‘Boy Band Takeover, Take 2012’ – Parallels to the 90’s, 00’s

One Direction, Up All Night © Columbia

I’m not being cynical – well maybe I am, but I think I might scream if I have to endure hearing that addictive groove to “What Makes You Beautiful” one more time.  I have heard that song so many times I have most of memorized – “You’re insecure…” opens the first verse, while “…Baby you light up my world… you don’t know, what makes you beautiful” fills in the über (annoyingly-so) catchy chorus.  One Direction has definitely taken over America, well at least the pre-teen/tween girls that is.

Being a reviewer and music enthusiast, as well as a multi-talented musician, I follow the trends and analyze them.  To me, One Direction are an updated version of N*Sync in the sense that the reaction and hype is gargantuan.  Now let’s not overhype Simon Cowell’s cash cow, because boy bands N*Sync and The Backstreet Boys sold considerably better than One Direction will ever hope to sell with Up All Night. But in the context of popularity of the boy group, One Direction are the most popular in recent times by any means.  Every magazine has something about the boys and teen-aimed magazines have absolutely bowed down to the group.

Because I have to give my opinion, I am going to give both and ‘industry’ opinion and my personal opinion. As far as the industrial view, One Direction’s ‘machine’ is great for the industry. It provides another potential opportunity for an album to go platinum or better (it has already been certified gold) and it adds more money and exposure to an industry that has lost an incredible amount of sales.  Personally, while the gang can sing (Louis, Niall, Liam, Zayn, and Harry), they are more ‘looks’ than dynamic vocalists. I’m not underwriting their individual or collective talents to sing, but compared to a top-notch group like 1990’s Boyz-II-Men or the elite level of talent showcase by Justin Timberlake in N*Sync and beyond, none of the five strike me as ‘the next great thing.’

Moving on to The Wanted, the Wanted are in the shadow of One Direction.  They are older, less ‘squeaky-clean’ and they debuted AFTER the golden boys. One thing The Wanted can hold over One Direction’s heads are the fact that their annoyingly, catchy – joking-worthy “Glad You Came” charted higher than “What Makes You Beautiful,” landing at #3 on the Billboard 100 Charts.  For The Wanted, I think that a true debut effort, not their recently release compiled effort, will determine what degree of success the band can/will have in the States.

How do I feel about them? Well, not much different than One Direction.  There is no clear standout voice, and to the American ear, the British accent is easily discernible where in One Direction it is masked.  Go figure.

Ultimately, The Boy Band Takeover, Take 2012 as I like to call it is a ‘movement,’ but so far not the ‘movement’ it was back in 1999, 2000.  The solo artist is still the dominant go to, particularly for teens where the Justin Biebers, Cody Simpsons, etc. are more dominant than any boy band.  Hey, look how the Jonas Brother’s last effort sold (gold as opposed to platinum with no important singles).  And how about Big Time Rush – have they ever broken through? One Direction definitely has proven its success in the U.S., but much to the annoyance of us teen and twenty something plus males everywhere.  I’m just saying.

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