What is a boy band? The definition is very loosely defined as a group made up of young male singers, usually teenagers, who typically don’t play instruments and rely solely on their vocal talents. This assumption probably relies on the fact that the earliest boy bands took the form of a cappella barbershop quartets. Slowly groups like the Monkees and the Beach Boys began to play their own music.
Technically, even the Beatles were a boy band. So why aren’t modern bands taken seriously? Why are they often considered an idiotic musical medium? A prime example is 5 Seconds of Summer’s 2014 Billboard Music Awards performance. I’ve never seen grown men tweeting death threats to teenage boys based solely on a single wardrobe choice – a Misfits shirt. It’s almost as if the band was ostracized for fitting into a different genre.
It’s actually very easy to figure out why these groups aren’t taken seriously. It’s almost entirely rooted in their fan base. Sexism in the music industry doesn’t just cover artists; it extends to teenage girls as well. One Direction has won 122 awards out of the 166 they’ve been nominated for — but because they specifically cater to young women, these achievements are ignored.
What kind of message does that send to girls? Boy bands are extremely popular because they’re accepting. I’ve never been to a boy band concert where (usually male) fans cornerand interrogate me to make sure I’m a “real” fan. In the metal or punk scenes, I constantly have to affirm that I’m knowledgeable about the bands that are playing. It makes it incredibly difficult to discover new music that I’m passionate about.
Maybe One Direction or the Vamps are safer for new music fans. Maybe it’s just nice to hear music that’s specifically created for your own indulgence. Maybe it’s just too catchy to ignore. I, for one, would love to continue to support young women’s interest in music, especially if that interest blossoms into musical projects of their own. Or, as Harry Styles put it, “Let’s have another toast to the girl almighty.”