Why boy bands — and girl bands — will haunt us forever and ever

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Why is there an endless supply of cheesy all-boy bands?

The thing is, there always has been, and always will be. Because they are meeting a market demand for a demographic that will never, ever go away: tweenagers. Specifically, tweenage girls.

Smart music moguls know this. They also are smart enough to realize that a bunch of 16 to 20-something boys are far, far more likely to hang around playing Call of Duty for 12 hours a day instead of sweating out dance moves while planning possible world tours.

They also know that a group of good-looking singers, male or female, is inherently more attractive than a single singer. There’s science to this. There’s also the fact that a solo artist means betting against them going to rehab, firing you as their manager, deciding to become a punk rock singer or otherwise turning into the Justin Bieber monster of today and losing all his fans.

But if you’ve got choreographers, songwriters and PR people on staff, then hey, you’ve got a machine, a license to print money, and all you need are some good-looking kids with some talent. And it’s actually not smart to bet everything on what you think is your most talented quartet of boys, because tastes in music are fickle for grownups, much less tweenage girls. If you’ve got a factory capable of cranking out boy bands, the best thing to do is keep on cranking them out, because soon enough, the boys will (a) get too old for your demographic or (b) your best singer will go solo and (c) the band will die.

We saw this with the ’90s with bands. But it’s just as true today. One Direction is a reality-show band put together by Simon Cowell’s machine.

And to be honest, girl bands are the same thing, aimed at the same demographic. Think it’s tweenage boys going to Spice Girl concerts or all these Japanese girl bands? Nope. It’s tweenage girls.

This makes perfect sense. Fans of action movies will show up at the megaplex and buy $9 popcorn whether the hero shooting zombies is a muscled tough guy or a hot-but-tough girl. Genre, not gender, determines audience.

When you get older, and hit college, you start to develop taste and would rather die than get caught listening to a NKOTB song. Instead of becoming popular by following the tweenage herd, you seek popularity by being a hipster who only listens to indie bands nobody’s heard of, bands you adore and then abandon at the first sign of success. THIS IS THE LAW.

So though I enjoy making fun of boy bands (and girl bands) as much as anyone, you have to admire how producers create and package these machines. It takes a village to raise a boy band, and to count all the profits before they implode. But by then, you’re on the next one.

3 thoughts on “Why boy bands — and girl bands — will haunt us forever and ever

  1. Furthermore, you get to unearth your own developing personality through your band member preferences.

    You like Ginger Spice? You must be so wild and unpredictable!

    Your favourite NKOTB member is Joey? You’re super sensitive and need a guy who will totally get that!


  2. Not my favourite genre of music, I prefer my boy or Girl bands with actual instruments and an ability to write their own material ie The Bangles. But, and this is a big but, I’m open to liking whatever I like, and the odd girl or boy band will put out a great song every now and then.


  3. It’s funny because it’s true. Having said that, however, I still derive a lot of pleasure from those now-defunct ’90s boy bands (and the Spice Girls). Some of it’s nostalgia…Okay, it’s pretty much all nostalgia. I used to hate the Spice Girls, and now I can’t help smiling when they come on.

    Especially when they come on in my husband’s car on one of his CD’s. 😀


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