warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Put Your Hands Together For The Return Of The Boy Bands

Berkeley Cavignac |
March 25, 2012 | 11:11 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

One Direction performs on "Today" show (NBC)
One Direction performs on "Today" show (NBC)
Haters gonna hate, but don't consider me one when it comes to the return of the boy band. Like it or not, they are once again relevant!

Every Monday night, I find myself on the iTunes store homepage checking out all the latest music releases. On one of these nights, I came across a cute picture of five boys laughing under the words "One Direction." Out of curiosity and a big sucker for pop music, I decided to give the minute-and-a-half snippet of their first single a listen... they had me at "you don't know you're beautiful."

After some quick research, I learned that the One Direction boys were formed as a band under Simon Cowell on the UK's "The X Factor" in 2010. They had been eliminated as individual contestants, but fortunately for them, Cowell saw an opportunity to capitalize on a comeback of the N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees days as he mentored his five contenders, ultimately landing them in the finale of the show (they ended up coming in third). But the loss proved to be in their favor: Cowell promised he would sign them to his label, Syco, a division of Sony Records.

Since then, One Direction has become the first UK group in history to go straight to number one on the U.S. charts with their debut album "Up All Night." As if that weren't enough of a British invasion for you, The Wanted, another five-man boy band (excuse the ironic wording), has been following closely behind One Direction, sweeping teenage girls in America off their feet with their spot in the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100. Even the American boy band sensation, Big Time Rush, is drawing inspiration from the UK by performing Beatles songs in their Nickelodeon gig "Big Time Movie."

As I look on iTunes right now, The Wanted's "Glad You Came" and One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful" occupy the fourth and fifth spots on the Top Ten Singles chart. They must be doing something right, and here's what I think it is.

Both groups are quickly changing the stereotypical definition of the boy band. Unlike squeaky-clean phenomena the Jonas Brothers or Honor Society, One Direction and The Wanted are sexier, racier, and most importantly, rawer. They don't have choreographed dance moves. They don't wear purity rings. They don't follow the wholesome formula. They have actual talent. (And their accents don't hurt, either.) Ultimately, these boys are real; they are not manufactured robots managed by their parents.

This new crop of somewhat bad boys have social media to thank for their speedy successes in the United States. Through Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, One Direction and The Wanted solidified strong fan bases almost immediately, months before even setting foot on American soil.

These dedicated fans may be hazardous to your health. Reports indicate that fans have been pushed, shoved, scratched, and bruised as they camp for hours and days on end to catch a glimpse of the boys of their dreams. (Look at the crowd below at One Direction's recent "Today" show performance) Not since The Beatles has this kind of mania ensued! (One Direction's UK tour sold out in 12 minutes.)

With One Direction, The Wanted, and Big Time Rush releasing music all at the same time, a friendly battle to the top has ensued. "It's giving us that little competition that makes us want to go further and excel further than we are right now," says Carlos Pena Jr. of Big Time Rush. One Direction opened for BTR in the beginning of the year, and are now headlining their own North American tour (take a wild guess what I'll be doing on June 16th!). 

No matter how long these new-era boy bands dominate the charts, there is no denying that they are headed in One Direction: to the top.

Reach Staff Reporter Berkeley Cavignac here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.