In Defence of Boybands

We’ve all been there; you’re at a party, the song has just finished, and you hear the familiar beat of a One Direction track begin to fade in next….Everyone groans. You roll your eyes for a moment of social inclusion, but next thing you know, you find yourself listening to that very song on your way up Forum Hill the following morning.

Musical guilty pleasures: we all have them. But why should we feel guilty in the first place? Sure, maybe ‘Best Song Ever’ isn’t truly the best song ever from a technical perspective, but if you lose your voice screaming the words at Cheesy Tuesdays, then who’s to complain?

It’s safe to say the term ‘boyband’ comes with a handful of negative connotations, branded as fake, cringy heartthrobs whose success is down to the seductive charm of wining smiles and aggressive side-parts. From Backstreet Boys to The Vamps, too many times have we been too embarrassed to post our ‘Spotify Wrapped’ for fears they’ll make an appearance, arm in arm with judgemental social implications. But what really constitutes a boyband? The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘boyband’ as ‘a pop music group made up of young men who sing and dance’ so by this definition surely, we could (quite controversially) include bands such as The Beatles or The Monkees into this bracket. At what point do male-only groups shrug off the ‘boy’ that comes in front of ‘band’ thus resulting in them being taken more seriously?

Understandably so, some are criticised because they don’t write or play their own music and exist as a sort of ‘pretty face’ on the poster that hides the true musical talent behind the scenes. Yet, boybands such as 5 Seconds of Summer have the majority of writing credits for their songs and play their own instruments, as is the case with many other boybands. Nevertheless, despite a genre shift in their more recent albums, they still can’t seem to shrug the title of ‘boyband’. Why? The inescapable image of a fandom composed of screaming girls just because they’re a group of good-looking lads. It’s almost as if every time something has a predominantly female fanbase, it’s value decreases, and as Emily Treadgold puts it: “fans have to face some internalized misogyny with that initial reaction to a pretty basic term used to describe pretty essential groups”. It all comes down to the age-old fear of liking something considered ‘girly’; as soon as that label is given, it is avoided and ridiculed. But why should girly be such an insult? Luckily, we seem to be finally moving towards an age where we’re deconstructing these ideas, so I think it’s about time we extend that to boybands.

We like them because their music is upbeat, it’s simple, and that’s comforting. Transporting us back to happier, pre-teen days hearing ‘I Want It That Way’ on the radio – this nostalgic power counts for something, right? After all, music is made to be enjoyed and life is too short to judge others for these simple pleasures.

– Nina Harris

Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube // One Direction – Best Song Ever // One Direction

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