Where did boy bands come from? Some people would say they started with bands such as Take That or New Kids On The Block. The most successful music act of all time, the Beatles have, for a long time, sparked a debate about whether they were a boy band or a rock band. The answer to the question, were the Beatles a boy band, is one that depends on the definition of what makes a boy band.
Many journalists consider the Beatles to be the ‘first or original’ boy band, having formed before the term was coined. Many fans prefer not to have the associated to that term.
What Makes a Boy Band?
The main issue with classing the Beatles as a boy band is that no official definition for a boy band exists. The most appropriate and frequently used description is that it is made up of a group of male singers whose fans are mainly girls or teenagers. However, over the years many see boy bands as inferior acts that do not play instruments or write their own songs.
The definition infers that boy bands are marketed at young girls, so even if a band does play their own instruments or write their own songs, they can sometimes be grouped under the boy band banner if they happen to appeal to young girls
For that reason, a lot of hardcore Beatles fans do not want the band to be associated with the term because they feel it takes away from the quality of their musical legacy.
This is one thing perhaps that does separate the two. The Beatles primarily were all about the music and anything else that become synomymous with the fab four was usually an outside influence such as their mop tops or grey suits and stage boots.
Compared to modern boy bands I suppose that you have to take each band on their own merits.
Here in the UK for the longest time the biggest boy band was Take That. Just look at the success that Gary Barlow and Robby Williams have earned in the years since Take That split up. It is widely known that Gary writes his own songs and Robbie works with collaborators to help write them for/with him.
Or just look at the success of Justin Timberlake since leaving his boy band. So does the question lie within whether they are manufactured just for marketing purposes and does this stretch as far as whether they need to have written their own songs?
What is interesting when talking about boy bands, is that the Beatles inspired a TV show all about a group of boys that sing songs, a lot. The Monkees launched in 1966 and later the stars of the show formed a boy band of the same name, achieving a good level of commercial success.
The Monkees were four fun-loving boys that enjoyed hanging out and played very commercial songs that were popular with a young female audience – the prime definition of a boy band and very much how people saw the early Beatles
The Early Days
After they reached critical acclaim in the mid-’60s, the Beatles started to be viewed differently, so it’s sometimes hard to remember they took a lot of criticism in the early days, accused of being superficial and untalented.
A lot of the reviews you can view are similar to those seen of modern-day boy bands. They were successful, sold millions of records but critics just did not see them as talented.
So, whilst they have gone on to become critically acclaimed and undeniably one of the most impactful artists of all time, influencing musical acts for the last 60 years, the Beatles were a boy band at the start.
They had the screaming girls, ladies throwing themselves at the band and they played catchy pop songs. Over time their sound and their reputation changed dramatically but at the start, they were undeniably pop. Therefore, the answer to the question were the Beatles a boy band, is yes they were but over time, they changed and definitely were not by the time they split in 1970.