Like most 90s kids, I took immense pride in my cassette collection. My first was *NSYNC’s No Strings Attached album and I couldn’t get enough of it. There was just something about Lance Bass’ blonde tips and the “Bye, Bye, Bye” choreography that I couldn’t resist.
But before you question how I could possibly pledge my loyalty to *NSYNC when Backstreet was around, let me say that I didn’t discriminate when it came to the wonderful, musical world of boy bands. My older sister had the latest Backstreet Boys cassette and we took turns lip-syncing and choreographing each and every Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC track.
My sister and I spent most of our middle and high school years singing karaoke to Jonas Brothers albums and saving money to see them in concert every time they came to town. Sometimes, we even took road trips to see them when they didn’t come to our city. After the Jonas Brothers took a devastating hiatus, I looked to Justin Bieber to fill the new void in my heart. He was the solo equivalent of a boy band and a total heartthrob. My friends and I created a joint Twitter account, choreographed a dance to “Baby”, and made an elaborate plan to get on The Ellen Show so that we could meet the Biebs. Spoiler: we never made it to Ellen, but we still laugh about that plan.
Junior year of high school, Big Time Rush slid into the hearts of my friends and I. We made t-shirts with stencils of the band members’ faces and huge posters with their song lyrics, which we snuck into their concerts. When it came time for college, One Direction held the key to my heart and ultimately led me to meeting my college best friend and current roommate.
And as much time as I spent loving boy bands and having so much fun because of them, I spent an equal amount of time defending my love for them. It’s a pretty widely accepted notion that liking boy bands is “embarrassing” and that you have bad taste in music if you listen to boy bands. But the thing about boy bands is that they’ll always be culturally relevant because they bring people, specifically young girls, together in a way that other music genres just can’t.
I have boy bands to thank for my close relationship with my sister, the middle and high school friends that I still hold dear, and for my college roommate today. Boy bands create a powerful bond between girls in a society that tries to make sure they remain enemies. I can’t count on my hands the number of friends I’ve made because of boy bands.
I never had boyfriends in high school or college, but I always had boy bands and the amazing friendships that came along with them. And because of boy bands, I created unforgettable memories and bonds. Boy bands are just as culturally relevant as any other band or music artist because of the connection that they help build between young fans. Boy band culture can be a huge part of a young girl’s development. I know it played a huge part in mine, and for that I’m incredibly thankful.
So before you laugh or roll your eyes when you hear a seemingly “childish” song by the latest boy band on the radio, know that you can’t dismiss their music as “bad” just because you don’t like it.
Let’s do everyone a favor and stop hating on boy bands because, in the end, they’re doing something really positive: making people happy and creating lifelong, oftentimes female, friendships. And what could you possibly hate about that?