As long as boy bands have been around, girls have been screaming about them because they’re adorable, and men have been making fun of them because they’re ridiculous. While the definition of boy bands is a bit vague, they’re essentially squeaky clean, manufactured vocal bands that may or may not write their own songs or play their own instruments. Oh, and they’re boys.
Early boy bands included the Monkees, the Jacksons, the Osmonds and New Edition. Then, in the 1980s, New Kids on the Block came along and everybody either loved them or made fun of them. It was a watershed moment.
Here are 10 remarkable examples of making fun of boy bands, beginning with New Kids on the Block.
Guys Next Door (1990)
In 1990, NBC premiered a Saturday morning sketch comedy show about a boy band called Guys Next Door. The show was basically an updated version of The Monkees, featuring five hunky goofballs in the mould of the New Kids. The musical numbers alternated between heartfelt numbers like “I’ve Been Waiting for You” and joke songs like “Bad Hair Day.”
Barenaked Ladies (1991)
In 1991, Barenaked Ladies released the song “New Kid (On the Block),” which is told from the perspective of an NKOTB member. It’s not explicit mockery so much as a maudlin and sinister tale of a manchild stuck in a life he never chose. Then again, they do add a peppy New Kids-style “Oh oh oh oh” at the end. Sample lyric: “I’m a New Kid on the Block./ I’m 23 and they won’t let me grow up./ I went down to register for the draft./ Well, I got up to the counter and the lady there just laughed.”
Saturday Night Live (1992)
In 1992, Saturday Night Live featured a sketch in which the New Kids on the Block appeared on The Arsenio Hall Show. Host Jason Priestley played Joey McIntyre as the group, with their heavy Boston accents and weak harmonies, sang a song called “Girl.” Sample lyric: “Y-O-U spells ‘girl,’ you are wicked-awesome.” Unfortunately, as with most SNL sketches it’s not viewable in Canada. But if you know a sneaky way around that, check it out here.
The public’s appetite for boy bands began to dwindle and New Kids on the Block broke up in 1994. A few years later, groups like Backstreet Boys and 'N Sync captured the hearts of millions of teenage girls. The market was so huge that many second- and third-rate versions began popping up. Remember LFO, O-Town, 3Deep, 5ive, B4-4?
It was this boy-band-of-the-week culture, not the bands themselves, that was the butt of most of the jokes. Most of the spoofs focused on band members’ manufactured personae, the ham-fisted innuendo of the lyrics and the fact that most of the members were pretty much replaceable. Also of note: many of these comedy pieces alluded to manager Lou Pearlman's creep factor years before his 2007 fraud charges and allegations about his sexual misconduct.
David Letterman (1999)
David Letterman’s Late Show generally steers clear of unknown pop acts, but in 1999 they featured a boy band called Fresh Step (like the kitty litter). Each member had a unique persona and outfit, including red overalls, hairclips and backwards hats. Letterman was so impressed with the band, he invited them back a few weeks later to perform the title track from the soundtrack of the upcoming film Talk to the Hand, starring James Van Der Beek and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
As plausible as this all sounds, that movie never existed and neither did the band. Fresh Step was a creation of Letterman’s writers. The faux band actually featured then-unknown Glee star Matthew Morrison, who told the story when he visited the show in 2011.
Saturday Night Live (1999)
In 1999, Saturday Night Live began running recurring sketches about a boy band called 7 Degrees Celsius. The sketches pulled hilariously real details from actual boy bands, including bizarre hairstyles ('N Sync’s Chris Kirkpatrick) and facial hair (Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean), shabby choreography (all of them), a nefarious manager (Lou Pearlman), songs about trends (LFO’s “Summer Girls”) and one band member who is rumoured to be much older than the other members ('N Sync’s Joey Fatone).
Also of note, in 2002 SNL did a sketch about a genetically engineered boy band called Agar. And of course, 2006’s “D-ck in a Box” sketch was a throwback to early ‘90s boy bands like Color Me Badd.
Like The Monkees and Guys Next Door before it, 2gether was a TV show about a fake band that straddled the line between satire and legitimacy. The comedy show featured many of the tropes explored by other spoofs (the old guy in the band was played by Chris Farley’s brother, Kevin), but the songs sounded enough like the real thing that the band released two CDs in 2000.
Conan O’Brien (2000)
On Late Night in 2000, Conan O’Brien became the insane manager of a boy band called Dudez A-Plenti. O’Brien was a hands-on manager who arbitrarily assigned the band members names, affectations and even addictions, as well as writing terrible songs like “Baby, I Wish You Were my Baby” and “Awesome Girl.”
The video for Blink-182’s “All the Small Things” spoofed a bunch of the pop videos that dominated MTV’s Total Request Live, including Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” and 98 Degrees’ “Because of You.” The punk band was placed in romantic situations and larger-than-life locations, but ultimately spoiled the effect by dancing in their underwear and getting attacked by a terrier. A dozen years later, Buzzfeed discovered that One Direction’s 2011 video for “What Makes You Beautiful” was shot on the same beach, completing the circle of life.
The Simpsons (2001)
In a 2001 episode of The Simpsons called “New Kids on the Blecch,” Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph are picked by a producer to form a boy band called the Party Posse. The entire band turns out to be a ploy by the U.S. Navy, and the band’s music contains subliminal messages recruiting new troops. Also, 'N Sync makes a cameo in the episode.
Josie and the Pussycats (2001)
In the live-action movie version of Josie and the Pussycats, Seth Green, Breckin Meyer, Donald Faison and Alex Martin play a boy band du jour called Du Jour. Their hit, “Back Door Lover,” is not the most subtle joke, but its innuendo is no clumsier than that of the legitimate, non-joke song, “Get Down” by B4-4.
Which boy band will be spoofed next? None, I hope. They're all so dreamy and don't deserve the abuse.
Unsung: Justin Jeffre of 98 Degrees
Unsung: Chris Kirkpatrick of 'N Sync
The Onion: The Backstreet Boys Or ’N Sync Release New Album
on Oct 03, 2012