Friday night, The Pretty Reckless (above) pulls into town for a gig at House of Blues. The band, led by Gossip Girl star Taylor Momsen, is known largely for the 17-year-old singer's penchant for wearing something resembling lingerie, chain-smoking and basically being a teen badass. Like that Tori Scott girl from Saved By the Bell (the chick in the leather jacket Zach dated), but with more fishnets and sass.
Momsen is just another in a long-line of musical jailbait, both male and female, tantalizing and alternately creeping out all of us who are old enough to know better. There is something to said about performers whose handlers let them cultivate such a steamy image at an early age. When you dress someone up like a fame-weary adult when their peers are still living at home and popping zits, it's bound to cause confusion.
Also, it makes money. Ask Kim Fowley.
Just look at shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, and the parents who dress up their toddlers as beauty queens. We live in a sickly hypersexualized world, but in Momsen's case, it's more style than exploitation. She has more of a Cherie Currie/Runaways thing going on, and her look isn't that far from most "scene" girls you can see at your local Hot Topic.
In a recent GQ interview, Billy Ray Cyrus laments the turn of his daughter Miley Cyrus to the dark side of leather and questionable clothing choices, after an adolescence spent as Hannah Montana. To be fair, the Montana character seemed always like about 30 in that wig, but maybe that's what the producers were going for.
A group of strapping Latino boys will sell records in any decade. The long-running Menudo stayed relevant by kicking out members once they hit age 16, starting sprouting a moustache, or woke up with a bassy rumble in their throat. Veterans of the original Menudo platoon, which ran from 1977 to 1997, included Ricky Martin and Robi Rosa. A new cast was assembled in 2007, but only lasted two years.
As much flak as the kid catches for supposedly being puberty-less and feminine, the filth you hear thrown his way is borderline pedophilic. On a recent Saturday Night Live sketch, even the Church Lady was getting the vapors from the tiny Canadian.
The New Kids On the Block wouldn't all be 18 until at least 1990, four years after their debut album. You know some freaky older lady busted the hatch on that backstage door.
Gomez was uncomfortably attractive for two years before she turned 18 just last year. Now is she currently dating Justin Bieber, according to the Bop, which we have a subscription to that only comes to a secret post office box which we own in an undisclosed area of the city. Plus, this video features a child in a maid's outfit.
Early on, most people had high hopes for Cyrus, despite her achy-breaky family lineage. As she reached 17 though, she grabbed Britney Spears' playbook and tore out a few chapters. She seemed to hurdle over the cutesy stuff and went right for "Toxic"-era Britney, and it has yet to pay off. But if right-clicks and saves were dollars...
If you sat around enough older ladies talking about the Jonas Brothers a a few years back, you would hear things that would make the Sex and the City coogs blush. For their part, the J-Bros never seemed to let it go to their heads.
Little Miss Tucker was singing songs like "Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)" in 1974 before she could vote or drive. LeAnn Rimes would walk the same road, albeit a bit more tastefully, about 25 years later.
What can you say about someone whose earliest professional mentor was R. Kelly, and was singing sex jams on an album called Age Ain't Nothing But A Number at 14 years old? Is R. Kelly the hip-hop Serge Gainsbourg? He just might be. Or a felon; take your pick.
The band's debut album was all teenage come-ons and bad-chick snarl. "You Drive Me Wild" was practically a three-minute simulated orgasm.
The Queen of Modern Jailbait, Britney's earliest pre-18 videos like "...Baby One More Time" were seen as softcore porn to most adults and exalted as works of art. by older men. Her late-'90s template is alive and well today, in a more potent but poorly-executed form, in Miley Cyrus: Britney waited at least five years for a nipple slip.