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Are Boy Bands Just Good Hair?

Natalie Morin |
April 2, 2012 | 3:31 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter


Louis Tomlinson from One Direction (BrittneyATambeau/Creative Commons)
Louis Tomlinson from One Direction (BrittneyATambeau/Creative Commons)
They wear tight pants. They make you swoon. Their hair is perfectly coiffed. They want to let you know that you're the only one for them. They're boy bands, and they're back on everyone's radar--they won't be saying "bye bye bye" anytime soon.

Growing up in the nineties, my childhood music education was dominated by boy bands. The challenge? Choosing between NSYNC and Backstreet Boys.

NSYNC. Let's be real.

The bands were more or less composed of the same kind of characters: four or five 16-year-olds, one baby-faced lead singer, a brooder, and lots of tacky hats.

But for some reason, they still induce more screams and tears than a Super Bowl game.

During the course of the last year or so, a new generation of boy bands has sprung up. There's Big Time Rush, the musical/comedy-drama that turned the show's fictional boy band into a full-blown, touring group. Then, the myriad of UK boy sensations such as The Wanted and One Direction.

These teen heartthrobs are a fun source of nostalgic entertainment, but can they defend themselves as musicians? The boy band phenomenon that has overtaken a large part of the pop music scene is not menacing in any way, of course, but one does beg to ask the question: What does it take to become a musician these days? Hair gel and a set of professionally-whitened teeth?

Take "X-Factor" created British fivesome, One Direction. At the moment, their main claim to fame is their ode to shy and modest girls, entitled "What Makes You Beautiful." The music video (below) for their hit single shows them scampering on the beach, warming up by the bonfire and belting their song to a couple of brown-haired beauties. It's fun, they dress well, and they seem like a fun bunch to go on a road trip with. But the song itself? It's catchy, sure, but after seeing it performed live many times (they just sang their hit at the Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Awards in Los Angeles Saturday), their voices don't seem to hold any particular astounding qualities. 

You would think that Simon Cowell would have better judgement.

Yes, they can hold a tune and have their harmonies down pat, but their voices aren't stellar. Amazing talent, therefore, is not their main allure. People across the country and even the world mainly value their charming smiles, youthful energy, and love-filled croonings. What would a childhood be if it didn't include a poster of your favorite teen idol looking down at you from above your bed?

This renaissance of boy bands will probably not be the last, and probably won't satisfy your slowly refining taste in music, but will definitely send you mmmbop-ing your way down fantasy lane.

Reach writer Natalie Morin here. Follow Natalie on Twitter.



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