Maybe It's Time to Retire the Term "Boy Band"
One week ago today, tens of thousands of Houston's biggest One Direction fans -- most of them accompanied by their parents -- flocked to the gates of NRG Stadium, toting signs, glow sticks, and homemade T-shirts. It was strange to realize that only 13 years ago, I was on my way to watch 'NSYNC perform on their PopOdyssey Tour at the Astrodome, now run down and dwarfed by its newer neighbor.
Photos by Jack Gorman (unless indicated) The real stars of last Friday's One Direction concert
What was even more surreal, however, was realizing that though the Dome is a monster, its capacity would have never been large enough to house the crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of the world's biggest act on their current tour. Then or now, it's not likely that any other band would have been able to pull the same size crowd.
Then again, a lot has changed for pop music in the last decade.
For starters, the term "boy band" seems to have disappeared right along with the popularity of millennial acts such as 'NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees. Instead, the men of One Direction -- Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson -- have redefined what it means to perform alongside one another as a musical act.
In fact, they would prefer the term "boy band" not be associated with them altogether. But that would require music critics, fans and non-fans alike to truly look at One Direction from a critical standpoint and recognize the impact these five men have had on music and pop culture since their breakthrough.
Though their critics might disagree, One Direction have found a way to break the mold since forming four years ago on Britain's The X Factor, by not only surpassing their predecessors, but throwing the boy-band and pop-star rulebook out the window. And honestly, it's working quite well for them.
After witnessing how fans react to the likes of Katy Perry or Backstreet Boys, you realize just how much these acts pale in comparison. Sure, all three artists are hit factories in their own right, but girls seem to lose their proverbial shit over One Direction. Each night it seems like they're walking into a reenactment of the Beatles performing at Shea Stadium in 1965.
But despite their popularity, One Direction act so humble that it doesn't seem quite real -- not just to their fans, but as human beings in general. It's easy to brush off how many times they thank the crowd, or how they take time to address the crowd one by one, but last Friday the men of One Direction refrained from blanket statements that felt cheap and robotic.
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