Thursday, 4 October 2012

It's All Coming Back To Me Now - Let's Hear It For The Boy. Bands.

The real loser in this fight was fashion.

Let's Hear It For The Boy. Bands.
by Jo Michelmore

Earlier this week, Matt and I were standing in line for lunch in a food court (yes, it’s a glamorous life this blog writing business, jealous?) when we spotted something odd. A teenage girl in line near us, with a little something hanging off her handbag. It wasn’t a tacky little gemstone, or a boring little pendant or a tarnished cheap knock off of something pretty from Tiffany’s, it wasn’t even a scarf, which some girls have the habit of hanging off their bags (what’s that about? Oh, that’s a whole other blog, isn’t it?) It was a little key ring; a little disc with a picture of what we both assumed was a member of One Direction on it (we’re not sure what the members of One Direction look like; actually, they all look kinda the same don’t they?) Anyway, beside the fact I wanted to tell the girl to pull herself together, put some pants on and lose her dumb friends; it made me start thinking about boy pop stars. The ones that some young teenage girls and some young teenage boys seem to love and then sometimes hate just as quickly or sometimes they hold onto a little too long. This made me think, what is it about some boy pop groups (girl ones are a whole other conversation) that makes young teenagers love them? Clothes? Looks? Talent? Dance skills? A good marketing team? A member whose name ends in ‘eeee’? All of the above? None of the above? Let’s look at some recent and not so recent vintage boys and see if we can come up with any theories.



I don’t think it would be right to talk about boy bands without mentioning one of the most popular from the late 90’s/early 00’s; ‘N Sync. Yep, in case you forgot, Justin Timberlake was in a boy band before he got all…’talented’ and apparently hot (each to their own). They had it all; the hot one, the bad boy one, the ugly one, the one with the cute name ending in ‘eeee’ (this one being Joey) and….the other one. Their first single ‘I Want You Back’ had a clip any crap boy band would be proud of; terrible matching clothes, awful dance moves and an unnatural focus on JT. Those poor other ones, did they know then how popular he would become? I know the others had names, but it was always all about Justin wasn’t it? This is the boy band that was the vehicle for the star. The 2000’s had another huge boy band though, one I know we all know and love.

Backstreet Boys


Ok, maybe we don’t all love the Backstreet Boys, but don’t tell me you haven’t sung along to ‘As Long As You Love Me’ at some stage. No? How about ‘I Want It That Way’? We’ve already spoken about how that one doesn’t even make sense, but wow, it’s pretty catchy. No? Well, we all know everyone’s belted out a “backstreets back” at some stage so you needn’t be embarrassed. The five members covered all the boy band requirements; the hot one, the bad boy one, the ugly one, the one with the cute name ending in ‘eeee’ (this one being Howie) and….the other one. They had the magic boy band combination too; singing, dancing, a bit of bad publicity. Gosh, they were popular for a little while there and in the tradition of boy bands, they disappeared for a while, then, once they needed jobs again, re-formed and retoured with another boy band of the 90’s, which brings us to a group that were the first of a resurgence of the boy band right before grunge hit hard…

New Kids On The Block

A personal favourite of mine, New Kids On The Block. Now they really had it all. The hot one, the bad boy one, the ugly one, the one with the cute name ending in ‘eeee’ (this group went all out and had two, Donnie and Joey!) and….the other one. (Do you see the theme here yet?) You know that Mark Wahlberg actor guy? Yeah, well his sibling was famous first, his older brother being Donnie Wahlberg, the bad boy member of NKOTB. They had the combination that all good boy bands need; they could dance, they could sing (well, one of them could sing really well, which made up for anyone else’s lack of ability) and their faces could fit on tiny packets of NKOTB bubble gum. These guys had a little talent but their true talent was in publicity especially that bad boy setting fire to a hotel room, which was the beginning of the end of their reign of boy band-dom. They’ve done that traditional thing too, where they disappeared for a while, then, once they needed jobs again they re-formed and retoured. Good on them. That’s nice, isn’t it? Everyone should have a job. Gives meaning to their days.

Take That


Let’s just cross the oceans and not forget one of the UK’s contribution to the boy band phenomenon. Take That were the UK’s late 90’s answer to anything the US could throw at the charts. Now, we know what all good boy bands need, don’t we? The hot one, the bad boy one, the ugly one, the one with the cute name ending in ‘eeee’ (these guys also had two!) and….the other one. I’m sure there’s a theme here! Five members, they spawned two of the UK’s biggest stars of the late 90’s, Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams. Even if Robbie has disappeared for a bit (apparently filming a new clip recently) and all Gary’s done is something boring for the Olympics, their time in Take That was part of the perfect boy band story. They got really famous really quickly, had a couple of members no one cared about plus a cute little one, there was a bunch of in-fighting, their most popular member drank a lot and did a bunch of drugs, was thrown out/quit and then they imploded nicely in the public eye until more recently where they’ve reformed to mixed reviews. Gary could apparently write songs better than Robbie, but Robbie had that ‘x-factor’ they speak of, that something people can’t stop staring at. In combination in the same pop group they made for a perfect team.

The Jackson 5

Ok, we could talk about boy bands for hours, but let’s get proper vintage and end with the best. The ones that set the bar for all boy bands since, and let’s be honest, not a lot have lived up to the legend of them. The Jackson 5. Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson and his brothers were awesome. Yeah, there, I said it. I love The Jackson 5, or The Jacksons, or any of their other names. (So I’m biased, whatever.) They could dance, they were kinda cute in a 60’s way and most of all, they could sing. They could sing better than you or I could probably ever dream of singing. Their first four singles all reached the top of the Billboard chart, they replaced the Supremes as Motown’s main focus (that’s quite impressive, Diana Ross had some big shoes to fill) and there was even a Jacksons cartoon. As a boy band, they had it all, the perfect combination. Looks, dance skills, talent AND a good marketing team but most importantly, they also had this: the hot one, the bad boy one, the ugly one, the one with the cute name ending in ‘eeee’ (let me hear you say Randy) and….the other one. Genius.

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