I loved Buddy Holly too much to become a goth Justin Bieber

Artwork by Chris Strouth

Makes No Sense At All captures the visions, ramblings, and memories of Chris Strouth, a Twin Cities-bred master of music, film, and everything else.

In countless ways, youth has bypassed baseball as our national pastime. You see evidence of this fetish everywhere -- even in otherwise "normal" people who are suddenly being stricken with Bieber Fever, Taylor Swiftitis, or what could only be described as paranoid delusions of One Direction. (The main symptom of the last one is deluding oneself that One Direction has any artistic value other than being pretty.)

Celebrity doesn't cut it anymore -- it's gotta be celebrity that is 27 and under. If you can't have youth, implied youth is almost as good a choice. Just ask Nate Ruess, the man behind the YOLO anthem "We Are Young." He just turned 31 on Tuesday. You know who else is 31? Britney Spears. Kind of mind-blowing, I know. That means Justin Bieber was four when Britney asked us to hit her "...Baby One More Time." Spoiler alert: I secretly adore her. 

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Maybe it was the "...Baby One More Time" video and that no one ever danced in the hallways or wore skirts that came above the knee at the private school I went to. Maybe it was that she showed up at the height of the "alternative" nation, and years of looking at Billy Corgan had worn on me. Every yin needs its yang, so seven years of sonic sludge is inevitably going to give way to Spice World.

In the eight-year period that followed, she went from naughty school girl to milf-hood, went crazy, got better, got crazier, got better, got K-Fed'ed, got better, all while retaining her role as a teen sensation.

My Britney fandom started as kitsch, with the occasional sticker that graced my office filing cabinets. The flames were fanned with the introduction of my first Britney doll, pre-nose job -- which then meant I needed the post-nose job one. People gave me them as gifts, and suddenly there was way too much teen girl pop stuff at the Twin/Tone label office. Eventually I moved onto the harder stuff: Pink, a brief flirtation with Christina Aguilera -- "Beautiful" is still a pretty amazing piece of music -- and Lady Gaga. Long story short, we are all susceptible.

Even at the height of my "punker than thou" phase, I still loved pop music. I played WLOL in the car all the time, and scheduled classes and work so I could get back in time to watch Dance Party USA -- sort of a super crappy ripoff of American Bandstand, but with kids that seemed like real kids. Each dancer had a back story, their own dance moves, and personality-driven bits. My personal favorite was "Princess," who was obsessed with Prince, made her own Prince-inspired costumes, and just seemed like she was having fun. She became part of my ritual during that time when you're finally free of people who are trying to tell you who you are, and you actually find out who you really are. I may have been hip-deep in the Minneapolis underground but I was, and will to some extent always be, a mall kid.

Now, I will admit something to you, dear and gentle reader. I had not one, but two chances to be a teen pop star. This isn't a story that I even told at the time -- in part I was absolutely mortified by it. During my freshmen year of college, I was approached by an acquaintance to be in a boy band that had a deal in the U.K., they were a smarter New Kids on the Block whose main influence was the Power Station. Yeah, the Power Station, otherwise known as some guys from Duran Duran with Robert Palmer. Musically, the idea was to mix dung with crap into some sort of excitement sundae, and then add dancing. I pointed out that musically I was at the far end of the spectrum from that. They told me it didn't matter -- I would be the dark, broody one, because "You've got a good look."

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