Tuesday, September 7, 2004
The following events started with a band from Britain. Connect8, the teenage co-ed, eight-piece pop act, played a major role. It was a shame they didn’t know this as they graced the TV screens and the magazines across the UK. Social media was in its infancy. The line between the fandom and the celebrity was apparent as a wall. It didn’t help things that their music wasn’t accessible in the United States, unless one turned to pirating.
Oh, they had fans in America, but they were scarce. Supporting Connect8 wasn’t workable either. The forty American dollars they would fork out on Amazon for their albums? Connect8 wouldn’t see whatever British coin from it. There was no YouTube just yet. These fans had to fill up their family computers’ hard drives of the band’s TV performances. All the magazines that Connect8 would cover from page to page? The American fans had to see the scans on the fan-pages’ galleries.
Life was hard for the American Connect8 fan, but it didn’t mean they didn’t enjoy being part of a fandom that had a relatively large audience in the United Kingdom.
Then came the poster on the student bulletin board, sandwiched by gray lockers made of steel. It had a girl singing into the microphone she was holding. The color scheme was of purple and blue as the lights flashed around her. The list of the locations included Boston, Hartford, and Manchester.
Wanna become the next teen popstar? Auditions for the New England’s Teen Superstar begin on September 25!
The students at the prestigious Boston private school, Beacon Hill Secondary School, would see this poster. Some would stop to inspect it. Others would just glance and walk away. Some would just treat it as a joke. A few would look at it with scorn.
At a distance, there was a group of girls in their altered uniform skirts. The school allowed some modification on the uniforms, their choice of shoes, and the use of makeup. As long as they wore their white and navy-blue uniforms, no one cared.
The girls saw the poster on the board as they stood by the lockers. Their leader, fifteen-year-old sophomore Alyson Bauer, stared at it longingly. She walked up to the poster, being pulled by glamorized colors; yet someone just had to stand in front of her.
The girl asked with a smirk plastered on her face, “Like the poster?”
Alyson glared at the girl. How dare she get in the Queen Bee’s way? Doesn’t anyone know all the rules around here?
Alyson said to her in a cold yet snobby tone, “Um, get out of my way, loser.”
With that, she pushed the girl to the side, and finally walked up to the poster. She felt her circle of friends had followed her. She turned to face them, and said to them excitedly, “We so need to audition!”
One of them, a blonde girl named Bailey Richardson, asked, “But shouldn’t we look up this competition first?”
“We can go to the library and look it up.”
Another girl, Libby Middleton scoffed, “And when would that be?”
“I guess during homeroom,” Alyson replied with a shrug.
Must be between the ages of 13 and 18… audition either as a soloist or with a band of friends… only four people maximum in the band.
“Well, that sucks,” Libby said with a hint of snobbiness in her tone.
Stacie Morales told her, “We can still form a girl band. We just have to be choosey.”
Alyson heard those two girls talking as she stared at the computer screen that was from the 1990s. She wasn’t thinking about forming the American version of the Swedish girl group Play. She wasn’t even thinking about the Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child, The Cheetah Girls, or even Girls Aloud. No, there was something else running inside her head.
As she stared at the screen, a hand brought her back to reality.
“Um, Alyson? You there?” Libby asked.
Alyson blinked and faced her. “Yeah, I am.”
“So what were you thinking that was more important than forming a girl band?”
She looked back at the screen, and replied, “I’m thinking of forming a mixed-gender band.”
Alyson noticed the girls within her clique stared at her. She continued, “I mean, I would like to form a band like Connect8, but I can’t have eight people in the band. So I guess I could just start with four people.”
Libby scoffed as she asked, “And can you even sing? I mean, you don’t exactly have the best voice.”
Alyson, whose hair was straight and blonde, glared at her brunette rival. Alyson then grabbed her pink designer messenger bag and dug out her CD Walkman. She took out a small CD holder and replaced the CDs.
She then said to Libby, “I may not sound like Mariah Carey, but I can sing like Britney Spears.”
She put on her earbuds and played the portable CD player. Alyson began singing the song, Overprotective. She danced around, giving the students in the library a free concert. Alyson knew she wasn’t the best singer in the entire school. She was decent, on-key even, could almost rival Hilary Duff, and it was enough to get people interested.
For once, she felt like she was living inside one of her dreams; the ones where she would be on the same stage as her favorite band, Connect8. The band’s two of the three boys, Caleb Williams and Brandon Tredinnick, would watch with awe. She would sing in front of her legion of fans. Yet it was only a dream that would live inside her head. She was nothing more than a common fangirl, and the school’s librarian made sure of that.
“You were disturbing your classmates in the library!”
The school’s Headmaster stared at Alyson. Alyson sat there with a determined look on her face. She told the man, who seemed to be in his forties, “I was giving everyone a free show. I mean, I am the Queen Bee. Why not start my sophomore year with a performance of a lifetime?”
“But you can’t be doing that. I don’t care how ‘popular’ you are.”
Alyson rolled her eyes. “So can I go now?”
“If you do this again, I’ll be sending you to detention.”
She shrugged as she picked up her bag and walked out of the office. Alyson saw her boyfriend standing outside of the faculty office. Justin Harrison, the blond star lacrosse player of Beacon Hill Secondary; the boy who moved from Oxfordshire to America when he was barely ten years old.
“I heard you put on a little show in the library,” he said to her with a smile.
Alyson smiled at him. She held his hands as she mentally admired his accent. She, being an American, would describe it as a British accent; but she knew his accent was specifically regional.
She said to him, “I think I might have found my calling.”
“And what’s that?” he asked, intrigued.
“You, Justin, and I are forming a band.”
Alyson announced this to Bailey as they were about to start their homework inside a coffee-shop, decorated with artwork and eclectic posters. She noticed her best friend had widened her eyes at the statement.
Alyson continued, “We just need to add one more guy.”
Bailey asked as she blinked her eyes, “So you’re forming a band with me and Justin?”
“Yeah, I said it; but we still need one more guy in the band.”
“Like who? Ethan?”
Alyson contorted her face with she heard his name.
“Oh, he’s not that bad!” said Bailey.
She said flatly, “He’s a slacker and a floater. Besides, he hasn’t taken you on a date since Spring Break.”
“But he took me to the Middle Grade Dance.”
“And did he talk about Andrew all night?”
Bailey rolled her eyes. Alyson said, “That’s what I thought.”
“And you don’t talk about the Andrew Hawthorne?” Bailey asked as she crossed her arms.
“That’s different,” she said as she took a sip of her iced mocha.
Bailey shook her head and asked, “And why are you two still hostile? Did you two get into an argument before summer?”
“Something like that,” Alyson replied. “Besides, he’s just mean.”
“So are you.”
Alyson sighed, “Fine, we’ll add Ethan to the band. He just better not act like his usual, lazy ass self.”
Bailey sighed as Alyson opened one of her textbooks. As she studied her assignment, the idea of forming a pop group kept growing inside her head. She could go solo; become the next Britney Spears. No, she wanted to share the spotlight with her friends. Maybe was being too much of a Connect8 fangirl; but it wouldn’t hurt to try to make this band thing work. Maybe it was time for a change.
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