A teenybopper is a young teenager who follows adolescent trends in music, fashion and culture. The term may have been coined by marketing professionals and psychologists, later becoming a subculture of its own.[1][2] The term was introduced in the 1950s[3] to refer to teenagers who mainly listened to pop music and/or rock and roll and not much else. Teenybopper became widely used again in the late 1960s and early 1970s, following an increase in the marketing of pop music, teen idols and fashions aimed specifically at younger girls, generally 10–15 years old.[4][2]

Subcultural aspects

The subculture is exclusive to young girls.[2][5] As a subculture, it is a "retreat and preparation", allowing girls to relate to their peers and "practice in the secrecy of girl culture the rituals of courtship away from the eye of male ridicule",[2][5] also having no risks of standing out or personal humiliation, and serving as a retreat to avoid being labeled sexually.[5] It also allows young girls to participate in semi-masturbatory rituals, since they don't have access to the masturbatory rituals common among boys.[5] While the subculture allows them to have a space of their own, the subculture magazines offer an idealized relation with the teen idols, always implying a subordination of the female to the male, anticipating that the subordination will keep being present in their future relationships, and presenting an idealized form of marriage.[5]

The narrative fantasies elaborated around teenyboppers serve as distractions from boring, unrewarding, or demanding aspects of life, such as school or work, and as a defensive means against the authoritarian structures at school.[1][5] When shared with other teenyboppers, it allows for defensive solidarity.[5] It allows its members to define themselves apart from younger and older girls.[1] Their groups, like all girl groups, will rarely go above four, unlike boys, who prefer bigger numbers.[5]

It has a commercial origin and is "an almost packaged cultural commodity", emerging from the pop business and relying on commercial magazines and TV.[1] As a result, it has fewer creative elements than other subcultures.[1]

Membership has very few restrictions, does not require elaborate spending, and requires much less competence and money than certain school activities.[1][5] Because its members don't have as much freedom as their male counterparts, the subculture is suited to being followed at school or home,[1][5] and they can hold a party with just a bedroom, a music player and permission to invite friends.[5]

Musical preferences

In the 1960s, a new type of music appeared, different from the Tin Pan Alley music school, but moulded by it.[6] It was no longer written by the old established songwriters of Tin Pan Alley, but by young people.[6] They helped to establish the new teen idols and wrote the so-called "teeny bopper songs", which "blend soft rock with pop ballad, is not explicitly physical and only hints at sexual interaction.[6]

The difference that the 70s' "Teeny Bopper syndrome" had with prior idol phenomena was that these new teen idols were directed at even younger girls, down to 15 years old, who were too young to have heard The Beatles and were not attracted to the new hard rock music of the time that their elder siblings listened to.[4] This new market has a quick turnover potential and it boosted the benefits of many broadcasting companies.[4]

The teenybopper idol image is that of the young boy next door, with its key elements being self-pity, vulnerability and need.[6] Their music is consumed by young girls, who collect posters and pin ups.[4][6]

See also


  1. Gelder 2005, p. 84.
  2. Brake 1980, p. 143.
  3. Zimmer, Ben (2010-05-28). "Cool". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  4. Hall & Jefferson 1993, p. 220.
  5. Hall & Jefferson 1993, pp. 219–21.
  6. Elicker 1997, pp. 28–29.

Further reading

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