I am a recent convert to the Time Crisis lifestyle (after finally making the jump from Spotify Premium to Apple Music), and on a recent TC episode, Ezra Koenig pointed out that the Jonas Brothers' sassy vocal delivery on "Waffle House" reminded him of male K-pop vocals. Yes, yes!! There's a certain growly flourish that is an essential part of a certain type of male K-pop group member's vocal stylings — a flourish which is itself cribbed from a combo of Michael Jackson's signature hiccups and the Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter's cheekiness — that you can undeniably hear on "Waffle House." And in fact, the smooth faux-70s/80s instrumentation of "Waffle House" also feels aligned with K-pop's passion for well-placed throwbacks.
Down a K-pop rabbit hole this morning after reading Dirt's ode to relatively newish K-pop girl group New Jeans, I was letting YouTube's algorithm go nuts and ended up at a Jersey club remix of a recent collaboration between the Jonas Brothers and K-pop group Tomorrow X Together. Oh my god.
Here's the original tune — my goodness, TXT look fantastic in their various sweater vests. Ezra Koenig's ear does not lie! JoBros seamlessly morphing into K-pop mode makes so much sense. As always with major label pop, all I want to know about is the back end of a deal like this. It looks as though Jonas Brothers and TXT are label mates on Republic. Who called who? Was this single always in the works, or was this song the quick inflation of a musical lifeboat after the new JoBros album The Album failed to tear up the Billboard Hot 100 as thoroughly as they would like? (As I type this, fucking "Waffle House" is clinging to life in the #100 slot after peaking at #57...I thought it deserved better ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) According to Korea JoongAng Daily, they recorded together when TXT was in the U.S. for their tour; specifcally, they were in LA at the end of May and might have recorded it then? Speedy collab! Hey, if you can't somehow delete Morgan Wallen from public consciousness and wipe him from the charts, you must have a plan B.
I like watching TXT and Jonas Brothers side-by-side because it highlights such an interesting trajectory of boy pop. JoBros came in after a decade or so of highly-choreographed boy band supremacy (BSB, NSYNC, and their paler imitators). By comparison, they exuded authenticity, because they played instruments, and because they were real-life brothers rather than a bunch of Orlando dreamers lassoed together by some blimp pervert. They did not dance on cue. They rocked out! Jonas Brothers and the choreo-allergic One Direction were part of a more casual wave of boy groups. Now we've swung all the way back around to groups like TXT, BTS, SHINee, etc. who have immaculate synchronized moves. Isn't it soothing to see life presented so cyclically? And it's speeding up too. If you hate pop culture, just wait ten minutes.
Anyway, the Jersey club rendition is especially rad, bed squeak sound and all. It's valid because the Jonas Brothers are from NJ: this is their birthright. I don't know how many nights out Kevin Nick and Joe have actually spent in Jersey listening to Jersey club (xcellent deep dive on nouveau Jersey club here on the Finals blog btw) but it doesn't really matter at all. They've got their finger on the pulse and are giving the people what they want. To quote a top YouTube comment, "THIS VERSION FEELS LIKE UR IN ANOTHER DIMENSION 🔥"