It may not seem like too long ago that *NSYNC posters lined your walls and Britney Spears concert tickets were high on your wish list. But the ’90s were two decades ago and Nick Carter and Joey McIntyre aren’t as young as they used to be.
Both New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys performed at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. The boy bands have been touring and will continue to do so until August 2011. Britney Spears is coming out with a new album, and just a few years ago the Spice Girls went on a world tour. It begs the question: Is the ’90s pop scene making a comeback? And if so, will it succeed?
Caroline Perny, the PR coordinator for WHRW, Binghamton University’s student radio show, doesn’t think it’s a trend.
“’90s rock is making more of a comeback,” Perny said. “I don’t know if it’s [’90s music] still making a comeback, but it’s still relevant.”
Perny cited Pearl Jam, who released a live album in January, as an example.
Pierre Marquez, a senior double-majoring in economics and psychology, thinks that there is a comeback, but of ’80s music more than anything.
“Ke$ha and Katy Perry are the new Cindy Lauper. [The] ’90s going into the 2000s was more about sex,” Marquez said. “Now music is about people want to have fun and party. It’s about making people feel [good].”
According to Marquez, the pop we used to know in the ’90s doesn’t exist anymore.
“Kids are growing up faster and want to be exposed to life earlier,” Marquez said. “Music is in a cycle. It gets a little more pop and a little more gritty but has a modern twist.”
Joe Monte, a senior and general manager for WHRW, said music is cyclical — ’90s music was always there, but it’s becoming more acceptable to listen to it again.
“The ’90s sound a little more unique now because you haven’t heard it in a while,” Monte said. “That’s what I like about music. You get tired of it, it comes back, you love it again.”
But can a boy band re-enter the scene and be as successful as they once were? It depends on who you ask.
Marquez said he felt these pop acts hold more of a nostalgia factor than anything.
“It’s an association with childhood or your teenage years,” he explained. “They’re aiming for people who used to be their age group and that’s not a comeback, that’s preserving what they already have. A comeback is making new fans.”
Perny said these boy bands could not recapture their most popular years because of their age.
“It was catchy music without much substance, and four or five good-looking guys doing dance moves. It was a whole package,” Perny said. “Pop has changed from being seen as teeny-bopper music like Britney Spears to being seen as non-alienating popular music. Music that would not have necessarily been in the public eye is now being played and is falling into that popular music category. It is making the edges a little more blurred.”
But Monte feels that by looking at a modern day example, such as the Jonas Brothers, we can see that boy bands aren’t just a thing of the past.
“If [boy bands] can find a generic sound of the time and throw five guys that are good-looking into it with the most conventional outfits, and have the most appealing choreography, then you have a boy band,” Monte said. “Their lyrics were simple; it was about love and getting the girl. It’s a formula. It’s doable at any point in time.”