Evolution of Boy Bands


From the Beatles back in the 60s to One Direction in the 2010’s, boybands have formed a pervasive part of American and global music culture for over half a century. Exacerbated by the rise of social media and pop music, boybands have skyrocketed to popularity in recent years, becoming some of the most loved music artists on the planet. 


Boybands, as defined by Merriam Webster, are “a small ensemble of males in their teens or twenties who play pop songs geared especially to a young female audience”. However, prior to the 1980s, the concept of “boybands” did not exist; rather, they were called “male vocal groups”. 


Members of a boyband are often home-grown musicians who gained fame or went viral at a relatively young age. One Direction, for example, was formed by judge Simon Cowell on the popular British singing show “The X Factor”. Boyband members are often musically gifted in areas other than their voices: many can play at least one, if not more, instruments. For example, Daniel Seavey, a member of American boyband Why Don’t We, knows how to play 20 different musical instruments. Modern day boy bands often stick to pop music, occasionally experimenting with rock, in order to cater to the tastes of their primary audience in teenagers. However, boybands present a breath of fresh air to audiences of all ages, as the number of unique voices in a band provides more versatility and a greater variety of music.


The boyband trend has gained traction worldwide. Boy Bands come from all over: 5 Seconds of Summer from Australia, One Direction from Great Britain, and PRETTYMUCH from the United States are just a few of the numerous examples. The ubiquity of boybands has added to their appeal, as people from all over the world can hear music from people that come from the same country, background and lifestyle as they do.


With recent advances in social media, fans can now find content of their favorite boy bands all over the internet, whether it be a cute candid picture snapped at a meet-and-greet, a funny interview clip, or an acoustic cover. This has only added to the traction of boy bands, with people falling in love with the perceived personality of their favorite band member. Many fans even create “fan accounts” on instagram where they post daily content on their favorite member of the boyband. Many will go to any extent to get this content, including stalking the artists. Often, this invasion of privacy can become very uncomfortable for the artists, especially when fans begin leaking their home addresses and phone numbers, and harassing their family members. 


Although the lives of boyband members as beloved pop culture icons may seem rosy on the surface, underneath, boybands face a lot of struggles in their path to becoming successful. Band members are often not allowed to speak out on personal issues or rumors spread about them due to strict management. As a result, these rumors (often concerning their various romantic relationships) tend to get out of hand. This, combined with the “cancel culture” that has normalized jumping to conclusions about a celebrity’s personal life with information derived from unverified and cryptic social media posts, means that boy band members can never go far without being exposed to toxicity and hate. This is exacerbated  by fan accounts on Instagram that are popularized for posting “exclusive” gossip about celebrities; in reality, this gossip is just random bits of information pieced together and is often untrue. Boybands are hit quite hard in this aspect because the increased number of members provides more openings for rumor-mongering. In addition, boy bands are often pitted against and compared to each other: notably, the highly publicized rivalry between NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys in the ‘90s. These rivalries have only been exacerbated in present day times, with social media providing a forum for individuals to voice their thoughts anonymously.


Although we might enjoy their music, it is important to remember that at the end of the day, boyband members are just humans following their passions, and the constant hate does take a toll on them. Whether you’re humming along to “I Want It That Way” or jamming to “Best Song Ever”, remember to spread appreciation, and not hate, to these hard-working musicians.