If you happen to see throngs of screaming girls this week, don’t be alarmed; boy band mania is hitting town. In the span of five days, Justin Bieber, the Jonas Brothers (Northerly Island, July 10) and One Direction (First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, July 13-14) will all have crooned maudlin love songs to legions of adoring fans. Right on the heels of The Wanted’s June show at Aragon and foreshadowing New Kids on the Block with 98 Degrees (Allstate Arena, July 19) and the Backstreet Boys (Northerly Island, August 2), it’s a virtual month-long Tiger Beat festival.
So, what’s behind the outbreak? Call it the Justin Timberlake effect. One of the few boy band alums that has transitioned into a successful solo career, the former ‘N Sync’er is the epitome of what a young male pop star aspires to be, and what an aging one still hopes to become. With his first two albums, 2002’s Justified and 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, the “SexyBack” singer sold more than seven million copies worldwide and was quickly confirmed as one of modern day’s most commercially successful singers.
You can bet current boy band stars are studying Timberlake’s model. It’s the eternal issue all child stars have faced since the dawning of the Mickey Mouse Club—what do you when the pre-teens who wrote your name in blood now find admiring you shameful? Some have managed the transition gracefully (Timberlake, Ryan Gosling) while others might need a little more guidance (last time we checked, Joey Fatone was hosting a cooking show).
Timberlake’s multi-city arena tour alongside Jay-Z kicks into high gear this summer (Soldier Field, July 22) and with an estimated gross reportings of $6 million a night, it makes sense. Not that things aren’t going well for the newest flock—Bieber still has the most followers for an individual on Twitter and The Wanted have found a new audience with their reality TV show, The Wanted Life, on E!. As industry insiders now, timing is everything and no more so then when time is running out.
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