Boy Band Magic – Billboard


The Jacksons 5. Backstreet Boys. A direction. BTS. Boy bands have been dominating the charts and winning the hearts of fans for decades, but what is it about these bands that makes them so popular, and what are their origins?

Although the term “boy band” did not appear until the 1980s, the origins of the boy band date back to the early 1800s, with quartets of African-American barbers. By definition, boy bands are groups made up of men who not only create pop music, but also sing and dance – an important detail that rules out The Beatles making the cut. The Jackson 5 quickly fell into this definition when it was created in 1964 and became the model of its kind throughout the 60s and 70s.

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Groups such as New Edition and New Kids on the Block picked up the slack in the 1980s, while the 1990s spawned the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. The 2000s saw a brief plateau until the Jonas Brothers dominated the second half of the decade, before One Direction burst onto the scene in 2011 after their X factor training. Like Billboard Tetris host Kelly says, One Direction was one of the first boy groups to benefit from social media, and later paved the way for fan-based armies to flourish, like with BTS.

With signature choreography, honed vocal harmonies, a curated image, and dedicated fans, these bands have managed to stand the test of time and remain pop culture relevant no matter the decade.

Watch the latest episode of Billboard explains above to learn more about the magic of boy bands.

After the video, watch more Billboard Explains videos and learn about the American Music Awards, Billboard Latin Music Awards, Hot 100 charts, how R&B/hip-hop became the biggest genre in the US, how festivals book their lineups, Billie Eilish’s formula for success, the history of rap battles, non-binary music consciousness, the Billboard Music Awards, the Free Britney movement, the rise of K-pop in the United States, why Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albums, the boom in hit all-female collaborations, how Grammy nominees and winners are chosen, why songwriters are selling out their publishing catalogs, how the Super Bowl is booked and why Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” was able to reach No. 1 on the Hot 100.


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