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We are in a Boy Band Recession

Why Society (and the economy) needs Boy Bands

By: Hailey Salamanca, Arianna Morales


It’s time we face the facts: we are in need of a boy band. 

In the ‘60s, we had the rise of The Beatles. The ‘80s and ‘90s were alive with acts like New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC capturing the hearts of fans everywhere. This continued into the 2000s and early 2010s, with bands such as Jonas Brothers, One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.


These boy bands impacted not just culture, but also the economy, with these bands grossing billions of dollars combined. But since then, the boy band phenomenon has fallen short. Groups like PrettyMuch, Why Don’t We and In Real Life don’t have the same effect on teen girls as their predecessors did.


While the West has prioritized individual pop stars over groups, we are seeing the rise of groups in the global landscape. K-pop has gained international popularity over the last few years. Both boy and girl groups, most notably BTS and BLACKPINK, have become the new fascination for music lovers to obsess over. But as their members focus on their solo careers, it leaves an empty void in the hearts of young tweens. 


Cultural shifts and changes in societal norms are other reasons why boy bands in the West have been overshadowed. Within K-pop, there have been a variety of trends generated and unique creative direction, such as many boy groups are challenging the American ideas of masculinity.


With an innovative genre that has garnered worldwide attention, Korea has recognized how influential K-pop is as an export and continues to capitalize on it by pushing out new groups annually. There are shows dedicated to groups created from over 100 participants, promoting the K-pop fandom expansion. 


While Korea has taken music down an evolving path, the idea of boy bands has always challenged the traditional music space. The boys in these groups were not always expected to play instruments, they were expected to dance, sing emotional lyrics and become heartthrobs. A safe space was created where boundaries surrounding sexuality and masculinity were pushed. The safe space for these artists was then extended to the fans. 


While there is still a potential for the boy band revival, we have yet to see one in the charts that reflects the authentic, nostalgic experience. We want to push the boundaries again and camp outside for shows, daydream fanatically of our favorite members and spend copious amounts of money in hopes of making eye contact from the nosebleeds.

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