A TEEN IDOL is a celebrity with a large teenage fan-base. Teen idols
are generally young but not necessarily teenaged. Often teen idols
are actors or musicians , like
Ariana Grande and
Niall Horan , but
some sports figures also have an appeal to teenagers. Some teen idols
began their careers as child actors , like
Lindsay Lohan .
The idol's popularity may be limited to teens, or may extend to all
age groups. Many teen idols are targeted for adults for nostalgia
There were teen idols before there were teen magazines , but idols
have always been a permanent feature in magazines such as Seventeen ,
16 magazine ,
Tiger Beat and
Right On! in the
United States , and in
similar magazines elsewhere. With the advent of television, teen idols
were also promoted through programs such as
American Bandstand , The
Ed Sullivan Show ,
Soul Train and in the UK
Top of the Pops . Today's
teen idols have spawned an entire industry of gossip magazines ,
television shows ,
YouTube , and whole television channels such as E!
Many American teen idols achieve "cross-over" success
internationally; however, this list is not limited to American artists
alone with some people such as German popstar
Bill Kaulitz of the
Tokio Hotel . In Asia, idols range from Japanese pop
Ayumi Hamasaki and
Namie Amuro as well as
Kana Nishino and
Japanese music groups such as
Momoiro Clover Z ,
Morning Musume ,
AKB48 , and Perfume and Johnny "> 1930 caricature of
The first known person to have been treated as a teen idol was Franz
Liszt , the Hungarian pianist who, in the 1840s, drew such a following
among young women that the term "
Lisztomania " soon came to describe
the phenomenon. The kind of idolizing following Liszt drew in Europe
would not be followed for several decades.
Geraldine Farrar , American
opera singer, had a large following of young women nick-named
"Gerry-flappers" in the early 20th century.
Rudy Vallée , who
became a major success in 1929 with hits like "Honey " and "Deep Night
", may have been the first American popular singer to have been
idolised by hundreds of teen-aged girls at sold-out concerts. He was
also possibly the first popular singer to have a star vehicle created
The Vagabond Lover .
Frank Sinatra , whose early career is
often linked to his appeal to bobby soxers , is also regarded as
having been amongst the first teen idols.
The great success of young rock stars like
Elvis Presley and Pat
Boone , film stars like
Marlon Brando ,
Paul Newman ,
James Dean , Tab
Hunter , and
Sal Mineo in the 1950s, as well as the wider emergence of
youth subcultures , led promoters to the deliberate creation of teen
idols such as singers
Frankie Avalon ,
Fabian Forte ,
Frankie Lymon ,
Connie Stevens . Even crooners like
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra
were still considered idols and rather handsome. Actors
Edd Byrnes and
Troy Donahue and other artists deliberately cultivated a (safer) idol
Paul Anka .
Anka initially modelled himself on a particular generic type, the
teen idol carried on the process ... of changing the image of male
youth ... from wild to mild, by providing a cleaner, more wholesome
image of masculinity than that of the previous era's rebellious
rockabilly heroes .... — Portable phonograph
Post-war teens were able to buy relatively inexpensive phonographs
— including portable models that could be carried to friends' houses
— and the new 45-rpm singles . Rock music played on 45s became the
soundtrack to the 1960s as people bought what they heard on the radio.
The great majority of the music being marketed to 1950s teens was
being written by adults, but 1960s teens were increasingly
appreciating and emulating artists closer to their own age, to teen
fashion, and to lyrics which addressed their own concerns. Their
parents worried about their attraction to artists (and DJs) who were
edgy and rebellious. Faces on magazines fed fans; fans buy records,
see films, watch TV and buy fashions.
Marketing of the teen idol generally focuses on the image.... The
teen idol is structured to appeal to the pre-teen and young teen
female pop audience member and children in general.... are
commodified in forms and images that are relatively non-threatening to
this young audience and to the ancillary market of parents... The teen
idol never appears to be autonomous and therefore never appears to be
threatening as an adult; he remains, as long as he is popular,
perpetually childlike and dependent. — Teen idols of the
Elvis Presley ,
Fabian Forte , Tommy Sands , and Ricky
Nelson , as pictured
Some marketers turned to film and TV for fresh, attractive, 'safe'
faces. Tommy Sands 's debut in a television film about the phenomenon,
The Idol, made a teen idol out of Sands himself.
Ricky Nelson , a
performer of rockabilly music, also became a teen idol through his
parents' television series,
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet .
Some young TV stars were being hustled into studios to make
recordings; for example, ex-
Annette Funicello became one of
the first big female idols as well as
The Lennon Sisters whom had cut
out dolls and were always on the covers of the gossip magazines;
Johnny Crawford of
The Rifleman , had five Top-40 hits. In
Luke Halpin made a big splash as a teen idol in the television
program Flipper . After Bye Bye Birdie was released in 1963, Bobby
Rydell became an instant teen idol.
In the 1960s as situation comedies and dramas on television using
child actors became more popular, actors
Paul Petersen , Patty
Petersen , and
Shelley Fabares from
The Donna Reed Show , Dwayne
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis ,
Sally Field of Gidget ,
Jon Provost of Lassie ,
Jay North from Dennis the Menace , Billy Mumy
Lost in Space (and later of novelty group
Barnes and Barnes ),
Sajid Khan of Maya , and
Keith and Kevin Schultz known as the "Schultz
Twins" on The Monroes all became younger preteen idols and grew into
being teen idols.
Tommy Steele , the Beatles with
Beatlemania , the Rolling
Stones , and
The Beach Boys were teen idols, especially during the
earlier part of their careers, although they quickly grew out of that
The Rolling Stones did it through a more rebellious image, the
Beatles did it through their more developed (or "grown up") music.
Neil Sedaka had two distinct eras of his career, with about
a decade in between: one as a teen idol in the 1960s, and a later
career in adult contemporary music . From the family band the Cowsills
Susan Cowsill ,
John Cowsill and
Barry Cowsill became teen idols and
were on teen magazine covers for many years; the TV show The Partridge
Family was written in their likeness. Many of the teen idols of the
era were the sons of older, established stars; Dino, Desi with David
Cassidy in particular enjoying immense international fame and success.
Sherman was on hit TV shows
Here Come the Brides among
many others. Musical series such as Cassidy's
The Partridge Family ,
the animated series
The Archie Show , and (to a lesser extent) The
Brady Bunch integrated television and teen-pop music to significant
success during this time frame. The Brady Bunch's Barry Williams and
Christopher Knight , as was tennis pro/actor
Vincent Van Patten all
were constantly in the fan magazines at the time. Actors Richard
Robby Benson , Peter Barton ,
Leif Garrett ,
Mark Lester ,
Jan-Michael Vincent ,
William Katt , and
Jack Wild were the talk of
the teenagers in the 1970s as well.
Hudson Brothers were
on many teen magazine covers for a number of years as teen idols. They
had two shows on TV during the 1970s and recorded many albums.
One of the features of many teen idols is that their fans (and, in
some cases, the musicians themselves) tend to develop a distaste for
the music once they became adults, and it is not much listened to by
adults, except for nostalgia: the legacy of bubblegum pop . Teen idol
performers in this category would include
Shaun Cassidy , Leif Garrett
The Osmond Brothers (particularly
Donny Osmond and their teen idol
Marie Osmond ),
Andy Gibb ,
Tony DeFranco of The DeFranco
Family , and
The Bay City Rollers . Even modern classic hits and
oldies outlets, which cover this time period, rarely play cuts from
the teen idols of the era. A notable exception is
Michael Jackson of
The Jackson Five , who began his career as a teen idol along with his
brothers, but whose individual career eventually evolved far beyond
the limitations of that description and into superstardom.
The Jackson Five were the first African-American music group to
become national teen idols, appearing alongside white idols in
magazines such as 16 and Tiger Beat.
In 1985 Actress
Alyssa Milano from Who\'s The Boss became a major
teen idol and was dubbed "The Teen Queen Of The 1980s. In the
mid-1980s there was a group of young actors called The Brat Pack ; the
whole group collectively and separately became teen idols. They were
Emilio Estevez ,
Anthony Michael Hall ,
Rob Lowe ,
Andrew McCarthy ,
Demi Moore ,
Judd Nelson ,
Molly Ringwald , and
Ally Sheedy . They
starred in many coming of age films together in some fashion and
became incredibly popular without being musicians.
Corey Feldman and
Corey Haim also became teen idols during the
later part of the 1980s with films
The Goonies and together The Lost
Dream a Little dream and
License to Drive
License to Drive among other films.
They were dubbed "the two Coreys". Before Corey Haim's death in 2010,
they did a reality TV show for two seasons (2007–08) on A so had
NKOTB by the mid-nineties. The other
Boy Band from Boston, New Edition
was very popular with the teen set by the end of the 1980s as well.
The most popular singer of the 1980s was the Queen of Pop Madonna .
With songs "Like a Prayer " and "Like a Virgin " in the '80s toplists
throughout the decade. She became a teen idol through her music, and
her unique fashion at the time.
The manufacturing of teen idols has been marketed more aggressively
and with greater sophistication since the 1980s. The rise of
the 1980s and the success of the boy bands of the 1990s and 2000s has
continued to fuel the phenomenon. Besides a combination of good,
clean-cut looks and a ubiquitous marketing campaign, such bands
typically include a variety of personality types (e.g. "the shy one",
"the smart one", etc.) Classic examples of "boy bands" include Menudo
New Kids on the Block ,
Take That ,
Backstreet Boys , and \'
all becoming the best selling pop groups of the decade. Hanson was
initially marketed as such a band, but eventually outgrew this label
to become a successful indie band. Female pop super star Mariah Carey
, was very popular with teens in the 90s decade.
Christina Aguilera ,
Jennifer Lopez ,
Mandy Moore ,
Jessica Simpson , and
Britney Spears ,
along with mega girl groups the
Spice Girls and Destiny\'s Child ,
also became very popular at the end of the decade. Other notable
examples from the 1990s are female R&B singers
Aaliyah , Monica , and
Brandy . After Brandy 's television show
Moesha went on the air, it
brought her many teen fans and she was always on the cover or in the
teen magazines for many years. Also on
Moesha is where teen R "JTT"
(as he would come to be known during this time), uncomfortable with
his teen idol status, left the show (and, for the most part, the
entire acting scene) one year shy of the show's last year on the air.
Another major teen idol was
Freddie Prinze, Jr. who skyrocketed to
teen heartthrob status after starring in successful teen horror films.
The 1997 film Titanic made
Leonardo DiCaprio a teen idol; during
"Leo-Mania" his face appeared on many teen magazines. Other teen
idols from TV were most of the cast of
Saved by the Bell
Saved by the Bell , Joshua
James Van Der Beek of Dawson\'s Creek ,
Ben Savage and
Rider Strong of
Boy Meets World ,
Joseph Gordon-Levitt of 3rd Rock
From the Sun ,
Jonathan Brandis of seaQuest DSV ,
Jared Leto of My
So-Called Life ,
Joey Lawrence of Blossom (and to a lesser extent,
Joey's brothers, Matthew and Andrew ),
Jason Priestley and Luke Perry
Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, and
Erik Von Detten of various TGIF
shows. These actors were often found on the covers and pages of teen
magazines during the 1990s as teen idols as well. Sarah Michelle
Gellar was a major teen idol in the late 90s, as a result of her lead
role in the popular television series
Buffy the Vampire Slayer .
Fraternal twin sisters and TV actresses
Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate
Olsen were major tween idols and as they grew up they later became
teen idols during the 1990s. After the movie Clueless , Alicia
Silverstone found herself a teen idol. The comedy duo of Kenan
Kel Mitchell were major teen idols in the 1990s, due to
their fame on
Nickelodeon they were known for starring in the sketch
All That , their own comedy sitcom Kenan
Hilary Duff (left) and Lindsay Lohan
(right) were both popular teen idols in the early to mid 2000s.
The Walt Disney Company and its numerous outlets (e.g. Disney Channel
Radio Disney and
Walt Disney Pictures ) have successfully developed
a new generation of teen idols. In the early 2000s, the company
developed the careers of actresses and singers
Hilary Duff and Lindsay
Lohan , initially targeting youth and female teen audiences. While
still teenagers, Duff became famous for her starring titular character
Disney Channel teen sitcom
Lizzie McGuire , and Lohan became
famous for her starring roles in many successful teen movies ,
including Freaky Friday ,
Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen ,
Herbie: Fully Loaded , and
Mean Girls . The success of this marketing
led to further development of the genre, including new teen idols such
Demi Lovato ,
Dylan and Cole Sprouse ,
Zac Efron ,
Jesse McCartney ,
Vanessa Hudgens ,
Ashley Tisdale ,
Corbin Bleu ,
Miley Cyrus , the
Jonas Brothers , and
Selena Gomez . Disney has also
used the acquisition of
ABC Family to develop shows and stars popular
among teen girls. Another similar corporation,
Nickelodeon , began
developing its own slate of stars for its television shows in 2004,
Drake Bell ,
Josh Peck ,
Emma Roberts ,
Miranda Cosgrove ,
Jennette McCurdy ,
Ariana Grande ,
Victoria Justice , and the group
Big Time Rush , all of whom have not only starred in TV shows, but
recorded songs as well. Of note is that many of the modern-day teen
idols are females marketed as "role-models" to teen and tween girls, a
departure from the traditional role of the male teen idol marketed as
the idolized teen "heart-throb". The 2000s also saw many new teen
idols emerge from popular feature films such as the casts of Harry
Daniel Radcliffe ,
Rupert Grint , and
Emma Watson ) and
The Twilight Saga (e.g.
Robert Pattinson ,
Kristen Stewart , and
Taylor Lautner ).
In 2002, Canadian singer
Avril Lavigne dominated the music scene and
eventually became a worldwide teen idol. Listed at #4 on Yahoo!'s Top
25 Teen Idols of all-time. Teen idols were also dominant in the R the
younger generation will receive their entertainment and influence from
the internet where as the older generations used traditional media
such as music albums, movies, magazines, and television.
Disney Channel star
Demi Lovato ,
Becky G , and X Factor
Little Mix and
Fifth Harmony have come to be teen idols. Ariana
Grande was a popular teen actress in the early 2010s before gaining
mainstream popularity as a singer and teen idol from the early-mid
Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as the most popular female
"idol group " according to 2013-2015 surveys.
In Japan, more and more "idol groups " have appeared. In Japanese
culture, persons called "idols" are media personalities in their teens
and early twenties who are considered particularly attractive or cute
and who will, for a period ranging from several months to a few years,
regularly appear in the mass media, e.g. as singers for pop groups,
bit-part actors, TV personalities, models in photo spreads published
in magazines, advertisements, etc. One of the most successful groups
Momoiro Clover Z . Their performances incorporate elements of
ballet, gymnastics, and action movies. During 2014, about 486,000
people attended their live concerts, which was the highest record of
all female musicians in Japan.
Momoiro Clover Z has been ranked as
the most popular female idol group from 2013 to 2015.
Since their rise to fame in recent years, pop singer and YouTube
Justin Bieber , country-pop musician
Taylor Swift , boy band
One Direction , and pop rock band
5 Seconds of Summer have become
examples of modern-day mega teen idols who have achieved international
success, known for their devoted teen female fans, and a very large
tween fan base, as well as an adult fan base making them all
international superstars as well as teen idols.
Celebrity Worship Syndrome
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