The Boy Band Phenomenon

The Boy Band Phenomenon

By: Jenna Piotrowicz

March 22nd, 2023

This article is part of our Fall 2022 magazine. Click here to read the full edition.

American Boy Bands such as NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys used to rule the charts with their hit singles such as “Bye Bye Bye” and “I Want it That Way.”

Fans would happily buy every album and as much merchandise as possible and plaster their rooms with posters of the boy band members. Websites were even created for fans to come together and talk about their beloved boy bands. 

But in the past decade, American boy bands have seemed to fade away.

Many of the most popular boy bands recently have been from other countries. One Direction, a U.K based group, and 5 Seconds of Summer, an Australian group, were just a few whose influence broke through worldwide, many of their hits breaking the charts in the U.S. 

Not to mention the KPop industry, which has and continues to bring the country billions in revenue each year. 

However, in January of 2016, One Direction, one of the best-selling boy bands of all time, broke up. Many refer to this as the “death” of the boy band as a term itself since very few groups have defined themselves under that category since. Since One Direction’s hiatus, a boy band of that level has not been accepted by both the music industry and fans. 

So, where did all the boy bands go? 

Some believe that social media and popular YouTubers of all genres have taken the place of boy bands. By having access to more influencers without any added costs, many found their niche in a Youtuber that they would be unable to find in a boy band. 

Thus, the stakes are much higher now for boy bands to gain such a large following since there are likely other influencers or bands out there doing the same thing, that’s usually better and more aligned with someone’s specific taste. 

Since such a large amount of music is based on viral social media trends on TikTok, a social media presence is key to becoming a known band or artist. And with millions on these apps, that is easier said than done. Bands nowadays have to fight for attention with relatability and must become a group in tune with popular culture. 

In previous decades, many of these bands relied on the radio for their songs to stream and reach audiences. But now, radio plays are much less prominent than digital music apps such as Spotify or Apple Music, so users are less likely to hear a song on the radio to “discover” a band they like. With millions of songs at users’ fingertips, bands are only drowned out by millions of other artists. 

Another losing aspect of the radio industry is that it is highly dominated by mainstream pop music. With access to so many other genres online, those who prefer other music will only take the time to listen to the radio ifit is a specific genre station.

Some producers in the industry blame the lack of bands for being due to the rise of solo artist success. On the technical side, it is much easier to produce work from a solo artist instead of gathering a boy band together to make decisions, not to mention the money factor. Many producers would rather spend their time investing in a solo artist, a price that is much cheaper than a band. 

However, perhaps society is just witnessing the lull of a cycle, which is still turning in loss from One Direction’s permanent hiatus. The popularity of boy bands may return as the trend cycle reruns its course . So it may be that sometime soon, the next boy band will be here before anyone knows it, with crazed fans ready to follow them.  

Jenna Piotrowicz is a senior majoring in professional and public writing, aspiring to be a writer or editor in her future. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, TV shows and working on her own screenplays, hoping to create the next big feature film.