Teen-oriented popular music had become common by the end of the Swing Era, in the late 1940s, with Frank Sinatra being an early teen idol. However, it was the early 1960s that became known as the "Golden Age" for pop teen idols, who included Paul Anka, Fabian, Ricky Nelson and Frankie Avalon. During the 1970s, one of the most popular preteen and teen-oriented acts was The Osmonds, where family members Donny and Marie both enjoyed individual success as well as success as a duo apart from the main family (Donny also recorded with his brothers as The Osmonds). Other successful singers and bands appealing to tweens and teens were Leif Garrett, Bobby Sherman, The DeFranco Family, David Cassidy and The Partridge Family, Shaun Cassidy, The Bay City Rollers and The Jackson 5 to name a few.
The first major wave of teen pop after the counter-Leif culture of the 1960s and 1970s occurred in the mid to late 1980s, with artists such as Menudo, New Edition, The Jets, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, Martika and New Kids on the Block. In the early 1990s, teen pop dominated the charts until grunge and gangsta rap crossed over into the mainstream in North America by late 1991. Teen pop remained popular in the United Kingdom with the boy band Take That during this period, until the mid-1990s when Britpop became the next major wave in the UK, eclipsing the style similar to how grunge did in North America.
In 1996 the girl group Spice Girls released their single "Wannabe", which made them major pop stars in the UK, as well as in the US the following year. In their wake, other teen pop groups and singers came to prominence, including Hanson, the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Robyn, All Saints, S Club, Five, B*Witched, and Destiny's Child. In 1999, the success of teenaged pop singers Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore marked the development of what Allmusic refers to as the "pop Lolita" trend, sparking the short careers of future pop singers such as Willa Ford, Brooke Allison, Samantha Mumba, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Mikaila, Amanda, Nikki Cleary and Kaci Battaglia.
In 2001 artists like Aaron Carter, Swedish group A-Teens, girl groups 3LW, Play, Eden's Crush and Dream and boy bands O-Town and Dream Street were teen pop artists and hits. Alternate "looks" for female teen pop stars include Hoku, and girl group No Secrets. In the UK, teen pop continued to surge with Ellie Campbell, Atomic Kitten and Billie Piper. In Latin America, successful singers and bands appealing to tweens and teens were Sandy & Junior, RBD and Rouge.
According to Gayle Ward, the demise of this late 1990s teen pop was due to:
- promotional oversaturation of teen pop music in 2000 and 2001;
- the public's changing attitude toward it, deeming teen pop as inauthentic and corporately produced;
- the transition of the pre-teen and teenage fanbase of these teen pop artists during 1997–1999 to young adulthood (and the accompanying changes in musical interests);
- a growing young adult male base classifying the music, especially boy band music, as effeminate, and
- other musical genres began increasing in popularity.
1990s and early 2000s teen pop artists entered hiatuses and semi-retirements (*NSYNC, Dream, Destiny's Child) or changed their musical style, including the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore, 3LW and Aaron Carter. Many teen artists starting incorporating genres such as pop rock, Contemporary R&B and Hip-Hop. B2K, a hip hop, pop and R&B group, was made up of teenage boys, so it was considered a boy band and was popular across the world, though they were only active from 2001 to 2004. Their style of music was very different than other teenage artists, sounding more mature than the typical boy band, though the members were all in their mid-teenage years as well. Other teenage artists who sounded more mature in this way were Jhene and Mario.
Around 2005, teenaged singers such as Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, JoJo, Aly & AJ, Ashlee Simpson,
Jesse McCartney, Rihanna, Fefe Dobson, Stacie Orrico, Cheyenne Kimball, Bow Wow, Ciara, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Raven-Symoné, Corbin Bleu, and Chris Brown achieved success, indicating new relevance of teen-oriented pop music.
Since early 2000s, but some did many years before that, many teen stars have developed careers through their involvement with Disney. Alongside Disney, other teen pop stars emerged by 2007, among them American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, David Archuleta, and Nickelodeon stars Miranda Cosgrove, Victoria Justice, Keke Palmer and Ariana Grande. Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Jesse McCartney and Demi Lovato are some examples of teen pop singers whose careers started on the Disney Channel.
The introduction of Canadian singer Justin Bieber, a protégé of Usher, created a resurgence of interest in teen pop, especially of the traditional male teen idol. At the time of his debut album's release, Bieber set records as the only four songs in to the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, the first artist to send all songs from an album in the Billboard Hot 100. This created a wave of male teen artists found on social media, notably Shawn Mendes and Charlie Puth. One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, Little Mix, and Fifth Harmony have also re-introduced teen groups.
In 2010, the creation of Ark Music Factory helped contributed a new generation of teen pop artists via the internet, such as Rebecca Black and Jenna Rose, despite major criticism with these artists due to the excessive use of auto-tune. As for Japanese teen pop culture, the category of "idol" is playing an important role. Momoiro Clover Z is ranked as number one among female idol groups according to 2013–2017 surveys.