In honor of MTV’s Battle of the Boy Bands, Above the Buzz breaks down boy-band mania and why picking a favorite really matters.
By Jocelyn Vena

The Wanted
Photo: Island Def Jam

There’s a full-on war happening out in the pop trenches. That war is being fought on the battlefield of the hearts of teen girls everywhere. The soldiers? Well, they are the new bevy of boy bands that are dominating the charts, the airwaves and the conversation.

Some people (mostly some older men that I know) are confused by it. They may not understand why anyone should care about boy bands. Well, here’s why we do care: I think the rest of us are kind of into that joyful feeling of youthful exuberance that comes with boy bands. That feeling those five guys give you when they sing to you about love and how pretty you are. Heck, we’ve all been there. We’ve all had our Nick Carters or Justin Timberlakes.

These days, some girls are proudly waving their freak flags and declaring their devotion to always-cheeky British boy band the Wanted. Meanwhile, other girls prefer the floppy-haired, puppy love vibe of One Direction. Either way, these guys are using well-produced pop tunes about the nuances of romance to win you (or your little sister or teen cousin or some other young woman you know) over. And those girls feel they must decide — they have to pick a band.

Girls, I understand that strife. Listen, I’ve been there. I spent my formidable early teen years at the height of the greatest boy-band battle of all time: the Backstreet Boys vs. ‘NSYNC. Yep, I survived it. Like Katniss in “The Hunger Games.” They were like the Peeta and Gale of the pop world. Who would I choose? Well, I chose. And I’ve never doubted my choice. So, to aid you with this modern-day boy-band dilemma, here’s some handy advice to help you navigate the murky waters of a boy-band-pocalypse.

Back then, I happily declared “BSB for life!” Sure, I enjoyed ‘NSYNC a lot. I had all their albums, saw them in concert, may have wondered what it would be like to date one of them. I was hardly a boy-band rookie at that point. As a kid, I had already been pretty obsessed with the New Kids on the Block. “Please Don’t Go Girl?” Psh, try, “Please don’t go guys … ever.” My love for boy bands has been and will always be a lifelong commitment.

The fever I had for the Backstreet Boys was beyond. It was “wake up early to wait in line for concert tickets” obsessed. It was “get my VCR ready to tape their appearance on ‘TRL’ ” crazed. It was “break out my boom box and make mixtapes of their radio appearances and play them back … over and over” fevered. I had posters and T-shirts and concert stubs and more posters and T-shirts and albums and concert specials and everything BSB.

I loved the guys so much that I may have even attempted to pen songs that I thought the guys might want to sing. (And no, you can’t ever read them or hear them. I’m no Max Martin.)

So, as you can see, I get it. I get how you can love a band that much. But you might be wondering, how did I pick a side? Well, that’s not easy to put into words.

I just did it — I just picked with my heart. I think when it comes to identifying with a boy band, it’s just something you feel in your gut. It’s their music, their brand of boy-band bravado, their flavor. Their sheer existence and the way it speaks to you.

Why did I pick the Backstreet Boys? I don’t know. I just loved them. Those songs, those melodies. Man, it didn’t get better than that. They just spoke to me on some subatomic level. I mean, who could not pick a band who tells you “I’ll never break your heart/ I’ll never make you cry”?

Now, as I watch a new generation of girls caught up in boy-band mania, I get it. These are the boys you crush on. These are the boys you pin your girlhood dreams on. So, get caught up in the fever, girls. It only happens once. Blast the tunes, go to the shows, buy the merchandise. I promise you, one day when you’re all grown-up, you’ll look back on this time fondly.

Why? Well, to put it simply, nothing is better than your first boy band. Nothing.

Voting in round two of MTV’s Battle of the Boy Bands runs until noon ET on Monday, April 30. Winners are determined by fan votes, so if your favorite band made the cut, make sure you keep voting. Tune in to AMTV and MTV Hits for their boy-band video takeovers each day and make sure to spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #BBB and like us on Facebook for updates!

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