knew my mind, I was Nicky, Nicky from the block. (I’m from Buckinghamshire.)
Like Disney’s handsome offerings, these new badass princes with their rippling abs and vocal dexterity were making promises willy nilly and irresponsibly raising my expectations of romance. Commonly, the songs that had me hooked were the slow jams with layered harmonies and sweet, heartfelt lyrics about treating a girl like a queen and sweeping romantic jewellery-based gestures, usually peppered with wholly unlikely claims about sexual prowess.
Here’s an example from that gravel-throated, loveable rogue, Ja Rule:
When you cry who wipes your tears
When you scared, who’s telling you there’s nothin to fear
Girl I’ll always be there
When you need a shoulder to lean on
Never hesitate knowing you can call on your soul-mate
And vice versa, that’s why I be the first to
See Jacob’s and frost your wrist up
Where would I be without you (uh) I only think about you (yeah)
I know you’re tired of being lonely (lonely), So baby girl put it on me
Meanwhile, those velvety-voiced chaps from 112 were all
Where do we go, what do I do
I can’t live without your love
Thinkin of you makes me feel
Like I’m the only one for you
Girl I want to be with you
No one else, only you
Why can’t we just make it happen
Baby, I need you in my life
However, almost without exception, the subsequent single is generally about livin’ it up in jacuzzis, twanging on g-strings, sippin’ on yak and covering high class escorts in peaches and cream. An idiot certainly, but at least Sisqo is up-front about his interest in your underwear in the first place.
If I have learned anything about boys since my days of mooning around in a flat cap, it is that the smooth talking bad boys who make bold promises are not generally the most trustworthy. And when they say they’re going to turn their back on their troublesome ways because of you and only you…. Well, let’s turn to that oracle of wisdom and life lessons, Game of Thrones. (Bear with me – I’m going somewhere with this.) In series 1, near the end of episode 6, soon-to-be-king and mega-douche, Joffrey, gives this speech to Sansa (to get an idea of how dopey I was, check out her hopeful little face at the end)
Sound familiar? Now listen to this:
Joffrey is the missing member of Boyz II Men! The smooth talking Donell Jones of Westeross! And we all know how it turned out for Sansa. Girls! Step away, put the new Miguel album down, do yourself a favour and go listen to some disco or something.
Ever the optimist though, it was not all a complete exercise in disappointment or waste of my time and emotions. I can still do the whole Lisa Left Eye rap from You Know What’s Up. So that’s something!