Who or what are the #HDBoyz?
As pop culture evolves, so does the context of how we frame and categorize culture, and the more rapidly it changes, sometimes the harder it becomes to exactly define what we’re talking about. A great example of this new conceptual pop culture are the #HDBoyz. Who or exactly what are the #HDBoyz? Are they a boy band based on photo editing gradients that some Svengali cast from national auditions? Are they a tongue in cheek conceptual art project that seems so authentic on the surface that it’s hard to decipher? Why are they always wearing Under Armour and what do all those little icons mean in the corner of their promo photos? More then anything the #HDBoyz are a perfect example of pop culture skewering itself by being as direct and authentic as possible.
The best examples of modern satire are so close in design to the actual culture they’re mocking that only the most astute audience can actually tell the difference. The Colbert Report has been on for years now and there’s still a portion of his audience that’s convinced he’s just another layer on the O’Reilly Glenn Beck bandwagon. The #HDBoyz truly evoke the same “are they joking or aren’t they?” response from anyone who’s unfamiliar with either online culture, boy band culture, or maybe a little of both. The actual origins and background of the group is a little murky. It’s comprised of 5 dilettantes who each have a vested interest in some of the best online and art world culture that’s out there. One of the members Ryder Ripps is behind dump.fm and Internet Archaeology, and the #HDBoyz seems to be another expansion of his innovative aesthetic into a completely different arena.
The #HDBoyz had their inaugural performance at MOMA PS1 at an event sponsored by DIS Magazine that promoted a diverse roster of pop culture mutated art and performances. Their tagline is “The World’s First High Definition Boy Band” and they totally brought out all the 1080p pixels they could possibly muster. Their lyrical content is also an awesome approximation of standard Boy Band tropes mixed with common online tech speak. On their song “Photoshopped” they try to convince a girl to leave her boyfriend because he looks too artificial and polished by the Adobe engine, and on “Unzip” they use the analogy of compressed files as a love induced come-on with other awesome tech speak double entendres thrown in for good measure.
After watching a few of their videos and hearing their lyrics most people would probably understand they were satirizing something, but exactly what they’re poking fun at is kind of up in the air. More importantly I think that’s exactly how this project was intended. I don’t know if, A, it’s really necessary to understand the punchline for the joke to be good, and B, the actual punchline might just be that this project or concept or whatever is actually done really, really well. Their photoshoot for DIS Magazine is an amazing amalgam of early 2000s Backstreet Boys androgyny mixed with an awesome filter of tech jargon and new web stylistic motifs.
It’s almost exactly what the future of boy bands will really look like; completely cleansed of purpose but simultaneously wrapped in an aesthetic package that tells you everything about them without saying a word. Just like how your grandma watches Colbert and agrees with everything he says right before the laugh track rolls in, the #HDBoyz just might be the most convincing boy band of the new web era because their aesthetic and overall concept is every bit as authentic as any other megazoid amalgamation that rose from the Florida catacombs in the last two decades. The future of pop music and boy bands is truly going to live in the pixels and terabyte servers of every faceless Cisco warehouse and the #HDBoyz are just waiting for everyone else to catch up.
Images via DIS Magazine