Chasing Happiness: Growing Up With the Jonas Brothers
“It was fun when we were young, and now we’re older.”
On Thursday, June 6, the day before Happiness Began, I texted my brother and boyfriend (two of my three housemates) this warning:
Letting you both know now that Alison and I have a date planned for 7:30. We are watching the Jonas Brothers documentary simultaneously, leading up to their album release at 12 AM EST. I will require either the bedroom or the living room.
Though the documentary, “Chasing Happiness,” had been released a few days earlier, I waited patiently until the timing was exactly right.
When that time came, my sister and I FaceTime’d one another from living rooms in Cincinnati and Los Angeles, respectively, and pressed play at the exact same time.
Together, we watched the story of the brothers we had come to love so many years earlier unravel.
“Chasing Happiness” details the brothers’ childhoods in New Jersey, their rise to fame, their break-up, the paths they took individually, and, eventually, how they decided to get back together.
Watching it was like stepping into a time machine. I smiled like a giddy pre-teen, mouthed the words to early songs, laughed at the brothers’ anecdotes and home-footage moments, and even cried a little. It was a roller coaster.
My sister, Alison, and I joined the JoBros fandom in its inception — that sweet spot right before the brothers gained nationwide recognition. Classic bops like “Year 3000,” “Mandy,” and even their cover of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” were blasted often and loudly from my CD player that required approximately 80 brand new DD batteries to turn on. We played their self-titled second album so frequently that our younger brother learned every word. To this day, at 19 years old, he can still sing along.
We ate up every piece of information we could about the brothers. We adorned our walls with posters from Tiger Beat and J-14, watched every movie and TV appearance, and discussed at length which brother was our favorite (mine was, and still is, Nick).
I was lucky enough to see the Jonas Brothers in concert twice — first in Peoria, Illinois, during their Look Me In The Eyestour, and again in Columbus, Ohio, during theirBurnin’ Uptour. My mom tagged along to both, cheering especially loud for Kevin (the brother she thought didn’t get enough love). Seeing them perform live was special. They were electric, connected to each other and their audience. You could feel it in the arenas they sold out time and time again.
I was disappointed when Nick, Kevin, and Joe called it quits in 2013, but, admittedly, I had drifted from the brothers. Every now and then, I’d give in to nostalgia and listen to the songs again, but more often than not, my go-to playlist included Ed Sheeran, Mumford & Sons, and Of Monsters and Men, not the Jonas Brothers.
I graduated college in 2016, spent a summer in Europe, did a short stint in New York, and moved to Los Angeles. I made mistakes, lost touch with people I thought I’d know forever, found new bands and musicians to love. My boyfriend and I got a dog. I lost my grandpa, and a few years later, a friend who was like a sister. I stayed at a bad job for too long, and came to grips with my struggle with anxiety and depression. My brother, sister, and I grew up. Somewhere along the way, I found happiness.
In a weird way, my journey mirrored that of the three brothers from New Jersey. I thought I had it all figured out, realized I didn’t, and found my way back. By the time they announced their reunion in February 2019, like them, I was a different person. Deep down, the same; but completely different in a very real, adult kind of way.
I finished “Chasing Happiness” at 9:10 PM. The fifth Jonas Brothers album had been out for 10 minutes. Alison and I started listening at the same time, and texted each other thoughts as we made our way through the 14-song tracklist.
By the time “Rollercoaster” started playing, I was dancing around the living room. My dog watched skeptically — I had noise-cancelling headphones on, and he couldn’t understand what the heck I was doing.
“Nights, flying down the 10, nearly 2 AM. Happiness begins.”
It wasn’t just that I now lived in Los Angeles and knew what it was like to fly down the 10, it was that I had been on a journey that, like theirs, led me to happiness.
I’ve been a Jonas Brothers fan for over a decade. Even if they hadn’t reunited, I would’ve still considered myself a fan. They have something special; you can hear it in their music — new and old. They sing to each other, to the people in their lives, but also right to their fans. It’s intimate, and also epic.
“Come back to me, baby, I’ll come back to you.”
Nearly 10 years to the day since they last released an album, the Jonas Brothers are back. The time was right for them, personally, to get back together; and the time was right for the fans to embrace them again. We’ve all grown up a little.
Sometimes the timing has to be exactly right. You lose yourself, find your way back, acknowledge the rollercoaster journey, and happiness begins.