How are boy bands formed?

Teen band phenomenon of the 90s

Teen idols have been around since the beginning of rock and pop history. Elvis PRESLEY is commonly held responsible for bringing sex appeal into pop music. With his legendary swing of his hips, the King not only got the female fan base going in the mid-fifties. In the sixties it was the BEATLES and the ROLLING STONES that freaked out teenagers in a row. Hardly any group after them was able to arouse such mass hysteria. In the 1970s, the BAY CITY ROLLERS managed to win favor with teenagers, but their success was short-lived. In the eighties, the NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK was responsible for the teenage hysteria. Boy groups have been booming since the early 1990s. Today every record company sends several of them into the race and everyone is enthusiastically raved about and cashed in.

Most boy groups arise in the marketing departments of the record companies. Musical training and talent are a minor matter, appearance is what matters. This is what Robbie Williams, singer of the disbanded boy group TAKE THAT, said: "The music wasn't interested. What counted was the charismatic packaging." Critics sometimes refer to boy band stars as sun-tanned models with a microphone, hardly distinguishable from outsiders. And they are not that far from the truth. Boy groups are invented on the drawing board. First and foremost, you should bring a dazzling appearance and a little flair for singing and dancing. Most of the time, only the lead singer of the group has some vocal potential. The rest of the boys do the choir singing. Thanks to the sophisticated sound technology, there is not much you can do wrong. Real instrumentalists are more of a marginal figure among boy groups. The rest is done, i.e. the music, the choreography of the stage shows and of course the outfit. The management even defines the roles. So in most groups there is a funny, always joking, a rather soft, calm boy, a dreamy, extra beautiful boy to languish, and occasionally also one with a rebellious daredevil. Seen up close, however, the members of boy groups look quite earthly.
The home of the most successful boy groups is Orlando / Florida. There, Johnny Wright and Louis Pearlman designed the NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK and their successors, the BACKSTREET BOYS and 'N' SYNC.
The repertoire of the boy groups is well-crafted, easily catchy pop music with a good shot of dance floor. Her ballads are about unfulfilled, lost or eternal love and friendship, common material to inspire every adolescent teenager to empathize. Cover versions of earlier successful titles are also not uncommon in the repertoire. The dance steps specially rehearsed for each song - harmonious simultaneous movements of the boys - are reminiscent of aerobics courses and are at the same time suitable for demonstrating the currently popular fashion trends. During the entire stage show, the boys exude their always happy charisma. A canon of fixed rules of conduct is also very important. The boy band star has to be single or at least make it credible to the outside world. He must be dressed in the correct fashion, casual but not sloppy. Long hair or beards are taboo, as are alcohol and drugs. The motto is always smart and friendly. The guys from TAKE THAT were even contracted to be a monk. Robbie Williams reportedly kicked out of the band for violating this maxim. But not only the stars, but also the mostly female fans have to follow fixed rules when attending a concert. For example, only unworn underwear may be thrown on stage and the plush teddy may not exceed a certain size. The degenerate enthusiasm of the mostly female fans can eventually become a security problem.
With boy groups, the music industry has once again succeeded in making success predictable. The Scottish teen band BAY CITY ROLLERS delighted the mostly female teenagers in Europe during the 1970s. The quintet was the first band to be referred to as the Teeniebopper Band. Leslie Richard McKeown (born November 12, 1955), Derek Longmuir (born March 19, 1957), Alan Longmuir (born June 20, 1951), Eric Faulkner (October 21, 1955) and Stuart "Woody" Wood (born February 25, 1957 ) all come from Edinburgh and some of them already knew each other from school. After initial failures with the titles "Keep On Dancing" and "Remember", which only came under the top 10, they landed their first number one hit in England in 1975 with "Bye Bye Baby". The following year they even made it to the top of the US charts with "Saturday Night". The press celebrated her as the new Beatles, her outfit - flood trousers with plaid lapels and Scottish scarves - was imitated by many fans. Unfortunately, the boys didn't stay true to their chart success. "You Made Me Belive In Magic" was the last BCR single to hit the UK charts (number 34). The album "It's A Game" came in at number 16 on the album charts. With changing line-ups under the name ROLLERS as well as a change of record company one tried to build on the earlier successes. While the members of the BAY CITY ROLLERS still mastered the common instruments and played their music themselves on guitar, bass, drums, etc., this is increasingly the case in the following years. The boy band star is first and foremost a handsome singer and dancer. It all started with NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK (NKOTB). Joe McIntyre (born December 31, 1972), Donny Wahlberg (born August 17, 1969), Danny Wood (born May 14, 1969), Jordan Knight (born May 17, 1970) and Jon Knight (born November 29, 1968) all from Boston. Maurice Starr was the founder and producer of the group. Starr already started the black teen band NEW EDITION and wanted to repeat the success with white kids in 1984 for the white teenage market. Donny's younger brother Mark Wahlberg left the group after a short time and was later able to achieve success as MARKY MARK. The guys signed a record deal with CBS. In 1986 they recorded the first album "New Kids On The Block" (1987), but the hit "Be My Girl" did not make it into the Top 100. The desired chart success then delivered the second album "Hangin 'Tough" ( 1988) "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)" became NKOTB's first number 1 single in 1989. The third album finally brought the big breakthrough. "Step By Step" (1990) went triple platinum for more than three million copies sold in the US and made it to number 1 on the album charts. In 1991 NEW KIDS were at the forefront of the highest paid entertainers in the US, ahead of MADONNA and Michael JACKSON. In 1992, negative headlines caused a brief uproar. The NKOTB had to respond to allegations made by their former musical director, Greg McPherson. He chatted from the sewing box: the singing of the NEW KIDS was not real, but played back. The following lawsuit, however, worked out in favor of the kids and only increased their popularity. In just six years, the NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK grossed more than 860 million US dollars. About half of that through merchandising alone, the market share of which grew in the course of the boy group hysteria. The flood of photo calendars, postcards, bed linen, cuddly pillows, portrait mugs, badges, pins, baseball caps, etc. is almost impossible to cope with. Just a look at the print media on the subject of boygroups makes you dizzy (see literature below). The phenomenon must finally pay off, because after a few years it is usually over with the boy.
Since TAKE THAT at the latest, the music industry has recognized that enthusiastic teenagers (mostly 10 to 16 year old girls) are a big market. Consumption behavior can be controlled in a targeted manner and thus converted into cash. When TAKE THAT broke up in 1996 due to internal quarrels, a world collapsed for millions of girls. The Berlin Senate even set up a helpline for desperate fans. Adolescent psychologist Dietmar Becker thinks this is absolutely correct. "For many teenagers, the end of their favorite band is the first conscious experience of grief and loss. Teachers and parents should definitely take these feelings seriously."
At the same time, the international race for teenage favor and teenage pocket money continues. The most successful examples of this genre come from the boy band workshop Orlando in the US state of Florida. At the top are the BACKSTREET BOYS, who are traded as the successor to TAKE THAT in the pop scene. And the success of the shooting stars is enormous. Alexander James "A.J." McLean (born January 9, 1978 in West Palm Beach / Florida), Howie Dwayne "Howie D." Dorough (born August 22, 1973) and Nicholas Gene "Nick" Carter (born January 28, 1980) performed as an a-capella trio in Orlando / Florida in the early 1990s, without any musical support. There the talent scout Johnny Wright became aware of them. Kevin Scott "Kev" Richardson (born October 3rd, 1972) and his cousin Brian Thomas "B-Rock" Littrell (born March 20th, 1975) completed the quintet. Ex-NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK manager Wright helped the BACKSTREET BOYS to get a record deal. They had their first hit in the States with the single "We've Got It Goin 'On". The debut album is simply called "Backstreet Boys" and earned them a triple platinum award with 5.5 million albums sold worldwide (1.6 million of them in Germany). For the German release of their second CD "Backstreet's Back" on August 11, 1997, many record stores and department stores opened their doors at 7 am. Incidentally, the department store group "Karstadt" for the first time in its history. Awarded gold ("Anywhere For You") and platinum ("Quit Playing Games"), the BACKSTREET BOYS went on a tour of Germany on August 22, 1997.
Meanwhile in Orlando the next boy band has already been sent to the start. Johnny Wright built 'N' SYNC within 2 months as the successor to the BACKSTREET BOYS. The record label's pre-campaign was so gigantic that the guys were stars before their first single was even released. When "I Want You Back" hit stores, 250,000 items were sold in 10 weeks. 'N' SYNC consists of Lance "LansteN" Bass (born 4.5.1979 in Laurel / Mississippi), ChriS Kirkpatrick (born 12.10.1972 in Clarion / Pennsylvania), JoeY Fatone (born 28.1.1977 in Brooklyn), JustiN Timberlake (born January 31, 1981 in Memphis / Tennessee) and Joshua Scott "JC" Chasez (born August 8, 1976 in Washington DC). The highlighted letters result in the band name, which means something like "to be in sync". For their tour in autumn 1997, the management came up with something very special. The admission tickets are not made of printed paper, but are available as shape CDs. "The tickets are a world first, with which the fans have a memory of the concert and a collector's item at the same time," said Frank Starke from the Munich record company BMG Ariola.
But people don't sleep in Europe either. The boy groups are booming. A Dutch-British project is CAUGHT IN THE ACT (CITA). Benjamin Boyce (born August 23, 1971 in London) comes from a family of musicians. Eloy de Jong (born March 13, 1973 in The Hague) trained Latin American dances for years and became Dutch youth champion at the age of 17. Bastiaan Ragas (born June 30, 1972 in Lisse) played guitar and keyboards in various school bands and at 17 went on a world tour as a singer with the American music group UP WITH PEOPLE for a year. Lee Baxter (born July 16, 1972 in Liverpool) first completed a bank apprenticeship before he moved to London at the age of 18 and attended the famous 'Guilford School of Acting'. He met Benjamin in the London art scene. The two decided to found CAUGHT IN THE ACT together with Eloy and Lee in 1992. The quartet achieved their breakthrough with their guest role in the RTL daily soap "Gute Zeiten, Schlechter Zeiten": their song "Love Is Everywhere" was an instant hit.
The BOYZONE group comes from Ireland. Stephen Gately (born March 17, 1976), Michael Graham (born August 15, 1972), Shane Lynch (born July 3, 1976), Keith Duffy (born October 1, 1974) and Ronan Keating (born March 3, 1977) conquered 1995 hit the charts with "Love Me For A Reason", a cover version of the 70s teen band THE OSMONDS. The five Dubliners' recipe for success are ballads, love songs and cover versions such as "More Than A Woman", "Daydream Believer" and the Cat Stevens track "Father And Son". Her current track "Picture Of You" can be heard in the soundtrack for "Mr. Bean".
WORLDS APART is a successful British boy band. Patric Marcus, Dan Bowyer, Schelim Hannan, Aaron Paul and Steve Hart were selected from 10,000 candidates for a successor for TAKE THAT by manager Gary Wilson and Arista impresario Simon Cowell in 1992. This created a multicultural group. Since it was founded in 1993, however, the quintet has already shrunk to a quartet. Marcus was replaced by Cal Cooper, Bowyer left in 1994, Paul found a successor in Nathan Moore. The debut album is called "Together" (1994) and contains the hit "Could It Be I'm Falling In Love". The song "Together Baby" from the album "Everybody" (1996) runs as the credits song of the ARD series "Gegen den Wind" (November 1996), in which the group also had a guest appearance. At the end of September 1997 the new album "Don't Change" comes out with the cover version of the Beatles song "She loves you / She loves you". Shortly before the release, the record company EMI announced that Schelim Hannan had left the band and that a solo project would be coming up in the foreseeable future. For the European tour, which should start in December, WORLDS APART recorded songs in the respective national language. They sing in English, French, German, Italian and Polish and for the Indians even in Hindi. In this way the group proves its multicultural claim.
Australia's contribution to the boy band hysteria is called HUMAN NATURE. The four pretty. Boys from Sydney were just out and about in Germany with polished choreography and the hit "Tellin 'Everybody": as the opening act for Michael JACKSON on his HIStory Part II tour.
While generations grew up with Beatles and Stones and the music of these and other bands is still heard, TAKE THAT and Co. are more reminiscent of fast food: well-produced but short-lived mass-produced goods. The fact that their success is not limited to female teenagers, but can be found in fans of all ages, is proven by the rapidly increasing sales figures for TV family shows such as "Wetten dass ..."? But the teen stars also secure their popularity in front of a wider audience with charitable Mamut events. For World Children's Day on September 21, 1997, a 2.50 by 2.50 meter large paper handkerchief from the Zewa Softis company, on which all the boy band stars have immortalized themselves with autographs, will be auctioned. The proceeds will go to the organization "Hand In Hand For Children".Also initiated by the BACKSTREET BOYS and 'N'SYNC in favor of this cancer aid organization was a base ketball game for teenagers in Berlin at the beginning of September, the live transmission of which caused the AOL network to collapse.
In the age of digital (re) producibility, music comes primarily from the computer, the stars on stage seem to be mere decorations, bait for teenagers' dreams. Music styles such as heavy metal, hip hop, rap or others tend to be marginalized in terms of sales in the hotly contested international music market. Design seems to be everything that teaches you after a look at the various TV channels with the well-trained model bodies, the smart honest men and women who rule the market. Trends are replacing each other at an ever faster pace and behind today's hip boy band, the next one is being made fit for the market. Even the very young consumers are targeted by the music industry: Aaron Carter, the nine-year-old brother of BACKSTEET BOY Nick Carter has already released his first single. She has already entered the German top ten. Maybe concerts with screaming 5-9 year old fans aren't that far off.



"Rollin '" (1974), Bell Records
"Once Upon A Star" (1975), Bell Records
"Wouldn't You Like It" (1975), Arista
"Dedication" (1976), Arista
"It's A Game" (1977), Arista
"Greatest Hits" (1977), Arista
"Strangers in the Wind" (1978), Arista


"Elevator" (1979), Arista
"Voxx" (1980), Arista
"Ricochet" (1981), Epic

BestOf / Hitlist:
"Keep On Dancing" (1971)
"Remember Sha-La-La" (1974)
"Shang-A-Lang" (1974)
"Bye bye Baby" (1975)
"Love Me Like I Love You" (1976)
"I Only Wanna Be With You" (1976)
"I't's A Game" (1977)

"Live On The Radio" (1979)
"Ricochet" (1981)



"New Kids On The Block" (1987), CBS
"Hangin 'Tough" (1988), CBS
"Step By Step" (1990), CBS
"No More Games / The Remix Album" (1990), CBS
"Merry Merry Christmas" (1991), CBS
"H.I.T.S." (1991) Columbia
"Face The Music" (1994), Columbia

Best Of / Hitlist:
"Please Don't Go Girl" (1988)
"You Got It (The Right Stuff)" (1988)
"I'll Be loving you (Forever)" (1989)
"Hangin Tough" (1989)
"Cover girl" (1989)
"This one's for the children" (1990)
"Step by step" (1990)
"Tonight" (1990)
"Let's try it again" (1990)
"If you go away" (1991)



"Backstreet Boys" (1996), Jive
"Backstreet's Back" (1997), Jive

Best Of / Hitlist:
"We've Got It Goin On" (1996)
"I'll Never Break Your Heart" (1996)
"Get Down (You're The One For Me)" (1996)
"Quit Playin 'Games (With My Heart)" (1996)
"Anywhere For You" (1996)
"Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" (1997)

Backstreet Boys. 5 boys conquer Europe, Heyne, 1996
Baumann, Susanne: Backstreet Boys - The Shooting Stars from the USA, Econ, 1997
Baumann, Susanne: Backstreet Boys on top - The dream boys' success story continues ..., Econ, 1997
Beckmann, Lena: My heart beats for the Backstreet Boys, Econ, 1996
Braak, Heike van: Backstreet Boys - FanBook, Falken, 1997
Conradi, Linda: Quiz Book Backstreet Boys, Bassermann, 1997
Gellert, Pauline: Backstreet Boys - The success story of the fantastic boys band, Bertelsmann, 1997
Gellert, Pauline: Backstreet Boys, Goldmann 1996
Keller, Maxi: Backstreet Boys - My Spring with Nick, Bastei Lübbe, 1997
Kieffer, Rosi; Kieffer, Reni: The Great Backstreet Boys Fanbook, Heel, 1997
McGibbon, Rob: Backstreet Boys - Official Biography, from d. Engl. V. Winter, Kerstin, vgs, 1997
Oswald, Oliver: Backstreet Boys - Quit Playing Games with my heart. The Insider Biography, S&L MedienContor, 1996



"'N Sync" (1997), Ariola

BestOf / Hitlist:
"I want you back" (1997)
"Here we go" (1997)
"Tearing up my heart" (1997)

Jackson, Annabell: Everything 'N SYNC. The portrait of the new shooting stars, S&L MedienContor, 1997


"Caught In The Act Of Love" (1995), Zys
"Vibe" (1997), Zyx

BestOf / Hitlist:
"Let this love begin" (1995)
"My arms keep missing you" (1995)
"Love is everywhere" (1995)
"Don't walk away" (1996)
"Babe" (1997)
"Do it for love" (1997)

Kieffer, Rosi; Kieffer, Reni: The large CITA fan book, Heel, 1997


"Said And Done" (1995), Polydor
"A Different Beat" (1996), Polydor

BestOf / Hitlist ::
"Father and Son" (1995)
"Love me for a reason" (1995)
"Coming home now" (1995)
"Isn't it a wonder" (1996)

Baumann, Susanne: Boyzone, Econ, 1997
Braak, Heike van: Boyzone Fan Book, Falken, 1997
Jackson, Joe: Boyzone - Our Story. How it all started, from d. Engl. V. Winter, Kerstin, vgs, 1997
Kieffer, Rosi; Kieffer, Reni: Boyzone - It's only words ..., Heel, 1997
McGibbon, Robin: Boyzone, Goldmann, 1996
Rowley, Eddie: Boyzone. Personally! The official biography, from d. Engl. V. Winter, Kerstin, vgs, 1997


"Together" (1994), Arista
"Everybody" (1996), Power Brothers
"Don't Change" (1997), Power Brothers

BestOf / Hitlist:
"Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" (1994)
"Everlasting love" (1994)
"Could it be I'm falling in love" (1994)
"Baby come back" (1996)
"Worlds Apart" (1996)
"Everybody" (1996)
"Je te donne" (1996)
"She loves you" (1997)

Edenhofer, Julia: Worlds Apart. Rocking this Groove together. Four boys from England conquer Europe, Heyne, 1996
Orton, Patricia: Worlds Apart. The Official Fan Book, Econ, 1997

General literature:
Kessler, Dietrich: Boygroups, KDM Dietrich Kessler Musikvlg, 1997

(Pia Ambrosch)