The iTunes Music Store has a new music Tuesday just like every record store in the US. Tuesday is the day that the new albums come out. Ever since the introduction of iTunes 4.5, Apple has offered a free track for download on Tuesday. Sometimes it’s rock, sometimes hip hop but it’s always free.
Today I popped over to the iTMS to see what they were offering up and momentarily I was in shock. The free track this week is “They” by Jem.
“Sounds normal enough to me.” I’m sure you’re all saying. But I am not always up on the new Top 40 pop bands. I don’t listen to the radio that much. (I have had my stints with Indie 103 here in LA but the point of that station is that they don’t play the same stuff that everyone else plays. I can hear my Ramones and my Clash, and a lot of other bands that don’t get a lot of airplay anymore.) Consequently I was unaware of the existence of an artist by the name of Jem.
“Still,” you say, “that is hardly an unusal experience.”
Then let me explain. When I was a kid in the early 80s after Reagan deregulated children’s televsion and made it possible for cartoons that were basically one big commercial for toys and other merchandise that parents could buy for their kids—like Strawberry Shortcake, Masters Of The Universe, and Transformers—there was a cartoon about an all-girl rockband, called “Jem and the Holograms”. They did amazing things and were in a constant struggle against their rival band, The Misfits. (No, not that Misfits. But that would be a pretty sweet children’s cartoon. 🙂 ) Or something like that. I never watched it. That was definitely a “girl’s” cartoon and as a 10 year old there’s a distinct line between what a girl can do and what a boy can do.
“Again, not that big of a deal,” you continue. “Yes, twenty years ago there was a cartoon about a singer named Jem and now there really is one. Strange but no biggie.”
You’re probably right, but there is one little extra personal twist to this story. My middle name is Eric. My initials are JEM. And for those who my have forgotten, there is no torment like the torment that 10 year olds can inflict on each other. (Except for maybe the torment that junior high kids can inflict, but that’s another story.) Here I was 10 years old with the initials of JEM and there’s a cartoon about a girl named Jem. Oh the taunting! (Nearly as bad as the taunting that two other students got—a girl named Reagan, and a boy named Ronald. Since of course we all knew who our president was. Kids can come up with the weirdest things to be mean to each other about.)
Anyway, it was a weird feeling seeing that song. And then when I listened to it I was extra surprised to find out that I knew the song from somewhere. I’ve definitely heard it more than once and I never knew the secret connection.
Oh, and this is more than a little disturbing.