Boybands could almost be considered a subgenre of pop music and culture. There seems to be a pattern in their success amongst preteen and teenage audiences, mostly girls. A pattern that’s repeating itself in different eras and different countries too.

 

It’s something like a formula. 3,4, or 5 young single attractive men sing in harmony about love and heartache. There’s no room for frontman and backing singers. Everyone is equal. Yet, everyone is different at the same time. There’s types, for example “the cute one” like Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys, or “the bad boy” like Robbie Williams in Take That or even “the sensible one” like JC from NSYNC. So in that way, depending on their tastes and their character, fans can pick their favourites. And of course, you can only have one favourite to fill your fantasies with, but you still love the band as a whole.

 

But just what is it that makes boybands so popular among adolescent girls? Well, their songs and their lyrics for one. Girls in that age are being more and more concerned about matters of the heart. They’re coming out of childhood and slowly develop into women. So, love and relationships occupy their thoughts each day. Through these pop songs they learn how it feels like to love and be loved, how the good times can lift you up and how you know when it’s time to move on. The band is singing to them the words that they would like to hear from boys in their actual life. And the best part is that these super-boys, unlike the ones they know, will always be there for them. They just need to put on the CD and gaze into their eyes through the poster they have on their bedroom wall and they are there with them while they are serenading them. These guys cannot hurt them.

That is of course until they announce that they are splitting and never making music together again. Or when your favourite member is getting engaged or married. That can leave you with a broken heart for months.

 

Then it’s the overwhelming experience of seeing them in concert. Heart is pounding, breathing gets faster and you feel like you’ll explode. Girls scream and tear up when they see “their boys” perform. It’s actually the best release of all the tension that adolescence can cause. It also brings them all together as part of a whole, they feel that they belong there. Because the interesting thing is that you don’t get possessive as a fangirl. On the contrary, you like sharing them with your friends, or even making new friends through your love for them. It doesn’t matter where you come from, your family background or your upbringing, where you go to school or how popular you are. You’re united by your deep feelings for these boys.

 

As we’re mostly associating boybands with teenage girls on the verge of hysteria, we tend to forget about what happens when these girls grow older. We think it’s something that’s going to pass, like a fashion trend. But in reality, it’s not just a phase. As you get older you always remember those boys that taught you the meaning of love. And you might also keep a poster or two in your closet. Because, once a fangirl, always a fangirl.

 

 

*Get your tickets for I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (2018) directed by Jessica Leski.

 

 

Christianna Tsigkou