Boy bands: Wikis


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Boy band
Stylistic origins Soul, Gospel, Disco, Bubblegum pop, pop rock, electronic dance music, teen pop, Contemporary R&B, Adult contemporary music, Hip hop(especiallypop rap)and 1960's Girl Groups. In more recent years, some boy bands (particularly those who use rock instrumentation) have taken influences from emo/post-hardcore, pop punk,electropop, garage rock,power pop, Pop rock and indie pop.
Cultural origins late 1970's United Kingdom & United States, with precursors dating back to the mid 1960's.
Typical instruments Vocals, electronic backing, Sampler - sequencers. Others use rock band instrumentation: Electric guitar, Bass guitar, drums, Keyboards
Mainstream popularity Worldwide, especially amongst pre-teens and teenagers from the 1990's
Derivative forms K-pop
Fusion genres
pop rap, pop rock, pop punk, country pop, operatic pop
Other topics
Eurovision song contest, Camp (style), Pop idol, Teenybopper, Postmodernism, Consumerism, Gay culture, Kitsch, Pop culture, Manufactured pop, tweenager, Teen idol, Gay icon

A boy band (or boyband), in pop, hip hop and R&B music, is a popular music act consisting of several male singers. There are usually three, four, five or six members of a boy band. The members are generally expected to perform as dancers as well, often executing highly choreographed sequences to their own music. More often than not, boy band members do not play musical instruments, either in recording sessions or on stage, and only sing and dance. As a result, the term "band" is really a misnomer for this genre. Although there are no distinct traits defining a boy band, one could label a band a "boy band" for following mainstream music trends, changing their appearances to adapt to new fashion trends, having elaborate dance moves, and performing elaborate shows. They can evolve out of church choral or Gospel music groups, but are often put together by talent managers or record producers who audition the groups for appearance, dancing, rapping skills, and singing ability.

The acts are essentially vocal harmony groups, not "bands" as such, though there are some exceptions. Due to this and their general commercial orientation towards preteens, teenyboppers, or teens audiences, the term may be used with negative connotations in music journalism. Boy bands are similar in concept to girl groups.




Pre-history and prototypes

The earliest predecessors of the boy band genre were groups such as the The Osmonds, The Jackson 5, and The Monkees, which helped form the template for boy bands. While The Monkees were a manufactured act who featured members with distinct (albeit fictional) personality types, The Jackson 5 were a family group that established many musical conventions that boy bands follow. For instance, their music featured close harmonies from soul music and catchy pop hooks influenced as much as they were Motown acts like The Supremes. All members of the band sang, which is a common convention of boy band, as opposed to having a front man and the rest on instruments. This is effectively so that no one person dominated the stage. Even so, the members conveniently fitted into the convention of having stereotypical personality types (Michael Jackson being the "cute one", to give an obvious example).

Although not a manufactured band, The Beatles set a precedent for boy bands to follow both in terms of marketing to young girls and certain aesthetic and musical conventions. The merchandising, whether it was films like A Hard Day's Night or novelty goods were possibly the first aimed at a certain demographic on a large scale for a group. This made them a proto-type for boy bands, such as The Jackson 5 and The Monkees. Musical conventions that boy bands adopted from The Beatles were less their technical proficiency as musicians and more the catchy pop hooks, melodies and harmonies combined with their marketability. Their marketability was based the idea that there was something for everyone, whether it is the music or the personality of John Lennon or Paul McCartney or their sex appeal.

The Beatles were more directly an influence on boy bands that use rock band instrumentation, such as the Jonas Brothers (Though the website Allmusic has specifically The Ramones and proto-punk band The Modern Lovers cited as influences [1]) and other boy bands that play power pop. The precedent for this was when TV Producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson got four members to perform catchy pop tunes while also acting in a television series. The Monkees are often considered as the original pioneers among boy bands. Formed in 1965 under the supervision of Don Kirshner, the group became dissatisfied with Kirshner's control and became independent two years later, and worked on their own up to 1970.

Although the term "boy band" is mostly associated with groups from the 1990s onwards, other antecedents (apart from those already mentioned) exist throughout the history of pop music. The Temptations, popular in the 1960s, The Bee Gees, The Osmonds, and Earth, Wind and Fire, popular in the 1970s, have also been considered a form of boy band by some[citation needed]. The genre has been copied into languages and cultures other than the Anglo-American. There is a popular Russian boy band Ivanushki International. The Puerto Rican boy band Menudo, appealing to young Latina audiences, was founded in 1977.

In the U.S., the Cleveland-based power pop group The Raspberries was generally interpreted as a "teen act", although all the band members played their own music. Vocalist Eric Carmen later commented, "You’d have a thousand screaming girls in the front of the stage and then ten very serious rock critics in the back of the room going, ‘Uh-huh, I think we understand this.’ And unfortunately the great mass of pot-smoking eighteen year-olds that bought albums and made you a substantial commodity in the great marketing world of records never took to us. It was not hip for people to like us, because their little sister liked us.[2]


Although the term "boy band" did not exist until the 1990s, Boston group New Edition is credited for starting the boy band trend in the 1980s. Maurice Starr was influenced by New Edition and popularised it with his protégé New Kids on the Block, the first commercially successful modern boy band. Starr's idea was to take the traditional template from the R&B genre (in this case his teenage band New Edition) and apply it to a pop genre. Some managers in Europe created their own acts, beginning with Nigel Martin-Smith's Take That in the UK, followed by Louis Walsh and bands like East 17, which by the late 1990s ran their course and split up. With the emergence of britpop and the commercial co-option of indie rock, many boy bands were ridiculed by the British music press as having no artistic credibility.

One of the most successful boy band managers was Lou Pearlman, who founded commercially successful acts such as the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, although he was later convicted of unrelated fraud incidents. In the UK, producer Simon Cowell (noted in the U.S. for the American Idol/Pop Idol franchise) is also known for having managed boyband Westlife, which was created by Louis Walsh[3] and promoted by a former boy band member Ronan Keating of Boyzone.

Since 2001, the dominance of traditional boy bands on pop charts began to fade, although Gil Kaufman of MTV has described "new boy bands" that are "more likely to resemble Good Charlotte, Simple Plan or Dashboard Confessional".[4]

Some bands typically labeled as 'boy bands' have achieved larger success because their members create and play their own songs, trying to keep a level of musical performance up to their image. Boston-based power pop group The Click Five is a recent example.[5]

Music genres

Although most boy bands consist of R&B or pop influences, other music genres, most notably country music and folk music, are also represented. South 65 and Marshall Dyllon, for example, were both considered country music boy bands, as was to a lesser extent Rascal Flatts. Il Divo, created by Simon Cowell, are a boy band that perform Operatic pop. Since 2001 there has been some crossover with power pop and pop punk from bands that play live instruments. For example, as of 2008, boy bands are often influenced by pop punk, 1960's garage rock, post punk revivalists, power pop (a perennial genre) and dance-punk[citation needed].


Since the 1990s, bands such as Backstreet Boys and LFO have disliked the term "boy band" and have preferred to be known as a "Male Vocal Group". Boy bands have been accused by the music press of emphasizing the appearance and marketing of the group above the quality of music. Other criticisms include deliberately trying to appeal to a pre-teen audience, lacking originality in the music and being effeminate. Such criticisms can become extremely scathing.

In popular culture

As a result of these criticisms, boy bands have sometimes been a target for parody in popular culture:

  • "BoyBand the Musical" opened in London's West End in May 1999. Written by Peter Quilter it has also had productions in the Netherlands, South Africa and Poland.
  • In a week-long spoof in 1999, wherein talk show host Conan O'Brien, inspired by Making the Band, created his own boy band called Dudez-A-Plenti, after randomly selecting five singers, narrowed down from the population of the entire world. A series of sketches culminated in a performance of a song O'Brien apparently made up himself: "Baby, I Wish You Were My Baby".
  • Chambers Dictionary, which is known to contain humorous definitions, defines a boy band "a pop group, targeting mainly the teenage market, composed of young males chosen because they look good and can dance and sometimes even sing."
  • The 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats featured a fictional boy band named "Du Jour." Their hit single, "Backdoor Lover," satirizes the effeminate style of many boy bands and their members.
  • The Australian musical "Boyband" centres around a fictional boyband 4orce and their journey through the 1990s. Two seasons were staged at The Seymour Centre in 2005 and 2006.[6]
  • Australian film BoyTown is about a fictional boyband who had their golden age in the 1980s, and reform to sing songs about divorce and picking the kids up from school and to go on one last tour.
  • New Zealand radio station The Edge created a cliché boyband, called Boyband in 2006. It consisted of Fat Boy, Gay Boy, Mummy's Boy, Bad Boy and Hot Boy. They achieved a small success in the country, with their cover of The Kinks' song "You Really Got Me" reaching number one on the New Zealand music charts for one week.
  • The Arrogant Worms made a parody song called "Boy Band" which includes lyrics such as "Cause we're singing in a boy band, the words are stupid and the music's bland".
  • The song "Title of the Song" by comedic a cappella band Da Vinci's Notebook provides a line-by-line dissection of the themes commonly found in boy band songs. (Example lyrics: "Acknowledgment that I acted foolishly / Increasingly desperate pleas for your return / Sorrow for my infidelity / Vain hope that my sins are forgivable / Appeal for one more opportunity / Drop to my knees to elicit crowd response / Prayers to my chosen deity / Modulation and I hold a high note")

Top selling pop music boy bands

Boy Group Country Sold (only albums) Genre Studio Albums Members Years Active
1. Backstreet Boys USA 100 million+ [7] (Biggest Overall Sellers) Pop, R&B, pop rock 7 4 - 5 1993-present (17 Years)
2. New Kids on the Block USA 80 Million [8] Pop, R&B 5 5 1984–1994, 2008-present (12 Years)
3. 'N Sync USA 50 Million + [9] Pop 3 5 1995 - 2005 (10 Years)
4. Westlife Ireland 45 Million+[10] Pop 9 4 - 5 1998-present (12 Years)
5. Take That UK 35 Million [11] Pop 5 4 - 5 1990-1996, 2005-present (11 Years)
6. Boyzone Ireland 30 Million [11] Pop 4 4 - 5 1993-2000, 2007-present (10 Years)

Top selling R&B music boy bands

Boy Band Sold Genre Studio Albums Members Years Active
1. Jackson Five 90 million+ R&B 9 4 - 6 1967 - 1990 (23 years)
2. Boyz II Men 60 million [12] R&B 5 3 - 5 1990 - present (19 years)

Best-selling boy band albums

Album Boy band Worldwide Sales Year Genre
Millennium Backstreet Boys 40 Million 1999 Pop
Backstreet Boys (International - Backstreet's Back) Backstreet Boys 30 Million 1997 Pop
Black & Blue Backstreet Boys 24 Million 2000 Pop
Step by Step New Kids on the Block 21 Million 1990 Pop
Hangin' Tough New Kids on the Block 17 Million 1988 Pop
No Strings Attached 'N Sync 15 million 2000 Pop
II Boyz II Men 15 million 1994 R&B
The Hits: Chapter One Backstreet Boys 14 Million 2001 Pop
Destiny The Jacksons 13 Million 1978 R&B


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Knopper, Steve. "Raspberries." Contemporary Musicians. Gale Research Inc. 2004. 26 Dec. 2009
  3. ^ "Press Association - Louis Walsh Profile". Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  4. ^ Gil Kaufman (2007). "The New Boy Bands". MTV. Retrieved November 8 2007. 
  5. ^ "Take Five". The Boston Globe. August 7, 2005. Retrieved December 22, 2009. 
  6. ^ "BOYBAND must close this Saturday 25th March - BOOK NOW!". Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  7. ^ "Backstreet Boys Back in Seoul in February". The Korea Times. 2010-01-05. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  8. ^ "New Kids On The Block in pictures and photos, There are 30 pictures in this album". Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  9. ^ "Pearlman's money woes follow him downtown". Orlando Sentinel.,0,7354100.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-orange. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  10. ^ "Broadcast Yourself". YouTube. 2009-11-11. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  11. ^ a b Jody Thompson. "Take That officially named as record breakers in new Guinness Book Of World Records". Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  12. ^ "60 million sales". 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 

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