Between The Headphones

Why are boy bands popular among the younger generation?

Boy bands have played a dominate role throughout music history. These all male groups are most remembered for their ability to both sing and perform cringe-worthy synchronized choreography, and for each having gorgeous good looks, which caused hordes of screaming teenage girls to chase after them. Over the years, boy bands have evolved and had their periods of popularity, but just when we thought we had finally seen them disappear with the ‘90s, they made a surprise return in the late ‘00s. This unexpected reprise of boy bands has introduced us to a new era of boy bands; all male groups who no longer perform the moronic choreography that we are familiar with, and who are finding fame in a more technological world.

This new era of boy bands has challenged our predetermined notions of what classifies an all male group as “boy band”, and has caused us to re-evaluate the ways in which boy bands used to grow their success and fame. However, there’s one variable that hasn’t changed, and that’s the crazy dedication from the younger generation. Which leads us to our question: why are boy bands so popular among the younger generation?

We surveyed the experts in this field (the fans of boy bands) via a Twitter poll and asked them questions based around the sudden boy band phenomena.

The definition of a boy band is more complicated in modern music than it was back in the 90’s, which is why we asked the audience ‘What classifies an all male group as a boy band?’. 33% said that it was based om good looks and personality, the other 33% is was based on musical ability/talent, 17% said it depended on their popularity, and the other 17% said it was the product of their management and record label.

Next, we asked for their opinion on ‘Which boy band has the most fame and success?’. As expected, there were mixed results, but ultimately it came down to three bands: 50% voted in favour of Backstreet Boys, 25% in favour of One Direction, and 25% in favour of NSYNC.

Finally, we asked the most important question and the one at the heart of research: ‘Why do you think boy bands are popular among our generation?’. Truthfully, we were prepared for a higher audience reaction to some of the available voting options compared to others, however we were surprised to find there was a unanimous vote towards one response: ‘good looks’.

So what does this mean?

Boy bands are thriving with sexuality, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, which can be very appealing to young girls (and maybe boys; no discrimination), who are currently experiencing adolescence and exploring their feelings of love and lust.  As the New York Times explained in their article, “the varying personalities of boy bands’ members could be seen as a testing ground for attraction”. We won’t get into the logistics of puberty, but basically with the increase in hormones and sudden sexual urges, the younger generation is the perfect target audience for boy bands. The fact that there are multiple members in the group, with all different looks and personalities, it makes it easier to attract girls and boys of different ages and personal tastes.

But from what we can see from the Twitter polls and from our own knowledge of the boy band phenomena, good looks aren’t the only thing that causes boy band hysteria; musical ability/talent play a key part too. Boy bands can’t just rely on good looks and personality, there has to be some evidence of musical ability/talent for them to be successful. Without good music and vocals, there won’t be any media coverage, which will drastically hinder their popularity and audience numbers, and even worse, without positive audience feedback there will be no income. That’s why TV talent shows, such as X factor, produce very successful boy bands as the show allows audiences to both hear and see the band before deciding whether or not to support them.

So now we can see that boy bands appeal to the younger audience because of one of many factors. If a boy band has the good looks, and are able to create some nicely-written music as well as harmonize with each other, then they have a big chance at fame and popularity.

Are you a fan of the boy band phenomena? Do you agree with our analysis? Do you think boy bands will continue to be a music trend? Let us know!

Local scene: Q and A with Will Pantelis

Will Pantelis is an aspiring 20-year-old musician, studying Music Education (Sonic Arts) at the University of Adelaide. On top of being a part time student, he is working on writing and producing his own album. We sat down with Will to find out more about his music and what it’s like being an aspiring artist in Adelaide. 

When did you discover your passion for music?

I’ve always liked music to a degree, but I think it only really became a vital part of my life in Year 9, at age 14 or 15. It was nice to have something I could rely on without feelings of guilt.

What made you want to pursue music? 

Honestly, it was the only thing I found interesting whilst also being simultaneously decent at it! I have always been a huge fan of numbers but unfortunately, the only career paths based around numeracy are taken by calculators, so I decided I had to pick something else. I transferred into Music Education after a year at university as I believed it would look better on my resume in the future, but we’ll see how that all pans out in a few years.

Tell me about this album that you’re working on? What’s it about, What’s involved, etc? 

I’m very much working to be DIY in the way that I’m constructing it. I wasn’t too good at the studio work I did last year, but I was reasonably good with the computer element of music making, so I started out making some spoken word music. I kind of weaned off of that this year, as I was writing lyrics which were more miserable than I had become in life, and the authenticity had faded. So I went back to the drawing board and asked myself, “What type of music do I want to listen to?”. It took me no time to decide on making an instrumental album focused around relaxation and helping the listener feel more at peace. It’s to be called “At Peace, At Last” and will be released hopefully before the year is over under the simple name “w.p.”. It’s being produced via plugged acoustic guitar through a keyboard amp then recorded with a USB microphone. You can tell it isn’t professionally done, but I kind of love that about it. I also took the photographs for the artwork, and designed the entire physical CD with some assistance from my friend Tegan in Melbourne. When it’s released, it can be bought via messaging me through my page, or digitally via Bandcamp. However, the Bandcamp isn’t up and running yet, so it’ll probably be empty!

How many instruments can you play? 

I can play three. I started out with clarinet at age 10, followed by saxophone at age 12, and then I have since tried to teach myself the drums, but that endeavour has been less successful! Even though my album is made entirely through guitar and Ableton Live (my programme of choice), I can’t play guitar for the life of me; not yet anyway!

What’s your favourite genre? 

It really depends on the day. I’m very much into pop punk, hardcore and metal core, but indie rock and alternative rock can be incredibly good if done well. I try not to discriminate, but honestly, I find R’n’B and country so very hard to get into. Also, rap isn’t my thing, but Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp A Butterfly” is a masterpiece.

What artists inspire you the most?

It depends on the day and the project I’m working on. With the instrumental album, I drew a lot of inspiration from an artist named Qualia; I listened to their album “Everything Will Be Alright” a while back, and it’s just really stuck with me. Also, there’s a band called Gates which I am in love with, and a band called Explosions In The Sky. I love ambience, I love when things are somewhat simple, and I love music that is beautiful in a lush kind of way. I like to try and replicate that, no matter how feeble my attempts are.

What are your music career plans/goals/hopes for the future?

My plans for a career are currently pretty up in the air, but ideally I’d love to make a living doing sound effects and foley for movies.

There is no exact release date for Will’s album yet, but for now you can follow him on his Facebook page, his Bandcamp account, his Instagram, his Twitter and his YouTube account (follow the hyperlinks).

If there are any local artists or bands that you think we should feature then leave your suggestions below, but for now we would like to thank Will for chatting with us here at Between The Headphones.


The science behind having songs stuck in your head

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head and not known why? Want to know how it happens? Well now science has the answers!

To find out why we get songs get stuck in our heads, read Marc Hogan’s article ‘Why do songs get stuck in your head? New study has the answer’. 

Downloading Music: Yeah or nah?

The downloading music dilemma has been a serious issue for the music industry over the past decade. Artists and record companies have been battling the internet and its pirating networks in order to regain control over music distribution and consumer sales. The introduction of online streaming has assisted in lowering the rate of downloading as the latest statistics have found and assisted in returning some money back to musicians, however the streaming comes with a cost to the consumer. In order to stream songs through applications such as Spotify, consumers have to endure 30 second ads and limited skips, or subscribe to a premium version that costs $12 a month. This means that downloading music is still popular among our generation, and is still causing trouble for the music industry.

The debate on if downloading music is acceptable is a heated one, and one that has caused lots of controversy in the music world. Should we be able to download music when we have the technology readily available? Or should we return to buying music and put the money back into the musician’s hands? We conducted a survey to find out people’s opinions on downloading music.

Our survey found that 54.55% said they download music compared to 18.18% who said they buy music (27.27% said they either do both, or stream music). When asked what downloading website/software they use to download music, the most common answers were YouTube converter, MP3 converter, Pirate bay and UTorrent.

Contrary to belief, respondents said that they didn’t download music just because it was possible to do so, but because it is too expensive/the could not afford it. One respondent brought up a good point, “who wants to spend $5 on one song or $15-$25 on an album when you only want two songs from it”. Following this, 72.73% said that music should be cheaper to buy, with 18.18% disagreeing and 9.09% saying they are unbothered.

When asked if downloading music should be legal, 45.45% said yes and 27.27% said no (18.1% said they were unbothered). One respondent had a conflicted opinion: “Yes and no, if it was legal to download the music industry would start failing because they wouldn’t have as much money, then there wouldn’t be as many songs out”. However, the question that caused most confliction was ‘Do you think downloading music has a negative impact on society? Explain’. There were mixed opinions on both sides with some people saying that it had a negative impact on musicians because it denies them money and some people saying that if we couldn’t download music then there would be people who wouldn’t be able to listen to music due to financial reasons. However, one respondent brought up a probable solution: “a lot of people that can’t afford to buy music will save up for merchandise or to attend a show which supports the artist more”.

Unfortunately, that opinion is not shared by the government and record companies. In Australia, the ‘Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Bill was introduced in 2015 to prevent Australians from accessing oversea websites such as Pirate Bay. In an interview with SBS Vanessa Hutley from Music Rights Australia said, “We have a huge problem with these sites. They make only money for the people who operate it, and so this will be an important arm for rights holders to protect their rights”.

What side of the debate are you on? Do you think we should be able to download music or do you agree with it being illegal? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!



The History of Mixtapes

Mixtapes were most popular in the 1980s before they began dying out to albums in the 1990s and iTunes in 2001.

Some of you when you hear the word mixtape will think of cheesy 80s romance movies where the guy makes the girl a mixtape that represents his undying love.

Others when you hear the word mixtape will think back to your childhood when you  were able to choose your favourite singles and comprise them all onto one totally tubular cassette.

But do you know the real history behind the mixtape? To find out more go read David Chiu’s article on ‘The forgotten precursor to iTunes’. 

Album Review: Illuminate // Shawn Mendes

Audiences were first introduced to teenage heart-throb Shawn Mendes through the popular six-second video app Vine, where he mastered the art of capturing young girl’s hearts with his impressive guitar and vocal skills. Although the videos only lasted six seconds, it was enough for Island records to snatch the teen pop-sensation and offer him a recording contract. Now, on the outset of 18, Shawn has released his second album ‘Illuminate’. With its John Mayer inspired melodies and true-to-the-heart lyrics, Illuminate is the perfect transition from naive, clean-cut kid to mature recording artist.

Illuminate begins with the track ‘Ruin’; not the strongest track in the album, but it encompasses the mood of the album and gives the audience a preview of what to expect from the other singles. This transitions into Shawn’s second debut single ‘Mercy’. Personally, this is my favourite track from the album. The soft hums that leave you riddled with goosebumps and the obvious passion from Mendes in the bridge, send out ‘Take me to church’ (Hozier) vibes. No doubt in my mind that this is one of the strongest tracks on the album.

Following that is ‘Treat you better’: Shawn’s first debut single for the album. This was the track that gave wider audiences the first taste of what was to come from Illuminate. It stayed true to Shawn’s previous work ‘Stitches’ and ‘A little too much’, while also demonstrating his newfound maturity and journey into adulthood. The continuing set list follows the pattern of “Pop, love-struck” ballads with singles like  ‘No promises’  and  ‘Lights on’ added to the mix to keep the rhythm flowing.

Speaking of ‘Lights on’, this is the most risqué track on the album, let alone Shawn’s discography. We are fooled at the beginning of the track by the “country-pop” guitar strums into thinking it’s going to be another ‘Treat you better’ kind of single; that’s until the pre-chorus comes around and we hear “And I can’t deny I want your body”. The chorus continues this sexual undertone with “I wanna love you with the lights on, keep you up all night long”. This is probably the biggest surprises in the album and is a major change from Shawn’s usual style of writing. However, it is an excellent example of Shawn’s growing maturity and shows audience his progression into adulthood.  Jon Reyes from the ‘Idolator’ summarises this point perfectly, “[Shawn’s] most noticeable change, aside from the tight music hall sonics, is the subtle infusion of sex into the lyrics. He’s graduated from songs like ‘Kid in Love’ to fare like ‘Lights On’ and ‘Patience’”.

Another surprise from the album is in the track ‘Understand’. The cool element of this track is that instead of a “bridge”, Shawn added a short monologue. Keeping to the theme of the track, Shawn talks about the struggle of staying true to yourself as you grow and change into adulthood. It’s a nice touch and emphasises the honesty of the lyrics. Finally, the album concludes with ‘Hold on’ and ‘Roses’‘Hold on’ is the most personal track on the album. The single acts as an outlet for some of Shawn’s personal struggles with transitioning into a pop sensation and being on the road constantly. Hands down it contains the most touching and impactful lyrics from the album: “And my dad said, Shawn stay with me, everything will be alright. I know I haven’t seen you lately but you’re always on my mind”.

Throughout Illuminate, Shawn actively attempts to work outside of social music norms. Rather than using the “electronic/techno” backing tracks that are common among our generation, Shawn chooses to use “old-fashioned” instruments like acoustic guitar, piano and a backing choir. These instrumentals reinforce the themes of the songs (as seen in ‘Like this’  and ‘Three empty words’. The lyrics in Illuminate are what you expect to come from someone linked to artists like Justin Bieber, which reminds us that although this album sounds more mature, Shawn is still just an 18-year-old kid.

I would give this album a solid 4 out 5 stars on the “treblemaker scale”. There were a couple of tracks that were too slow for my personal taste, but overall the album was impressive and Shawn perfectly showcased his vocal and music ability, and his musical development. If I had to summarise the album, I would direct you to an interview with Mendes and Ryan Secrets who said, “Mendes’ album serves a soundtrack for the man stages of love”. In any case, if you are a fan of the pop genre, love a good ballad or you are just a person who appreciates good vocals, then this album will be for you.

Shawn Mendes- Illuminate (Full Album Deluxe)

The rise of A Capella

Over the course of the past decade, we have seen our fair share of music trends come and disappear, but one trend that hasn’t and won’t be going away anytime soon is the rise of A capella. For those who aren’t familiar with this genre, A capella is a style of music where artists use only their voices to create and replicate not only lyrics, but instruments! The trend began in late 2009 with the introduction of the popular reality show The Sing-Off, aired on NBC. From the beginning audiences were hooked and A capella soon became the newest trend in music.

To gain a better understanding of this, let’s look at a chronological timeline of the rise of A capella.

2009: This was the first year that NBC’s reality show, The Sing Off, began airing. The show revolved around 10 A cappella groups, ranging from high school to professional, and their battle for the title of the ultimate team and the a recording contract. Groups would perform covers of different music genres and be eliminated until one group was left standing. Within the show’s first season, audience ratings went through the roof. Audiences even loved the show so much that NBC decided to extend the show for another four seasons. This launched A capella into the limelight and started this trend that we see today.

2010: The following year, A capella was pushed even further into the limelight when audiences were introduced to The Warblers on the hit TV show Glee. The all-male A capella show choir group, who were actually a real life college choir called the Tufts Beelzebubs, were led by famous actor Darren Chris and first appeared in the 2010 episode entitled Never been kissed. The appearance of A Capella in a popular youth TV show only further increased the popularity of the genre and inspired other artists to form their own A capella groups.

2012: Jumping ahead two years, we see A capella return to the spotlight with the release of the movie Pitch Perfect. The film was set in America’s college life where students compete in A capella championships. Specifically the film focuses on an all-female group who are struggling to compete against reigning champions and rivals The Treblemakers. That is until freshman Beca (played by Anna Kendrick) comes along and introduces them into a new style of A capella. What made this movie great was that it stayed true to A capella and how serious and difficult the genre can be. Audiences were thrilled to hear not long after the movie’s release that a second movie was in the works. The sequel Pitch Perfect 2 was released in May 2015.

2015-16: Although all these events did contribute to the rise of A capella, if there is one thing that the genre is known for, it’s for one A capella group in particular: Pentatonix. We were first introduced to Pentatonix in 2011 after they became the winners of NBC’s The Sing Off. Soon after, the group started posting covers on YouTube, which brought them an online audience and furthered their popularity. Now Pentatonix have become platinum selling record artists; selling more than 2.8 million albums and even winning some Grammys. Their combination of flawless harmonies and modern melodies has connected with the new generation, which in an industry that is dominated by heavily altered music, is a great feat.

As you can see, A capella has been a trend on the rise for almost a decade now and it doesn’t look like it will be disappearing anytime soon. With another Pitch Perfect movie in the works and the continuing fame of Pentatonix, A capella seems like it will be an ongoing trend in the music industry. What are your thoughts? Do you think A capella will be here to stay or do you think that it will disappear in a couple of years? Leave a comment below!


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