In 2011, Beyoncé was right – when it came to pop music, girls did run the world. Her single may not have done so well, but artists like Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna dominated the charts and controlled the airwaves. Seems the boys are getting back in the action, with three acts surging on the current pop charts.
Whether a wholly American quirky rock band like Fun. (period included) or a British import like The Wanted, the men are back on top, though it seems to take a crew of them to take on their female counterparts. Male groups are the musical rage right now and are finally making headway against major solo female pop stars.
The story seems most evident in watching the meteoric rise of One Direction, the British-Irish boy band who was formed from rejected solo contestants on the 2010 season of the UK version of “The X Factor.” The new group placed third, fairing better than any of the judge-formed groups in America’s first season of the reality show. The Bieber-haired members of the group look like a modern cutout of *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys, and are already reaching that height of popularity. Their single “What Makes You Beautiful” debuted at number one on the American Billboard pop music charts this week, giving One Direction a spot in history as the first UK group ever to accomplish that feat.
Bubbly boy band pop from Europe dominates the charts even without a major reality show to support its surge. Another British-Irish pop group, The Wanted, is enjoying a fast rise in popularity with the success of their dance-friendly track “Glad You Came.” While this group has been on the UK charts since releasing their first album in 2010, it is the current craze that has allowed “Glad You Came” a chance to earn international fame with a spot on the top ten downloads on iTunes. The group has already worked with Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, and Rihanna, and clearly has a summer anthem on their hands.
Arguably the most surprising star of the male ensemble music scene is indie rock band Fun. The band is a collaboration of several members broken up from other bands like The Format and Steel Train. Despite their rocky pasts with bands, the group formed to make successful records, and thrives on collaborations with artists like Panic at the Disco! and Janelle Monáe. The song with the latter — “We Are Young” — became their biggest hit to date, a funky pop rock track that is currently #1 on iTunes and was covered on “Glee.” The song is the first by a multi-member rock band to debut with the #1 spot in the Billboard Hot 100 in over a decade, as well as the first rock/alternative song to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” in 2008. They may not be what you call a boy band, but these three guys are enjoying the type of success usually reserved for male ensembles only known by that title.
From reality show contestants to synthesized pop to indie rock, the boys are back on the airwaves. With a rise in popularity, these male groups are taking over the music scene almost totally dominated by female artists last year. Is this a summer trend soon to fizzle, or has the tide truly changed? It may take three men to combat each one powerhouse pop princess, but for now, the men are winning the war and owning the charts.