Just Want You To Know: One Direction are Backstreet Boys Copycats

Editor’s note: this post holds absolutely no educational value and does not actually adhere to science. Read on if you are interested in reading something that mocks One Direction and reveres the Backstreet Boys..

This realization didn’t come from listening to hours of One Direction songs (a decidedly poor use of one’s time). It didn’t even come from extensive Backstreet Boys listening. In fact, I expended exactly zero mental energy on this epiphany.

It’s just really obvious: One Direction IS Backstreet Boys.




In Grade 3, my science teacher Mrs. Brush taught us the scientific method.


That’s probably the last time I really understood Science. I’m going to use the Scientific Method to prove a very important (not important at all) pop cultural point.

Prepare to be “wowed” with “Science.”

Step 1: Ask a Question — As I said, I wasn’t trying to solve a question, but for these purposes, let’s say the question is, What boy band is One Direction most like?

Step 2: Do Background Research — My thought process went like this: “One Direction seems like Backstreet Boys 2.0. Yea, totally. I know some of the One Direction names — there’s Harry, Liam, Niall, Zayn, and another guy, but I don’t know what name goes with what guy. That seems like a bit too much research though.”

In the interests of full disclosure, these are my official notes.


Step 3: Construct a Hypothesis — One Direction is the annoying younger sibling who is always copying Backstreet Boys, the older sibling. Is it too far to say One Direction guys are Backstreet Boys wannabes? The more I say it, the more it becomes true.

So the One Direction dudes burst on the scene around — what, 2012? — formed on the British version of The X Factor by Simon Cowell. Simon Cowell forming a group of contestants from an iteration of The X Factor is the new Lou Perlman forms a boy band.

I only know a few One Direction songs and my feelings are mixed. “What Makes You Beautiful” was an instant classic, and “One Thing” and “Story Of My Life” are so catchy, but “Little Things” is for me the height of boy band misogyny, on par with The Wanted’s “Glad You Came;” this song being out the tiny glimmers of latent feminism in me.

(You might be asking, why Backstreet Boys and not ‘NSYNC? To that I say, “Oh, you mean The Mis-Titled Justin Timberlake Project starring Justin Timberlake, Justin Timberlake, guest-starring Justin Timberlake, with a bit part played by JC Chasez?” Beyond JT’s dominance and JC’s desperate attempts to stay in the spotlight role, the characters of NSYNC were not interesting enough to beget archetypes.)

So, Backstreet Boys. I don’t even know what to say about them beyond the fact that their music will stand the test of time for all eternity. And maybe it’s because I grew up with them, but “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”/”As Long As You Love Me”/”All I Have to Give”/”I Want It That Way”/”Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely”/Quit Playing Games”/”Shape of My Heart”/”Incomplete”/”The Call”/”Drowning”/”More Than That”/”Larger Than Life” and of course “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) when they had never even gone away!!!

….Umm I’ll be right back, I need to listen the whole Backstreet Boys discography immediately!

Step 4: Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment — I did a Google Image search of both boy bands. Some sample results:

Exhibit A:

one direction snacks backstreet boys milk ad

Exhibit B:

backstreet boys magazine one direction magazine

Step 5: Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion — I think my data speaks for itself…

This guy has tattoos and wears his hair in a fauxhawk. He’s clearly the bad boy, aka AJ.


Just like how everyone has a favourite Ninja Turtle or Power Ranger or American Girl, everyone has their favourite Backstreet Boy. Mine was AJ, the bad boy. He always had the most expressive parts of the songs, the funnest to sing. He even had an alter ego, Johnny No-Name (lol)


This guy is, duh, Harry Styles. By virtue of him being the main lead singer, he is Brian.

one direction harry styles

Brian was an obvious favourite, he was adorably small and he had a hole in his heart >>> every girl’s dream! Especially because he was probably too weak to run from your love.

backstreet boys brian

This guy is adorable. And maybe the youngest? (too much effort to research) So he is Nick.


Nick, the youngest and blondest, was the Baby Spice of the group — so cute, so young, so so blonde.

nick carter

This guy seems like he’s the oldest. Also he’s got a goatee that is kind of creepy. Therefore he is Kevin.

one direction louis tomlinson

Kevin was the guy who was too old to be hanging out with these young bucks. He was the older brother who bought them beer, and who wore his facial hair with pride. He was too tall.

backstreet boys kevin

I’m sure gagillions of girls find this guy cute, but he seems so meh to me. So, by virtue of that fact and also that every other Backstreet Boy is taken… he is Howie D.

one direction XPOSURE_NIALL_HORAN1-82-9_2-1024x1005

And Howie D. There’s always a Howie D whose membership in the group is puzzling but for the fact that it’s clear he THINKS he’s as physically/sexually appealing as the others, which is as cute as it is wildly off-base.  (the NSYNC equivalent is Chris Kirkpatrick, who wore white boy dreads as a badge of honour and a guaranteed turnoff)


A side story about Howie D: I went to my first Backstreet Boys concert when I was 12 years old. But, it must be noted, I didn’t like the Backstreet Boys. I would describe it now as “going ironically,” but back then I didn’t have that self-awareness so my attendance at that concert was “Ugh, everyone here is so lame — [Insert eye roll] — but I know every one of their songs.”    

I had never been to a concert of such an hysterical fan base before. I was bewildered by all these girls who had made signs and tshirts and had painted their faces; I was sitting behind a group of five girls who had given their bodies over to Backstreet Boys worship. I was a pretty cool, calm, and nonchalant, but something happened that made my jaw drop. One of the girls reached her hand longingly over the railing and screamed lustfully, “HOWIE, I WANT TO BLOW YOU!!!!!!”

First thought: What does that mean?!

Second thought: Howie? Really?

I will never forget that girl, who clearly picked the shortest straw when her clique was choosing Backstreet Boys faves. And I will never forget knowing that, even though I didn’t know what it meant at the time, I knew that to blow someone was a sexual act and that I would never ever want to do it with Howie D.

Step 6: Communicate Your Results — Umm. Please see above?