the boys are back: a rumination on the return of the jonas brothers
I | well, here we are again
— tonight, 2008 ▶
A few years ago, we never thought this would happen. Not even on the table for consideration, in the realm of possibility. A reunion. At best, they would come together in their forties and embark on a nostalgic comeback tour to relive their glory days. One or two singles here, a music video there, crowds of former fans now older and none-the-wiser. Ticket sales that reveal the skeleton of the has-beens. Nothing at the size or scale of what they once were. A product of the nostalgia machine.
They sound older now. Cooler. They smoke cigars, drink whiskey, eat caviar. You’ll look at them now, dressed in John Varvatos and suede leather shoes, and wonder if these were the same boys plastered all over the walls of your childhood bedroom. That one poster above your vanity mirror, those effortless curls and ugly vest-shirt hybrids. The soundtrack of every place you went with your iPod, the subject of many cafeteria lunches with friends.
Did anyone think we would still be here? The Camp Rock songs that sneak their way into a throwbacks playlist on Spotify, the distant memory of three boys you thought you loved in a pre-teen, puppy dog heart eyes kind of way.
When you listen to the Jonas Brothers now, you hear the same boys you once loved, but you hear even more. It’s like you grew up with them and then they grew up without you for a while. Those ten lost years made all the difference. They’re still cool, but it’s more effortless now, a casual regard for their late 20s and early 30s.
The prodigal sons return, we suppose.
II | it was fun while we were young, but now we’re older
— rollercoaster, 2019 ▶
The amount of focus put on their love lives as teenagers seems laughable now, purity rings aside. The Nick and Miley vs. Nick and Selena debates are laughably childish now. In preteen circles, the Niley or Nelena question was akin to the age-old Coke or Pepsi conversation-starter. You were free to pick either or, but there was only one right answer. That time Taylor Swift put Joe Jonas on blast about their infamous phone call break-up on Ellen and wrote a song about it on her Grammy-winning sophomore album. To Taylor’s credit, “Forever & Always” was my anthem for the duration of my tweenhood. When Joe Jonas subsequently dated Camilla Belle, Gigi Hadid, and a few others we can no longer remember. Kevin, on the other hand, the only brother with a seemingly stable relationship. He had his life together, it seemed, even if it was too boring for Popstar magazine to care.
It was a lot then. Now that they’re older, it hasn’t gotten much better.
We had Nick and Priyanka’s royal wedding. A spectacle for tabloids and news headlines across two continents. East meets west. West meets east. It was beautiful, stunning, and breathtaking. Remember when they walked the MET carpet together in Ralph Lauren, two long years ago?
We had Joe and Sophie’s whirlwind romance and Vegas wedding. Two people who just seem to match each other perfectly. In humor, in demeanor. Love for an Instagram age, where the jokes about Sansa Stark marrying a Jonas Brother are endless and likely to never stop.
We had Kevin, who came and went throughout the years. Kevin, who had a wedding first, then a reality show, and then two kids. If you think really hard about it, some of us are now the age when Kevin first started with the band.
We’re so much older now, yet we’re all still here. We’re all suckers here.
III | have faith, restart, just hold on
— hold on, 2007 ▶
They broke our hearts when they broke up. The Good Morning America interview where they were brothers first, band second. The last songs of 2013 where they tried so hard to shed the shadow of Hollywood Records. Joe’s DNCE venture and inescapable song about cake. Nick’s successful solo singles and Billboard chart-toppers. Kevin’s life, a real one, the one that a boy band borne out of his teenage years couldn’t afford him.
This isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Jonas Brothers. We saw the first glimpses of them in 2007, on the cusp of their Disney days. We thought we saw the last of them in 2013, when they said goodbye to the band and shed the skin of their boyhood. This past March, we met the Jonas Brothers again. Older, a little wiser, maybe even closer to the rockstars in our dreams. They found a sound that works for them and we’re finally seeing the real version that’s been hidden for the past decade. Lying dormant, biding its time, waiting for the right moment to emerge from its cave.
Our boys are back and better than ever before. All we have to do is hold on and enjoy the ride.