Where have all the boybands gone?



A collage of photos representing a few of the bands referred to in this article.

Confession: I was once an avid and dedicated fan of the boyband One Direction. Braver confession: “was once” may be a white lie. 

Although I don’t listen to the famed group’s music as often, the nostalgia, joy, and energy that their songs are laced with will forever force me to consider myself a fan of theirs—a fate I’m not upset about. The thing that does upset me, however, is while talking to the next generation, I’m beginning to realize that they really don’t have a boyband to obsess over. 

This has brought me to a question: where have all the boybands gone?

The concept of a true “boyband” began as early as the 60s with the sensational Jackson 5 and The Beatles. Of course, there were earlier all-male groups, but these two specifically set the tone of a pop-focused sound and an emphasis on aesthetics. The other aspect of these boybands that set such a precedent was the connection with fans, all in all, paving the way for decades of boybands to come. 

This has brought me to a question: where have all the boybands gone?

They made way for such hits as Boyz II Men, The Osmonds, and New Kids on the Block. It seemed with each new boyband that rose up, fan engagement sky-rocketed to new heights. The world was seeing fans behave in ways they never had before, both an exciting and intriguing future, but also, an intense one. 

The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC arguably began a new era of boybands in the late 90s and early 2000s. These pop sensations broke records and soared across countries with their music; The Backstreet Boys alone sold over one hundred million albums in their time, and both bands went on countless tours. 

The buzz that surrounded them was universal, and as mentioned before, fans were crazy for the members of these boybands. The rise of the internet and social media also did crazy things for the engagement of fans. Not only could people appreciate these bands individually, but they could also now share their love with others all over the internet—a crazy concept. 

This idea of social media interaction brings me back to the band that started it all for me: One Direction. One Direction was created in the prime of rising social media platforms, and exploring their history as a band shows this. The reactions they received from fans were truly unprecedented; the members of One Direction were surrounded by constant chaos, speculation, and attention. 

The band members eventually split up, referring to it as a “hiatus,” but they have yet to return. This break wasn’t inherently caused by the chaos of fan behavior, however, the boys have been very open about the experience of being under such a microscope while being in the band, and even after. 

Since this hiatus, and the exposure of the crazy treatment that boyband members receive, it seems that no new boybands have really come to fruition—at least not at the same degree or style as past boybands. This fact quite frankly makes me sad, but I realize it means we’ve just moved past this time in music’s history. I acknowledge that all eras have to end, but I never thought this one would.