The Second Coming: Boy Bands in the Recent Music Era
By: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)
“Back in the day” even though those days weren’t so long ago, I remember all the girls when I was in middle school and high school talking about N’Sync (pictured left), as well as the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and O-Town. For those who were asleep in the late 90’s and early years of the new millennium, these groups are what is called “boy bands.” When I say every girl was talking about them, I really don’t mean that, but when so many people in so many classes were talking about them, it almost seems like every girl was. The reason these names may sound distant and unknown is because these groups don’t have the same clout they use to. N’Sync broke up and Justin Timberlake decided to do his own thing. Many laughed and thought he was crazy but he made it happen. The Backstreet Boys did tour last year alongside New Kids on the Block (another “boy band”) but “boys” could hardly describe who they are now.
Which brings me to my issue. Why are they called “boy bands”? They don’t play instruments so they are hardly a band. All they did was look pretty and do choreographed routines (not that there is anything wrong with that, just merely not really “band-ish”). And to add to the confusion of “boy bands,” one must question groups like All-4-One and Boyz II Men. Some call them boy bands, some don’t. I personally do not. Why? What distinguishes the boys from the men? What they sing about. When you compare All-4-One and Boyz II Men to the other boy bands previously mentioned, they are singing about way different stuff. Definitely not what “boys” should be singing about.
Today, there are quite a few more groups out now that has made others and myself question if boy bands are making a comeback. Today, girls, apparently (I have not seen this but I have heard it on various radio stations), are going crazy for groups like One Direction (commonly referred to as 1D), The Wanted, and Big Time Rush. Like N’Snyc and Backstreet Boys, these groups don’t play instruments. And though I am hardly older than they are, I am pretty sure they are very much influenced by the boy bands when they (and me) were young. The only difference is, like Boyz II Men, I go for the more mature things in life, while they are still lyrically cheesy and…boy’ish – hence being boy bands.
There is another group that is popular by the name of Hot Chelle Rae. They are not included in my definition of “boy bands” because, unlike everyone else I’ve mentioned, they play instruments. That doesn’t make them men, or non-boys, but by the vernacular of what boy bands are and have been for the last two decades, the implication is usually non-instrument playing groups. That is also why Hanson and the Jonas Brothers have also avoided being labeled as boy bands.
What needs to happen is a new label to re-write what N’Sync and One Direction fall under. What we know as boy bands should be boy groups, and the term “boy bands” should be reserved for Hot Chelle Rae and the Jonas Brothers who are true to both the word “boys” and the word “band”.
I have no issues with the music all these groups make. I would sell out and do boy’ish music like Justin Bieber if it meant me making money. They can do whatever they want to bring in the bacon – whether they like it or not. My issue is in the use of the phrase “boy band.”
And yes, it is safe to say that currently 2011-2012 (and maybe more later, time will tell) is the second coming of boy bands in the recent era of music (part of me does not what to use the word “modern.” That just seems wrong since what makes this music any more modern than music 30-50 years ago and longer). The era of boy bands returning is so strong that there are even speculations/talks of 98 Degrees reuniting to tour. Yeah, boy bands are back…