Boy Bands: Good for Masculinity, Bad for Femininity

The culture industry is one of the central areas in which genders are constructed, because of the influence popular culture has on all aspects of society (television, music, fashion and books). Within the music industry, boy bands have become a popular concept, since they can be extremely successful with girls and young women to earn quick money. Boy bands are typically appreciated for their vocal abilities and dancing capabilities which awe audience members. Nevertheless, this paper presents that the concept of “the boy band” is a site of gender reaffirmation for femininity, while it is a place to develop new forms of masculinity. This will be demonstrated through the analysis of three boy bands, over three decades: The Backstreet Boys (1990s), O-Town (2000s) and One Direction (2010s). To illustrate the replication of femininity and new wave of masculinity, three factors will be considered. First, this paper will survey lyrics from each of the three bands and how females are overtly sexualized in each of their songs. Next, fans (who are mostly girls and young women) are often characterized as hormonal in the media, which is used to devalue female sexuality. Lastly, all three of these bands perform in sexual manners reaffirming their heterosexuality to audience members and will often perform to females instead of with. Therefore, as a consequence of these boy bands’ lyrics, fan base representation and spectacle of concerts, patriarchal scripts of femininity are reiterated while hegemonic masculinity is able to be explored. Continue reading