By Team Backbeat
By Amber Taufen
By Jon Solomon
By Tom Murphy
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
By Tom Murphy
The Lord notwithstanding, there were a couple of awesome things about growing up in the Calvinist parochial school system. JK — there was nothing awesome about growing up in the Calvinist parochial school system, but some aspects of it were more bearable than others. For example, sitting in chapel for a couple of hours every Wednesday instead of sitting in math class: not so bad. But being forced by various authority figures to listen to lame, shitty Christian rock in hopes that the message would stick and supplant our desire to listen to, like, Godsmack: basically unbearable.
It was through such proselytism that I was introduced as a pubescent young man to the Australian Christian rock group Newsboys around 1995, when my seventh-grade homeroom teacher, who also kept a grizzled rabbit named Mr. Shadow in the classroom and smelled like patchouli and decrepit rabbit-stink and was by far my weirdest teacher ever, made a habit of reserving about fifteen minutes a week for playing tunes to us from her extensive Christian-rock collection. The Newsboys were her favorite. And they were the worst, mostly by virtue of their diversion from the general self-seriousness of praise music in favor of the laid-back jokey lyric (sample: "Try as you may, there isn't a way/To explain the kind of change/That would make an Eskimo renounce fur/That would make a vegetarian barbecue hamster"), which pushed them from "trying too hard" to "trying so hard it's uncomfortable and makes you feel kind of gross inside." My exposure to the Newsboys remained chronic until I dropped out of high school and never thought of them again.
Until last week, that is, when the Newsboys — who evidently still exist — filed suit in a Tennessee district court against the L.A.-based hip-hop duo New Boyz because of all the "confusion" about the similarity between the two names. The New Boyz, of course, came to semi-prominence in the wake of their 2009 viral hit "You're a Jerk," which celebrated the mad virtuez of the West Coast dance fad then known as "jerkin'," a phenomenon primarily noted for having an incredibly stupid name.
In the suit, the Newsboys point to "several instances of actual confusion among [Newsboys] customers, prospective customers and other outside observers who mistakenly assume a connection between plaintiff and defendant" — which would presumably be traumatizing for unsuspecting Newsboys fans on account of the New Boyz music being "sexually charged and...sexually explicit in content." (It should be noted here that the practice of "jerkin'" in no way refers to masturbating.) However, the Newsboys did release the confusingly titled Boys Will Be Boyz in 1991, the same year both members of the New Boyz were born. So that's confusing.
What's even more confusing is that anyone is doing the seeking out of either of these bands that such confusion would require. Admittedly, the fact of the Newsboys' nearly thirty years as a band is far more egregious — but, really, shouldn't we have forgotten about jerkin' roughly four seconds after we first heard it and thought, "Heh, heh — jerkin'"? Still, that's probably less confusing than it is depressing.
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