- Entertainment and Media
The psyche of teenage girls and their fascination with boy bands - a chronology of boy bands through the decades
Pondering over this topic makes me realize my age - or surplus thereof! Having been in the education profession for several years has always made me wonder how teenagers, girls in particular, can take their fancy for their favorite or “fave” stars to the level of obsession - you will not believe the number of tongue lashings I get when I criticize any my students’ idols. Of course, I have learned the hard way not to say anything unless absolutely necessary - I take interruption of lessons by these idols screaming away on cell phones as one of those times.
I once received 20 essays on Justin Bieber as an answer to the examination essay topic “A night I will remember.” These girls had sacrificed precious study time to attend the Justin Bieber concert when it was staged here in Singapore - I really cannot say if it was their good fortune, but the topic at least gave them a little leeway for writing. Naturally I received blow-by-blow accounts of his performance at the Indoor Stadium, but still no answers why these youth are so taken in by this 18-year-old star.
I deliberated on some of the reasons why - and came up with a 10 answer probe into the manipulation of the teenage mind - my own included, since some of these bands are my personal favorites! (Not that I am a teenager now, of course).
10 reasons Why teens have always been fascinated by Boy Bands
Teens have a need for an idol.
Youth always need a role model - the problem is that he or she may not be the role model teachers or parents most desire. This is particularly true of girls - teenage girls do need someone to look up to and that someone is usually a good looking young man who can display a fair number of song and dance moves.
And so we have the natural advent of the Boy Band - a GROUP of handsome young men who display groovy dance moves. Ah, yes - a true feast for a young girl’s eyes.
Teens succumb to the force of Mob Mentality or Peer Pressure.
Strangely enough, when we ask some of these girls to sit down and reflect upon their fascination with boy bands, many will say that they do not really like the group or groups in question - they like them because their friends do. This is especially if the person who likes the band has some social clout and is the ‘popular’ one in the group - you will find the whole group of girls liking that group’s music.
This, indeed, happened in my own classroom. A whole group of these female youngsters or “Beliebers” was so caught up in the Justin Bieber fever that they tore down the posters in the classroom and put up pictures of him. The exercise took the entire day - and 40 classroom desks. I saw Justin everywhere when I returned, and had to ask them to take him away before the Principal of the school came round.
Why he was so popular - the leader of the group of girls idolized him and the rest of the motley crew had to quietly follow.
These bands are exposed (or overly exposed)
These bands usually have their songs played continuously over the radio and in shopping malls - so it really is not hard to figure out the reason why they have their charm. They are very much everywhere and everyone knows about them - especially teenaged females.
The more the songs are played, the greater the connection these girls have with the bands - and we have full blown obsession.
The power of social media can never be underestimated.
Social media has made these bands more exposed than before - and more accessible as well. They can be seen and heard over Facebook and Youtube on virtually any electronic device - that includes any internet friendly cell phone or Play Station Portable.
The low cost - or no cost accessibility to Youtube videos of One Direction or any popular star heightens their exposure and visibility, gluing these teenagers to their computers during their available free time. These devices and networks have certainly enhanced the power of these stars!
Boy Bands must produce a cool MTV.
To borrow a quote from Spiderman (never expected to quote a super hero), with great power comes great responsibility. So Boy Bands have to be responsible for marketing themselves with an ultra cool MTV, complete with music and cool dance moves.
These MTVs are an idol staple - one of the few ways the teenage masses can connect to them. No wonder their production at such an alarming rate!
Catchy, danceable or romantic music
I have had to arrange music for my choir over the years, and some of the pieces the teens wanted - no, demanded - were pieces done by boy bands or Justin Bieber. I was forced to turn my choir into a Glee Club, choreographing students as they gyrated and sand to their favorite songs. It was a compromise I had to reach - in return for that bit of freedom, the students had to learn dreaded choral pieces.
A danceable piece is a must for any boy band to succeed - failing that, they must at least perform some romantic numbers that make girls swoon (like 98 degrees Cherish, for example.)
Ah, the raging teenage hormone. This is something that parents and teachers the world over have to deal with, like it or not, at some point of time. This is why it is important - nay, compulsory - for all boy band members to be extremely good looking - most teenagers, more so than adults, judge a person more by appearance than his intelligence or emotional maturity.
The boys in the band would be better off projecting the boys-to-men image - young teenage girls relate to handsome young men like themselves about to grow up, as it is only natural for them to do. Take any boy band - and the members would probably fit the description.
The power of the elixir of youth
Successful boy bands need an essential element - youth. They must consume the elxir of youth before stepping onto a stage or any recording platform - or the hype in them quickly dies off. That is how powerful the elixir of youth is for these bands.
Not many teens want to watch an older boy band - for them, it is simply in bad taste or reminds them of their parents.
Boy bands serve as a teenage stress reliever.
Boy bands or handsome young men serve as an excellent stress reliever for the unoccupied or preoccupied teen. This is why many of them flocked to the Justin Bieber concert when it was staged in Singapore - of course, they would much rather experience Bieber fever than examination fever because it is much easier for them to cure.
Music has always been a way for the teenage soul to obtain some relief from the pressures of school and friends - many of them are practically glued to their headphones as they walk about in train stations. They can forget about things, at least temporarily.
Boy Bands are a symbol of teen hood.
These boy bands represent the ideal teenager - everything a teenager wants to do and be.
Teens want to look good and be popular, and knowing dance or a musical instrument - preferably a guitar - would assist in heightening their popularity.
It is just so COOL to be able to play a guitar. I know the popular ones in school are usually the ones who have the looks and can play a couple of musical instruments - I have known and worked with some of these students and they are a true pleasure to know, thankfully because popularity has not gotten to their heads!
So if you want to form a boy band - get an ultra cool guitarist or dancer, or be one yourself.
Bill Hayley and the Comets
A chronology of 10 awesome Boy Bands through the decades
1950s - Bill Hayley and the Comets
Bill Haley was one of the founding fathers of rock and roll - and so was Rock Around the Clock. I may be decades younger, but that song still rings in my head - so do pictures of couples dancing to the rock and roll beat. These were usually teenagers who took to dancing on weekends and so the fascination with rock n’ roll began.
The Beach Boys Good Vibrations
1960s - The Beatles and the Beach Boys
Again, I may not be this old, but I practically grew up out of my father’s car listening to thie music of the Fab Four and the Beach Boys as he prepared to play them at clubs and concerts.
The boys from liverpool were a fascination for females the world over in their heyday - Yesterday will never be a number from yesterday, presenting memories of a love lost. A personal favorite is Hey Jude - a coming of age song for boys, telling them a little bit about what girls think.
The Beach Boys
Then, there were the Beach Boys - their sweet harmonies and music fit for the beach brought along a trademark dose of Americana. Everyone could relate to California Girls and what it meant to go beach combing. The Beach Boys brought along their musical brand - harmony and falsetto - the combination of which made them one of the most successful groups of the 1960’s.
Yesterday The Beatles
1970s - The Bee Gees and the Eagles
The Bee Gees
This group will be Stayin’ Alive forever in the hearts of many. The bringing together of the three brothers Gibb - Barry, Maurice and Robin - meant the advent of disco fever in the 1970s - everyone learnt how to do the hustle together with them. They had a hit for every decade since the 50’s - but the 70’s was the decade that marked their hey day, when Saturday Night Fever became one of the hottest selling albums of all time.
And there were the Eagles - personally one of my favorite groups of the 70’s. The haunting strums of the 13 minute introduction to Hotel California will be forever etched in my mind. The Eagles are to be admired for their musical versatility - Glen Frey is able to switch with no qualms from his signature Takamine EF 360 GF Guitar to a slider guitar. Timothy B Schmit, too, has one of the most soothing vocals in the music business - his crooning of Love Will Keep Us Alive is difficult to match up to.
Saturday Night Fever John Travolta
Menudo - If You're Not Here
1980’s The New Kids On the Block, Menudo
The foot stomping beats of this group make their numbers perfect for game events or cheers. Hanging Tough is one of these - I use it as a cheer for Youth Days and Sports Carnivals. Very percussive, the beats of their songs make them very, very danceable tunes - certainly Donnie Wahlberg, his brother Mark, Danny Wood, Jordan Knight and his brother Jonathan were The Right Stuff.
A Puerto Rican boy band whose line up comprised Charlie Masso, Robby Rosa, Ray Reyes, Roy Rosello, and Ricky Martin, they reached the height of their popularity in the 1980’s. Menudo Fever really struck, with the release of singles like Hold Me and If I’m Not Here By Your Side. Ricky Martin soon graduated from the group with She Bangs - it certainly made a bang.
New Kids on the Block
The 1990s - Sugar Ray, The Backstreet Boys
This Boy Band is one of my all time favorites - particularly because of its musical versatility. They were handy with music that had a smooth pop feel - numbers such as Every Morning and Someday - and yet were able to wing heavy metal numbers like RPM and Falls Apart. A point to note is that the band was thankful for frontman Mark McGrath’s good looks - they helped Sugar Ray in its ascent to popularity. Mark became well known as the host of Don’t Forget the Lyrics and the band still tours actively till this day.
The Backstreet Boys
No article on Boy Bands will be complete without the boy band that started the concept off - the Backstreet Boys. Consisting of , Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson. and A. J. McLean. Girls the world over fawned over this group - and they were the causes of Boy Band fever. Their international albums Backstreet Boys and Backstreet’s Back were resounding successes worldwide - without them, the Chronology of Boy Bands through the years would certainly be Incomplete. They have, to date, sold a 130 million records world wide - indeed, they are THE boy band that kept teenage girls a flocking to them in the 1990’s.
Sugar Ray Someday
And we head to 2012 - with One Direction
One Direction has boarded an immediate and unstoppable roller coaster of international fame. They have the correct mix of youth - they are mainly between 18 and 20 - and marketing. Unlike bands of earlier years who honed their song and dance moves before stepping out to make their debuts, these boys were marketed as they were - they did not hone any dance moves before making an unstoppable pop journey world wide.
They are here this day - and will tell you What Makes It Beautiful.
Boy bands will be here to stay - for every era, there is a need for a new hero. And these boy bands will be heroes for a long time to come.
One Direction What Makes You Beautiful
A special mention to Hubber TToombs - her Hub Who the heck is Justin Bieber got me thinking about why teen girls are so swept away by idols and boy bands. Hope the hub answers her questions on why Bieber is so fascinating!
- Which Direction?: The Homoerotic Masculinities of the Modern Boy Band | Antenna
Whether you saw their performance on Saturday Night Live, heard the insanely catchy “What Makes You Beautiful” playing over a mall sound system, or jus...