Boy band: noun; a music group comprised of three or more males where each member has strong vocal abilities, the willingness to participate in synchronized dancing and at least one of the following: dreamy eyes, perfect hair or a smile that makes millions of fans melt. Girl group: noun; a music group comprised of three or more females; synchronized dancing is common along with hit songs about female empowerment; each member seems to be fearless, flawless and fierce.
I’ll be the first to tell you that you won’t find those definitions in any official dictionary. But as a self-proclaimed boy band aficionado and a fan of many girl groups, I’d say they’re close to being accurate. Male singers like Justin Bieber and Adam Levine have gained success with their vocal talents and hit songs. In fact, Levine has a group comprised of all male members. So what is it that makes boy bands different? It’s a combination between the appeal of group male friendship, synchronized dances and sugary pop songs that are so good they make your teeth hurt.
As for females, Britney Spears has managed to move up to Queen of Pop status after hitting a bit of a pop star plateau a few years back. While her pop princess crown seems to float between the hands of ex-Disney starlets Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, there is no doubt that today’s pop music welcomes solo female singers with open arms. However, girl groups thrived in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some songs covered female loyalty and cheating boyfriends, while others took on more serious topics.
The most famous boy bands and girl groups had faithful fans, sold out arenas and undoubtedly made their mark on the music world. But how do they measure up against each other?
LFO vs. O-Town
I realize I’m starting off on the lower end of the boy band hierarchy, but we have to build up. LFO, also known as Lyte Funkie Ones, was a boy band made up of three guys from Massachusetts. Their 1999 hit song “Summer Girls” put them on the pop music map along with their love for girls sporting clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch. They also manage to call William Shakespeare Billy and diss the Kevin Bacon film “Footloose” in a matter of four minutes. Despite the unrelated lyrics, the group went on to put out other catchy songs like “Girl On TV” and “Every Other Time.” O-Town formed as a result of the first season of MTV’s “Making the Band.” The group’s first single “Liquid Dreams” described the perfect woman as bits and pieces of famous females like Janet Jackson’s smile and Madonna’s style. It seems kind of demeaning, but they made it work because their self-titled album went platinum. While LFO also had a platinum album, O-Town showed off their talent with the ballad “All or Nothing.” Sure, catchy songs with cheesy lyrics are good enough to be a boy band, but a sweet ballad? That’s the kicker.
The Wanted vs. One Direction
I’m definitely pushing the envelope with these two British boy bands. Neither performs with synchronized dance moves as typical boy bands do. However, for the majority of their songs, none of the members use instruments so I have to slap the label of boy band on them. The Wanted formed as a result of a more recent making the band process in England. The five lads released their single “Glad You Came” and the crazy fan chaos ensued. Other hits include “Chasing the Sun,” “I Found You” and more recently “Walks Like Rihanna,” a song that can only be described as cheesy pop perfection. One Direction, also made up of five British gentlemen, formed on season seven of Britain’s “The X-Factor,” and lost. But like a phoenix rising up from the boy band ashes, they became a group causing a frenzy that has been compared to Beatle Mania. With hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Kiss You,” two successful albums and a 3D movie already under their belt, the guys have already broken a record since their upcoming album “Midnight Memories” became the fastest-selling album on Amazon UK in 15 years. Oh, did I mention it doesn’t release until November?
Champion: Both groups have adorable British accents, the token ladies’ man (as claimed by the media) with Max George and Harry Styles and insanely charming personalities. So who reigns supreme? One Direction, no doubt.
Backstreet Boys vs. NSYNC
This is it. The ultimate boy band throwdown. If you were a child of the 1990s, you were probably either a BSB or an NSYNC girl. You either wrote “Mrs. Carter” or “Mrs. Timberlake” all over your notebooks, but never both. While you could listen to both groups, you knew what side you were on. Both had five members. Said members of both groups made questionable fashion choices. Both groups also released several hit songs. BSB had more diversity when it came to the members of the group, while NSYNC displayed more of a typical cute boy band look. BSB pulled off all-white outfits in the video for “I Want It That Way,” but everyone knows NSYNC’s dance in the video for “Bye, Bye, Bye.” BSB is still touring, while NSYNC reunited for mere seconds on this year’s Video Music Awards on MTV. So do I go with “Larger Than Life” and Nick Carter’s perfect pop prince golden locks or “It’s Gonna Be Me” and Justin Timberlake’s ramen noodle hair?
Champion: NSYNC. BSB may still be touring, but the insane reaction from the NSYNC reunion, as short as it may have been, on Twitter and Facebook is proof that NSYNC is still the ultimate boy band.
TLC vs. The Spice Girls
TLC may not be a typical girl group, but they definitely contributed to the music industry. The girls’ first single titled “No Scrubs” showed the world they were ready to pump out music with fearless creativity. With other songs like “Unpretty” and “Waterfalls” covering more serious topics like self-esteem and even AIDS, the trio was no ordinary girl group. The five members of the Spice Girls each took on a different personality ranging from Scary Spice to Baby Spice. Their hits included “Say You’ll Be There,” “Spice Up Your Life” and the always-popular karaoke choice, “Wannabe.”
Champion: The Spice Girls, but only because they have left behind an impact that can still be seen today by either that group of girls that just requested to karaoke “Wannabe” at the bar or that group of girls that dressed as the quintet for Halloween. If it involved mere creativity and novelty, TLC would win, hands down.
The Pussycat Dolls vs. Destiny’s Child
This one is self-explanatory. While The Pussycat Dolls did manage to surprise the world with catchy songs like “Stickwitu” and “When I Grow Up” along with Nichole Scherzinger’s killer vocal abilities, they didn’t manage to stay active for long. Destiny’s Child, on the other hand, pumped out music for years with hits like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” “Survivor” and “Say My Name” until they broke up to pursue solo careers. They reunited briefly during Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show, but the reaction following the performance never reached as high of a level as NSYNC’s reunion proving that people prefer Beyonce’s reign as Queen Bey instead of her role as just a third of a group. Regardless, the trio was a staple of the 1990s and early 2000s.
Fifth Harmony vs. Little Mix
Both of these girl groups are new to the scene. Fifth Harmony just released an EP titled “Better Together,” while Little Mix released the album “DNA” last year with the radio hit “Wings.” Fifth Harmony placed third on the second season of “The X-Factor” in the United States. Little Mix took first place on the eighth season of the same show in the United Kingdom. Both groups show strength in producing solid pop music and feature members with impeccable fashion sense.
Champion: It’s a draw. I feel that both groups are too new to the scene to make a decision. They’re both talented, but it’s too soon to see if they’ll be following in the fierce footsteps of past female groups.
Disclaimer: This is all based on opinion. I still plan on singing along in the car to both my Backstreet Boys and NSYNC CDs even after establishing what side I’m on.
So Lydia readers, did your favorite make the cut?
Taylor Pittman is a southern girl, born and raised in Alabama. She also wishes to never hear the song “Sweet Home Alabama” again. She is currently pursuing a BA in journalism at Auburn University where the boys are gentlemen and football is king. Her future plans include working for one of her favorite magazines and owning a black cat named Thackery Binx. She prides herself on once being compared to Rory Gilmore and knowing all the lyrics to Hanson’s “MmmBop.” In her perfect world, she would end every email with “XOXO, Gossip Girl” and have pizza at every meal. She shares all of her adventures on twitter @TaylorPittman22.