Boy Bands Still Taboo In The Music Industry?

Posted: April 4, 2013 in Taboo in the News
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With the release of New Kids On The Block’s (NKOTB) new album 10 earlier this week, comes the reminder of what their presence has meant to the music industry. Since the five boys from Boston—Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and Joey McIntyre—hit it big in the late 80’s and early 90’s, boy bands have been the source of much positivity and negativity. Truly, without NKOTB we would have no Justin Timberlake, a former boy band member that has sparked both critical acclaim as well as popularity.

Although NKOTB have never received as much praise from critics as Justin Timberlake’s solo material, they have received perhaps double the popularity from the fans. As a group they have sold over 80 million records, an astounding number for any musical act. This success, however, has not made the boy band any less of a taboo act in the industry.

Perhaps this is because few boy bands have been able to break the stigma of being manufactured, even while producing hit after hit. (Right now, only the British boy band Take That have been able to really make the move from taboo boy band to accepted band.) Even as One Direction stalks the top of the charts and sellout stadiums many see them as what is wrong with the music today. But sometimes we forget that the music industry exists to manufacture.

Boy bands will continue to rise and fall on the charts for as long as there are charts. The very thing that is taboo about boy bands, namely their so-called inability to make meaningful music, is the exact opposite of what fans find so enchanting about them: their ability to make meaningful music. Yet boy bands are about more than just songs; they are about an entire package of singing, dancing, fashion, personality, entertainment, and feeling.

Jordan Knight, the lead vocalist of NKOTB, says something similar: “There has to be a piece of magic in it. And that’s what we always look for. What makes your hair stand on end? What brings on the emotion? It’s not just about making a beat or playing music, it’s about the magic.”1

This magic is what every record company is looking for. And it is also what music critics make fun of. But no matter how much one may like or dislike boy bands, they will continue to cast their spells, and eventually they may even remove their taboo label.

To buy NKOTB’s new album go here.

1 Nikki Van Noy, New Kids on the Block: Five Brothers and a Million Sisters (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2012), E-book.

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