There's trouble beneath the icing. Due either to its intentionally short shelf-life or nature's fickle balancing forces, pop music is taking a carcinogenic turn, losing its sweet taste in favor of the sour alchemy of its additives. Even pinup poptarts 'N Sync have fallen prey to the evil of irony, titling their current single "Pop" and its host album, "Celebrity" (perhaps in a vain attempt at social criticism for dummies). "It's just about respect," rasps former fruit-filling Justin Timberlake.
No, it's not. It's about breakfast cakes.
Two weeks after Pop-Tarts sponsored the Backstreet Boys' "Black and Blue" nightmare at T.D. Waterhouse Centre, in came Pilsbury, plugging its softer, gentler Toaster Strudel in a ploy for their own teen-market share. What's more, they called their recent concert event Strudelpalooza.
On temporary weekend respite from my own brand of fruit filling -- 10 mimosas and a boyfriend -- I'm hardly prepared for the saccharine wash of another teen press-conference junket, which means that, of course, I'm due for one. Luckily, the folk of Pilsbury and host-park Disney's excuse for a record label, Hollywood Records, are oozing to provide, and in advance of the concert they deliver a second-tier lineup of girl band Nobody's Angel, bad boys Youngstown and Brit-boys BBMak. Predictably, nobody knows what they're doing.
"I thought we were going to get a bigger room," strudels the catty Hollywood rep. "You're all going to have to sit on the floor."
Excellent. Maybe then we can actually look up to the talent.
Assembled around me in our sit-in, the group of mostly overweight interviewers are all stringy-hair stuck to faces and cracked smiles of expectation. It's sort of a sick reunion for most -- I dare say myself included -- as niceties of reacquaintance fill the room.
"I haven't seen you in a while," sneezes the editor from J-14. "Not since SummerJam."
At least she's got a magazine. Most of the unfortunates here are toting dubious credentials from fan-based websites, the bane of unedited civilization. Omigod, I heard Christian shaved his heads followed by Omigod, you're kiddings and the likes permeate the body odor of too many big girls in a room. I want to die.
Even more so now that Nobody's Angel has giggled into the room. True to their name, the girls are sporting studded cutoff baseball T-shirts sporting bubble writing of unholy sentiments like "Naughty ... But nice." Clever ... but not.
"I'm just sooooooo excited," heliums the new addition, Tai, practically falling into her touchy-feely foursome of girls, who seem a little too comfortable touching and feeling each other. "We're like sisters!"
"The girls have just revamped their lineup in an attempt at multiculturalism, including ebony Tai and Asian Jennie, who I'm sooooo excited to learn has graduated from her lip-syncing stint on Saturday morning's dreamy "California Dreams." It was the worst show since "Saved by the Bell," really. I watched it religiously.
Ten minutes of high-pitched effusion about, well, nothing follow, including histories on Mickey Mouse Clubs, dance troupe high kicks, mall tours, and the fact that they don't currently have an album. But when they do it's gonna be "reeeeeeally great!"
By way of detox, a droll trio of regular guys, Youngstown, soon follow. Bloodshot-eyed boy-stories of too much Sega and "partying" at Tabu can barely mute the by-the-numbers careerism of their, as they call it, R&B-hip-hop-rock-pop kitchen sink.
"We called the first album "Let's Roll" because we were ready to take on the world," hip-hops pimply faced DC. "This album's called "Down for the Get Down" because we know better now."
While its first single, "Sugar," is failing to sweeten any playlists, the band assures that there's plenty more where that came from.
"Our first album sounds like a group of guys who've never sung before," confesses spikey-haired dreamboat Dallas. "On this album, no one song sounds anything like any of the others."
"I guess a "thank God!" is in order. Except there's even more to endure.
"Can you think of any one cause that you would like to use your celebrity to assist?" sinceres a Tiger Beat editor crouched in the corner.
Dallas pours into some nonsense about hiring teachers who teach based on what kids actually enjoy, like, um, teaching math to a basketball fan by using said basketballs.
"Like, if there was an equation adding three and six, you would show him three basketballs and six basketballs equals ... "
Far more charming, if only for their accents and queries about "chips" (french fries) and the pounds that aren't currently in excess in the room, are BBMak. What I mean to ask them is if they've ever thought of transposing their radio-saturated hit, "Back Here," into a paean for Back Hair. What I actually ask is whether their second album will be affected by the whirlwind breeze of radio success and lip-synced Britney and 'N Sync opening slots.
"Not really. We like how we sound," smugs newly shorn Christian, adding with an industry wink that it will be a situation of "same album, different songs."
No icing required. Or hair.