Fangirl Correspondent: The Evolution of The Boyband

Today’s post isn’t strictly related to matters of online culture and communication.

It is, however, very much aligned with being a fangirl.

Beyond fandoms for books, films and television shows, you’ll struggle to find people more passionate or excitable than that of the boyband fangirl. (#sorrynotsorry)


To borrow Wikipedia’s definition: “A boy band (or boyband) is loosely defined as a vocal group consisting of young male singers, usually in their teenage years or in their twenties at the time of formation. Being vocal groups, most boy band members do not play musical instruments, either in recording sessions or on stage, making the term somewhat of a misnomer. However, exceptions do exist. Most boy bands dance as well as sing, usually giving highly choreographed performances.”

Boybands apparently extend back to the 1960s, with the Jackson 5, the Beatles and the Osmonds being the first to be classified as being part of this “genre”.

Beatlemania was the first prominent example of what would go on to be called many other things, most recently Bieber Fever and the One Direction Infection (which really just isn’t that catchy).

I was born right in the middle of what many refer to the golden age of the boyband.

The first boyband that I can remember being exposed to was that of the Backstreet Boys, Blue and *NSYNC …  And probably 5ive. Who else remembers 5ive?

These days, the Backstreet Boys are preparing for their 20th anniversary tour (yeah, they’ve been a boyband longer than I’ve actually been alive), but I will forever be in admiration of the dance moves and colour coordination that only '90s boybands seem to be able to pull off.

Another bonus about the '90s being the era of the boyband is that a whole bunch of them reunited for comeback tours in the 2000s.

Take That, Boyzone, NKOTB, BSB … The list goes on.

There is much debate, however, over what actually makes a boyband.

There is a distinct difference between boybands and boys in bands, I’ve discovered, which begs the questions – in which category do the Jonas Brothers belong?

No one knows. It’s a serious issue that has caused trauma for many. (I wish I was joking.)

Same question for Busted. I wouldn’t call them a boyband, but would you?

(Boybands, and another one, and another one, and another one … sounds like the latest series of the X Factor to me.)

The age of the television talent show has revitalised the so-called boyband machine, with groups such as JLS, The Wanted, Union J and of course One Direction exploding onto the music scene and bringing the delights of boybands to a whole new generation (and also injecting millions of dollars into the industry at the same time).

Where you have boybands, you have screaming fangirls. Other indicators of a boyband being nearby include lots of young girls fainting, disgruntled parents clutching posters adorned with glitter and fairy lights and also lots of “I CAN’T, I’M SO DONE” fangirl language being uttered.

Skip to 7.42 and you'll see what I mean.

Fangirls make it their life mission to find out anything and everything they can about their beloved boyband members.

Some, however, may take that dedication a little too far … as in, knowing the times of birth and blood types of each member of One Direction.

Important information, apparently. (Yeah I'm sorry but people are crazy.)

The internet age has given fangirls another dimension to their dedication, with some considering a tweet from your favourite member somehow equivalent to an autograph.

Were you a teenager who covered their bedroom with posters of boybands? Is I Want It That Way your shower song of choice? If you were in a boyband, what would your boyband name be? Embrace your inner fangirl and let me know in the comments.

Kara Gibbons



Catalyst has been the student publication of RMIT University since 1944. We may be older than your parents but we’re still going strong!

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