Photo and Muilti-Media Editor
Boy bands are our past, our present, and our future. From the Beatles to One Direction, boy bands have been a part of all of our lives.
There are those of us who dreamed of baby-faced Justin Timberlake, and danced in our rooms to every N’Sync song, wondering what in the world the “ice on my neck” was that he sang about so passionately in “Dirty Pop.”
Then there are those of us who thought boy bands were dumb, yet still caught ourselves bopping around in the backseat when Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” came on the radio.
The allure of the boy bands captivates us all, but what exactly is it about these groups of semi-talented, young adult musicians that makes them accrue the amount of fans, fame, and fortune that they do? Is there a formula?
We think so.
For starters, there is the hair. All boy band members have youthful cuts that are generally relatable to their fan population. There are no excessive spikes, no unnatural colors, and the amount of gel has lessened with passing years and records.
The clothing styles, much like the hairstyles, are uniform, showing no individuality or personal taste. This helps to show that Niall is like Zyan is like Liam (if you didn’t automatically know, those are members of the British pop sensation One Direction. Never fear, names are unimportant when the matters of accents and belated facial hair are at hand).
Adding to the uniformity of the group is the lack of a lead singer. This is partly because most boy bands individually stink at singing. There is a reason why, excluding Justin Timberlake, no recent boy band members have had epic solo careers. The point isn’t to make music with the best sounding voices of all time; no, no leave that to The Wanted, a not-boy band that is both attractive, talented, British, and unlike One Direction, is old enough to enjoy the nightlife they sing about at length. The point is to market a bunch of G-rated themes to a young audience. Bands like The Wanted admit that they “lack emotional depth and meaning” in their songs but that is what makes them a different ‘type’ of boy band.
With songs like “Glad You Came,” and “Chasing the Sun,” The Wanted has those equally obnoxious and catchy songs that you don’t initially see yourself liking, but one day in the car you find that you know all the lyrics and are singing along.
You find that some band made up of all males are as far off the boy band radar as possible, such as rock bands made up of all males (Led Zepplin, The Who, Aerosmith, and the list goes on). This goes to show that there is a difference between boy bands and all male bands.
The Wanted is an interesting hybrid. They try to defy boy band logic (the clothes, the hair, and the individuality) yet still seem to have a bubblegum pop music feel to most of their songs. They are an all-male band that makes a concerted effort to shirk the traditional puritanical feeling of bubblegum pop and instead chooses to sing about and engage in nightly debauchery.
One Direction, on the other hand, is careful to avoid potentially controversial topics such as drinking and sex in favor of singing of unrequited love and summertime fun, solidifying their younger audience’s attention and instilling proper moral values to the teenage set.
When boy bands first began, they were music sensations, but now they have become products. One Direction wall decals, KPop teddy bears, Jonas Brothers pillow cases- almost any item in your house/car can now be plastered with the smooth, hairless faces of upper middle class teenage boys.
As with the music industry as a whole, it is actually less about the music and more about the money. Vocals are great, but so are ten thousand shirts with Joe Jonas’ face on them.
In a sense, you could say that these boy bands are the climax of the eventual downfall of the music industry. They showed record executives that artists don’t need to be talented to be famous; a nice smile and the willingness to sign their lives away to a brand was much more important.
So, where do we go from here? Do we have to stop secretly listening to The Jonas Brothers’ “Burnin’ Up” in the shower? Is it no longer okay to sing along to One Direction when it comes on as a remix at the club? The answer is no.
There is no shame in rocking out to some good old-fashioned G-rated lyrics. Just make sure you mix in some of The Wanted, too. And follow their twitter account. Any band that tweets “I do not get drunk, I simply get more awesome” is worth a listen, or twelve.