One Direction: Bringing Boy Bands Back?

By Meilan Solly and Erica Walker
LEESBURG, VA- All-male singing groups who entice teenage girls with their good looks and smooth vocals can be defined as the Beatles, Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync, or, to put it more concisely, boy bands. In recent years, boy bands have become less popular, but a new group from the United Kingdom, One Direction, is beginning to bring them back.
Who is One Direction? The band consists of Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and, lastly, the main singer and youngest member of the band, Harry Styles. The five teenagers auditioned in the “Boys” category for the 7th season of the UK’s popular singing show The X-Factor; however, none of them made it through individually. To their surprise, Simon Cowell and guest judge Nicole Scherzinger suggested the five boys be put together as a group, since it was believed they had star potential. Highlights of the band’s time in The X-Factor included weekly video diaries and covers of the songs “Chasing Cars” and “Torn.” One Direction placed third in the competition, and despite the fact that they didn’t win, they were signed by Syco Music.
The band released their first single, “What Makes You Beautiful,” on September 11, 2011, and their album Up All Night debuted in the UK in November 21. Its US release date is in March. After releasing their CD, One Direction went on tour in England, Ireland, and other parts of Europe. The group is scheduled to tour the US with Big Time Rush in February and March and plans to go on a world tour at the end of 2012 and beginning of 2013.
One Direction has gained the most popularity in Europe, specifically the United Kingdom, and are constantly receiving acclaim. The band was even nominated for a Brit Award, which is one of the highest honors that British musicians can receive. Although One Direction is most popular in Europe, there are still many American fans. Anna Shaw, a sophomore, heard about the group through her friends. “They would always talk about [1D] and one day I just decided to listen to one of their songs,” she says. Another way One Direction fans (also known as Directioners) found out about the group is YouTube. While there are Americans who have heard of One Direction, many haven’t. Matt Protic, a junior, is one example. He doesn’t really like boy bands in general because they’re “just pretty boys.”
So, why has One Direction achieved such success while other boy bands tried to do the same but failed? “They’re very down to earth and [are] good singers,” Shaw explains. Brooke Schreiber, a sophomore, adds that they’re “really funny and people can relate to that.” Another reason One Direction is popular is because of its relatable and meaningful songs. Schreiber likes the song “Moments” because it is “really deep.” The song tells the story of a boy who kills himself because his girlfriend died. Schreiber doesn’t like the thought of suicide, but thinks the song eloquently explains the depth of love. Despite the fact that Kelly Wright, sophomore, doesn’t have a specific opinion on One Direction, she agrees that their success is based on their looks and music.
Famous boy bands of the past were popular mainly in the 60s through 90s. Their popularity faded in the 2000s, although some groups, such as The Jonas Brothers, were able to gain much acclaim. One Direction, a new British boy band, is beginning to bring boy bands back. “They’ll inspire people to go out for dreams because that’s how they got put together as a group,” Schreiber predicts. No one is certain what the future will hold for boy bands, but based on One Direction’s recent success, it can be assumed that these groups are on their way back to the top.