I was going to put off writing this for a while, but sometimes these things are too big to ignore. Hello One Direction, I’m looking at you and your ginormous fan base. For those of you living under a rock, or too busy pretending you’re cooler than me to pay attention, One Direction were formed on the 7th series of The X Factor and placed third. Apparently, third place no longer means fading politely back into obscurity, so they were signed to Simon Cowell’s record label and then proceeded to slowly take over the world. They pretty much caused a riot when they visited Sydney, and the guy from Kasabian doesn’t like them (shocking, right?). And that’s it in a nutshell. I’m not sure what it is about boys in tight pants with swooshy hair that drives the tween girls wild, but it works. I’m not here to whinge about One Direction. I mean, lookit ’em. They’re adorable:
Criticising them would be like kicking puppies or something. But I am going to lay the smack down and say that, as a child of the 90s our boy bands were measurably better. Also there were more of them. So. Many. More. As such, I have compiled a list of reasons why the 90s were the Golden Age of the Boy Band.
- Matching outfits – As far as I am concerned, today’s boy bands do not match enough. Sure, there’s a general theme running. Everyone having some red or blue somewhere. But why would you do that when you can have every member wearing a slightly altered version of the same outfit so that they all look like members of some bizarre cult? This photo of the Backstreet Boys is probably my favourite because, in spite of the individual tailoring for each bandmate, they all came out looking like some variation on ‘escaped convict.’
- Synchronised dance moves – Having watched too many minutes of One Direction video clips, I’ve noticed that they’ve been trying to take the mickey out of dance routines. The boys will try to keep time for a bit before falling about in fits of giggles about how none of them can co-ordinate it and we’re all supposed to laugh ande squeal at their cuteness. Umm…NO! DANCE ROUTINES ARE THE BEST BIT OF BOY BANDS! If you’re going to dress everyone up the same, I expect them to dance in synch in increasingly complicated interpretive routines until they pass out from exhaustion. Otherwise what is the point people?! Check out 5ive’s If You’re Getting Down video:
Honestly, the American boy bands were always a lot better at the dance moves than the UK acts, but 5ive are great because their routines are incredibly literal. They hold up 5 fingers a lot. When they’re getting down, they point to the ground and bob really low. When they want you to move it all around, they point at the camera…and then they wiggle a bit. This is obviously because they’re not very good at dancing, but I give them 10/10 for effort.
- Self-reflexive lyrics – I’m probably not being fair here, because One Direction does only have one album, but Bieber has two and he is a one man boy band, so I am throwing this in anyway. Both Bieber and 1D (yeah, I used an abbreviation…check me out) have lyrics about fact that girls are pretty and they’d quite like to touch them. That’s good. It’s a good marketing point, because the girls that buy these records are getting to the point where they think that band members are also pretty and that maybe they would like to touch them too. Everyone’s happy. But not only did 90s boy bands have songs about touching pretty girls, they also had songs about themselves, their music and their audience. Take for example, the Backstreet Boys Larger Than Life. The whole song is and extended interraction with their fan base: “All you people can’t you see, can’t you see, how your love’s affecting our reality? Every time we’re down, you can make it right, and that makes you larger than life.” Better than that though, is *NSYNC’s Pop. Have a look:
Not just notable for the fact that Justin Timberlake actually says “Man, I’m tired of singing” before they have a 40 second dance breakdown, the song also helpfully points out that audiences never get sick of this shit. So suck it, critics!
- Theatrical film clips with intricate plot lines and high production values – That’s What Makes You Beautiful has the 1D boys running along a beach, splashing each other and kissing some girls or something. Uh… lame! Where’s the suspense people!? I want my music video to have a completely unrelated nonsensical plot line and maybe a car chase or something! I also want it to have cost more than a James Cameron movie to make, or at least look like it did. Here’s *NSYNC’s Bye, Bye, Bye video, which has all of these things as well as some top-notch dancing.
I feel like at some point during the 90s, *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys got into an epic battle over who could have the best film clip and accompanying routine (although they were on the same label, so they probably just had the same choreographer). Anyway, I present to you Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) aka the greatest boy band film clip known to man. There’s costumes, vampires, a MASSIVE dance scene involving about 50 people and a ballroom, and a dubious plot with some even more dubious acting. Nothing will ever top this.
Needless to say, this ridiclousness carried over into the touring shows, with the boys having as many costume changes as Gaga on a good day.
- Amazing hair styles – Honestly, someone needs to sort One Direction’s hair out. I know they’re only 18, but they actually look like people I went to high school with. And that’s worrying on more than one level. 90s boys had their hair so under control.
Hanson had some seriously lush Jennifer Aniston shit going on there. Their hair makes me feel inadequate. I want to try harder to get that swooshy thing happening.
You can only ever wish that your hair would be as perfectly straight and centre-parted as Nick Carter’s. It’s the unobtainable dream.
I chalk JC Chasez’s hair up to Fabulous Feats in Blowdrying from the Late 90s. So much volume. So much style. So much sass. And that’s not even the tip of the iceberg! Get googling people. If you ever need to freshen up your look, you need not go past pictures of boy bands for all your grooming needs. Man or lady, there’s something for everyone to leave you feeling fabulous.
Alright, so a solid hour and half later, I’ve essentially fallen into a vortex of boy bands and their glorious matching outfits. This blog post was essentially designed to facilitate my need for more dance routines in my life and I’m OK with it. In summing up, I would just like to reiterate the fact that this wasn’t a One Direction hate post (see: the thing I said at the top of the blog about kicking puppies). But I do still maintain that the 90s were a Golden Era for the boy band. I should really go now… the Backstreet Boys are playing in another window.