Explorative, authentic and cohesive

factors contributing to successful boy band reunions


  • Anja Löbert University of Salford




boy band, breakup, comparative analysis, East 17, NKOTB, reunion, Spice Girls, Take That


Using a comparative approach, this article looks at the different elements contributing to the success of boy band comebacks, primarily by contrasting the Take That reunion with the somewhat flopped reformation of their precursors, New Kids on the Block, but also by drawing on British examples such as the Spice Girls, East 17, and Boyzone. Firstly, the parameters of the breakup are analysed as possible predictors for the success of a reunion, especially, here, the popularity at the point of breakup, its staging and framing. Secondly, the parameters of the reunion are scrutinised, in particular the mode of re-entry into the market (explorative or assumptive), the discourse (re-) established in the comeback video (typical or atypical boy band theme) and the marketing strategy as such. Thirdly, the article examines the dynamics within the band and its personalities as factors influencing the potential success of a reunion (particularly problematic in the case of East 17). And finally, the article considers the impact which successful solo careers of individual band members may have upon the success of a reunion, arguing that the immense popularity of Robbie Williams kept Take That relevant even during their latency and increased Take That’s chances of finding large audiences again (a dramatic factor which is unique to Take That).

Author Biography

Anja Löbert, University of Salford

Anja Löbert earned an MA in Sociology, Media Studies, and English Studies at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. She also studied at the Institute of Popular Music in Liverpool in 2002. Since 2005 she has worked as a freelance journalist specialising in British and American popular culture and society and is an affiliate scholar of Salford University, while her ongoing scholarly work is carried out in an independent, freelance capacity. Her research specialisms are fandom, ethnography, and empirical social research.


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Guardian, The. ‘Take That Take to the Road Again’. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/nov/25/popandrock

McDonald, P. 1997. ‘Feeling and Fun: Romance, Dance and the Performing Male Body in the Take That Videos’. In Sexing the Groove, ed. Sheila Whiteley, 277–94. London: Routledge.

Moore, A. 2002. ‘Authenticity as Authentication’. Popular Music 21/2 (May): 209–223. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0261143002002131



How to Cite

Löbert, A. (2013). Explorative, authentic and cohesive: factors contributing to successful boy band reunions. Popular Music History, 7(2), 127–142. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v7i2.127