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Teen pop is a subgenre of pop music that is created, marketed and oriented towards preteens and teenagers. Teen pop incorporates different genres such as pop, R&B, dance, electronic, hip hop, country, latin and rock. Typical characteristics of teen pop music include autotuned vocals, choreographed dancing, emphasis on visual appeal (photogenic faces, unique body physiques, immaculate hair styles and fashion clothes), lyrics focused on teenage issues such as love/relationships, finding oneself, friendships, teenage angst, teen rebellion, coming of age, fitting in and growing up (regardless of the artists' age) and repeated chorus lines. Teen pop singers often cultivate an image of a girl next door/boy next door.
|Cultural origins||1940s to 1990s, United States, United Kingdom|
|Orlando, Florida Los Angeles, California|
According to AllMusic, teen pop "is essentially dance-pop, pop, and urban ballads" that are marketed to teens, and was conceived in its contemporary form during the late 1980s and 1990s, pointing out the late 1990s as "arguably the style's golden era." About.com's Bill Lamb described teen pop sound as "a simple, straightforward, ultra-catchy melody line [...] The songs may incorporate elements of other pop music genres, but usually they will never be mistaken for anything but mainstream pop. The music is designed for maximum focus on the performer and a direct appeal to listeners." Some authors deemed teen pop music as "more disposable, less intellectually challenging, more feminine, simpler and more commercially focused than other musical forms." Author Melanie Lowe wrote that teen pop "is marked by a clash of presumed innocence and overt sexuality, a conflict that mirrors the physical and emotional turmoil of its primary target audience and vital fan base: early-adolescent middle-and upper middle-class suburban girls."
Teen-oriented popular music had become common by the end of the swing era, in the late 1940s, with Frank Sinatra being an early teen idol. However, it was the early 1960s that became known as the "golden age" for pop teen idols, who included Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Lulu and Ricky Nelson. During the 1970s, one of the most popular preteen and teen-oriented acts was the Osmonds, where family members Donny and Marie both enjoyed individual success as well as success as a duo apart from the main family (Donny also recorded with his brothers as the Osmonds). Other successful singers and bands appealing to tweens and teens were Leif Garrett, Bobby Sherman, the DeFranco Family, David Cassidy and the Partridge Family, Shaun Cassidy, the Bay City Rollers and the Jackson 5 to name a few.
The first major wave of teen pop after the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s occurred in the mid to late 1980s, with artists such as Menudo, New Edition, the Jets, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Martika, New Kids on the Block and Kylie Minogue. In the early 1990s, teen pop dominated the charts until grunge and gangsta rap crossed over into the mainstream in North America by late 1991. Teen pop remained popular in the United Kingdom with the boy band Take That during this period, until the mid-1990s when Britpop became the next major wave in the UK, eclipsing the style similar to how grunge did in North America.
In 1996, British girl group Spice Girls released their debut single "Wannabe", which made them major pop stars in the UK, as well as in the US the following year. In their wake, other teen pop groups and singers rose to prominence, including Hanson, the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Robyn, All Saints, S Club 7, Five, B*Witched, and Destiny's Child. In 1999, the success of teenaged pop singers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore marked the development of what AllMusic refers to as the "pop Lolita" trend, sparking the short careers of upcoming pop singers such as Willa Ford, Brooke Allison, Samantha Mumba, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mikaila, Amanda, Nikki Cleary and Kaci Battaglia. In 2001, artists like Aaron Carter, Swedish group A-Teens, girl groups 3LW, Play, Eden's Crush and Dream and boy bands O-Town, B2K and Dream Street were teen pop artists who achieved success. Alternate "looks" for teen pop stars include Hoku, and girl group No Secrets, as well as the CCM group Jump5. In the UK, teen pop continued to surge with Ellie Campbell, Atomic Kitten and Billie Piper. In Latin America, successful singers and bands appealing to tweens and teens were Sandy & Junior, RBD and Rouge.
According to Gayle Ward, the demise of this late 1990s teen pop was due to:
- promotional oversaturation of teen pop music in the early 2000s;
- the public's changing attitude toward it, deeming teen pop as inauthentic and corporately produced;
- the transition of the pre-teen and teenage fanbase of these teen pop artists during 1997–1999 to young adulthood (and the accompanying changes in musical interests);
- a growing young adult male base classifying the music, especially boy band music, as effeminate, and
- other musical genres began increasing in popularity.
1990s and early 2000s teen pop artists eventually entered hiatuses and semi-retirements (*NSYNC, Dream, Destiny's Child) or changed their musical style, including the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, 3LW and Aaron Carter. Many teen artists starting incorporating genres such as pop rock, contemporary R&B and hip-hop. B2K, a hip hop/pop/R&B group, consisting of four teenage black boys, so they were considered a boy band and was popular across the world, though they were only active from 2000 to 2004. Their style of music was very different than other teenage artists, sounding more mature than the typical boy band, though the members were all in their mid-teenage years as well. Other teenage black artists who sounded more mature in this way were Jhene and Mario.
In the early and mid-2000s, teenage singers such as Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Ashlee Simpson, JoJo, Aly & AJ, Jesse McCartney, Rihanna, Skye Sweetnam, Hope Partlow, Jordan Pruitt, Fefe Dobson, Taylor Swift, Stacie Orrico, Cheyenne Kimball, Bow Wow, Ciara, Lumidee, Paula DeAnda, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Raven-Symoné, Corbin Bleu and Chris Brown achieved success, indicating new relevance of teen-oriented pop music.
Since the late 2000s, many teen stars had developed careers through their involvement with Disney (although some had done so many years before). Alongside Disney, other teen pop stars emerged by 2007; among them American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, and Nickelodeon stars Miranda Cosgrove, Victoria Justice, Keke Palmer and Ariana Grande. Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, the Jonas Brothers, and Demi Lovato are some examples of teen pop singers whose careers started on the Disney Channel.
The introduction of Canadian singer Justin Bieber, a protégé of Usher, created a resurgence of interest in teen pop, especially of the traditional male teen idol. At the time of his debut album's release, Bieber set records as the only four songs in to the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, the first artist to send all songs from an album in the Billboard Hot 100. This created a wave of new teen artists found on social media, notably Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth. One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, Little Mix and Fifth Harmony have also re-introduced teen groups, mostly thanks to hit singing competition shows such as The X Factor.
In 2005, AKB48 was created to promote idol culture and Japanese pop nationwide and overseas followed by the expansion of sister groups and rival groups locally and internationally over the years. In 2016, SNH48, as AKB48's second international sister group, announced its local Chinese sister groups like BEJ48, GNZ48, SHY48 and CKG48 to integrate idol culture with a Chinese twist.
In 2010, the creation of Ark Music Factory helped contributed a new generation of teen pop artists via the internet, such as Rebecca Black and Jenna Rose, despite major criticism with these artists due to the excessive use of auto-tune. As for Japanese teen pop culture, the category of "idol" is playing an important role. Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as number one among female idol groups according to 2013–2017 surveys.
In the late 2010s, American singer Billie Eilish developed a following through SoundCloud. Through the release of her debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? in 2019, she became the first artist born in the 2000s to have a number one album in the United States, and the youngest female ever to have a number one album in the United Kingdom.
- Teen Pop Music Genre Overview AllMusic Staff. AllMusic. Retrieved June 23, 2018
- Cooper, Kim; Smay, David, eds. (2001). Bubblegum Music is the Naked Truth: The Dark History of Prepubescent Pop, From the Banana Splits to Britney Spears. Feral House. pp. 1. ISBN 0-922915-69-5.
Defining bubblegum is a tricky proposition as the term variously describes: 1. the classic bubblegum era from 1967-1972; 2. disposable pop music; 3. pop music contrived and marketed to appeal to pre-teens; 4. pop music produced in an assembly-line process, driven by producers and using faceless singers; 5. pop music with that intangible, upbeat 'bubblegum' sound.
- Marshall, Britnee (October 24, 2012). "What is Synthpop?". KSJS. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
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...took her out of the stifling world of teen pop...
- In their Brazilian homeland, dynamic teen siblings Sandy & Junior are a million-selling phenomenon. Billboard
- RBD’s Life Is a Mexican Soap Opera in More Ways Than One The New York Times (July 17, 2006)
- South America Loves it's 'Popstars' Billboard (via Google Books)
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