Waterparks – “Dream Boy”

Track #3 off of Fandom, 2019

Upon first listen, I really, truly, absolutely HATED Waterpark’s “Dream Boy”. I deemed it a “Jonas Brothers knockoff” and complained that it remined me of a cheesy Disney song from the late 2000s. And yet, after a few years I revisited their third release, Fandom, and decided to give it another try. This time around, it made a lot more sense.

There are many records out there that aren’t so easily understood with just one listen. Most of the time I’m pretty good with recognizing that but with Fandom, I remember just feeling less than enthused about many of the tracks (that would eventually become some of my favorites). While the project definitely grew on me and is now one that I revisit on the regular, at first, I just didn’t understand it and didn’t listen to it for a long time. But “Dream Boy” specifically stuck out to me for a lot of reasons, and I never really forgot about it. Besides the obvious nostalgia factor, the meaning behind the song is actually incredibly important and eye opening, though I can’t imagine many fans actually realizing it. Lead singer Awsten Knight sings in the first verse “Build your expectations / saturated and inflated / cause I was born to be your favorite”, alluding to fan expectations and the standards that they are held to as a band. Fandom as a whole touches on this specific topic a handful of times but in this instance it’s not as obvious.

And that’s an absolutely genius way of getting the point across.

“Dream Boy” in terms of production is a fast pop rock track with prominent guitars, a bit of vocal distortions that give it a modern pop sound, and a very boy band-y feel. It’s very fun and that’s exactly what’ll make you miss the details the first time around. But that’s exactly what makes it work.

This song reminds me of the other boy bands I obsessed over and how I (and many other fans) would go absolutely bonkers for these people. The lyrics directly relate to the way I felt about these groups when I was younger and these are things that are still found on the internet today. Yet, if you listen closely, the tone of the track isn’t necessarily positive or praiseful. It’s not meant to be a “thank you” to the ones who love the group so much. Rather, I find this track to be built off of the pessimism that living under the microscope of other people brings. The meaning becomes quite ironic if you decide to take a closer look and isn’t what it seems on the surface level. Now, that just makes me wonder how many of these fans are actually willing to look below that surface.

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