Boy band

A boy band (American English) or boyband (British English) is a style of somewhat to mostly prefabricated pop group featuring between three and six young male singer/dancers, but normally five. Often, they evolve out of church choral groups, or are put together by managers or producers who audition the groups for appearance, dancing, and singing ability. They are similar in concept to Girl groups. Though the term is mostly associated with the late 90s, antecedents exist throughout the history of pop music. The Temptations, popular in the 1960s, may be considered a boy band, while The Monkees certainly were prefabricated, and Latin boy band Menudo was founded in 1977.

Equally important to the group's commercial success is the group's image, carefully controlled by managing all aspects of the group's dress, promotional materials (which are supplied to teen magazines), and video clips, the most famous boy band manager being Lou Pearlman. Typically, each member of the group will have some distinguishing feature and be portrayed as having a particular personality stereotype, such as "the baby," "the bad boy," "the nice boy." Whilst managing the portrayal of popular musicians is as old as popular music, the particular pigeonholing of boy band members is a defining characteristic of boy and girl bands.

In most cases, their music is written, arranged, and produced by a producer who works with the band at all times and controls the group's sound - if necessary, to the point of hiring session singers to record guide vocals for each member of the group to sing individually (if the members can not harmonize together well). A typical boy band performance features elaborately choreographed dancing, with the members taking turns singing (or, sometimes, lip-syncing, though Pearlman insists none of his bands do) to pre-recorded music. More often than not, boy bands are disallowed from composing or producing their own material, unless the members lobby hard enough for creative control (e.g. The Monkees and *NSYNC).

Some critics compare boy band output to the "machine-generated" popular music found in George Orwell's novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, noting that much of their music (as well as the bands' compositions) is extremely formulaic. Other critics point to boy bands (and related musical groups) as case studies in commercialism and postmodernism, with little cultural content. Such criticisms can become extremely scathing:

After scouring the country for five boys who could belt out tunes while doing the splits, (Lou Pearlman) assembled a clean-cut collection of effeminate white and Latino-looking boys, all pink cheeks and crew cuts with peroxided tips. Just like the Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync, there's the cute blond guy, one with curly hair, the dark one with big dimples, the guy with the funny facial hair and the less cute, but really sensitive, guy.
Pearlman herded them into a tiny apartment, forcing these guys in their late teens and early 20s to share bedrooms (hey, less opportunity for illicit sexual activity -- at least with the opposite sex), and forbade them to stay out past midnight. He dressed them in coordinated red and silver "rave" outfits and spoon-fed them sugary-sweet lyrics like "Would I cross an ocean just to hold you ... Would I give up all I have to see you smile?" And then he set them loose on concert halls full of 12-year-old girls, who dutifully screamed their lungs out in a kind of mass orgasm fueled by all that scrubbed-clean testosterone. (Janelle Brown, "Sluts and Teddy Bears,", 2001).

Though some fans consider the music to be in some cases brilliant, the commercial success of specific boy bands does not tend to last long. As the fans (mostly preteen girls) of boy bands age, their musical tastes evolve and they seek something different. If success is sustained, often one or more members of the band will leave and seek a solo career (particularly if they have some songwriting ability), though few manage sustained solo success. (Exceptions: Michael Nesmith, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake, Ronan Keating.)

Famous boy bands


The television series 2ge+her created a parody boy band with five personality types.

In a week-long spoof in 1999, talk show host Conan O'Brian, complaining that he couldn't find a decent "musical guest" for his show, literally created his own boy band after randomly selecting five out-of-work actors. A series of humourous sketches ensued, culminating in a Friday performance of a song O'Brian apparently made up himself: "Baby, I Want You to Be My Baby."

The Norwegian movie Get Ready to be Boyzvoiced [2] ( is a mockumentary about the boyband Boyzvoice, their fans and management.

In South Park, Cartman formed a boy band named Fingerbang.

The 2001 film Josie and the Pussycats featured a fictional boy band named "Du Jour."

In The Simpsons, Bart is recruited to a boy band named Party Posse that is secretly a vehicle for subliminal navy recruitment messages.

On the Veggie Tales video The Ballad of Little Joe, Larry, Mr. Lunt, Jimmy, and Junior do a parody of a boy band video for the original song "Bellybutton".

The Meaty Cheesy Boys were a fictional band created during an ad campaign for Jack in the Box restaurants.


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