Pop music oriented toward teenagers has been common since at least the 1940's with the heyday of Frank Sinatra and bobbysoxers. A significant common characteristic of teen-oriented pop has been that it is designed from the top down with a producer or record company executive creating the concept then hiring a performer to carry it out on stage and on record.
Development of Teen Pop:
The early 1960's was a golden era of pop teen idols including Paul Anka <Listen>, Fabian <Listen>, and Frankie Avalon <Listen>. Teen pop took a backseat to the musical revolutions prompted by the Beatles and Bob Dylan in the mid-1960's, but by the early 1970's teen-oriented pop music was back. This time it was groups like the Osmonds <Listen>, Partridge Family <Listen>, and the DeFranco Family <Listen> that captured the attention of teenagers.
The Sound of Teen Pop:
The backbone of teen pop music is a simple, straightforward, ultra-catchy melody line. It is almost always easy to singalong with a teen pop classic. 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.
Teen Pop Artists of the Late 1980's:
With the arrival of punk and disco followed by new wave as dominant forces in pop music through the late 70's and into the 80's, manufactured teen-oriented pop once again faded. However, with the arrival of former Star Search contestant Tiffany <Listen> and Debbie Gibson <Listen> on the scene, teen-oriented pop music was back and the direct term "Teen Pop" became commonly used. New Kids on the Block <Listen>, created by Maurice Starr, also emerged in the late 80's wave of teen pop.
Teen Pop Artists of the Late 1990's:
With the arrival of grunge rock as a powerful commercial force, teen pop once again faded in the early 1990's. However, it came back with its greatest commercial success yet in the late 1990's. The Spice Girls <Listen> and Hanson <Listen> paved the way for the massive commercial success of Britney Spears <Listen>, the Backstreet Boys <Listen>, and *NSYNC <Listen>.
The Future of Teen Pop:
Teen pop as a cohesive movement in pop music has once again faded with the hiatus of *NSYNC, semi-retirement of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys movement away from their classic teen pop sound. However, a new round of successful teen performers in 2005 including Rihanna <Listen> and Chris Brown <Listen> indicate pop music aimed directly at teenage fans is alive and well.
Key Teen Pop Recordings:
New Kids on the Block