Devil’s Advocate: In Defense of Boy Bands

By on April 6, 2015

Hi there.

I’m going to begin trying to see certain music trends from a different perspective. I already know what type of music I like and what bands I love, but what about other trends of music that I dislike? Why do other people like them? Why do I dislike them? Do I actually dislike these trends or have I just never heard of the trends? Why are these trends present in the music world? I’ll ask those general questions in each Devil’s Advocate post in some way, shape or form.

This week’s topic is: Boy Bands.

Credit: Stewart Yu

Credit: Stewart Yu

Recently, Zayn Malik of One Direction left the “band” to focus more on his emotional frame of mind. That’s a completely acceptable reason to leave a group – to focus on yourself – but, man, was the entire social media world upset. So much emotional and physical pain can be felt through these tweets by fans of One Direction, and a bit of cringing can be felt too. It sucks losing a member of your favorite band, regardless of what genre they play.

Then Zayn goes on to release a solo song, so maybe he just wanted to leave One Direction and their hordes of tween-aged fans? What a jerk! That’s not the point of this article, however.

Boy bands, at their core, are about taking three to five young men with average to above-average singing voices and putting them together to form one unique voice. Once the lineup is set, the boy band (and manager, producers, etc.) begin producing catchy hits, begin practicing on being able to dance with a headset microphone on and slowly begin becoming sex symbols by way of magazines, gossip television shows on E! and online publications. It’s a relatively simple formula that has been working for decades now – Hello, Jackson 5 anyone?

Their biggest draw is young women, but their songs appeal to nearly everyone. Whether you want to or not, you have heard several different songs by boy bands. You may even like a song by a boy band and not realize it. (It’s okay to admit if you like a song by a boy band!) With this wide appeal, this translates to success: sold out concerts at large venues, incredible merch sales, and a shitload of albums sold (and individual songs sold on iTunes). It seems like boy bands are keeping the music industry afloat through their success.

Look at the success of a handful of boy bands from 1990 on:

Boy Band: Backstreet Boys

Top 100 Hits (per Billboard Charts): 17 Total on 21 Different Charts

Albums sold: Over 130 Million

Boy Band: N*SYNC

Top 100 Hits: 7 Total on 17 different Charts (with a #1 hit!)

Albums sold: Over 50 million

Boy Band: Boyz II Men

Top 100 Hits: 19 Total on 29 different charts (with 4 #1 hits!)

Albums sold: Over 60 million

Boy Band: Jonas Brothers

Top 100 Hits: 15 Total on 24 different charts!

Albums sold: Over 20 million

Credit: Eva Rinaldi

Credit: Eva Rinaldi

That’s just a small sample size of the success of boy bands, and, boy, is it some incredible success.

But does success equal quality? It truly depends on your definition on the word ‘quality’ but these boy bands are essential to many people and who are we to rain on their parade? As long as people are listening to music, I’m happy. (Plus, I’m still jamming out to songs from Backstreet Boys’ album Millennium, so there.)

I think boy bands get a lot of shit and it’s not always fair, yet I think it’s definitely worth wading through the muck of taunts, criticisms, and verbal jabs to be set for life. You may not like them but boy bands are here to stay for the foreseeable future because they’re successful and put out catchy songs.

Have an opinion on the article? Let us know in the comments, damn it!

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