From Men to Boys: Masculinity, Politics and the Irish Boy Band

  • Noel McLaughlin
  • Martin McLoone


In November 1993, Irish boy band Boyzone made their notorious debut appearance on RTÉ’s The Late Late Show. Although the performance is widely regarded as the epitome of naffness — manifested in its lack of poise, coordination and grace — it does nonetheless raise interesting issues about the interrelationship of Irishness and masculine identities, and about how these are mediated by popular music performance and in popular music discourse. The first striking aspect of this appearance is the apparent lack of sophistication: the band gyrate excessively to a pre-recorded backing track without the support of elaborate stage or lighting effects, instead framed, somewhat nakedly, against the rather drab greys and ochre tones of the studio. The anarchic, free-form aspect of the ensemble’s clearly under-rehearsed dancing contributes further to the comedy while the lack of distance between the performers and the small audience, and the prominence of the audience’s laughter, contributes to the sense of vulnerability, awkwardness and even self-delusion. ‘We’ll look forward to hearing from you when you’re famous’, the host Gay Byrne quips as the band trail off to the laughter and barely disguised ridicule of the audience.


Sexual Ambivalence Popular Music Masculine Identity Band Member Organic Paradigm 
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© Noel McLaughlin and Martin McLoone 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noel McLaughlin
  • Martin McLoone

There are no affiliations available

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