|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 (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. Teen pop copies genres and styles such as pop, dance, R&B, hip hop, country and rock. Typical characteristics of teen pop music include auto-tuned vocals, choreographed dancing, emphasis on visual appeal (photogenic faces, unique body physiques, immaculately attended hair and designer clothes), lyrics focused on teenage issues such as (sexual/emotional) love/relationships, finding yourself, friendships, coming of age, fitting in, and growing up, regardless of the artists' age and repeated chorus lines along with a generally happy tune in the background.
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 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, the girl group Spice Girls released their 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 came to prominence, including Hanson, the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Robyn, 98 Degrees, and All Saints. In 1999, the success of teenaged pop-singers Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera 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, Svala, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mikaila, and Kaci. In 2001, artists like Aaron Carter, Swedish group A-Teens, girl groups 3LW and Dream and boy band Dream Street were teen pop artists and hits. Alternate "looks" for female teen pop stars included Hoku, Samantha Mumba, and girl groups Eden's Crush and No Secrets. Another popular girl group was Play. 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 2000 and 2001;
- 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 1997–1999 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 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 2002, 1990s and early 2000s teen pop artists entered hiatuses and semi-retirements (*NSYNC, Dream, Destiny's Child) or changed their musical style, including the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Hanson. 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.
Around 2005, teen pop was more into a pop-rock genre, with the success of teenaged singers such as Hilary Duff, 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" later that year 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 and the Jonas Brothers, although some 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 the 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.
- Lamb, Bill. "Teen Pop". About.com. Retrieved January 28, 2007.
- All Music Staff. "Teen Pop". Allmusic. Retrieved October 26, 2007.
- Wald, Gayle. "'I Want It That Way': Teenybopper Music and the Girling of Boy Bands". Retrieved January 27, 2008.
- "Official News: Good Morning America and My World Pt 2". Island DefJam. 2009-11-13.