Years before Justin Timberlake was even a thought, the first ever Jewish boy band was launching its first album (yes, it was the 70s). And when I say boy band, I mean it in the literal sense– a group of pre-pubescent boys who had just the right vocal squeak to make them simultaneously endearing and effeminate.
Yours truly was a particularly obsessive fan of said band, dragging my mother from one concert to the next. In fact, at age eight I succeeded in attending five Miami Boys Choir concerts in three major cities. Now I know what you’re thinking, girlfriend needs to get her mind of the [Orthodox] ghetto and recognize that choirs do not count as boy bands. But a quick look at a Miami Boys Choir video and it soon becomes clear that we are not dealing with your run of the mill religious chorus:
These boys, in matching suits, sing, dance, and flash their pearly whites at every adoring tweenage girl. And as any pop culture expert knows, the key to boy band success is the adoring tweenage girl. At a typical Miami Boys Choir concert, one could expect to encounter hundreds of girls, in ankle length skirts, crying their respective eyes out as their favorite Choir boys came forward to sing their solos. I, myself, distinctly remember informing my mother that she either marry me off to a Miami Choir boy or else I would resort to a lifetime of spinsterhood.
Now flash forward fifteen years, and I still get as giddy with school girl excitement as I did in third grade when a Miami Boys Choir song randomly plays on my iPod. But even better than the sudden choral surprise is the discovery that a Miami Boys Choir member has gone solo. In typical boy band fashion, he has ventured beyond the group in an effort to achieve independent stardom.
Yaakov Shwekey is one such alum who has achieved unbelievable success within the confines of the Orthodox Jewish community since embarking on his solo career. And I’m not going to lie, I own every single one of his albums. However, it is his most recent release that has me going googoo gaga. “Cry No More,” a critical reflection on modern day terrorism in Israel, is blowing up both religious and secular charts in Israel.
With a beautifully cliched title track, the record draws on every emotional heartstring. And I cannot stop listening to it. But rather than feign music critic credentials, I will leave the remaining meaning to those willing to venture into the world of Jewish music. Or those who perhaps get a rush from seeing a guy in glasses sing.