|Stylistic origins||Swing (1940s)
Bubblegum pop (1960s and early 1970s)
Dance-pop, synthpop (1980s)
Contemporary R&B, hip hop, rock (1990s-2000s)
Contemporary R&B, country pop, dance-pop, electropop, Pop-rap (present)
|Cultural origins||1940s, United States|
|Typical instruments||Drum machine, synthesizer, auto-tuned vocals, guitar, sometimes keyboards|
Teen pop is a subgenre of pop music that is created, marketed and oriented towards preteens and teenagers (ages 10 to 19). Teen pop copies genres and styles such as pop, dance, electronic, R&B, rap, country and rock. Typical characteristics of teen pop music include lyrics focused on teenage issues such as (sexual/emotional) love/relationships, finding yourself, friendships, coming of age, fitting in, and growing up, choreographed dancing, emphasis on visual appeal (photogenic faces, slender body physiques, immaculately attended hair and designer clothes), and repeated chorus lines along with a generally happy tune in the background. Since the late 1990s auto-tuned vocals have been prevalent.
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, Fabian Forte, Ricky Nelson and Frankie Avalon. 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 Bobby Sherman, The DeFranco Family, David Cassidy (both solo and as lead singer of The Partridge Family), Shaun Cassidy, The Brady Bunch Kids, the Jackson 5 (along with lead singer Michael Jackson) and a pre-disco Bee Gees.
The first major wave of teen pop after the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s occurred in the mid to late 1980s, with artists such as Menudo, New Edition, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany and New Kids on the Block. 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 and other parts of the world with the boy bands Take That, 3T; and Lynda Thomas. during the mid-1990s.
In 1996, British girl group the Spice Girls, released their first single "Wannabe", which made them major pop stars in the UK, as well as in the US and the rest of the world the following year. The girl group started and reinvigorated a new teen-pop craze. In their wake, other teen pop groups and singers came to prominence, including Hanson, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Robyn, 98 Degrees, Five and All Saints. In 1999, the success of teenaged pop-singers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, as well as (to a near as successful extent) Jessica Simpson and Mandy Moore marked the development of what Allmusic refers to as the "pop Lolita" trend, sparking the short careers of future pop singers such as Willa Ford, Brooke Allison, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mikaila, Samantha Mumba, and Kaci. In 2001, artists like Aaron Carter, Swedish group A-Teens, girl groups 3LW, Eden's Crush, No Secrets, Play, and Dream and boy band Dream Street became big on the Pop scene as well. Alternate "looks" for female teen pop stars included P!nk & Hoku. Britpop surged with Atomic Kitten and Billie Piper.
The "Carter legacy" continued with the failed pop career of Leslie Carter, whose only single was a song titled "Like Wow".
According to Gayle Ward, the demise of this late 1990s teen pop was due to:
- promotional oversaturation of teen pop music in 1999 and 2000;
- the public's changing attitude toward it, deeming teen pop as inauthentic and corporate-produced;
- the transition of the pre-teen and teenage fanbase of these teen pop artists during 1997–2000 to young adulthood (and the accompanying changes in musical interests);
- other musical genres such as post-grunge rock (like Nickelback, Puddle of Mudd, Three Days Grace, Creed, and Seether) and hip hop (such as 50 Cent, Eminem, Lil' Wayne and Lil' Jon) began increasing in popularity.
By mid 2002, late 1990s and early 2000s teen pop artists entered hiatuses and semi-retirements (*NSYNC, 98 degrees, Destiny's Child) or changed their musical style, including the Backstreet Boys, Spears, and Aguilera. Many teen artists starting incorporating genres such as pop rock, contemporary R&B and hip hop. B2K, a hip hop, pop and R&B group, was made up of teenage boys so it was considered a boy band and was popular across the world. Their style of music was very different from other teenage artists, sounding more mature and R&B than the typical boy band, though the members were all in their mid-teenage years as well. B2K disbanded in January 2004. Other teenage artists who sounded more mature in this way were Jhene and Mario.
Many teen pop artists struggled for air time on popular radio stations because the radio could only support a handful of teen pop artists at a time. Therefore, many teen pop artists turned to television in order to ensure an increase in their popularity. "While radio can't possibly air so many pop contenders, television exposure is often the catalyst that helps an act break loose from the pack." ("More on the Way: The Next Generation of Teen Pop Acts…", ProQuest).
Around 2005, teen pop was more into a pop-rock genre, with the success of teenaged singers such as Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, Ashlee Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Aly & AJ, Jesse McCartney, and Cheyenne Kimball. The success of Fall Out Boy's "Sugar, We're Goin Down" in mid-2005 and of My Chemical Romance's "Welcome to the Black Parade" in 2007 sparked an interest in pop-rock aimed at teens, leading to the mainstream success of All-American Rejects, Panic! At the Disco, Boys Like Girls and other teen-oriented rock bands. Unlike the "boy bands" who preceded them, these bands became famous without corporate construction, were not vocal groups, and their lyrics often dealt with such topics as serious illness, stalking, and sexual infidelity and jealousy. However, other teen artists in the more R&B tinged pop vein were also popular, such as JoJo, Rihanna, Ciara, and Chris Brown, as they all achieved success and indicated new relevance of teen-oriented pop music. Around this time, American Idol winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood became some of the most prominent figures in teen pop.
Since the mid 2000s, many teen stars have developed careers through their involvement with Disney, like singer-songwriters Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, the Jonas Brothers, and the Cheetah Girls, although some other Disney stars did many years before that. Other teen pop stars emerged by 2007, such as American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and Nickelodeon stars Victoria Justice and Miranda Cosgrove.
In the "do it yourself" category of artists in teen Pop, the singer-songwriter Taylor Swift emerged as a major star on both the country and pop music scene, scoring major hits with songs such as "You Belong With Me," "Love Story" and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together". The introduction of Canadian singer Justin Bieber, a protégé of Usher, created a resurgence of interest in R&B tinged teen pop. Bieber also holds many records, making him the only musician having 5 number one albums under the age of 20. At the time of his debut album's release, Bieber set records, such as being the only artist to have four songs in to the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100 and the first artist to have all singles from an album in the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2010 and 2011, 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, inane lyrics, and lack of vocal talent.
In 2011, a new boy band wave was recreated, thanks to the success of the British-Irish boy-bands One Direction and The Wanted, as well as American boy-bands, such as Big Time Rush. 5 Seconds of Summer (a more rock version of a boyband) debuted a couple of years later and debuted big worldwide, including America.
In 2013, the ex-Disney stars, Lovato, Gomez, and Cyrus released their fourth studio albums (in the case of Gomez, her first solo).
In early 2013, Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande gained mainstream success through her hit debut single "The Way" and has been since recognized as a teen pop idol as well as becoming big in mainstream R&B and teen pop.
In Japanese teen pop culture, the category of "idol" is playing an important role. According to 2013 and 2014 surveys, Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as the most popular female idol group. The group is known for energetic performances, incorporating elements of ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. Although the girls' voices are not very stable when coupled with an intense dance, they never lipsynch.
- Billie Piper
- Britney Spears
- Christina Aguilera
- Lynda Thomas
- Spice Girls
- James Dean
- Kelly Clarkson
- New Kids on the Block
- Generation X
- Generation Z
- Millennial Generation
- Bobby soxer
- Backstreet Boys
- Teen drama - (List of teen dramas)
- Teen film - (List of teen films)
- Teen idol
- Taylor Swift
- Teen magazine - (List of teen magazines)
- Teen sitcom - (List of teen situation comedies)
- Youth culture
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- All Music Staff. "Teen Pop". Allmusic. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
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- Wald, Gayle. "'I Want It That Way': Teenybopper Music and the Girling of Boy Bands". Retrieved January 27, 2008.
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