Murder? Mayhem? No. Just two of the hottest boy bands in the world and their most painfully vocal fans. August 1st marked the beginning of the North American leg of One Direction’s “Where We Are” tour with opener 5 Seconds of Summer, the Australian pop punk band with an equal knack for causing those high-pitched shrieks only teenage girls can make (Harry Styles allegedly cured a girl of laryngitis earlier this year after not speaking for six months because her need to squeal was that powerful). The tour opened in Toronto for two nights at the Rogers Centre, continued into the U.S. for consecutive shows in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and will move throughout the country, ending early October in Miami.
We are all well-acquainted with One Direction’s prevailing popularity, but their opening act, 5 Seconds of Summer, is a new spectacle on the 2014 entertainment radar. 5SOS gained fame as so many do these days – through YouTube – and have since risen to international stardom with the mere invitation to tour with One Direction, the 1D stamp of approval as valuable as an Oprah’s Book Club sticker. Not surprisingly, their self-titled album has made its U.S. debut at number one on the Billboard 200, producing instant Miracle-Gro hits like “She Looks So Perfect,” “Don’t Stop,” and “Amnesia.”
However, the members of 5SOS do not like to think of themselves as a boy band per se, aligning more with rockers like Green Day, Blink-182, and Fall Out Boy. Unfortunately, their tattoos and lip rings barely mask the cherubic, 18-year old faces singing about American Apparel underwear. I do give them credit for at least playing instruments, which One Direction lacks, and this is what separates boy bands from the others. Those mega-concerts could use a little more in-your-face guitar shredding though, so I fully support One Direction’s decision to partner with Five Seconds of Summer, even if their lyrics are a bit sub-par.
But then again, early Beatles lyrics were nothing remarkable. It could be argued that “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Love Me Do,” and “She Loves You” are just as vapid as “Gotta Be You,” “One Thing,” and “What Makes You Beautiful.” In fact, many Beatles' scholars believe that it was their somewhat cheesy lines that created, what was to be termed, Beatlemania, the hysterical fan craze characterized by high-pitched yelling, irrational attention-seeking behavior, and consistently sold-out shows. Even if you don’t like their music, you have to agree that One Direction has succeeded in at least that one area – creating a massive fan base.
Taking their cue from the Beatles, boy bands like One Direction and Five Seconds of Summer have learned how to woo female audiences with their innocent and accessible songs. Hundreds of thousands of One Direction concert tickets are sold within hours of their tour announcements, and the quintet has a combined wealth approaching $1 billion, making them one of the richest boy bands in music history. I may have personally outgrown my boy band phase, though I do recall the glitter pen posters proclaiming "Marry Me Justin!" and a persistent 10-year-old self who wouldn't even let a broken nose from a softball game the day prior stop me from going to an NSYNC concert, but I'd certainly still get excited over five attractive Brits with that much money too.