The Oberlin Review

Jonas Brothers Back in Spotlight After Five-Year Hiatus

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Millennials around the world were in for a shocking surprise this month as the Jonas Brothers — one of the premier boy bands of the 2000s — released their first single in six years. 

“Sucker,” released on March 1 has garnered worldwide attention, propelled the trio back into the spotlight since the song was announced a day before its release. Is this the beginning of a major comeback for the Jonas Brothers? Everyone on Twitter seems to think so; up until this wildly unexpected announcement, the band’s account had been silent since 2013. 

The success of “Sucker” makes the Jonas Brothers the latest in a string of musicians in recent years to benefit from the “surprise release” marketing strategy. The music video and carefully planned social media announcements greatly contributed to the immediate viral success of “Sucker,” although ultimately the song’s success stems from the group’s iconic status. “Sucker” is a refreshingly different take on the group’s style, and reflects the dynamic nature of pop music. The band sings about mature themes of sex and lust, which breaks away from their childish, Disney-Channel roots. 

The evolution of the Jonas Brothers is a natural progression from child rock stars to contemporary pop artists. Gone are the leading electric guitars and Jimmy Eat World-esque songs, like “Year 3000” and “Underdog” from 2006 release It’s About Time. These tracks captured the early-2000s feel of mainstream pop-rock. Their more iconic songs, “Burnin’ Up” and “S.O.S.,” come from their second and third albums. Their 2009 album Lines, Vines and Trying Times mimics elements of Blink-182’s discography — see album opener “World War III” — while fusing eclectic classic rock inspirations, such as on “What Did I Do to Your Heart” and “Don’t Speak.” It was only in 2013, after the Disney Channel show Jonas L.A. was canceled, that the band abandoned their child-star roots with the single “First Time.”

The producers behind the single are veterans of the industry. “Sucker” was produced by the frontman of OneRepublic, Ryan Tedder, who is known for such tracks as Beyoncé’s “Halo,” OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars,” and Maroon 5’s “Maps.” Producer Frank Dukes, known for production work on Travis Scott’s “Pick Up The Phone,” Post Malone’s “Congratulations,” and Cardi B’s “Be Careful,” also worked on the record. 

Some students on campus are thrilled about the new single. College sophomore Henry Hicks appreciates how the new song is reminiscent of the band’s old music. 

“It had the same sound the Jonas Brothers used to have, so it felt very nostalgic to me,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “It’s definitely interesting to me that they reunited because to me it seemed as though they’d all gone their different ways: Kevin settled down and had that reality show. Nick was kind of blowing up on his own — I have no clue what Joe was up to. But I like that they still sound pretty similar to the way they did back before the group broke up.”

College sophomore Sydnie Savarese appreciates how the band’s sound has evolved. 

“I think that the new Jonas Brothers single is pretty innovative,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “It has different beats from their old songs and flows pretty well with the other new pop songs out there.”

In reality, the group never truly broke up but went on a five-year hiatus to pursue their own projects. Nick Jonas released two albums during the break, which included hits “Close” and “Jealous,” while Joe Jonas found himself bouncing between collaborations — which included joining the pop band DNCE and writing “It’s Party Time” for Hotel Transylvania 3. Kevin Jonas starred in a reality show Married to Jonas in 2012–2013 and undertook various entrepreneurial ventures in real estate under his firm Jonas/Werner Fine Custom Homes. The long-forgotten fourth Jonas Brother, Frankie Jonas, is a decorated chili cook and also voiced a character in the 2009 animated film Ponyo.

Some students are hesitant to accept the Jonas Brothers back into the spotlight.

“Right off the bat, my thoughts are that they’re behind the curve musically,” said College sophomore Sam Schuman. “It’s just so nice that they’re finally allowed to talk about sex in their music now that they’re all married,” he continued, sarcastically. Clearly, the Brothers’ re-entry into pop music isn’t for everyone. 

Other students are thinking about the song in more unorthodox ways. 

“I think it definitely can be adapted to a capella,” said College junior and Acapelicans member Miranda Purcell. “I can’t say how exciting it would be, because it’s not the most complex song, but I think it would be easy to arrange.”

“Sucker” has enjoyed viral success, but listeners will have to decide for themselves whether they think it’s worth all the hype. The release of their next album will reveal whether they can balance middle-school nostalgia with mature themes. 

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