Now more backstreet men

It’s actually more than Backstreet men, at present, but on Sunday, October 9, the Backstreet Boys will play at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam. They’re still the most successful boy band ever when it comes to album sales – and their Amsterdam concert sold out again.

The rough dance numbers, slippery ballads, jigs, and intense beards are all premeditated and not very original – but it seems to work. It’s hard to overstate their popularity in the late ’90s, golden age of bands: Brian (now 47), Kevin (now 51), Nick (now 42), Howie (now 49) and AJ (now 49) have sold more than 130 million. album. Now 44) for an army of loyal admirers.

The Backstreet Boys weren’t the first boy band, and they won’t be the last. Small orchestras did not arise spontaneously but were formed by others or conceived from outside. They sing and dance, have armies of fervent fans and usually don’t hit the age of 10, just to get around their midlife crisis (see also: Take That, Westlife, and Boyzone) for a tour and sometimes an album. And they are children. What’s the secret to these groups that still sell big yards?

It started with the first wave of boy bands in the 1960s, with The Monkees, The Jackson 5 and – in response to the Jacksons – The Osmonds. The last two were American family groups of siblings who, by taking out older relatives, sought commercial success. The Monkees, also American, were formed in 1966 around a television series, as the commercial counterpart to the then-popular Beatles (an organically formed band that played their own music and was therefore not a boy band).

She exploded in the ’90s with New Kids On The Block, *NSYNC, Boyzone, Take That, East 17, Westlife, and Those Backstreet Boys. But then the stream also dried up a little.

They call it in the industry Fabricated, fake and low

Simon Driessen Researcher and specialist in fan culture and bands

“After that golden era, you still had one direction in the dozens, but it was about the only boy band that was that popular at that time,” says Simon Driessen, a researcher at Erasmus University in Rotterdam who specializes in fan culture and bands. “After that time, musical culture seemed to revert to more independent, authentic music.”

Well, it’s often hard to find originality in bands. “No, spontaneous bass sessions or drum solos aren’t part of it,” says Driessen, laughing. “It’s particularly accessible music that gets stuck in your head and starts singing without you even noticing. They call it in the industry Fabricated, fake and lowAnd yes, it might be a bit fake. But this is the approach, it is commercial and attractive to large groups, so that it is also played on the radio and parents want to buy it for their children. This is the strength of a boy squad.”


So he’s a bit docile, despite the masculinity of all these guys together – after all, the audience is mostly young and innocent. “Yes, and a boy group depends on this audience. They should be at the top of the charts and that is why you need to buy fans for their music and broadcast.” Or parents of fans, their target audience was teenagers. “I don’t think the Backstreet Boys sold many adult T-shirts in the 90s. By the way, teens these days might be less dependent on their parents, if they had their own phone with Spotify.”

It is no coincidence that teenagers are especially in love with this music: they listened and searched for the best formula. In the ’90s, everything in terms of sound came from the smooth r&b/hip-hop nook of American group Boyz II Men (no boy band: organic ingredient, proprietary material), says Driessen.

This is where New Kids On The Block drew their inspiration, and through them that sound returned to the Backstreet Boys – before sending them to a European producer to better tap the European market. What’s left is the harmony vocals, dance beats, and plenty of ballads, all in a mix of R&B, soul, and pop.

“It’s a carefree and happy sound, that’s probably the secret of the boy bands. The directors and production companies saw: This is successful, this generates income, so they can re-perform their group again in all these great Americans shopping centers. Don’t forget one of the boy band’s most important tricks: There’s always someone in the band, Driessen adds. “It’s made up of different genres that appeal to different audience groups. Something for everyone.”

And this audience remains largely the same. The fans since then are much older now, they have more finances and the teams themselves are a little less. Driessen: „Boybands don’t usually have much of their glory days left. And the fans didn’t give up on them, look, this show in the Ziggo Dome is completely sold out and these are the same people as it was back then. They may not have had the chance to see them in the past, and some of them now go a lot: they go on a trip to London or Berlin to see them there too. It’s kind of nostalgic.”

The future of boy bands? Driessen sees him as a South Korean. “BTS, for example, is very similar in structure to the formula of American boy bands from the ’90s. A group of boys under the director’s strict discipline, although we don’t understand all the words, is cheerful and carefree.”

The psychological aspect is new. When a band member left a band in the ’90s, it was up to the tabloid press to guess what was going on. “Now they are only telling on their own channels like Instagram or Tiktok that they are stopping because the pressure from the media and the spotlight is too high. This fits more with today’s generation.”

Then we didn’t even talk about girl groups, which, with the exception of Britain’s Little Mix, the first girl group after the Spice Girls to make the Top 5 of Billboard’s charts once again, seem to have disappeared a bit. “This formula is still very popular in South Korea,” says Driessen. “Look at Blackpink, for example, the group that is now doing very well in the United States.”

Black Pink, a group of four women dancing, rap and vocals founded in 2016, has since made songs with Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa and Selena Gomez, to speed this crossover. “I wouldn’t be surprised if something like this inspires British and American bands to bring that back as well. But it’s now essentially a K-pop phenomenon.”


Jackson 5

Photo Redferns

The Jackson 5 was invented by Father Joe Jackson. In 1967, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael recorded their first single, Big Boy, which was sung by nine-year-old Michael. After “We don’t have to be over 21 (to fall in love),” Motown saw something in the boys. The Jackson 5 became the first boy band where one member’s solo career overshadowed the rest, a recipe we see often. The group struggled for a while without Michael, but great successes did not follow.

2013 – Now


The best-selling group at the moment is boy band BTS, a South Korean semi-finalist, put together in 2013 by K-pop Factory Big Hit Entertainment and made big on international streaming services and Tiktok around 2017. The success of the seven boys is due to the combination of Of real talent and charisma, a fan base very dedicated to spreading the gospel (as aggressive as the Russian botnet), and very clever marketing. Currently, they are the only band that has been allowed to speak at a United Nations meeting and have been guests at the White House.



British band One Direction is easily the biggest boy band of the third wave – and perhaps the only one. We write about it regularly on Norwegian Refugee Council, with titles such as: “Teenage Girls Run Across Town Glimpses From One Direction”; And at the end, “Cry, girls: One direction breaks.”

One Direction was born out of the talent show X-Factor. They all participated individually, and didn’t care, until the show put them together so they could participate again as a group. By the way, they did not care, they took seventh place. But producer Simon Cowell saw enough and signed it for his own brand.

There they released four successful albums which made numerous world tours. Fan hysteria has reached a level not seen for a long time. Zayn Malik left the group in 2015, and soon after, the group discontinued.

The most successful solo artist of the group is undoubtedly Harry Styles, who released one of the most successful pop albums of the year.

1984-1994, 2008 to date

New children in the building

New Kids on the Block were one of the first groups to be called a real boy band, and they formed the blueprint for later groups. The group was created in 1984 by Maurice Starr. He found five boys ready from Boston. white kids, but the basis of their music was R&B, hip-hop, and break-dance and because Starr had mainly connections on radio stations playing black music, it was marketed specifically to black audiences – too The The New York Times It was dubbed “black pop” in 1990. Then it caught on with a multi-colored crowd.

Their self-titled debut flopped. successor Hangin’ tough It was about to end up like this until a Florida radio station played “Please Don’t Go Girl.” became a hit. The kids quickly grew into a playground event (with Jennifer Lopez in the chorus) and then you can’t buy a lunch box, quilt, or eyeglass frame without the NKOTB logo.

Their album “Mature” failed in 1994 face the music And shortly thereafter, the entire band collapsed. They reunited in 2008 and have toured together ever since.

1990-1996, 2005-present

Take this

Also in Great Britain, New Kids on the Block was an important example of how boys can make money by singing. Take that was the British answer. Director Nigel Martin Smith first found Gary Barlow, who wrote his own music at an early age. The rest of the group was found in Manchester after the auditions, and Howard Donald at the age of 22 was the oldest. They first appeared on TV in 1990 as Take That. with their album Everything changes They penetrated into Europe and Asia. With their 1995 album no body else Especially the single “Back For Good” they hacked all over the place. In the same year, Robbie Williams left the band, because the rest no longer liked to drink it. In April 1996, they presented what appeared to be their last show (in Amsterdam, of course) and the worldwide teenage girls market collapsed.

In 2006, the inevitable comeback followed, and in 2010 Robbie Williams also made a comeback – although he stepped down again in 2014. Jason Orange also left the group, but the other three still perform.

Pictures Getty Images

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