Author: Brady Ng

Sin Wai Kin 單慧乾

Even if you don’t like boy bands, chances are you know the lyrics to at least one song that topped the charts, with harmonised backing vocals by four or five young men in their 20s, each with a different haircut and colour, each dressed in a distinct style: sporty, refined, street-smart, bad boy, whatever. Maybe one raps, maybe one is a crooner, and the others are just kind of there to add a few layers of audio complexity to their tracks and for visual completion. As fans, we project our expectations or desires onto them. These identities, each one a trope, are sculpted to sell records, move merch and pull millions of paying fans into arenas for concerts. As receptacles of fantastical fancy, or delusion, every member of a boy band not so much offers the emotional gratification that so many people are after, but simply functions as an imagined companion that radiates affection. This peaked in 1997, when the Backstreet Boys sang I don’t care who you are / Where you’re from / What …