The Music of Boy Bands

Explore the ins-and-outs of some of the most commercially successful pop music in history.

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From Backstreet Boys to One Direction, Boyz II Men to BTS, "boy band" music has been some of the most commercially successful in history — and yet, it has largely gone unstudied by musicians and music lovers alike. Despite its supposedly saccharine melodies and uncomplicated lyrics (we’ll question that), this music has touched billions of listeners around the world, leaving them with strong emotional experiences of hope, nostalgia, passion, and more, time and time again.

In this subscriber-only short course, composer and lyricist Mahea Lee breaks down how all these various elements (lyrics, melody, chords, production, and arrangement) come together to produce a style of music that is almost as nebulous as it is familiar. We'll critically explore who is considered the first modern boy band, how to define the differences between boy band music and pop, and which way the Backstreet Boys actually even want "it"...

But we'll also take it one step further, seeking lessons from deep within the song banks of *NSYNC, One Direction, and Backstreet Boys to draw out inspiration to help us improve our own songwriting and production skills. 

This course is meant to be fun, quick, and inspiring, with plenty of surprising discoveries and practical exercises along the way. So quit playing games and let's get started!

Mahea Lee

Mahea Lee is a classical pianist who went to a jazz school and eventually found herself leading an electro group. She is passionate about musical composition in all its forms — from songwriting to traditional SATB to post-bop-influenced pieces, and everything in between. She's worked as an educator, an arranger, a performer, an accompanist, and a music director.

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boy band music
vocal arranging
pop music
lyric writing
mahea lee
song analysis

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What Makes It Beautiful?

As some of the most commercially successful music in history, boy band music is larger than life but shockingly understudied. This course will go step by step through some critical elements that most boy band music has in common. I swear you're going to enjoy it.

What inspiration can you draw from boy band music?

Catchy hooks, simple harmonies, and multi-part vocal arrangements are just a few of the lessons we can draw from studying this popular music.

Explore the Culture & Context

We'll look at how the commercial nature of the music affects the choices within it.

Analyze Popular Boy Band Songs

We'll look in-depth at a number of the most well-known boy band songs.

Practice Writing Your Own Music

We challenge you to write your own pop chorus for a boy band and other activities.

Learn Writing Approaches & Theory

Use boy band music as a jumping off point to learn theory & composing.


Course Outline

  1. Preview
    Section 1


  2. Section 2

    Culture & Context

  3. Preview
    Section 3

    Chord Talk

  4. Section 4


  5. Section 5

    Lyrical Explorations

  6. Section 6

    The Poetry of Boy Bands

  7. Section 7

    DNA of Arrangements

  8. Section 8

    Story of Production

  9. Section 9

    End of the Road


Who is this course for?

This course is for fans of boy bands who are curious to learn more about this music and cultural phenomenon. It's also for you songwriters, arrangers, lyricists, and producers out there looking to add some highly effective tools to your songwriting tool kits. It's also for anyone with a free couple of hours and a sense of humor.

What will I learn in this course?

This course is a short investigation into the music of boy band music. Using an analytical, yet somewhat whimsical approach, it explores topics such as melody and harmony, lyrical content, production styles, and more.

Are there any pre-reqs?

Nope! This course is for anyone who's interested. When it does reference specific musical concepts, it provides links to other courses and external resources right here on Soundfly.

What do I get if I enroll as a subscriber?

As a subscriber, you'll get unlimited access to all courses on, including this and all our other premium courses, to go through at your own pace. This includes all the videos, tutorials, demos, quizzes, activities, downloads, and other materials within our full suite of courses.

You're also entitled to a 25% discount on our custom mentorship program, you will be invited to join our exclusive community Discord group, you'll be able join subscriber-only Study Groups, artist Q&As and workshops, annual contests and giveaways, and you'll have access to a growing list of exclusive discount perks courtesy of our partner brands. Cancel anytime.

You can find out more about subscribing here.

How does the pricing work?

A subscription costs $39/month or $19/month, paid upfront, if you enroll annually.

How long does this course last?

Though we encourage you to work through all of our course content at your own pace, this particular course was designed to be something you can get through in just a few hours. If you decide to complete the activity at the end of the course, you'll want to set aside a little more time for that.