The Jonas Brothers are three teenage brothers who write their own music, play their own instruments and make the teenage girls go wild. Though they sound like Hanson, the Jonas Brothers probably have more in common musically with The Ramones; ideally, they meet right in the middle, even if their fans don't know who either group was. When the trio of siblings signed to Columbia Records in 2004, Nick Jonas was only eleven years old. While modern-rock stations ignored the Jonas Brothers, the trio was a hit on MTV's TRL show and a constant chart-topper on Radio Disney stations, at a time when tween pop music was at an all-time high in popularity. During sold-out tours with Hannah Montana (Miley Cyrus) in 2006, the three boys from New Jersey brought back a boy band that was more reminiscent of the Jackson 5 or The Osmonds than of the Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC.
Joe, Kevin, and Nick Jonas were all born in different states, but grew up in New Jersey. Their parents, who are both pastors, ran a sign-language ministry that moved the family around a few times before they settled in New Jersey. The boys' parents were also musically inclined, and were aware that their young children had talent. Before he was ten years old, Nick, the youngest, had appeared in four Broadway shows, and Joe had a handful himself. "It was a great experience. I think it was really preparing me for what I'm doing today," Joe told Mike Rimmer of Cross Rhythms, about his theatrical days. "You know, the discipline and all that stuff that's needed for what you're doing in the music industry. I loved the experience. I learned a lot."
Even before they signed a record deal, the Jonas Brothers were all multi-instrumental. Most often, Joe sang lead vocals and played guitar and keyboards; Kevin played lead guitar and sang back-up vocals; and Nick sang lead vocals and played guitar and occasionally drums and keyboards. The boys' influences ranged from John Mayer, The Ramones, and Stevie Wonder; all the way to Christian metal band Underoath and the modern rock band Switchfoot. All in all, the Jonas Brothers played youthful and energized pop music for tweens just waiting for their next crush.
The Jonas Brothers' professional music career began around 2004, after Columbia Records showed an interest in Nick's solo material. When Columbia heard Nick's demos, which he had recorded with his brothers, the label urged the brothers to sign as a band. While Nick is usually singing lead, all the brothers write their songs together. "We stand in a triangle and we will play with some chords on a guitar," Kevin told Scholastic.com, about the group's songwriting process. "Then, we will go over it with some melodies. Nicholas will try, Joseph will try, then I will try."
In February of 2006 Columbia released the Jonas Brothers' first single, "Mandy," on the Zoey 101 Music Mix, a collection of songs for the Nickelodeon TV show Zoey 101 (starring Britney Spears's younger sister, Jamie Lynn Spears). By March, teens across the United States voted "Mandy" to the top of MTV's TRL show for weeks. Most of the trio's many fans were not aware that the Jonas Brothers were devout Christians. Their father, who had started Christ for the Nations Music, served as the band's co-manager, and their uncle worked as a road manager, keeping the trio in check. But neither the Jonas Brothers' pop-punk look nor sound had anything to do with their religion, unlike some of their favorite Christian bands. "We're not preaching at anybody," Kevin told Rimmer, of their religion. "We're not stuffing [it] down anyone's throat. But if they ask us we're willing to share it."
The Jonas Brothers worked on their debut album for Columbia over a two-year period. They spent a lot of that time playing live shows, opening up arena concerts for Kelly Clarkson, the Backstreet Boys, and Jesse McCartney. When it came down to recording their Columbia debut, the brothers wrote seven of the eleven songs. As for covers, both "Year 3000" and "What I Go to School For" were chart toppers for the British trio Busted a few years before the Jonas Brothers made their own versions; the songs just took a more innocent approach in the United States. "We knew our fans would love them," Nick told Katy Kroll on the Billboard Web site. "I feel like the record we have now is just amazing and I'm really proud of it."
The Jonas Brothers, like many of their musical (and acting) peers, recorded a handful of tunes for soundtracks. In April they appeared on Disneymania, Vol. 4 with their version of "Yo Ho" (A Pirate's Life for Me), and they also recorded "Poor Unfortunate Souls" for The Little Mermaid soundtrack re-release. Building up hype for their Columbia debut, the Jonas Brothers wrote and sang the theme song for the Disney Channel cartoon American Dragon: Jake Long. And in August of 2006, they released their first full-length album, It's About Time. During the week of the album's release it entered at number 91 on the Billboard 200.
For the Record …
Members include Joseph Jonas , lead vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion; Kevin Jonas , lead guitar, vocals; Nicholas Jonas , lead vocals, drums, guitar, keyboards.
Group formed c. 2005 in Wyckoff, New Jersey; signed to Columbia Records; released It's About Time, 2006; signed to Hollywood Records, released Jonas Brothers, 2007.
Addresses: Record company—Hollywood Records, 500 S. Buena Vista St., Burbank, CA 91521, Web site: http://hollywoodrecords.go.com. Web site—Jonas Brothers Official Web site: http://www.jonasbrothers.com.
While most major music magazines ignored or criticized It's About Time, the fans certainly didn't care. The Jonas Brothers' debut was made for kids and tweens; it was safe and easy to sing along to, with classic bubblegum choruses crossed with a modern mall-pop-punk sound. "Year 3000" became an even more popular follow-up to "Mandy" when the Disney Channel put the video into rotation and played it non-stop on Radio Disney. It's About Time sold 875,000 copies in the United States, and thousands of girls wanted to know everything about the brothers, down to their favorite color and favorite food. The Walt Disney company loved the Jonas Brothers' music and image, which was clean cut but a bit edgy. More remakes came their way in 2007, when the band recorded "Kids of the Future," a remake of the 1980s song "Kids in America," for the Disney-animated film Meet the Robinsons. They also landed another track on the Disneymania, Vol. 5 col- lection, this time with a remake of The Jungle Book's classic song "I Wanna Be Like You."
In 2007 the Jonas Brothers left Columbia and situated themselves with more like-minded artists at Hollywood Records. The Jonas Brothers quickly went into Seedy Underbelly studios in Los Angeles to record their sophomore album, taking just 21 days. Having toured and matured physically, musically, and mentally, and with producer John Fields on board, the band's second album was off and running. "We feel like our sound has matured a lot—in a good way," Kevin told Six78th Magazine's Erika Sorocco. "We're all older now, and this album conveys everything that we want to say at this point in time, as well as how we want to sound. This album showcases exactly how we want to be perceived by the public and our fans, and we're happy about that."
In August of 2007, Hollywood issued the band's sophomore album, simply titled Jonas Brothers. The album's sophisticated cover shot and the crunchy guitar of the songs "S.O.S." and "Hold On" helped make 2007 the year of the Jonas Brothers. They hoped their new album would appeal to fans Kevin's age (19) as well as Nick's (14). In 2007 they appeared as themselves on an episode of Hannah Montana and became spokespeople for the Baby Bottle Pop Candy, for which they also wrote a jingle/song. During the same month as the release of their sophomore album, a story about Nick's recent discovery that he had Type 1 diabetes appeared in an issue of People.
The Jonas Brothers' success spread as they toured across the country on the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour. In October they performed "S.O.S." on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and in January of 2008 they played with a full backing band, looking more mature than ever, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The brothers also signed a two-year, multi-million dollar, worldwide touring deal with Live Nation, and were in the works for their own Disney television show (J.O.N.A.S.) and TV movie (Camp Rock). The year 2008 saw the Jonas Brothers recording their next album, due for release in the summer.
(Contributor) Disneymania, Vol. 4, Disney, 2006.
It's About Time, Columbia Records, 2006.
(Contributor) Meet the Robinsons, Disney, 2007.
(Contributor) Disneymania, Vol. 5, Disney, 2007.
Jonas Brothers, Hollywood Records, 2007.
Six78th Magazine, July 2007.
"The Jonas Brothers," Billboard,http://www.billboard.com (January 21, 2008).
"Jonas Brothers," Cross Rhythms,http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/JonasBrothers_Its_these_guys_not_Busted_who_hit_in_the_US_with_Year_3000/27777/p1/ (January 21, 2008).
Jonas Brothers Official Web site, http://www.jonasbrothers.com (January 21, 2008).
"Star Spotlight," Scholastic News,http://teacher.scholastic.com/scholasticnews/mtm/starspotlight.asp?sf=jonas (January 21, 2008).