How have we gone from The Beatles to BTS?

I’m sure at one point in your adolescence you had that one boy band you were obsessed with, especially if you’re a female. I recently watched the documentary Eight Days a Week, about The Beatles, and in most of the performance clips, teenage girls’ or “Beatlemaniacs” screams were louder than the music, I got to thinking about my generation and the chokehold bands like One Direction had on us, so why do teenage girls go so nuts over boy bands?

There’s actually a pretty simple answer; because it’s what boy bands are designed to do, yet it hasn’t always been like this. Contrary to popular belief, The Beatles were not the first boy band to exist, the earliest example of a boy band were barbershop quartets, in the early 20th century.

In the fifties, Doo-Wop became popular and paved the way for R&B, heavily influencing modern day music. For the remainder of the century, boy bands progressed from disco to alternative rock and pop, perhaps the most notable era for boy bands were the nineties, groups in this time tended to provoke extreme reactions from their female fans, to name a few: Take That, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and since, the definition of a boy band has hugely shifted. 

It’s no secret that boy bands tend to be young and attractive, each member has their own unrealistic persona that’s projected onto their easily-influenced audience, each of these personas represent the different ideal male partners for young girls. Speaking from experience, I was a pretty hardcore Directioner, at school me and my friends allocated ourselves to each of the boys, I was a Harry girl, and to this day, I still adore Harry Styles. Interestingly, several psychologists have said that these life-long obsessions we have with boy bands are longings for our childhood and upon learning this, I’ve had a bit of an existential crisis surrounding Mr Styles – Do I really like him and his music or was my 12-year-old self just conditioned to do so?

I was listening to ‘Rock Me’ by One Direction which I now know is about Liam Payne losing his virginity, at quite a young age, which is pretty messed up on both my part and for these types of boy bands too. Fifty years ago, The Beatles also produced extreme reactions from their fans but their music is like none other, it’s spanned across several generations, but boy bands from this century don’t seem to have that same artistry, it seems far more mechanical nowadays.

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Sienna Norris

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May 2022
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