A regular look at the awful children’s programming you’re forced to endure before you can finally kick the kids out of the TV room to watch sports for eight hours. Image by Jim Cooke.
The Fresh Beat Band
Get on up, clap your hands!
Wait till you hear the Fresh Beat Band!
Dance and move to our song!
Join our band and play along!
Hear the beat, FRESH BEAT!
Feel the beat, FRESH BEAT!
LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA (keep on LALALAing forever)
Oh, God. The Fresh Beat Band. This show makes me hate music. ALL music. I resent that melody and harmony and rhythm and ethereal vocals were invented by man only to bring us to this point, with a group of peppy youngsters (played by four actors who all appear to be at least 30 years old) screaming disposable shit-pop at my children for half an hour. There are new Weezer songs with a longer shelf life than these Fresh Beat Band songs.
And what makes it worse is that once you hear a FBB song—even just five seconds of it—it stays in your head FOREVER. When I die, my body will rot and my brain will become mush and there will be nothing left of me. No feeling. No awareness. No sense of space or time. There won’t even be blackness because I’ll be too dead to perceive of blackness. All there will be is a group of voices echoing through eternity, shouting WE’VE JUST GOT TO GO BANANAS NANANANA LET’S GO BANANAS! I fear death now.
This show serves as a textbook examples for why musicals—in any format—are terrible. A musical, at its core, is not unlike a porn movie. The plot and the dialogue are almost always beside the point. They’re filler. You endure the dialogue in order to get to the good parts. The only difference in a musical is that, instead of people fucking in the good parts, they sing terrible songs. In other words, your payoff is no payoff at all. You just watched the Fresh Beats talk to some fat diner owner for five minutes to get to them singing “Friends Give Friends a Hand” for the 90th time. Whenever I’m subjected to a musical, be it a film or a TV show, I relish that moment when the song ends. I feel like I just got out of prison. For at least a minute or two, I’m going to be treated to relative quiet. Then the music starts up again and I’m back in hell. I hate musicals.
What format? They shoot the shit for a bit, stumble across a remarkably low-stakes problem to solve (“Shout, we gotta help Mister Jenkins get his ice cream truck ready for the school bazaar!”), are unrealistically pleasant to each other, indulge in a few terrible sight gags, and then they sing. At the end, they wrap it all up with “Great Day.”
We had a great day.
It was a super way to spend some time together.
We had a great day.
The very best day.
And nothing could be better ...
Oh, I’ll tell you what could be better: YOU KIDS PIPING DOWN. I will steal your Christmas.
Kiki: There are two boys and two gals in the Fresh Beat Band. Kiki is essentially the frontwoman. She plays guitar (or at least pretends to play guitar). She does a lot of main vocals. She’s the one who busts out the melisma whenever her part comes around. “When you make one of a HUNDRED MISTAAAAKKKEEESSSS (bounces around seven different octaves).” She’s doing her damndest to break out from the pack. I wonder if the other Fresh Beats resent her in the same way that New Edition resented Bobby Brown when he went rogue during shows. You can tell that Kiki knows this is her best shot at stardom. She NEEDS this. She’s singing the crap out of these terrible songs in the hopes that some Broadway producer her will see her and cast her in a revival of Cabaret. SEE KIKI AS YOU’VE NEVER SEEN HER BEFORE! That’s where her head is. You can tell.
The Fresh Beats all wear the same shit every episode. Kiki’s Viacom-mandated uniform consists of a pink top, capri stretch pants, a frilly skirt over the stretch pants, and hi-top sneakers. If you think this wardrobe wasn’t carefully workshopped by 60 conniving Viacom executives, you don’t know the TV business, sonny boy. I bet they tried a thousand different headbands before forcing Kiki into the one she wears now. I’m excited for her to finally quit the show and turn goth.
Marina: The drummer. Stands while drumming, Sheila E.-style. Those aren’t even real drums.
Of course, every seasoned viewer of the Fresh Beats knows that Marina has been played by two actresses. The original Marina left show, according to Wikipedia, to “get married and pursue other projects.” BULLSHIT. She had a nasty coke addiction and demanded to write her own songs and then producers forced her off the show and you can’t tell me otherwise. Obviously, without the old Marina, the show has jumped the shark. You think I’m just gonna ACCEPT a new Marina with no explanation, Nick Jr.? That girl is an impostor. She has Hagar’ed the whole enterprise. It’s not the same now and you know it!
Twist: The DJ of the group. Why does the group need a DJ? Why not hire a functional bassist to give these songs some heft? Anyway, Twist DJs and does the occasional freestyle rap. And yes, he is white. It’s awful. It’s every horrible suburban white boy stereotype embodied in a single being. It’s Brian Austin Green times 20. I bet Twist thinks he looks badass rapping on these tracks, too. Like he’s bringing the REALNESS to the group when he does this. I guarantee you he shows up unannounced at local clubs in Orlando hoping to play house music, like Avicii or something like that. Every member of the Fresh Beats has hopes and dreams far beyond what they’re doing now, and Twist’s hopes and dreams are the douchiest of the bunch. His real name is Jon Beavers. Swear to God.
Twist wears a hoodie at all times, and when I wear one around the house, my wife will tease me and say that I look like him. “Morning, Twist! How’s it going, Twist?” YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH, WOMAN.
Shout: Token black member. I’m sorry to lean on that tired joke, but it’s true. His character is massively underdeveloped, just like poor Winston over on New Girl. Shout is the one who can’t stop dancing during the performance of “Loco Legs.” Oh, I see how it is, ALL-WHITE WRITING STAFF OF THIS SHOW. It’s the BLACK guy who can’t stop dancing around, eh? THASS RAYCESS!
Anyway, Shout plays the keyboards (God forbid he be the one who raps, sparing us all from Twist’s weak flow) and has arguably the best voice of the bunch. I bet all his friends back home tease him about being on the lamest show on TV, and he just drinks his beer and tells them, “Work is work, assholes.”
“Loco Legs.” See how long you can tolerate this song.
Every time this song is played, Prince loses an inch of height.
The Fresh Beat Band is a live-action show, which offers a bit of mild relief from the 8,000 animated programs your kids watch on any given day. And I suppose the songs offer a positive message for today’s youth. Friends DO give friends a hand, it’s true. I can’t argue with the Fresh Beats there.
Sometimes, when no one is looking and my kids are staring at the TV and the FBB theme song pops up, I nod along with the chorus. It’s a horrible split second in which the peppy melodies infect my system and I find myself almost kind of LIKING it. That’s what makes this show so very dangerous. To detoxify my system, I must slap myself silly and go listen to Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats for an hour straight. The Fresh Beat Band is pure evil, as much as an innocent and friendly show about good friends can be pure evil.
Drew Magary writes for Deadspin and Gawker. He’s also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also order Drew’s new book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.