BROCKHAMPTON: The First Internet Boy Band


The first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “boy band” is probably NSYNC, Backstreet Back or One Direction. In other words, a group of white boys that sing catchy pop songs with synchronized choreographies and matching outfits. BROCKHAMPTON (yes, their name is in capital letters), a self-denominated “boy band”, is far from that. BROCKHAMPTON is made up of 13 unique members of various cultures, ethnicities, sexualities, and artistic styles. This diversity in the group members translates into their music: shocking, powerful, and strangely beautiful. 

 Traditionally, boy bands have been formed by agents with the goal of gaining profit. For example, One Direction was formed by Simon Cowell in the X Factor. It was a commercial decision. The members are not responsible for creating the music, organizing the shows, or the band’s aesthetic. They are purely a face. In addition, they have a designated “persona”: the nerd, the sensitive one, the bad one, the stylish one… However, their special traits are always within a standard. Not to discredit their work (these bands are popular for a reason,) but their purpose is solely commercial, profit-driven. BROKHAMPTON is different. 

The members are truly different. They are real people, with flaws and struggles, which they consistently discuss in their music. Their “uniqueness” goes beyond having varying hair colors or being the nerdy one. While the Backstreet boys were singing about “getting the girl”, BROCKHAMPTON is asking questions about mental health, the pressures of fitting in, family issues, identity, and other important issues. Furthermore, they are able to discuss these topics while being upbeat and maintaining a high level of music quality. On top of that, they are far from arrogant and condescending. Kevin Abstract, the leader of the group, has even publicly shared his love for Harry Styles, a member of One Direction. 

Other than all these things, BROCKHAMPTON got a contract out of their own hard work, something completely out of the ordinary for boy bands, since most already start out with a contract. The band initially met in 2015 through an online Kanye West fan forum called “KanyeToThe”, which made them, as they call themselves, “the first internet boy band”. Clearly, Kanye is one of the band’s musical influences, but the members have also shared their devotion to musicians other than rappers, like Jimmy Hendrix. This mixture of influences contributes to their genre-defying music. 

In addition, their graphic designer, producers, agent, and web designer are part of the group. They create their own music, art (album covers and video clips), and production, which really makes their aesthetic legitimate. In Vice’s series of shorts “American Boyband“, they are shown touring and it is obvious that they are just regular (very talented) teens. They tour in a van; one of the member’s parents (Romil) brings food to their shows; they wear a lot of hoodies, and get nervous about meeting with adults.  

The band is particularly popular among teenagers. While their bold style may repel older audiences, young music fanatics embrace it. When asking a couple of teens for what differentiates the band, they explained that it’s because of its diversity and rebranding of boy bands. According to Ned, a Graded student and fan of the band, “I really like how because there are so many members that each song sounds really different because not all of them can fit in the same song. I also really like their aesthetic of a ‘classic American’ boy band.”  The diversity in music goes beyond genres, as another fan, Ella, explains, “their music is a combination of so many genres that I can’t really classify their music as one genre.” Their fans also enjoy Tyler, The Creator, Jaden Smith, and the band’s individual members’ solo careers. BROCKHAMPTON is praised for being experimental, however, this can also distance some audiences. I recommend first listening to “FACE“, SUMMER“, and “JOHNNY” for a more chill vibe and “BOOGIE” and “GOLD” for a more upbeat mood before trying there more “peculiar” songs. It may take listening to their music over and over to finally embrace it, but the end result is amazing. 


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