What exactly makes 5 Seconds of Summer a boy band?
Auto-tuned vocals, dashing good looks, and a bunch of outside writers and producers making the songs. Those are probably the most common qualities that you'll find in your standard boy band. But what about the so-called boy bands that transcend these stereotypes - the "boy bands" that are far from what's considered manufactured? Will they ever stand a chance, or is it too easy to give in to the mainstream pressure?
5 Seconds of Summer have been living up to their ‘Next Big Thing’ title
In general, there's the automatic assumption that a boy band equals bad music, but what exactly equals a boy band? You could say that pop music is the instant boy band qualifier, and the poppier the music is, the more it'll be discredited. But when you look at a band like Fall Out Boy - one of the poppiest and biggest pop rock bands in the world - why are they considered a "real band" when they aren't all that different from an act like 5 Seconds of Summer? Obviously, there's a ton of differences between the two groups, but the point is that they both started out as just some guys looking to play music together. The type of music isn't what makes a band a boy band, but rather, it's the marketing behind them.
Fall Out Boy started off in their local punk rock scene in Chicago, while members played in various rock bands before ending up together. Their first big hit, 'Sugar, We're Goin' Down,' showed their label that they didn't need a gimmick to sell records - their music did the all the marketing itself. Similarly, 5 Seconds of Summer started small, posting cover videos on YouTube, but they quickly rose to their international fame after taking part in One Direction's "Take Me Home" tour in 2013 - and that was the point of no return. After signing a record deal with Capitol Records that October, a decision had to be made about how they would be marketed to the masses, and it was when the 5 Seconds of Summer boy band edition would be born.
Of course, it was a situation that had to be dealt with delicately, seeing as 5 Seconds of Summer wasn't your “typical” boy band. The guys write their own music, they play their own instruments, and weren't formed together by a big time manager, so they needed a way for their new persona to flourish without exactly alienating their fans, or the music that got them a following in the first place. In fact, if you asked the members about being a boy band, they wouldn’t agree with it at all. “I [grew up] watching, you know, live rock ‘n’ roll bands and I wanted to be like Tre Cool ... from Green Day,” drummer Ashton Irwin told Associated Press. “To be called a boy band coming from those roots and writing our own songs and starting in the garage, it’s just, I don’t think it’s the correct term for us.” But it is. The roots don’t matter, and neither does starting in a garage. The fact is: being friends with One Direction entered them into the boy band world, and they either had to adapt or die. They had to follow in One Direction’s footsteps, and it’s like they never even had a choice.
So, as months went on, and with the release of their debut, pop-heavy single, 'She Looks So Perfect,' lyrics like "she looks so perfect standing there in my American Apparel underwear" left you scratching your head. They embarked on yet another tour with One Direction, and some of the writers they made their album with are even known for cutting One Direction tracks as well. The plan worked. 5 Seconds of Summer may have had a genuine guitar driven, pop-rock/punk sound, but they became as manufactured as it gets.
Next page: Is manufactured really a bad thing?