The Boy Band Fandom Lives On
It was 1998, I was thirteen and in the 8th grade. I had never heard of a boy band before my friend from school came over for a sleep over and introduced me to The Backstreet Boys one night. The house was alive with the sounds of “Everybody” pulsating through the living room stereo speakers and my dad’s subwoofer. I couldn’t get enough of this song, but I’m sure my parents did. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M6samPEMpM
I wasn’t alone. To date, their 1997 self-titled album “Backstreet Boys” has sold over 14 million copies. They are also statistically ranked as the number one American boy band of all time, in terms of sales made in U.S. history. Rating higher in sales even more than The Jackson 5. So, like I said…I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t the only girl in junior high with a poster of Brian in her bedroom, I’m sure, or had all the band’s albums, and knew all the lyrics to all of their songs by heart either. I’m sure there were gaggles of girls waiting in long lines to buy their concert tickets, calling in to radio shows to win seats, and answering trivia about the band just to have a chance to meet them in person – which, as an aside is another reason fanpage is so cool, being able to have the possibility of winning opportunities like that on a daily basis.
No, I wasn’t alone in liking The Backstreet Boys – or as many of us die-hard fans know them as The BSB. And back then, if you liked The BSB, then you automatically had to have an innate disdain for N’Sync who were also just as hot – if not hotter – on the charts as The BSB. But N’Sync was The BSB’s archnemesis, and likewise, if you were a fan of N’Sync, then you were no friend, but rather foe, of The BSB. I remember having legitimate arguments in junior high about this. This was a very real thing, and a very personal thing to most thirteen-year-old girls, and I’m sure it still is. Except now, I suppose it would come down to The Jonas Brothers and One Direction. But I’m not thirteen anymore, so I really wouldn’t know…
When I was in middle school The Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, 98 Degrees, Westlife, and others were all hot commodities in the music industry, and it was as though this bubble-gum boy band phenomenon had appeared out of nowhere and exploded overnight. It was truly incredible, and exciting to be a part of that cultural experience at that time.
Fast forward to the late 1980s, there was another show in town, or should I say on the “block”? The New Kids on the Block, or more commonly known to their fans as NKOTB formed in the early 1980s, and combined a new sound that few had heard prior to them hitting the airwaves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbIEwIwYz-c. Based out of Boston, MA, The New Kids on the Block was a collision of hip-hop, rap, and pop. They had the dance moves of The Jackson 5, the Beastie Boys’ wardrobe, and Paula Abdul’s rhythm. Contrary to popular belief, Mark Wahlberg was not in the band – it was instead his brother, Donnie Wahlberg who like his brother, did branch out from an early ‘90s band to starring in film roles, most notably, The Sixth Sense. Something noteworthy about this particular band, that had rarely been seen in others previously, was that no instruments were played by any of the members. They may have sung, danced and looked cute for the camera, but there was no other talent put on display, at least not instrumentally. Which is what was seen in the boy band craze in later years as well.
It wasn’t until the mid-late 1990s though, that the boy band sensation really took off. Even if we had a great taste of an R&B boy band in the early to mid-’90s – the one and the only Boyz II Men – they had no real competition at that time https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fV8vB1BB2qc …that is if you don’t count All-4-One, but of course we would. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25rL-ooWICU
However, the R&B genre wasn’t enough to quench our complacent and fussy thirst for new music. In the late ‘90s, with the introduction of bands like N’sync, The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and Westlife https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bxc9hbwkkw, there had never been such a high demand for and delivery by the music industry of the bubble-gum pop music like there was just prior to and subsequently at the dawn of the new millenium. There were other, let’s say, “one hit wonders” during that time too. An example? Who doesn’t remember – and still secretly love and sing along to – Hanson’s “MMM-Bop”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHozn0YXAeE
Other bands came and went…remember Boyzone? Ugh, who doesn’t? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7eul_Vt6SZY
Or how about Blue https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkWQDDv_qdg? With so many bands popping up during the late ‘90s and into the mid-2000s, it was no surprise that The Jonas Brothers https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KNEZJ6KkLI surfaced in 2005, and One Direction https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbPED9bisSc in 2011. After all, a new generation of screaming teenage girls were now ready for their shot at concert tickets, backstage passes, posters to hang in their bedrooms, and favorite You Tube clips to share on Facebook.
And the fandom is not just limited to our friendly shores of the United States, either. On the contrary. All over the world there are music groups becoming famous every day. Let’s not forget the most notable of them all today: The Bangtan Boys. Or as their fans know them, BTS. Hitting the scene with a splash in 2013, the boys have been touring parts of the world ever since, and have had hit sales not only in their native South Korea and other parts of Asia, but also right here in the U.S. as well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoI0k7rUy-w
The fandom of boy bands has been more than just a slew of cute smiles, en vogue hairstyles and pants, charm, charisma, panache and some – but not all – with wit and flirtatious wiles. They have also changed the course of modern music for all time, and have left their respective musical talents and fingerprints on history forevermore. And now, after all these years, The Backstreet Boys are touring alongside the youthful talent of today, headlining in Vegas, and yes, still bringing down the house.
What say you? Did you not read about your favorite boy band? Why not create your own fanpage now at fanpage.com? It’s fun, free, easy and you might even win a chance to go to a concert or see one of your favorite boy bands in person!
To close, I’ll leave you with one of the greatest boy band songs. Ever. You’re welcome. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwC1Ctrj6Xk