Syd Youth and the sacred art of narcissism

The members of Syd Youth in the perfect publicity shot. Arms on one another—check. Seductive faces—check. Funky outfits—check.

The members of Syd Youth in the perfect publicity shot. Arms on one another—check. Seductive faces—check. Funky outfits—check.

Syd Youth is a pop trio.

I know this not because I love pop trios, but because—while waiting with the wife and kids to enter last week’s Jingle Ball concert at Staples Center—I was handed both a Syd Youth plastic wristband and two small, egg-shaped bottles of Syd Youth lip gloss.

Wait. Here’s the wristband. It’s pretty damn awesome …

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.52.58 PMUntil the official presentation of the plastic chachkas, I knew not of Syd Youth’s existence. But then, during the concert (sponsored by the local pop radio station), Syd Youth videos were played repeatedly on a big screen. It was the same song, over and over and over and over and over again, and it was quite awful. Take a little bit of Spice Girls, a little bit of All Saints, add a dash of Ariana Grande—then subtract all charm and charisma, and you’ve got Syd Youth. Hell, have a listen. This is the video to the group’s (not particularly) hot debut single, the predictably named, “Mess Around” …

Not good, right? Awful lyrics, mediocre singing, zero instrumentation.

Again, not good.

But here’s a prediction: One year from now, Syd Youth will be huge, and standing alongside Grande and Taylor Swift as featured artists on the Jingle Ball stage. Why? Because, truth be told, talent and skill and musicality are three elements that matter little in modern pop music. Even back story (a one-time staple of the business) doesn’t mean a thing. Hall and Oates met when they ducked into a corner during a Philadelphia gang fight. New Edition were five childhood pals from Boston. Heart’s Wilson sisters were musical prodigies who learned to sing and play alongside one another. The Beatles—Liverpool. Run DMC—Hollis, Queens.

Syd Youth? They’re three hot young women who, eh, um … have this as the second featured image on their home page …

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.11.24 PMUnder the BIO section of the Syd Youth website, we learn that Syd Youth is “the zealous pursuit of expression”—an unintentionally ironic declaration for a group with a first single that includes the lyrics, “Turn up the sound/And forget the world/Pull out your crowns/Queens of the underground.” We also find out that Ashley is funny, Tess is passionate and Sheela uses painting to express herself.

Glub.

Why am I writing this? Because Syd Youth is 2014. It really is—image first, image second, image third. Sell a plastic product to kids, watch them lap it up and scream and cry and pay big bucks for concert T-shirts and tickets and such. Get a radio station to play the song every hour until it’s stuck in a 14-year-old’s head. Turn up the sound/And forget the world. Turn up the sound/And forget the world. Turn up the sound/And forget the world. Turn up the sound/And forget the world. Turn up the sound/And forget the world. Turn up the sound/And forget the world.

The group is a product of the Twitter/Instagram era, where how you’re presented matters 1,000 times more than what you actually do. Check out the girls in their bikinis! In their short skirts! In their tour bus! Amazing! Exciting! Amazing! Exciting!

Sigh.

Where are the New Kids when we need them?

7 thoughts on “Syd Youth and the sacred art of narcissism”

  1. I agree with you on today’s music being talentless.
    Only I would extend that to some of the music you seem to enjoy (sorry).
    Today the focus is on the sound. Never mind it takes an auto tune device to create the voice and drum machines and computers to make the “music”.
    These computer sounds are repetitious and boring.
    I think it was Keith Richards that labeled Rap as, “tone deaf music for tone deaf people”.
    There seems to be generally a lack of creativity – “How about we rap about booty?”
    Which is another problem with today’s music. So much seems to focus on degrading women.
    So often when I hear some hip-hop artist they are simply doing “R” rated versions of Elementary School rhymes.
    If it doesn’t rhyme just add “ish” to the end of all the words.
    Or make up a word. As a writer I’d think that would bug you.
    At least The Monkees were previously musicians or learned to be musicians.
    I didn’t set out to beat you up, lately I have appreciated your comments about the lack of talent in today’s music and was also happy to hear Taylor Swift actually worked the craft.

  2. Jeff, boy you are becoming a bitter old man!! The more things change the more they stay the same. It was in 1990 that Andre Agassi did the camera commercial saying “Image is everything”. Each generation has their ‘more image than talent’ poster childs but that does not stop talent from rising. If you need to see examples of this over the last ten years alone in music look at Zac Brown Band, Artic Monkeys, Imagine Dragons, even Taylor Swift (thiugh she is a well managed, publicity-focused machine but undeniably has great talent).

    And as we look back even further you see boy bands like N ‘Sync and can say “yep, it was gloss at the time but boy they sure had talent there”.

    Give today’s kids credit for seeing through the vapid, and let them follow Dave Grohl’s advice: Like what you like.

  3. Musically I think it’s pretty good, but the need to drop the F bomb is completely unnecessary and seems desperate. Just some dumb formula to try to get attention. Top it off with girls who sometimes act like dumb rappers is a huge turnoff, but eventually they’ll grow up.

    I think there’s no need for them to do any of the above, and I think they have what it takes to make it. But clearly, somebody is writing the music for them. I hear the formula, but they are way too young to have that kind of song writing skills and aren’t seasoned enough to come up with something like that on their own.

    Marketing wise, they are doing a great job. I’m not sure who’s the one marketing them, but they are a real pro behind them marketing the nonsense out them. I’d like to know who’s writing the music and who’s marketing them, because I would like to meet them – Wow, great job! Worth taking notes.

    These women fit right into it, they dance, they sing and they do a great job of it from what I can tell so far. I predict they are going to be a big success.

  4. I just heard about them today all i heard was autotune garbage dress them as zombies as that is how the music sounds.. sung by zombies.

  5. they’re so new that not much shows up when i google “syd youth”. your blog post did, though. and while i kind of see where you’re coming from (after listening to more of their songs), the first song i heard from them -thanks to spotify- was “smoke n’ mirrors”. have you listened to it? if their voices are anywhere near what the recording sounds like, they have the talent to make it big.. i personally don’t care for their looks. that song though.. i’m realistic enough to understand this probably won’t be their main style or the type of songs they become known for (the electronic/pop dance tracks seem more likely), but i’m hopeful that their future includes more songs like it.

  6. This whole article is a joke and should be deleted! The girls are the most talented and beautiful women I’ve ever heard and seen! And their songs are catchy!!! If you don’t think so, whatever! But honestly, they have more talent than you probably do and they’re dancers, singers, and all around amazing, down to earth people! I met them recently and the sparkle in their eye after they met everyone could have lightened up a room! They love what they do and they don’t need people like YOU to ruin their dreams! In a year or two, they will be famous, but not because they’re singing alongside Ariana Grande, but because they’re amazing!!! This article really made me sick!

  7. disqus_faDNMjrC15

    Funny thing.. they didn’t become big. I don’t disagree with the points in the article, their music sucks and they do have ‘a narcissistic image’. But I think they failed mainly because their marketing sucked, they don’t have a Wikipedia article, I can’t find their group members names anywhere or any info on them. Heck I found this article trying to look up some info on the group instead of finding something that could help them. They also seemed too focused on creating and projecting a brand image(heck most of their lyrics are about it) rather than making music and getting it out there. In the end the narcissism was more than an image, they truly where too narcissistic to bother making good music and properly marketing themselves.

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