Boy band

A boy band, written in some countries boys band or boy's band, is a type of pop group featuring several young male singers. The members are generally expected to perform as dancers as well, often executing highly choreographed sequences to their own music. Although there are no distinct traits defining a boy band, one could label a band a "boy band" for following mainstream music trends, changing their appearances to adapt to new fashion trends, having elaborate dance moves, and performing elaborate shows. They can evolve out of church choral or Gospel music groups, but are often put together by talent managers or record producers who audition the groups for appearance, dancing, rapping skills, and singing ability. Boy bands often seem to be prefabricated.

Some do not play musical instruments, and the acts are essentially vocal harmony groups (though there are some exceptions, such as groups like A1). Due to this and their general commercial orientation towards a teenybopper, teens, or preteen audience, the term has negative connotations in music journalism. Boy bands are similar in concept to girl groups.

Top selling pop music boy bands

Boy Group Sold Genre Studio Albums Members Years Active
1. Backstreet Boys 120 Million+ Pop 6 4 - 5 1993-present (15 Years)
2. New Kids on the Block 70 Million+ Pop 5 5 1984–1994, 2008-present (11 Years)
3. 'N Sync 55 Million+ Pop 3 5 1995 - 2002 (7 Years)
4. Westlife 40 Million+ Pop 6 4 - 5 1998-present (10 Years)

Top selling R&B music boy bands

Boy Group Sold Genre Studio Albums Members Years Active
1. Jackson Five 90 million+ R&B 6 4 - 5 1969 - 1990 (21 years)
2. Boyz II Men 85 million+ R&B 5 3 - 5 1990 - present (18 years)
3. New Edition 28 Million+ R&B 6 5 1983 - present (25 years)
4. OutKast 25 million+ R&B/Hip Hop 7 2 1993 - present (15 years)

Best-selling Boy band albums

Album Boy band Worldwide Sales Year Genre
Millennium Backstreet Boys 35 Million 1999 Pop
Backstreet Boys Backstreet Boys 28 Million 1997 Pop
Step by Step New Kids on the Block 19 Million 1990 Pop
Hangin' Tough New Kids on the Block 16 Million 1988 Pop
No Strings Attached 'N Sync 15 million 2000 Pop
Black & Blue Backstreet Boys 15 Million 2000 Pop
II Boyz II Men 15 million 1994 R&B
*NSYNC 'N Sync 13 Million 2001 Pop


Maurice Starr is usually credited with starting the trend, with his protégé New Kids on the Block, though the term "boy band" did not exist until later in the 1990s. Starr's idea was to take the traditional template from the R&B genre (in this case his teenage band New Edition) and apply it to a pop genre. This formula was in turn redefined by a number of European managers such as Nigel Martin-Smith and Louis Walsh, until the UK pop marketplace was saturated with the genre.

TV Producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson got four members to perform catchy pop tunes while also acting in a television series. The Monkees are often considered as the original pioneers among boy bands. Formed in 1965 the group disbanded in 1970. Although the term is mostly associated with groups from the 1990s onwards, antecedents exist throughout the history of pop music. The Temptations, popular in the 1960s, and The Bee Gees, The Jackson 5, The Osmonds, and Earth, Wind and Fire, popular in the 1970s, have also been considered a form of boy band by some. Latino boy band Menudo was founded in 1977.

One of the most successful boy band managers is Lou Pearlman, who is responsible for extremely commercially successful acts such as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. In the UK, producer Simon Cowell (noted in the U.S. for the American Idol/Pop Idol franchise) is also known for having managed boyband Westlife, which was created by Louis Walsh and promoted by a former boy band member Ronan Keating of Boyzone.

Since 2001, the dominance of traditional boy bands on pop charts began to fade to be replaced by what Gil Kaufman of MTV describes as "new boy bands" that are "more likely to resemble Good Charlotte, Hawthorne Heights, My Chemical Romance, Simple Plan or Dashboard Confessional". As of 2008, current boy bands imitate pop punk, 1960's garage rock, post punk revivalists or post hardcore/emo acts.

Current Boy Bands

Take That, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and Westlife are some examples, which are still popular among teens and adults. Boy bands are beginning to peak again in the United States after a 5 year mainstream absence, such as the new R&B/Pop influenced boy bands like Menudo, NLT, VYBE, Lexington Bridge, US5, C Note, Day26, Varsity Fanclub and B5. Boybands in Asia continue to do well in the mainstream market as popular groups such as Shinhwa, Arashi, NEWS, KAT-TUN, TVXQ, Big Bang (group), Super Junior, SS501 and Fahrenheit continue to release chart-topping material in different countries of Asia.

Music genres

Although most boy bands consist of R&B influences, other music genres, most notably power pop, country music and folk music are also represented. South 65 and Marshall Dyllon, for example, were both considered country music boy bands.

List of Boy bands

Current and Former


Boy bands tend to be heavily criticized by some in the musical press for appealing to young pubescent girls and for emphasizing marketing and packaging over quality of music. Such views are reflected in the humorous definition in the Chambers Dictionary: "a pop group, targeting mainly the teenage market, composed of young males chosen because they look good and can dance and sometimes even sing."

In the 1990s, boy bands such as the Backstreet Boys and Lyte Funky Ones sometimes found the term "boy band" offensive and insisted on being called a "male vocal group".

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' composition) 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 *NSYNC, 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.

Pop culture influence

Due to their pre-fab nature, boy bands are not only a frequent target of criticism, but also a frequent source of parody in popular culture, ranging from the television series 2ge+her (which created a parody boy band with five personality types) to a week-long spoof in 1999, wherein talk show host Conan O'Brien, inspired by Making the Band, created his own boy band called Dudez-A-Plenti, after randomly selecting five singers, narrowed down from the population of the entire world. A series of sketches culminated in a performance of a song O'Brien apparently made up himself: "Baby, I Wish You Were My Baby".

Further examples of boy band parodies in pop culture include:

Success in the genre

Though some fans are wildly supportive of the music, the commercial success of specific boy bands does not tend to last long. As the fans (mostly teen girls) age and musical tastes evolve, they tend to outgrow such groups' appeal. 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), often with some success, for instance: Michael Nesmith, Jordan Knight, Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake, Jesse McCartney, Ronan Keating, Brian McFadden, and Ricky Martin.


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