music // boybands

15 Mar 2012

Something has happened to me lately and, it must be admitted, is not that surprising. I have once again become susceptible to the phenomenon known as "the boyband".

It all started when I was about 9 or 10 when a long haired band of brothers from Tulsa, Oklahoma ripped up the airwaves with a song called "Mmmbop". I'm sure you know to whom I'm referring to. Yes. Hanson. From there it was a small step to enjoying the sweet harmonies of the Backstreet Boys and an even smaller step to liking Five, Nsync, Boyzone and Blue. Not to mention the brief sonic relationships with A1, Ultra, Westlife and an assortment of other boybands (they a
ll seem to come from the UK...).

While I readily admit to still being a fan of BSB (they were the best - pshaw to NKOTB!) I definitely grew out of boybands. I went through my alternative music stage and stopped listening to commercial radio and was often found saying "what do you mean you haven't heard of Unsigned Local Indie Band before? Come on, surely you know Semi Alternative Trendy Band?" I was a bit of a music snob when I was 18 but oh how the mighty have fallen. Or maybe I only ever pretended to be a music snob because as soon as Gaga and Katy Perry appeared I was all over it.

I wasn't fussed with the Jonas Brothers but understood the appeal (see: Obsession with Hanson), but then came the rise of the Beliebers. I remember being at my friend's house watching Ellen and squealing with laughter over a tiny brunette kid with a bowl cut. That kid's song was played on repeat by my younger sister to the point where I once yelled at her to "turn that stupid Baby song off!" Months later that same song was covered on Glee (because, yes, of course I like Glee) and I downloaded the Glee cover... and then the Justin Bieber album... and then it just snowballed. I even saw his movie. The kid is freaking talented. Did you know he's wicked on the drums?

So finally, over the last couple of weeks I've had a rather unhealthy looking playlist on my iPod. I say unhealthy, but it's only unhealthy if you're into "cool" music. As evidenced by this very blog post - I don't. Also, have a look at my birthday playlist. Mind you, everyone who came to my party loved every second of it!

Anyway, I digress again. The main point of this post is to address the sudden onslaught of love caused by One Direction. Someone at work played What Makes Your Beautiful months ago with the preface that it was ridiculously catchy and it is. I just didn't get hooked then. I was at my friends' house and one of their songs came on and I rubbished it with a derisive snort. Craig informed me that it was a great pop album and "very early Backstreet Boys". He must have said the magic words because I downloaded it... and now I'm ridiculously (sadly) hooked!

A few months ago I would have been "Harry Styles who?" and now I can tell you he's the Nick Carter of 1D - a flirt, totally cheeky, but seemingly sensitive, and when he was 17 (which was really only a few months ago) he dated a tv presenter 15 years older than him - which is well outside the cougar rule. (Half your age plus seven for those who want to know.)

They started causing Bieber-like hyperventilating while they were still on X Factor in 2010 and now they've pretty much taken over the world. See: selling out eight O2 arena shows in London for next year in 20 minutes and selling out their first Australian tour in under 10 minutes. It's hysteria of amazing proportions. I'm actually going to try and hunt down some scientific articles on fangirls and Beatlemania because I just don't get it. Sure, they sing and they're cute and all, but what have they done to warrant girls screaming in their faces and declaring marriage proposals? I love the Beatles. I've been to Liverpool. I don't even get Beatlemania. [Jess, if you're reading and you know where I can find some research, let me know!]

But everytime I hear What Makes You Beautiful (see below) I do want to be 12 and bouncing around on the beach with some cute boys. Not that I really talked to boys when I was 12, although I think I did have a crush on one. He had curly hair. It set a trend for the rest of my crushes (uh oh, Harry Styles has great curly hair). Every time I hear Gotta Be You, I feel like I need to be strolling in the woods wearing a large scarf and every time I hear One Thing... well... I just flipping love it, it's so catchy! And if the French interview at the end doesn't endear 1D to you... nothing will.

I blame you Craig for uttering my boyband kryptonite and comparing 1D with BSB. Now look where I am. Hopelessly addicted to this one album full of amazingly catchy songs by Swedish songwriters and five cute English lads with a darn good stylist. Those Swedes and Simon Cowell know what they're doing.

[EDIT] And if you got all the way down to here, I just discovered a great blog post about confessions of a fangirl. I think anyone who used to love a musician/actor/famous person will get it.


  1. I don't think there'll be any research on the more recent bouts of fangirling obsession with boy bands or male musicians or anything like that. It's not really of great enough consequence to warrant scientific research, because even if we did understand all the complex cues and motivations and effects that culminate in obsessive fangirling - so what? It doesn't help us improve people's health or solve a societal problem or anything. There's not really an outcome for research into such a specific and ultimately harmless phenomenon, unless some PR firm wants to fund it so they can figure out how to increase music sales or something (in which case they'd fund it privately and keep the results private since they wouldn't want other companies capitalising on their findings).

    You can't access the majority of published research findings without being affiliated with an entity such as a university that can afford the millions of dollars it costs for the subscriptions (stupid situation, I know, since research funded by tax-payer dollars shouldn't require expensive subscriptions imposed by private companies to access) so I had a quick look through some databases for you. I had no idea what search terms to use, so I gave everything a go ("boy bands", "adolescent + hysteria", "girls + enthusiasm", etc etc) but nothing came up that was relevant. I did find a couple of papers from the sixties about Beatlemania that I'll send you, but the issue with those is that they are from the 60s, so obviously the perspective is a bit limited. There's a lot of social factors we can identify retrospectively, looking back at the 60s, that might have contributed to Beatlemania that maybe weren't apparent at the time. So I guess the sexual revolution played a role, women's control of their sexuality due to the advent of the pill - various things like that that could have created the right conditions for more intense admiration of the Beatles than would have otherwise been possible, and maybe its explosiveness was due to the fact that, only years earlier, female sexuality was so much more repressed.

    I don't think any boy band obsessiveness these days reaches quite the same pitch as Beatlemania, since there seem to be fewer instances of fainting and pants-wetting. :\ But you know what it's like to really really love a band and its music and get caught up in it all - it's just that if you were a teenager again, with poorer impulse control due to reasonably mature sub-cortical regions that drive impulsivity but with a comparatively less developed prefrontal cortex to act as an overriding mechanism to control the impulses, and you put a whole bunch of such teenagers together so that they're mutually reinforcing and encouraging each other, and you expand that to the huge crowds you see at concerts or signings or whatever, which can result in mob behaviour that the individual person would never consider themselves likely of committing but they get carried away in the mob due to temporary diminishing of their individuality which means they don't feel like they'll be responsible for the consequences of whatever they do, like screaming out marriage proposals, and it escalates as the fans try to out-do each other in their declarations of love and loyalty - I think you've got a sufficient number of factors to explain the "madness".

    But yeah, I'll try to get hold of the Beatlemania papers and send them your way. They seem to think that it's not any sort of genuine hysteria (i.e. it's not a maladaptive mental condition) but rather just the culmination of a bunch of social factors and attitudes. Don't know how all the pants-wetting fits into that, though. Will have to look up what the physiological mechanisms of a loss of bladder control are. :P

  2. So I really need access to Simon Cowell's market research. I love consumer research - it's so interesting.

    The mob mentality is probably right and reminds me of something I read in a book about networks. There was a laughter epidemic in the US in the 60s or 70s and it was all about it spreading really fast because of the "mob".

    Pants wetting? Oh dear... I've seen plenty of girls fainting and being escorted away by ambulances but not pants wetting!

    Yeah, if you can send them that would be great!

  3. I have nothing intelligent to say except BACKSTREET BOYS ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN 5IVE and also ONE DIRECTION ARE COOOOOOOL. That is all. PS hello Helena! Hope you have been well in London town :)


  4. hahaha I had a concentrated love for 5ive back in the day though! But BSB will be the number one boyband - always! I'm listening to them right now actually... Boybands getting me through work at the moment.

    PS Hello too! Hope all's well in Brisbane.

  5. Ah, unfortunately one of the Beatlemania papers is actually about trying to analyse whether there's anything about the style of the Beatles' music itself that could particularly captivate people, and the other Beatlemania paper is in a journal that doesn't have papers that old online. I think my uni has a paper subscription though, so the older issues like the one containing this article will be bound into books and should be somewhere in the library system. I'll have a look into that.

    Speaking of boy bands (kind of), have you seen the hilarious musical-like videos that that bizarre Invisible Children group did prior to Kony 2012? I thought this one was a joke! I honestly thought it was a parody but it's not!

    (First video on the page.)

    Seriously, WTF is going on there?

  6. Thanks Jess! Don't worry too much about it though. I just thought if a quick search would bring up some entries I'd love to read them.

    I'll have to have a look at that video tonight!

  7. Oh god, those Invisible Children guys are going downhill FAST. From deleting embarrassing motivational videos from YouTube to:

    Also I think my comment on your blog entry about Wordpress vs Blogger got consigned to spam for being too long. :(

  8. OMG! Have you seen the #stopbony hash tag on Twitter? It's a bit sad how this whole thing has almost become a joke.

  9. I feel like it was always a joke - delusional, unbalanced evangelical Christians making things that look like music videos and cult recruitment films using two-thirds of the money that was donated to them, rather than using it to actually do anything constructive like help Ugandans in a way that didn't involve siding with a group that was also responsible for atrocities and child militia. I mean, that music video was hilarious - when people start criticising you and asking you incisive questions about your motivations, your response is to DANCE? Way to create a diversion so you don't actually have to address people's concerns...

    Also does Blogger have a setting where comments get deleted if they contain a certain number of links? The comment I left on your Blogger vs Wordpress post had 2 links in it, and you might have settings that filter out anything with too many links. My Wordpress software holds comments for moderation if they have 5+ links in them, so that sort of thing might explain why my comment on your post disappeared.


fourzerofive All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger