What is ‘teen pop’? The definition has changed so much over the years, as well as the reaction to the very mention of it. I’ve seen it go back and forth between fun and entertaining, to riots and utter mania, to cringe worthy rejection, and back to the beginning again. Despite how folks may feel about it, the jury is out on whether or not it’s ever going away. You combine extremely cute boys, fun and catchy music, and multi-million dollar backing from record labels…and you’re going to see miracles happen. Guaranteed. However, it was the invention of YouTube as a global platform and the almost ‘obscene’ fame of Justin Bieber that has created an avenue for teen pop to gain momentum like never before. And that’s where this little game of ours came from.
The biggest question was…could Bieber pull off a second album, or was his immense popularity a fluke? A flare up that would burn out as soon as he got his first pimple or his fanbase became old enough to date boys in real life instead of watching him on TV. He answered that question two or three times over, and is still going strong to this day. Not only that, but an entire horde of teen boys followed that blueprint to their own pots of gold at the end of their individual rainbows. Since our first big vote on the Shack, we’ve seen many of those cuties prove themselves again and again, rising up beyond even our original expectations. From Cody Simpson and Austin Mahone, to One Direction and Greyson Chance. Troye Sivan, Ronan Parke, Jaden Smith, The Vamps, Lyric Dubee…all have been in past voting polls, and have fared well since their appearance. In fact, a vast majority of our picks have definitely enjoyed some success at one point or another in their careers…while others have fallen by the wayside for a while, only to get back into the swing of things later. Timing is everything, I suppose.
The fascinating thing about teen pop is that it’s the ‘full package’ that wins the prize. You don’t have to have the most amazing singing voice on the planet. You don’t have to be the most incredible dancer. You don’t have to be the most creative songwriter. You don’t have to have the most aggressive marketing team. But somehow…if you can do JUST well enough at all of these things, and look hot doing it…you can accumulate a massive fanbase of screaming girls (and boys) and become a superstar. And if you excel in any one of those areas, then that’s even better! It’s an art in itself, to be honest. So…back in 2011, I decided to let the Shack join in on the fun. I made a game out of it where we were all able to vote for three possible boys that could make it big. The boys that we would end up hearing and reading about for the next year to come. And there are folks who would never touch pop music with a 100 foot pole when it comes to riding around in their cars or putting on music in their house…but that wasn’t the point. If you were a gambler…and had to guess which one of the boys in the contest would be the best investment, knowing what you do about music and the public in general…who would you bet on?
We took a vote. And despite a few surprises, the votes were pretty accurate in many of those cases. So…there’s something to this formula, isn’t there?
The boys selected for each contest were based on a number of factors. Beyond looks and sex appeal (Or in some cases, simply ‘crush’ appeal), their voices counted. Can they sing? Can they dance? Do they have an engaging personality? Do they have stage presence? Can they play any instruments? Can they write their own songs or at least have a good team of writers behind them? Are they making a real ‘go’ at this dream of theirs? (Are they spending money on real music videos? Are they performing live? Are they signing autographs and doing interviews?) Do they possess that hidden ‘spark’ of charisma and finesse that will make them stand out amongst their competitors? All of these factors come into play when picking the boys that might step up to that next level. And I think we’re going to see a big resurgence in 2018! Not only is a new generation coming out swinging, but there are a few pop stars that are coming BACK to grab a spot of their own. Anything is possible. No holds barred!
‘Boy pop’ has changed a lot in the last ten years or so. It’s no longer just made up of bubblegum teens and one-hit wonders. Teen boys are able to make some real music in this day and age. Not just in pop, but in rock, hip hop, R&B, country, and nearly every other genre of music that’s on the table. Crossover appeal is much more possible than ever before, and even boys overseas or who speak a different language can get their voices heard. Boys who were once just a fad on YouTube can now break through that barrier and pursue a singing career just like the artists who are already signed to a label. Kids as young as 15 years old can balance school work, dance choreography, singing lessons, and nationwide tours all at once. There’s just something mind-blowing about that!
So…what started as a fun little experiment way back in 2011 became a tradition. A voting poll full of new teen contenders for Shackers to look over and bet on after seeing videos of what each artist had to offer. Afterward, I would put together a video of all the challengers together, giving love and respect to the singers from the previous year and the progress they’ve made…and then setting up the next group of hopefuls at the end. It was only meant to be a trilogy…but seeing as pop music is in the midst of another explosion…I figured, why not go for it one more time?
Besides…CUTE BOYS! LOL! So let’s have fun!
Be sure to check the Shack Forum (http://www.voy.com/15900/) on January 19th to check out our new contestants! And be sure to click on the poll to vote for your favorites! Cool?
Always follow your dreams, and always reach for the stars! We support new talent in all its forms! The next one could be you!