Appreciating all that makes America special

Teen Idols

Teen Idol Ricky Nelson,

Families watched Ozzie and Harriet in the 1950s, but the audience swelled whenever son Ricky performed one of his hits. Uploaded by

In his song “The Boy in the Bubble,” Paul Simon reminded us: “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts.” Well said (as usual), Paul. It seems as if teen girls in particular choose a cute boy singer as a surrogate boyfriend, and the result is an acceptable form of mass hysteria. Let’s look at some of the teen idols since the age of mass communication began:

16 Magazine, Great American Things

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  • 1940s. Frank Sinatra practically created the phenomenon, singing with the big bands of Harry James and Tommy Dorsey.
  • 1950s. A big era for idols. Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Paul Anka, Ricky Nelson. Television brought the heart-throbs directly into the living room.
  • 1960s. While this “idol” idea usually related to individuals, The Beatles made a huge impact here as on most everything else. Girls chose which of the Fab Four to swoon over. (Except John – “Sorry girls, he’s married.”)
  • 1970s. Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy were the biggest fan favorites.
  • 1980s. Probably the weakest decade for teen idols. But the girls managed to choose their favorites in the Brat Pack, primarily Emilio Estevez and Rob Lowe.
  • 1990s. Say hello to the Boy Bands – New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, and ‘N Sync.
  • 2000s to today. Vampires (Robert Pattinson), wizards (Daniel Radcliffe) and, of course, Justin Bieber.

What do they all have in common? They’re cute (sometimes pretty), safe, and non-threatening. And over the years, they’ve sold millions of records, movie tickets, and Tiger Beat magazines…

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