Dozens of heartbreakingly cool bands. More hit songs than even Lou Pearlman could swindle. You may scream like a 12-year-old Bieber fan when Seattle Men’s Chorus performs Heartthrobs —boy band classics from across the decades—this weekend at McCaw Hall. Assistant artistic director Eric Lane Barnes shares his thoughts on some of SMC’s picks.
1960s “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles. “This is the quintessential male harmony song. It was one of their biggest hits. We [start the night] with an actual clip of their performance on the Ed Sullivan Show. You hear that voice in the darkness—Ed Sullivan talking about these four young lads from Liverpool. Their creativity and their song writing has trumped anyone since. I think they were probably the best group of all time.”
1970s “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” by the Temptations. “Motown was basically the soundtrack of my childhood. People from my generation have a connection with this era of songs. When I was a kid, I danced around in my underwear to these songs. As an adult, I’ve gone back to listen to them and realized how musically complex they are. [The Temptations] had to have spent a week in the studio just on this song alone. It has terrific layers.”
1980s “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. “Freddie Mercury was just amazing. I remember when I was a kid, my clock radio went off before school and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ started, and I just sat transfixed. I just love all of the operatic and choral stuff that Queen added to their songs. And watching these videos, it also struck me how incredibly gay Freddie Mercury was. And their name was Queen! People weren’t openly gay back then, but Freddie Mercury was!”
1990s “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men. “They were incredibly creative. It’s kind of like marrying hip hop and a barbershop quartet, and they did it well. I have a lot of respect for those guys. We have a soloist for this song, and he is amazing. He tears the song up. It almost sounds like a hymn.”
2000s “It’s Gonna be Me” by ’N Sync. “I was thinking that this music was a little too plastic and polished. It seemed like it was too calculated. That said, in my opinion, ‘N Sync was clearly better than [Backstreet Boys]. Part of that is due, in no small measure, to Justin Timberlake. I can’t help watching him. I think he’s a really good musician.”
Heartthrobs is June 24 & 25 at 8 at McCaw Hall. Tickets ($20-$55) are available at flyinghouseproductions.org.