In the early 2000s, MTV’s genre-indifferent music video popularity contest, Total Request Live, was my identity. In high school, I wasn’t passionate about shit. I did sports, but f*cking sucked, got straight C’s & D’s in my studies, and tried backyard wrestling but couldn’t take a chair shot. I was the opposite of every teenager’s depiction in TV & Film–save for wanting to be acknowledged by the social ruling class, having volatile emotions & a face chock-full of tyrannical acne. While others enlisted in their respective cliques, I was a man without a homogenized-faction; TRL was a demilitarized zone in ninth-twelfth grade’s pop culture war that granted refuge to a draft-dodging phony like me.
My then-girlfriend was fanatical in her appreciation of that period’s preeminent boy band, *NSYNC. She was pink Starburst-sweet, brilliant (in both the regular way and “British” sense of the word–innit), a dynamic dance-squad dancer, and her type was a guy with nary a particle of self-esteem or discernable ambition. I adopted “being a boyfriend” as my personality, and it suited me well. Since I wasn’t confident or emotionally stable, I figured I’d play the part and resemble the 5-piece from Orlando that had a hold of her heart; I frosted my tips, wore bedazzled bandanas, and donned Y2K euro trash duds.
My younger brother, who I had a minimal relationship with, was v into Nu-Metal pioneers, KoRn (pronounced cOrN.) There is no way to overstate KoRn’s significance in the musical landscape of this era, they’re likely the last metal band to EVER crossover into the mainstream, and mi hermano was their biggest supporter. My kinsperson rocked hieroglyphic logo’d band tees, played guitar, blasted lyrically-indistinguishable songs in his Mustang, and had lengthy locks optimized for headbanging. He had a vibe; I was a poser.
There was a common thread that tied what m’lady and m’bro were into, eyebrow-piercings. The baritone bad boy of *NSYNC, Joey Fatone, had a ‘brow earing. The Drop-D heartthrobs of KoRn practically had six eye socket punctures apiece. This middle bit of the Venn Diagram about the two people I cared to connect with most was perfect for a unique-less teen such as myself. I too shall love *NSYNC & Korn, and I must bury a banana-shaped scrap of alloy in my skull and let the metal barbell dangle off my organs of vision awnings just like the KorNsync lot.