When anyone mentions boybands these days, the universal reply is one similar to “thank God they’re gone”. Whereas the Noughties was full of reality TV “stars” clogging up the charts, the 90s was packed full of a bunch of blokes dressed stupidly and dancing like idiots.
But deep down, everyone who replies in that way secretly misses them. There were so many in such a short period that you couldn’t get away from them, and their catchy lyrics are still firmly lodged in your head to this day.
It was easy to spot a boyband in the 90s. Firstly they would be launched and you couldn’t get away from them as they attacked all your senses. They’d all have a look, such as wearing similar clothes, but then also have roles such as the good boy or the badass. Throw in some elaborately choreographed dancing and there’d be a tonne of teenage girls screaming anywhere they went.
The early 90s saw the likes of Take That and East 17 adopt the trend already started in the US by New Kids On The Block, and the number ones, CD sales and sold-out tours followed. And so because a couple of bands started raking it in, many more grabbed a microphone and followed in their footsteps, and disappeared just as quickly. For every 911 or 5ive there would be a Northern Line or BBMak.
One mediocre band called North and South had their own CBBC show called “No Sweat” and this inspired a couple of my mates to create their own group called 101%, but the name was the only good part about it. Their only song was a cover of the Dad’s Army theme tune, and without the adoration of pubescent girls their dreams were shattered.
But it showed how popular boybands were. After Take That and East 17 split and girls across the nation shed tears meaning special Samaritan groups had to be set up, they were soon replaced by Boyzone and Westlife. My sisters loved both and posters of their favourite five pieces covered their bedroom walls, and my little sister even had Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately dolls.
I was more into the American boybands such as the Backstreet Boys and N*Sync as they had more of an R&B style to them, and instead of trying to strain our voices attempting to hit high notes like Britney, guys actually had something to perform after a few too many Stellas in a karaoke bar which is cheesy enough to be fun but also can show off our vocal range without sounding like a Chipmunk drowning.
With Gary Barlow and co making a successful return, these pop princes are all coming out of the woodwork again, with even A1 deciding that they can still cut it. With JLS proving that there is still a demand for the boyband, maybe a resurrection of the genre is beginning.
If there is one legacy that all these groups have left us, it’s the ability to drunkenly stumble onto a stage with a couple of mates and perform “Dirty Pop” and for three minutes feel like part of my own boy band, and for that I am incredibly grateful.