POP MUSIC: A FRONTIER OF VISIBILITY
THE JETS were a Tongan-born, Minnesota based, American pop band from the island of Tongatapu (an island group that is just a part of the 176 islands scattered over the 700,000 square miles that make up the Kingdom of Tonga). With the limited resources available in Tonga, it is estimated that more than half Tongan-born individuals living today live else ware. A huge chunk of Tongan revenue is comprised of money sent from family members living in other, much wealthier countries.
Influentially so, The Jets reached #3 on the U.S. Top 100 with their single “Crush On You” (1985), later covered by a very young Aaron Carter in 1997. International platinum record selling Britney Spears also covered a Jets song on her album “Oops….I Did It Again”.
Growing up, the Jets were in the mouths of all our Tongan aunties and uncles, moms and dads. It was, and still is, amazing for me to see Polynesian Pop Stars (even typing these words makes me SO excited). Who knows if it’ll ever happen again, if people will be talking about Tonga on popular kid’s shows, Soul Train, Oprah or other talk shows. I compare it to how people talk about Barbados because of Rihanna or Sri Lanka because of M.I.A.
Visibility is REALLY important, if even for a hafekasi, palangi-cultured child like me. A girl growing up seriously wondering, “but, why don’t I look like Britney or Christina!?”. Now I think, when these Pop Stars “representing” (intentionally or unintentionally) the third-world go wherever Pop Stars go to die, these countries will still be there, specks on the map, blips in the news, places almost non-existent in the western world.
I’ll finish with this: If you search “Crush On You” on YouTube, you’ll find the original 1980’s music video by The Jets…right underneath Aaron Carter’s music video for his cover and Nero’s video for their dubstep remix of the same song.