In the early days of COVID-19, the members of Big Time Rush — a beloved 2000s boy band brought together by their Nickelodeon television show — released an acoustic cover of their hit song “Worldwide.” The performance struck a chord globally, inspiring viewers who marveled at the boys’ talent and growth over the years. Prior to this cover, the band had posted a message of good faith and safety to their fans, and Carlos ended the video by hinting at “a lot to look forward to at the end of this.”
The band then released a new recording of their Christmas song “Beautiful Christmas,” and they announced a short reunion tour as well as a performance at Jingle Ball. However, Carlos’ promise really came to fruition with the release of a new song on Dec. 13, “Call It Like I See It.”
The band’s members, Kendall Schmidt, Logan Henderson, Carlos PenaVega and James Maslow, got their start in 2009 with their kids’ show, which followed their fictional counterparts as they traded their normal Minnesota life for the opportunity to pursue pop music in Los Angeles. The show was mostly marketed to children, complete with slapstick comedy and sound effects, but the core four had undeniable talent, grit and heart despite all that. The moral of the show was simple: The power of friendship makes anything possible. The wholesome nature of the bandmates and their adventure was a treat to watch, and the show often felt like home.
In the show, each character represented a trope: Kendall was the leader, Logan the nerd, Carlos the jock and James the pretty boy. Of course, these were just characters, so the backstories of the characters were not exactly true. In real life, the boys did not know each other prior to filming, but their chemistry on- and off-set sold their dynamic well; it resulted in the formation of a true friendship. When the show ended, though, the bandmates had no reason to stay in close proximity. But this also did not mean they were permanently done with each other — in fact, they all attended Carlos’ destination wedding when he married his wife, Alexa PenaVega.
It’s important to remember that the characters the bandmates played in the show are not accurate representations of their real selves. With more time came much more experience and an evolution of musical tastes. The reunion was almost two years in the making because all of the members of the group were never ready at the same time. The band spent a lot of time “kind of finding our sound and knowing the vision for the music,” and they had to go through a few “rough patches” to reinsert themselves into today’s pop culture. While they appreciate the love and support from the fans, they are not trying to milk the nostalgia associated with their band’s name.
At the end of the day, they just want to have a good time and take the reins of the band into their own hands. This time, everything they’re doing, from writing to choreographing, is of their own accord.
Big Time Rush is, in fact, growing out of their child-like molds. They’ve proven with their latest single that they are finding their footing in today’s new pop landscape. The single plays on the strengths that each member developed during their eight-year hiatus. Its premise is the same as most of their older music: It’s an ode to having a good time with a person you are attracted to. It has a similar synth backing paired with horn blasts and is a modern take on the reliable, often cheesy, sound that they are known for.
But we cannot deny that their new stuff is distinct from their previous music. While I cannot explain exactly why, I think the most logical source of this difference is the lack of a television plotline that gives background to the song. The band made it clear that only the musical aspect of the band will be returning. Their reunion announcement clearly differentiates the band from the show, although the narrator still made references to their characters (to the boys’ annoyance). The separation makes sense, given the already-difficult task the boys have of separating their real personalities from their kids’ show personas. So, I guess that is one thing we will have to get used to. Luckily, the change does not detract from the catchiness and feel-good beat of the song itself.
The band’s reunion tour started on Dec. 15 in Chicago and ended on Dec. 18 in New York City, but I’m sure there will be more where that came from. The band has also teased plenty of their time in the studio through pictures and videos, so it seems there will be much more from them in 2022. After all, it’s the only life they’ve got, so they gotta live it big time!
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