Just when you thought boy bands were long gone, a new crop originating in the U.K. is causing a stir in the ever-enthusiastic teen music market.
This latest bout of youth hysteria comes largely at the hands (not to mention the voices and boyish good looks) of two British groups whose popularity has seen a sudden surger: One Direction and The Wanted.
Like so many things these days, One Direction came to the public's attention through reality TV. Each of the band's five members auditioned separately for British talent competition "The X Factor" in 2010, before guest Nicole Scherzinger encouraged them to continue in the competition as a group instead.
Once they joined forces, the band — consisting of Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, and Louis Tomlinson, all between 18 and 20 years old — came in third place. That was enough for "X Factor" judge Simon Cowell to sign them to his label, leading to much success in the U.K.
When their debut album "Up All Night" dropped in North America in March, those who weren't aware of the innocent-looking group of guys became acquainted with them very quckly. The album sold 176,000 copies within its first week of release, making One Direction the first British group to top the Billboard 200 chart with its debut album. A release-day appearance on "Good Morning America" drew one of the biggest crowds of exuberant fans Matt Lauer had ever seen in his years of hosting.
While One Direction portray quite the squeaky-clean image, their biggest competition The Wanted are going just one step further with a slightly edgier look and sound.
The British and Irish five-piece, who came together via a mass audition, has already seen success in the U.K., and is ramping up for similar popularity in North America. Their single "Glad You Came," which hit number one in the U.K. in 2010, is now in constant rotation on North American radio as the April 24 release of their debut album fast approaches.
Though their rise to fame stateside hasn't been quite as meteoric as One Direction, The Wanted are well on their way, boasting a more dance-infused sound and a more mature image. The band — made up of Tom Parker, Max George, Siva Kaneswaran, Jay McGuiness, and Nathan Sykes — like to party and don't mind copping a bit of a bad boy 'tude through their songs and stage presence.
Of course, with this rise of two British boy bands comes speculation of rivalry between the two groups. One British newspaper recently quoted The Wanted's Max George allegedly dismissing One Direction as legitimate competition.
"Our song is No 4. Maybe when they have a song right next to us in the charts over there, they'll be competition," George reportedly told the U.K. Sun.
But based on the UK's great history of producing successful boy bands — from Take That in the '90s to Blue and McFly in recent years — there just might be room enough for both One Direction and The Wanted on the west side of the Atlantic, too.