Officially knighted by One Direction — which has been on a slow Alka Seltzer dissolve for the last six months — Australian boy band 5 Seconds of Summer is the new cream of the crop when it comes to Pixy Stix-swilling boy bands who play guitar music and aren't shy about pastiche. As such, they've recorded a song for the soundtrack of the new Ghostbusters, and shot a music video featuring Hobby Lobby recreations of the movie's costumes, props, and spare car.
ghostbusters belongs to a new generation now
Giving the movie's big promotional music video to the boy band of the moment feels like an official passing of the torch — the Ghostbusters franchise belongs to a new generation now, and it belongs to girls a little bit more than it belongs to everyone else. This time the women are the stars, and adorable young boys are playing support with a cheeky gender-swapped music video. In that sense, I really like this music video.
At the same time, 5 Seconds of Summer isn't the torch bearer I would have chosen. They're cute, and they have pipes, but this song is called "Girls Talk Boys." It's a song about girls talking about boys.
Here's the chorus:
"When you're talking to your girls, do you talk about me?
Do you tell them I'm your lover? That I'm all that you need?
Do you tell them white lies? Do you tell them the truth?
Do you tell them that you love me, the way that I've been loving you?"
It's totally divorced from the purpose of 2016's Ghostbusters, which is mainly to be a broad appeal action comedy. This isn't a funny song or a get-down-to-business song — it's a heterosexual flirt song. In that sense, it's even further away from my personal draw to 2016's Ghostbusters, which is that it's a film starring four women who are excellent at their jobs and passionate about science, and never utter a single word about a significant other of any gender.
It's got a stomping '80s vibe, and it borrows liberally from the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video — a VHS grain, a high frame rate car chase, and a bucket or two of schlock. It even steals a few moments from the wonderful Jack Black and Mos Def video rental store comedy Be Kind Rewind, which is itself a tribute to '80s movies and the original Ghostbusters in particular.
Its loyalties, in other words, are tentpoles of vintage boy culture: the original Ghostbusters, the grand tradition of dude buddy comedy, and a rap-rock group that once sang "girls to do the dishes / girls to clean up my room / girls to do the laundry / girls and in the bathroom / girls, that's all I really want is girls / two at a time, I want girls."
Be Kind Rewind, 2008
I might be alone in this, but to me this video screams, "Why has Harry Styles forsaken us?" I've never found 5 Seconds of Summer as charming as One Direction for reasons similar to what we're talking about here. The lead single for 5SOS' most recent album is about a noxious girlfriend who crushes dreams and "bitches" when her boyfriend oversleeps, but "she's kinda hot though." Their usual inspirations are way-too-recent pop-punk bands like All Time Low and Fall Out Boy, who made bratty, angsty music that already hasn't aged well. It's not that One Direction never cribbed from the Beastie Boys, because they did and then some, and it's not that they never put out a single with some problematic lyrics, because they did and then some, but they also never stopped bowing down in worship to the girls who gave them their careers. And they're just more fun. There's not an ounce of angst between them (RIP Zayn), and there's nothing in their oeuvre that so much as whispers "boy's club."
They would have done a better job with this. So would Little Mix, for that matter — the UK girl band with 10 times the vocal talent of either of these boy crews! But as it is I'll take what Paul Feig already gave me, and enjoy Zayn Malik's offering to the Ghostbusters soundtrack — it's his most enjoyable track to date and perhaps not coincidentally sounds a lot like a One Direction song.