A very specific kind of five-man vocal group. Typically, you're in a Boy Band if you began recording while still in your teens; if you and your bandmates are all extremely pretty; if few, if any of you, play instruments; if your boss is a large and often intimidating man; if you can't get any respect from the Serious Music Critics; if you have a hard time crossing over to an adult audience; and especially if the girls can't get enough of you. Can generate a Periphery Hatedom when a boy band is popular enough, to the point that all straight males over the age of 14 will automaitcally hate their guts.
You definitely were in a Boy Band if, years and years after the fact, your fandom looks back on your early albums as an embarrassing phase, Guilty Pleasure, So Bad It's Good, or (if it's old enough) Camp.
Some of the tropes and musical stylings typical to Boy Bands started with The Beatles, The Monkees, The Jackson Five, and several other groups of the era. Technically they could be considered Boy Bands as well, but when most people hear "Boy Band" they tend to think of the late-80's - late-90's bands listed below. The term is generally reserved for groups which are assembled by a record company or other entity, whereas most bands form organically (although there are exceptions, in both directions).
Most Boy Bands follow a particular Five-Man Band archetype, established by New Edition and New Kids on the Block, that differs from the traditional one used on this wiki. Whether or not they can actually sing matters little—that's what Auto-Tune is for. It is as follows:
- The Heartthrob / Sweet One: The unofficial Face of the Band, and the one who was put there to draw the Squee of millions of adoring teenage girls (at least, the most Squee). Most likely a former model. Is most likely to appear shirtless on the posters and in photo shoots. He is also the one most likely to have a successful solo career once the group disbands. If the band gets a movie, count on him to be the protagonist.
- The Bad Boy / Rebel: The one with a rougher edge to him. He's the one wearing the black shirt and jeans or leather jacket in those videos where they're not all wearing matching clothes. If he's really edgy, he may also have a tattoo. Put in to cater to those girls who want bad boys.
- The Cute One: A second heartthrob. Less sexually threatening than the Sweet One, and often meant as a foil to the Bad Boy.
- The Older Brother: A cool, reassuring figure that the girls can relate to.
- The Shy One: Nerdier than the rest of the band. He's cast because Nerds Are Sexy. May come off as wondering what the hell he's doing in the band in the first place.
In the examples below, you'll notice few black R&B groups are included such as Jodeci and Blackstreet, despite having similar appeal. This is because they generally don't fit the mold of a boy band: they're more likely to form among themselves, less likely to follow the Five Man Band archetype as explained above, and are more likely to have rougher edges (Parental Advisory stickers are not unheard of), making them slightly more appealing to males.
Although they are not very famous outside Asia, Japan has been creating boy bands since The Seventies. The most notable boy band factory is Johnny's Jimusho, which currently manages about fifteen boy bands. Today Johnny's bands dominate the charts, with SMAP and Arashi topping pretty much constantly. Dramas that famous boyband members star in pretty much always do well, and you will see members of popular boybands on TV variety shows quite a lot. The boyband machine is so well-oiled in Japan that many of the tropes applied in the West don't function - boybands have large adult followings (usually middle-aged women) and men seem to be able to handle it, if not love it - you WILL sing A-RA-SHI many times in karaoke in mixed company, just because everybody knows it.
Lately, Korea has been getting on the action too with bands like DBSK, 2PM, SHINee, B2ST, U-KISS, Super Junior, etc. The K-pop method usually consists of groups with a larger number of members than western equivalents and then subdividing them in smaller subgroups/"units" for expanded appeal and easier promotional efforts. Also, while borrowing the above archetypes for the members, K-pop bands tend to divide the members for position:
- The Face of the Band: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The most publicited member of the group, whenever for his actual habilities, his looks, or his popularity with fans. Usually overlaps with any of the positions below. Tends to be assigned the Hearthrob archetype. Some groups avoid having one appointed to keep an image of cohersive equality or grupal friendship.
- The Leader: Exactly What It Says on the Tin, the one who leads the group, heads the interviews, talks on stage, herds the rest of the members, and serves as an intermediary between the group and the agency. Usually the member that was a trainee the longest. If he isn't the actual Face of the Band, he'll act as such on offstage matters. Generally acting under the Older Brother or the Sunbae archetypes.
- The Center: A less set position, he's the member on whom the current promotion is based on (if said position isn't an alternate name for being Face of the Band). Usually the lead vocalist or the most rounded-up member, tends to be the one who gets the most lines in songs.
- The Visual: The official Mr. Fanservice of the band, the most attractve member under Korean beauty standards. Not necesarily the Face of the Band, albeit it sometimes overlap.
- The Main/Lead/Sub Vocalist/Dancer/Rapper: The Main specialist is always the best one of the group on said specialty, whenever rapping, singing or dancing. The Lead is usually the second best at it, and tends to be put in the front lines. The Sub specialist is intended to be better at it than the non-specialist members, but still not as good as the Main or the Lead.
- The Maknae: the youngest member of the group, on top of any other position he may already have. Usually directed to be the cutest and more childish member, but subversions do exist.
Boy bands are a major source of Real Person Fic (a subgenre called bandslash), where you basically have one of two types: Female OC woos band member, or the band members woo each other. In Japan the majority of RPF Doujinshi are bandslash.
- The Monkees: The Ur Example. Better than they had to be, but still the result of a calculated marketing effort aimed squarely at Beatles fans' younger siblings. They do get credit for rebelling against their puppetmasters and achieving a degree of creative autonomy typically not seen in the boy bands of today.
- New Edition: Remembered mostly nowadays for being Bobby Brown's old band, but they established the typical R&B-lite musical style used by boy bands ever since. They were all teenagers, all cute and wholesome (despite being from gritty Roxbury, MA), and had the all-important Large Intimidating Boss.
- Menudo: Best known nowadays to non-Latin people as "Ricky Martin's Old Band" (it was much more popular in Latin America). Notable because they combined this with a rotating cast; when you turned sixteen, grew facial hair, or underwent a voice change, you were fired. It has two incarnations under that name, one that ran from 1977 to 1997, and a second one that ran between 2007 and 2009. Because of management and rights troubles, a set of band members created a new group under the name of MDO in 1997, which lasted until 2008.
- New Kids on the Block.
- Hikaru Genji was the biggest boyband managed by Johnny's from the mid-eighties to mid-nineties, and still have a bit of a retro fandom inside Japan.
- Take That: Not the trope, but Robbie Williams' old band.
- East 17 were marketed as "The Rolling Stones to Take That's The Beatles", with a tougher sound influenced by hip-hop. However, they were outlasted by Take That and are best known today for their biggest hit (and first ballad) "Stay Another Day".
- Boyz II Men: Took NKOTB's place in the early-to-mid 90's, but had a more traditional R&B sound. Directly influenced many of the bands listed below.
- Color Me Badd: Similar to the aforementioned Take That/East 17 example, this group was more or less the "edgier" alternative to Boyz II Men. While they were less successful, they performed a similar-sounding New Jack Swing stlye and incorporating some rapped interludes.
- The Backstreet Boys: Notable for being the first of the 90's Boy Bands to throw off previously mentioned large, intimidating boss.
- *N SYNC: Stood in the shadow of Backstreet Boys during the former's height of popularity, although they had one #1 Billboard single with "It's Gonna Be Me". Ironically, Justin Timberlake's solo career has been more popular and critically loved than anything BSB or *N SYNC ever did.
- Boyzone: Irish boy band who took over from Take That after their split and were hugely successful in the UK. Stephen Gately of the group was the first member of a really successful boy band to come out as gay.
- Westlife: Irish group founded by the same manager as Boyzone, Louis Walsh. Also co-managed by Simon Cowell. Took over from Boyzone as top UK boy band as they started to decline. Credited by non-fans with helping to end the 1990s UK boy band boom by being so sentimental and lacking in musical or lyrical edge or sexuality that they seemed to be designed more for the over-sixty demographic than the under-sixteen.
- 5ive: Another late 90s boy band, but British.
- 98 Degrees: Notable for having four members rather than the more typical five, for being Nick Lachey's old band, and for being discovered by their label instead of assembled by it. They originally had a pure R&B sound before Executive Meddling repurposed them as a boy band.
- SMAP is the Japanese boyband that pretty much owns Japan. There was a time when Kimura Takuya, the lead singer, was said to be wanted by every woman in Japan. Just don't call them over the hill now.
- Blue: early 2000s British boy band with stronger than usual R&B influences and a multi-racial line-up. Particularly notorious for member Lee Ryan's initial reaction to a journalist when asked about 9/11 ("Who gives a fuck about New York when elephants are being killed?").
- Rascal Flatts began as, essentially, a Country Music boy band.
- McFly (named after the character from Back to The Future), an early 2000 band, fitted the mold. They were considered a "sister"-group to the band Busted that, while a boy band, only had three members (one member was the older brother, the shy one and the cute one combined).
- LFO - A Power Trio, though they weren't even half as popular as 98 Degrees. However, they did get the all-important Joey McIntyre Elder Boy Band Statesman Seal of Approval; he had them as openers for some of his solo shows. (LFO supposedly stands for "Lyte Funky Ones".)
- BBMak was a British Power Trio that broke a few of the Boy Band rules: Besides the aforementioned three members every single one was a classically trained musician, none of them danced, and besides playing all of their own music (and writing a good deal themselves) they often incorporated unlikely instruments such as Bagpipes, Recorders/Tin Whistles and even a Hurdy Gurdy.
- O-Town might be seen as the beginning of the end of the U.S. Boy Band craze. While they did have a few hit songs to their name, they were put together on the reality show Making The Band, which shined a light on all the criticism of Boy Bands, especially the cry of being "generic." It was hard to argue that they were formulaic since you literally saw the group being put together by a group of record executives.
- Dong Bang Shin Ki is a Korean boyband that was vastly popular in Asia. They're especially popular in Japan, and have recorded four albums in Japanese. They even did one of the openings for One Piece! They split up over money and contract issues, though three of the members that split off from their parent company are still going strong.
- The World Apart [dead link].
- The 3 T (Michael Jackson's nephews)
- Arashi is what Johhny's Entertainment came up with when they realized SMAP would one day grow old, and are generally positioned at number 2 on the charts after SMAP. They are everywhere in Japan and cannot be avoided.
- The Jonas Brothers: Notable for possibly having had about a half dozen TV shows (most of those reality shows, and only one Disney Channel actual scripted show). Notable also for making the fans of the above-listed Boy Bands feel very old. (Name a Jonas Brother. We'll wait.)
- Leave it to The Onion to take this one on.
- While it's pretty clear why some people would classify them as a boy band, they don't really fit the above criteria considering they are brothers (not formed by a label) and play several instruments, plus they are more like a boy-band-ish version of a typical pop-rock band anyway. They went on hiatus in 2013 to pursue individual interests and reunited in 2019.
- Celtic Thunder is essentially Public Television's answer to the Boy Band — too bad they're about a decade too late. Basically, they took five incredibly attractive Irish guys who could sing and range in age from about 15 to 40 in order to attract as many women as possible. Though not as well-known or well-merchandised as some of the examples above, they have a big international following.
- Rockapella was a college a capella group that was signed on to a PBS game show in order to cash in on the popularity of boys bands. The show was called Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?.
- Big Time Rush: Known as a current-day version of the Monkees and Sony Music and Nickelodeon's answer to the Jonas Brothers (and later, to Allstar Weekend).
- SHINee is a Korean band that debuted in 2008, sliding into the R&B/pop genre. They've started something of a fashion trend with their style of tight pants, boots, and colourful jackets.
- Super Junior, from Korea, is known for having a grand total of fifteen members (it depends on whether you ask the purists, those who are willing to accept the Chinese sub-members, or if you count the inactive members). Since debuting in 2005, they have broken records and pioneered a unit system for K-pop groups, in which members of the band were put together in smaller sub-groups catering to different fanbases.
- Mindless Behavior is a boy band. Fairly different from most on the list, in that they are all black, sing Rhythm and blues / Hip Hop, and there's only 4 of them. They started out opening for acts like Janet Jackson before releasing "Mrs. Right" in 2011.
- One Direction, the main sensation during the first half of The New Tens. Yet another boy band to come out of England, they were 5 separate boys auditioning for The X Factor until Simon Cowell put them together in a band. Though they finished third, they got a very successful album that, when it debuted in the States, went straight to #1 and massive amounts of fangirls on both sides of The Pond. Currently on hiatus.
- British group The Wanted have been around for the few years; after initial success in their native UK, they're starting to enjoy Stateside success as well, thanks in part to them being managed by Scooter Braun.
- JLS, from England; like One Direction, they rose to popularity after their season of The X Factor. Much like 98 Degrees, though, they formed independently and initially auditioned for X Factor together.
- BTS, the current (as of early 2020s) international sensation from Korea. Debuted in 2013, this septet slowly gained fame thorough steady online presence, until exploding in popularity around 2015. While basically assembled by their company, the group members actually have a very unusual high input on their own work due to having been originally created as a rap group. They are the ones who dethroned Justin Bieber as Top Social Artist in the Billboard Awards in 2016 and had hogged that prize since as of 2019. The current holders of making the fans of the above bands feel really old.
Boy Band Parodies
- Amongst their mockery of pop culture in the late 90's and early 2000's, Jack In The Box had a fake boy band called "The Meaty Cheesy Boys" sing the praises of their Ultimate Cheeseburger. If you're curious (and goodness knows, why wouldn't you be), you can find the OFFICIAL SITE!!! here.
Anime and Manga
- Ciel Phantomhive in the Black Butler manga assembles from the Cast Full of Pretty Boys his own manufactured boyband Funtom 5 to play in his Funtom Company's new Funtom Music Hall. The band members are made to adapt various artificial personality quirks except for Cheslock who was deemed to be already weird enough.
- The Josie and The Pussycats movie featured a boy band called Dujour. To make fun of the effeminate nature of many boy bands, their hit single was called "Backdoor Lover". When they find out that their record label is putting Subliminal Advertising into their music, their manager (who isn't a big burly dude, but is instead an evil Alan Cumming) tries to have them killed by causing their plane to crash. They survive, having managed to safely land the plane on their own... only to find that they had landed in the parking lot of an arena hosting a Metallica concert.
- Sons of Provo, which takes the Boy Band idea (using just three, instead) and mixes it with the most humorously ironic thing possible: the Latter-Day Saint lifestyle. "Evercleen", as they called themselves, managed to lampoon several things in both worlds. Well worth seeing, if only for the strange fascination of the idea of an LDS "boy band"—or any other religious-pop act.
- In Turning Red there is the multiracial boy band 4*Town, whom the protagonist and all her friends are hardcore fans of. While in universe they are played more straight than most examples here, the band itself is a mashup of boyband concepts from the 2000s, up to including a Korean member in representation of the Second Wave K-pop bands.
- MTV's Made for TV Movie 2ge+her was an Affectionate Parody of Boy Bands and their formation. It even spawned several TRL-popular singles. A TV series based on the movie soon followed, as well as other singles. Sadly, it was quickly canceled after the death of one of the core members, which caused many a Funny Aneurysm Moment as his disease was written into the story -- as a gag.
- David Letterman had a parody of boy bands on with the fictitious act Fresh Step.
- Conan O'Brien also had a fake parody band, Dudez-A-Plenti.
- The Middleman has an episode in which a boy band turns out to consist of aliens trying to get back to their home galaxy. The Middleman has apparently read this page, because he identifies all of them by role.
- Kamen Rider Den-O created one out of the series People in Rubber Suits to sing the Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune. No, seriously.
- Mitch Benn's Boy Band song: Twenty minutes have gone by/since I met these other guys/and we've already had a hit/and you're listening to it/and I'm sure you think it sh-/ould be number one already
- The crew of The Chaser's War on Everything dressed up as a parody of boy band and did a live song. The song started out normally with dancing and
singinglipsyncing at a nice and steady pace. Then the music skips on a few words and starts to rewind and start over, then proceeding to speed up and slow down randomly. Forcing the "boy band" to improvise quickly and beautifully.
- The Korean Drama You Are Beautiful, while not a parody, is basically about a made-up Boy Band.
- Law and Order UK: DS Brooks' corrupt ex-partner cites the numerous favors that he did to cover him during his drinking days, then blasts him for "letting your boy-band partner come after me", (referring to DS Matt Devlin), apparently feeling that all this should have warranted Brooks turning a blind eye to his involvement in criminal activities.
- Less a parody, more an affectionate homage: Season 3 of Glee saw a classic boyband routine performed in the choir room. Interestingly, the sequence involved some revision of the typical boyband tropes; though the lineup included a Heartthrob (Sam), a Bad Boy (Puck), an Older Brother (Mike), a Cute One (Kurt) and a Shy One (Artie), the leader of the group was definitely Artie - partly because the song was a step in his courtship of Sugar Motta, and partly as a reference to Kevin McHale's boyband career.
- Philippine gag show Bubble Gang has come up with two. The first is the Sex Balls (a parody of the Sex Bomb Girls), who made parodies of novelty songs and theme songs from TV shows. The second is D'Wonder Boys, a parody of K-pop boy bands, fawned over by fangirls who squeal at the smallest things and completely repetitive lyrics.
- Hilariously mocked by Blink-182 in the video for "All The Small Things". It's well worth noting that many established Boy Band fans missed the point entirely. The guys were vocally alarmed to see a surge in attendance by squealing teenaged girls at their concerts. They didn't mind, of course. They just hoped the fangirls were at least aware that they were also responsible for songs like this (Not Safe for Work).
- In Hot Chip's video for "I Feel Better", directed by Peter Serafinowicz, a bunch of Uncanny Valley prettyboys called Kyng, Mar'Vaine, Octavian and Popeye are attacked by a floating man with the Fan Nickname "Cancer Jesus", as well as a Scary Black Man with Eye Beams.
- In Jon Lajoie's "Pop Song" he sort of parodies this (though it's mostly a parody of Justin Bieber).
- Barenaked Ladies deconstructed the boy-band phenomenon in their song "New Kid on the Block".
- Internet parodist David Lehre's fictitious boy band Heat Street, featuring songs such as "Girl, Touch My Weiner."
- Unsurprisingly, Professional Wrestling got in on the act. WCW faction Three Count, consisting of Shannon Moore, Shane Helms and Evan Karagias, were a parody boy band. They even had a variation of the large, intimidating boss in enforcer/#1 fan Tank Abbot.
- Japanese Professional Wrestling promotion Toryumon X tried this. They cast Taiji Ishimori as a pop idol and identical twin brothers Shu and Kei Sato as his backup singers. Then they pushed the trio as the top faces of the promotion, even going so far as to have them actually release an album. Fans didn't take to them.
- The funny part? Their rivals were "Los Salseros Japoneses" — a salsa band. And they DID become popular, with the Salseros gimmick outlasting the promotion itself.
Stand-up and Recorded Comedy
- Grand Theft Auto III and its prequel, Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories feature fictional boy bands on the Lips 106 radio station with hilarious names.
- Brutal Legend starts off with Eddie Riggs as a roadie for Kabbage Boy, a Second Wave of American Tween Melodic Rap Metalcore band that sounds like Linkin Park mixed with The Jonas Brothers. Needless to say, Eddie is far from pleased with this gig.
"I can fix anything. Except THAT."
- Angel Moxie has one uses as part of Candi Shugari's (a powerful demon who mixes cute with evil) plot to eliminate Alex, Riley and Tristan.
- Early in Schlock Mercenary, Tagon's Toughs are hired to guard the "New Sync Boys"—who turn out to be the holographic creation of a single AI owned by the record company, who ends up "defecting" to the mercenary company. "Ennesby" is still a main cast member.
- The South Park gang form the band FingerBang in the episode "Something You Can Do With Your Finger". Lampshades the Five-Man Band aspect and archetypes.
- Party Posse featured the well-known heart-throbs Bart Simpson, Millhouse Van Houten, Nelson Muntz, and Ralph Wiggum.
- The Replacements had Todd, Sheldon and the rest of the Boy's Choir become "Boy's Rock" when he replaced his choirmaster with a Large Intimidiating Boss in an episode fairly similar to the South Park and The Simpsons examples.
- Señor Senior Snr. and Señor Senior Jnr. kidnapped a group like this in Kim Possible. They'd outlived their popularity (which lasted about a week) until the kidnapping put them back on top.
- Totally Spies! had an episode where a washed up boy band kidnapped a "hip" boy band and stole their faces.
- In (of all things) Arthur, boy band Binky is not real... sort of. In concerts, holograms are used in concerts, somehow, without anyone noticing at all. Which kind of begs the question — who does the singing? (Though, by the sound of the only example of their music in the show, which consists of "wheeowheoowheeo" repeated over and over, it could be Yoko Ono.)
- One word: Vocaloid.
- In the Celebrity Manhunt episode of TDA/TDWT, Justin, Trent, Cody, and Harold make up a boy-band called "The Drama Brothers". Of course, a lot of tropes are played, such as the band splitting in that same episode. The boys also reunited in the first TDWT Aftermath, under the suggestion of Blaineley.
- An episode of King of the Hill has Bobby becoming a fan of a boy band, which Hank supports after hearing their supposedly clean, Christian act. Then he accompanies Bobby to a concert and is horrified to discover it's actually Lyrical Dissonance as their act is highly sexualized.