Whether you like it or not boy bands have made a comeback and with it came the crazy fangirls. While most express their hatred for the likes of One Direction and The Wanted, those of us who remember the boy bands of yore just scoff. Everyone knows Nsync and Backstreet Boys were better. Of course there were boys bands before these two and some lesser ones that tried rising to fame, but didn’t quite make it. Some had their favorites while others embraced the next batch of cute guys. If you want to get nostalgic or just want to laugh at some cheesy songs, check out this playlist dedicated to boy bands.
“All or Nothing” – O-Town
Time has not been kind to these five guys. Not only did they start out on some weird TV show, but they released their debut when people stopped caring about boy bands. It didn’t help that the album was pretty cheesy are far as bubblegum pop goes. But they did manage to score a hit with what is probably their best song. The single peaked at number three on the charts and it manages to pop up on singing competition shows to this day. When watching the video, the boy band tropes are all there: Ashley is the cute blonde one, Dan is the soulful singer, Jacob is the rebel with dreads and nail polish, Eric is the sensitive one, and Trevor is the one that makes the group diverse. Or the one with the muscles, I forget how these things go. To be fair, Dan and Jacob were actually really talented; it’s a shame their careers didn’t go farther. But in case anyone is interested, O-Town, minus Ashley, will be making a comeback this year. Their new album comes out next month and they have classy shirts that say “O-Town is Back!” on them. Real subtle, guys.
“Bump Bump Bump” – B2K
Though these guys came out around the same time as O-Town, they somehow managed to be more successful, but just as cheesy. This is probably their biggest hit to date before the band imploded with several weird implications of abuse and molestation. Even though they had songs where they would show their sensitive side, for this single they decided to be as crass and forward as possible. When compared to some of the other songs on the playlist this one isn’t as strong. It’s not even that good, but in the early 2000’s it was a pretty big hit. Listening to it now, not only are the lyrics cheesy, but they’re dated as hell. Did you catch the two-way reference? If the song doesn’t get you singing out loud and make you want to go bump, bump, bump, then at least watch the video for a good laugh. Oh, in case you were wondering, B2K stands for Boys of the new millennium. And you thought LFO was bad.
“The Right Stuff” – NKOTB
These guys paved the way for the likes of Nsync and Backstreet Boys. If you were a teen girl in the ’80s or early ’90s, these were most likely the guys you were dreaming about. They had it all: the looks, those funky fresh moves, the classic boy tropes, and style, oh so much style. Recently, they proved they’re one of the most lasting boy bands of the era. They’ve had three successful tours and a few new albums that drove old fans wild. Guess it goes to show people never stopped loving NKOTB. “The Right Stuff” has to be one of their catchiest songs. Despite the cheesy music and corny lyrics, it’s still really fun to listen to.
“Back For Good” – Take That
American audiences may not recognize the name, but may know the song. In the mid-90s, this was all over the radio making the UK boy band popular in the States for a little while. But for those who don’t know Take That is insanely successful in their homeland. They began in the late ’80s and are still performing. They were actually modeled after NKOTB and the formula seemed to work. Just one Google search will bring up their numerous hit singles and videos, but it’s this one that got them their American break. Though they didn’t have another hit in the States, you can’t deny there’s something about the single that’s timeless. Whenever it comes on, you instantly recognize it, even if you can’t remember who it’s by.
“I Want You Back” – Nsync
This song was the beginning of the Nsync madness that was to follow shortly after. After looking through countless photos, Nsync weren’t the most stylish guys, but they did have some sweet dance moves (maybe not in this video). While many of the songs here come off as cheesy, this one does a pretty good job of avoiding that label, the same can’t be said about the video. It may be a little dated, but who doesn’t want to bust out singing when that funky piano riff starts playing? It’s far from their best song, but it’s a fun look into the past when Justin’s hair looked like overcooked ramen noodles and Chris had those god-awful braids. It’s one of those songs you won’t hear for a long time, but the second you do, you remember all the words.
“Watch Me Do My Thing” – Immature
Does anyone actually remember these guys? If you don’t, then you will definitely remember singer Marques Houseton AKA Roger from Sister, Sister. Yes, the “go home Roger” guy. The other notable thing about the band was they had a guy with an eye patch. For any ’90s kid that sat at home all day watching Nickelodeon, you may remember this video being played in between shows. It’s one of those songs I initially forgot about until I was researching for this list. After all these years, it’s still pretty catchy, even though the group was pretty crappy. Also, it features Kel Mitchell in his Good Burger get up, what more can you ask for? The group later changed their name to IMx, to show they’ve grown up, and had another minor hit with “Stay the Night.” They also wrote an awkward song about losing their virginity and one of them may have been involved in that whole B2K mess I mentioned earlier.
“Motown Philly” – Boyz II Men
Apparently these guys are considered a boy band. I don’t know if I buy that, but for sake of argument I included them on the list. Out of all the bands here, these guys were probably the only ones with any talent. They could sing and from the looks of this video, they could dance. During the ’90s you couldn’t turn anywhere without hearing one of their many hits. Whether it was “I’ll Make Love To You,” “One Sweet Day,” or “On Bended Knee” you couldn’t get away from them. They were even on an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Soon, the guys became synonymous with sensitive, romantic guys who wanted to show their girls how sweet they were. I picked this song because not only has it always been one of my favorites, it shows that they knew how to get down when the time was right. It’s funky, it’s catchy, and it’s a classic.
“When the Lights Go Out” – 5ive
These are another group guys from overseas who scored one hit in the US. Judging from the song and the “hardcore” girls in the video, they were supposed to be the edgy boy band. They could be sensitive and naughty at the same time. Also, they had a rapper and everyone knows that’s the pinnacle of edgy. Honestly, I was never into these guys. I remember the song because it was on my mom’s copy of Totally Hits. I saw the video once and thought they were too ugly for me. Still, whenever you talk about boy bands from the ’90s whose names don’t begin with N or B, these guys usually crop up. I guess the song isn’t terrible, but still no thanks.
“Where’s the Love” – Hanson
I know what you’re thinking, where’s “Mmmbop?” Don’t get me wrong, that’s a great song, but this is another great song of theirs that never gets enough love. Hanson’s story of success is by far the weirdest. They became popular around the late ’90s and when the bubblegum pop phase fizzled out rather than quitting they kept making music. They have released nine studio albums to date turning themselves into a successful indie band. When this song came out it was clear Hanson weren’t like the other bands around. They wrote their own songs, didn’t dance, and actually played their instruments. Say what you want about them, but you got to give them credit for that.
“As Long as You Love Me” – Backstreet Boys
Backstreet Boys or BSB, were the guys you could take home to mom. They were sweet, funny, cute, and charming. They may not have been the greatest dancers, but their harmonies were so smooth. This isn’t their biggest hit, but it’s definitely the one that jump started their career. For many young girls in the ’90s, this was when they picked their favorite member and obsessed over them (my fave was Nick). Surprisingly, the song has now become a classic to where your mom has a copy on her phone. The video is typical boy band fodder, with each member being silly and adorable. Can we just look at how glorious Nick’s bowl cut is? Talk about perfection.
“Candy Rain” – Soul For Real
Am I the only one who remembers this song? Whether it was the upbeat music or the hook, for some reason I was in love with this track. Looking at the video now, it’s clear that they were supposed to be the Jackson 5 of the ’90s. It didn’t work, but at least we got this great song out of it. They weren’t the best singers or the best dancers, but they managed to score a hit before disappearing into obscurity. Their squeaky clean sound got them a spot on All That both the show and the album. It’s one of those songs you forget about, but go crazy for when you hear it again. In case you were wondering, they’re still making music and have re-released this song as an updated version. Of course it’s not as good, but you can’t blame them for trying.
“True to Your Heart” – 98 Degrees
Though 98 Degrees, or as I knew them as the ones with the muscles, weren’t as memorable as the heavy hitting boy bands, they managed to score a few hits. While most like to stick with their most popular singles, like “The Hardest Thing” or “Because of You,” I chose to go with their contribution to the Mulan soundtrack. It’s upbeat, catchy, featured Stevie Wonder, and has a great hook. Aside from Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection,” it’s the best song from the movie. Recently, they have reunited to cash in on the current boy band nostalgia and it seems to be working for them. If anything the band will always be responsible for giving the world Nick Lachey, who was then responsible for The Newlyweds and we all know what that led to.
“Back Here” – BBMak
Here is yet another UK band that scored one hit in the US. BBMak weren’t like the other boy bands of the era. For one, there were only three guys, they didn’t dance, and they played their own instruments. When you think about, they could be considered the UK’s version of Hanson. It may not be the catchiest bubblegum pop around, but it’s nice and sweet. It also has a good melody you’ll recognize whenever the song comes on. They had a couple more hits overseas, but this is still their best selling single. They released a total of two albums and split in 2003. When you compare their career to some of the other bands on the list, it’s pretty short. Maybe they’ll crop up again for a BBMak reunion where they’ll be forced to play this song on repeat because it’s the only one people know.
“Calling All Girls” – ATL
I’ll be surprised if anyone actually remembers this forgettable boy band. They popped up around the time B2K was popular and decided to ride on their coat tails. While “Calling All Girls” did chart pretty high in the UK, it couldn’t make them superstars in the States. It seems like they were concerned with people forgetting who they are as their name is repeated several times in the song. Considering there’s a movie of the same name, their band name was a pretty poor choice. While the hype man and the members themselves are clearly excited about their music, the girls in the video could care less. They’re not even good at pretending they’re interested in the guys. Though they broke up in 2006, last year they announced they would reform for one night only. As far as I know this hasn’t happened yet, probably because their former fans have moved on.
“Every Other Time” – LFO
The Light Funky Ones were not the most popular guys on the block. Though their singles “Girl on TV” and “Summer Girls” are their biggest songs, it only took people a second to realize they lyrics made no sense: “Shooby-doo-wop and Scooby snacks/ I met a fly girl and I can’t relax.” Most forgot the band once they stopped playing their songs on the radio. They tried to make people take them seriously with their second effort Life is Good, which is where this minor hit comes from. Even though some of the lyrics are funny, they’re pretty silly for the most part. But again, after the song fell off the charts the group fell into obscurity. Sadly, singer/rapper Rich Cronin passed away in 2010 due to a stroke set off by his medication for leukemia. Meanwhile, Brad Fischetti is an avid pro-lifer that stands in front of abortion clinics and prays. No word on Devin Lima.
“I Want it That Way” – Backstreet Boys
This song is too good to not have on here. Fun fact: This is their best selling single and has reached the number one spot in 25 countries. I guess they weren’t lying when they said “We’ve got it going on for years.”
“Bye Bye Bye” – Nsync
A boy band playlist wouldn’t be complete with what is arguably the best Nsync song ever. Also, who hasn’t done that iconic dance while listening to the song?