While Nick concedes that "screaming girls are awesome," he insists that "we always kind of stand for being a role model and trying to make a difference, and I think this"meaning the decision to wear the purity rings"is just one of our ways of kind of like being different than everybody else out there." Think about that: Three guys in their hormonal primethree healthy, handsome gents whose very job is to be besieged by swooning, text-messaging maidens who are finally old enough to attend concerts on their ownhave committed themselves, publicly, to a policy of monastic celibacy. At the very same time, movies like Superbad and The 40-Year-Old Virgin are imprinting on a new generation the joyously raunchy mythology of losin' it. If the Osmonds were corn, this manifesto of squeaky-cleanness runs so flagrantly counter to the rock-and-roll ethos that it makes the Jonas Brothers seem like a strain of genetically modified super-corn.
In spite of its faint spritzing of punk, la musique des Jonas is still, of course, bubblegum. For decades now, bubblegum has been the lingua franca of American puberty, and it is the Jonas Brothers' good fortune to specialize in A-grade confectionary at the very moment when global corporations have figured out how to better transform these acts into massive, multi-tentacled beasts of American business.
There has always been a machine behind bubblegum, but what's different now is Disney. The company can, at this point in pop history, catapult an act like the Jonas Brothers to the kind of multimedia ubiquity that's rarely experienced outside the cult of Kim Jong-il in North Korea. "The business side of it has definitely changed," says David Smay, coeditor of the 2001 candy-pop bible Bubblegum Music Is the Naked Truth. "When you have a radio station and a TV station that are aimed at your market, the way Disney does, you can generate a hit band every other year. You can generate the content as well as own the distribution, and you can just pound on that market all day long."
The Jonas Brothers make their CDs for Disney's Hollywood Records. Their singles enjoy perpetual rotation on Radio Disney. Turn on the Disney Channelthe TV home of Hannah Montana and High School Musicaland you'll see the trio's videos and their guest appearance with Montana's Miley Cyrus. Their sugar-rush commercials for Baby Bottle Pop can be seen on ABC Family (Disney owns ABC) and Toon Disney. Toward the end of 2007, the Jonas Brothers built an audience as the opening act on the national Hannah Montana tour; on New Year's Eve they performed with Cyrus as part of Dick Clark's annual Times Square countdown, which was broadcast on ABC.
The Jonas Brothers even have a TV movie in the canCamp Rock, which will air on the Disney Channel in June, just before their new album comes out on July 8and whenever the Hollywood writers' strike ends, they'll get back to work on J.O.N.A.S., a Monkees-like TV series with a bubblegum-as-espionage premise. "It's an acronym for Junior Operatives Networking As Spies," Joe says. "We are secret agents, and our cover is that we're a band."