Boy bands are an interesting phenomenon. With relative frequency, a group of boys come together to make pop music that matches what was popular at the time. Take any bunch of boys, listen to their biggest hits, and you get a feel for what the Top 40 looked like back then.
Individual acts like Madonna are able to change and change over time, or depending on what they want their sound to be next. Groups often don’t last that long, as members have different ideas about the next stage in their development.
But that’s what makes boy bands so iconic, because what would the ’90s be without the Frosted Tips? Or the 2000s without man-bangs and ties on loose shirts? Or the 2010s without artfully messy hair and permanently Instagram-worthy faces? Boy groups are not only shaped by time, but they help define it.
One of the first great boy groups was the Beatles. They erupted in the 1960s and definitely changed pop and rock music. But boy bands as a * thing * really started to happen in the 1990s, when they became a staple of pop culture.
At any point in time, you can expect to find a song by a boy group with songs so catchy that even your most cynical and cocky friend would find themselves humming.
When it comes to the 90s, it’s true what they say: they don’t do it like that anymore. These days you don’t get much more than a bit of choreographed rocking rocking from boy groups (with the exception of K-pop groups who manage to hit the perfect note of androgyny in everything they do. ). Dance routines for men are rare.
That wasn’t the case in the 90s, when boys always did a full show. They weren’t just singing or jumping on stage. They had fully choreographed numbers ready for each song and only stopped when it was time to slow things down for a ballad meant for each girl in the audience.
The two boy bands that totally dominated the 90s were The Backstreet Boys and * NSYNC. They are often compared to each other, because of their success and the fact that they were making similar music at the same time.
Both groups are from Florida (yes, we don’t understand either). Both were made up of members in their twenties, which has remained the only consistent part of what makes a successful boy group. The debate over which group is best can get heated, because every group has its die-hard fans.
What do you think? Maybe you don’t think either of the bands are better, but you’re wondering why we didn’t mention Boyz II Men? With the popularity of R&B music in the 90s, they could almost be considered a pop group as well. With iconic songs and classic looks, they didn’t really need to compete with anyone.
Ask who is the most successful boy group in recent years, and it’s easy to answer. One Direction was one of the biggest musical groups of the 2010s. It is possible that their success will be overtaken by BTS, which is currently quite popular in the world.
The formula for the success of today’s boy groups comes from capitalizing (and therefore helping to master) today’s cultural desire for softwood. Yes, we know the internet is in love with Adam Driver (and so are we!) But when it comes to looking for a band, think of Timotheé Chalamet instead.
We’re talking ambiguous sexuality, retro fashion, tattoos, and a look that suggests a high metabolism and someone who doesn’t own a hairbrush. Additionally, each member of a boy group usually has a cultured personality that they are known for in relation to the group, something that dates back to the Beatles.
BTS exploded after One Direction reintroduced the world to the boy band craze, and their image has a lot to do with questioning traditional concepts of masculinity and the appearance of doing it well.
There’s also SEVENTEEN, another K-pop group that, if you haven’t heard of yet, you will soon. BTS has really opened the door to K-pop success in mainstream America, with both male and female groups appearing on the charts regularly these days.
What is your favorite boy band? Are we wrong not to talk more about the Jonas Brothers? Let us know!