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What We Learned from The Jonas Brothers’ Documentary, “Chasing Happiness”


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Following the announcement that popular boy band, The Jonas Brothers, are getting back together, the band released a documentary on Amazon Prime detailing their rise to fame, their difficult breakup and their eventual reunion.

The documentary included clips from home videos dating back to the brothers’ early childhood, discussing each brother’s innate interest in performing. As children, both Joe and Nick were interested in musical theatre. Nick, especially, appearing in multiple roles on Broadway. Kevin also found himself longing for the spotlight and eventually began auditioning and booking several commercials as a child.

While many may have believed that Disney plucked the three boys from obscurity and manufactured them into the successful band they eventually became, the creation of The Jonas Brothers was much more organic. The brothers, encouraged by their father, began signing, playing instruments and writing songs on their own. The boys played several shows around their hometown in New Jersey and eventually were signed by Disney after achieving moderate success on their own. They then continued to write all of the songs they performed.

As The Jonas Brothers were achieving popularity, within their own community, tensions back home were rising. The Jonas Brothers’ father, Kevin Sr., was the pastor of the Jonas family’s church.  After several church members deemed The Jonas Brothers’ music and image inappropriate and pressured Kevin Sr. to resign, he eventually did.

The Jonas Brothers were soon after able to provide for their family, ascending to an extreme level of fame which the brothers attribute to their savvy use of the internet. The three often made short comedic videos, similar to Vine, which sometimes went viral. The brothers also frequently used Myspace to promote themselves and connect with their audience.

After signing with Disney, Joe Jonas was quickly offered a lead role in the hit film, Camp Rock, which he only accepted after roles were also offered to both Kevin and Nick. Soon after the success of Camp Rock, The Jonas Brothers appeared in an episode of Hannah Montana. On the show’s set, Nick met former Disney star Miley Cyrus, and the two began dating. According to the documentary, the relationship with Miley inspired Nick to write the hit song, “Lovebug.”

A recurring joke that targeted The Jonas Brothers throughout their careers, which Nick stated, “created a recipe for fear and paranoia and insecurity,” was the constant conversation surrounding the boys’ purity rings.

Nick explained the decision to wear purity rings in a Reddit: Ask Me Anything, saying, “without a full understanding of what we were stepping into, we all made this commitment.”

He expanded on the frustration the three felt with their sexuality constantly being discussed in the media.  Nick told Harper’s Bazaar, “the very simple answer is that it was incredibly annoying, and then it became a defining factor of who we were as a band, which was disappointing. I was just trying to navigate love, and romance, and what sex even meant to me, at a sensitive age.”

The Jonas Brothers later put the band on pause to take on side projects. Nick appeared on Broadway in “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Joe attempted a solo musical career, experimenting with Hip Hop, which he ultimately viewed as a failure. Kevin then appeared in a reality show with his wife, Danielle, called Married to Jonas, which Nick and Joe felt was too intrusive.

The Jonas Brothers attempted to come back together following these solo endeavors, however Nick felt the initial magic the band had was no longer there. Specifically, he felt as if Joe and Kevin were not as invested artistically as he was. Nick then called a band meeting, after experiencing severe anxiety over the issue, in which he dissolved The Jonas Brothers.

Joe and Kevin explained that they did not see this breakup coming. Joe stated, “I thought that me, Kevin, and Nick were gonna do this forever. It was us against the world.”

The brothers then went their separate ways again, with Kevin focused on family life, Nick starting his solo musical career and Joe joining the musical group, DNCE.

While it was Nick who made the final decision to break the band up, he was the one who eventually reached out to Kevin and Joe to say that he missed making music with his brothers. The three then reunited and spent the year making their new album, called Happiness Begins, which is out now.

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