Boy bands make comeback on international music stage
Published: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 02:05
The era of Pokémon cards, slap bracelets and Tamagotchis faded with the coming of the new millennium, but boy bands, another staple of the ’90s, are becoming “larger than life” again.
Senior Katelyn Seymour, general manager for WVUD, says she is happy boy bands are making a comeback.
“You can’t go wrong with a bunch of guys that will sing and dance, look cute and dress nice,” Seymour says.
British-Irish groups like The Wanted and One Direction are accumulating fans in the U.S.—One Direction’s debut album “Up All Night” went straight to No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart after it was released in the U.S. in March. The band formed in 2010 when each member auditioned as soloists on “The X Factor (UK)” and were linked by judge Simon Cowell, who believed the singers would perform better as a group.
In the ’90s, bands like *NSYNC formed after members Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez starred on the Disney Channel’s “Mickey Mouse Club.” Similarly, MTV’s reality show “Making The Band” brought the members of O-Town together in 2000.
History professor David Suisman, who does research on the relationship between music and business, says boy bands are often marketed as a consumer product and put together by an artistic manager or production company.
“They may change in form and musical style, but this appears to be a very winning formula commercially,” Suisman says.
He says boy bands have a primarily female audience, and part of the appeal is that women can form bonds with each other based on their interest in certain types of music.
“Boy bands tend to sing about romance, but it tends to be relatively safe kind of sexuality,” Suisman says. “It’s not crude, it’s not aggressive. It is more on longing than it is lust.”
One Direction’s single “What Makes You Beautiful” peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 list, while The Wanted’s single “Glad You Came” is ranked No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Pop Songs list this week. The Wanted released its first album in the U.K. last July, but the recent debut of its EP in the U.S. and Canada has stimulated the band’s fame in North America.
Senior Kate Miller says she was an *NSYNC fan when she was younger and says boy bands are particularly appealing to girls.
“I think for girls, there’s a bit of something for everyone,” Miller says. “It’s nice that you and all your friends can each have your own favorite as far as singers go.”
She says she is unsure why all-male bands are resurfacing or why they were so popular in the ’90s, but she says she thinks today’s boy bands appeal to tweens rather than teenagers.
Other ’90s groups like Hanson still perform. Hanson and “Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen toured together for three weeks this past winter across Canada.
Seymour says at WVUD, a group of Boy Scouts recently requested One Direction’s single, and the university’s station has received many requests for throwback songs from groups like *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
She says boy bands will always be her musical guilty pleasure, but says she thinks the new groups will soon fade out.
“I think they will go back and forth in popularity, like flare jeans and flats,” Seymour says.