“Ew, you like K-pop boys?” said my date with a scoff. We were discussing music tastes and interests. He liked Juice WRLD and the Weeknd, and I stated that I enjoyed K-pop, specifically ATEEZ and Stray Kids. It was clear that this date would go nowhere, but my love for my boy bands was staying strong.
Boy bands have always been underappreciated and oversimplified by the mainstream media. They are simply pretty faces with mediocre voices, handpicked by media executives to bring in revenue to the elites. That might have been true twenty or thirty years ago, but the fundamentals of boy bands have changed significantly since the rise of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.
The most popular boy band in America right now is arguably Why Don’t We. The five-piece was created
in 2016, and they have since released a number of fun singles and been on multiple tours across the country. Their recent single “Fallin (Adrenaline)” hit number 37 on the Billboard Hot 100, and they have seen a rise in listening over the past year. Through social media, Why Don’t We have not only increased their popularity (with “Fallin’’ gaining traction on TikTok), but they have also shown their fans their creative process and daily lives. Fans are able to see band member Jack Avery raise his one-year-old daughter, Lavender, and see youngest band member Zach Herron attend his senior prom. This new age of boy bands humanizes these young men, while letting them showcase their creative side.
This fan interaction is not inherently new, as the age of social media began in the early 2010s, around the time that One Direction entered the scene. Even after their disbandment in 2016, all five members of the group continue to thrive. One member of the group, Harry Styles, has become an icon in the LGBTQ+ community. Styles’ androgynous style and gender-neutral love songs led to his popularity among both straight and queer women. Styles was even featured on the cover of Vogue, wearing a soft blue dress with his brown curls beautifully styled to expose his forehead. Harry Styles is not just an attractive boy bander; he is a beautiful artist defying gender norms for all the world to see.
On the other side of the world, Korean pop and Korean boy groups have taken the world by storm. BTS have become the biggest boy band in the world, selling out multiple tours in the United States and Europe. They have also reached number one on the Billboard charts and have received Billboard Music Awards. Despite their successes and achievements, many have boiled their success down to their physical appearance. While they are all extremely beautiful young men, this discredits them from all of their hard work. All seven of BTS’ members have song-writing credits and work incredibly hard to learn the rigorous dances that accompany each of their songs.
While boy bands are still going strong in the music industry, they are still being oversimplified and under-appreciated. Give their music a chance; you might just enjoy it.