Into every generation, a small group of successful boy bands is born…
New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hits in the ’80s…and are largely responsible for the great Boy Band Boom, one that has dominated the music industry for over 30 years.
The ’90s was the golden era for the genre, churning out pop groups like *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, as well as a musically-inclined trio of brothers, Hanson. (Guarantee “MMMBop” will be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, you’re welcome.) And years later, another trio of brothers—the Jonas Brothersushered in another wave of boy bands, this time with a Disney seal of approval.
In recent years, One Direction dominated the airwaves, with boy bands like 5 Seconds to Summer, The Wanted and Big Time Rush (whose Nickelodeon TV series debuted 10 years go). And right now, BTS is arguably the most popular band in the world, proving questionable fashion trends may come and go, but boy bands are eternal.
Still…not every boy band that pops up during a wave of popularity attempting to ride it to fame, money and world tours makes it. For every *NSYNC there’s a 5ive. (Not a typo. A Choice.) And for every Backstreet Boys (who are still making music), there’s a Dream Street.
So break out your Discman and apologize to your Tamagotchi in advance for forgetting to feed it ’cause this stroll down memory lane is probably going to lead you down a YouTube and Spotify back hole…
Years Active: 1989-1996 (got back together in 2005-present)
Members: Gary Barlow, Robbie Williams, Jason Orange, Howard Donald and Mark Owen
Breakout Boy: Robbie Williams, who left the group in 1995 to start his own solo career thus breaking up the band. A tale as old as time.
Background Info: Wildly popular in the UK, the group released 12 No. 1 singles and eight No. 1 albums during their run, selling over 45 million records globally. Their success never quite traveled across the pond though. Still, there success in Europe is impressive, with over they have the most No. 1 singles certifications for a pop band and a male band in the UK since The Beatles.
Songs to Steam: “Back for Good,” “Everything Changes” and “Never Forget”
Westlife, Boy BandTim Roney/Getty Images
Years Active: 1998-2012 (got back together in 2018-present)
Members: Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily, Shane Filan and Bryan McFadden
Breakout Boy: Bryan McFadden, who bounced from the group on 2004 to take his shot at a solo career. He was recently on season 11 of Dancing on Ice in UK.
Background Info: Westlife had all the makings to break big, with Simon Cowell signing them in the UK and Clive Davis in the US, but they were unable to find success in the states.
Songs to Stream: “Sweat It Again,” “It I Let You Go,” and “I Wanna Grow Old With You”
5ive, Boy BandMike Prior/Getty Images
Years Active: 1997-2001 (got back together in 2012-present)
Members: Scott Robinson, Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, J Brown and Abz Love
Breakout Boy: n/a (Sorry not sorry?)
Background Info: The British boy band was set up to be the male version of the Spice Girls (with the two men who formed the girl group hosting open auditions in the UK), though they never achieved their success, selling 10 million albums globally before their split in 2001. Fun fact: they turned down “Bye Bye Bye,” which ultimately lead to them saying bye bye bye.
Song to Stream: “When the Lights Go Out,” obviously. Still. A. Banger.
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BBMak, Boy BandGregg DeGuire/WireImage
Years Active: 1996-2003 (got back together in 2018-present)
Members: Mark Barry, Christian Burns and Stephen McNally
Breakout Boy: n/a
Background Info: Thanks to their 1999 hit “Back Here,” the English band spent 11 consecutive weeks atop the singles chart. But they were never able to replicate that single’s success. But they did guest star on Evens Stevens!
Songs to Stream: “Back Here” can still get it TBH.
Dream Street, Boy BandJohn Shearer/WireImage
Years Active: 1999-2002
Members: Matt Ballinger, Frankie Galasso, Jesse McCartney, Greg Raposo and Chris Tousdale
Breakout Boy: Jesse McCartney, who went on to star in hit TV shows, release a few hit singles “Beautiful Soul”!) and penned Leona Lewis’ hit “Bleeding Love.” The range!
Background Info: Originally named Boy Wonder, life in this short-lived band was anything but a dream it seems as the group broke up after parents of some of the members sued their produces for alleging their underage children were “exposed to booze, women and pornography.” The band members were released from their contracts after a judge ruled in their favor.
Songs to Stream: “It Happens Every Time, ” “Sugar Rush” and “I Say Yeah”
soulDecision, Boy BandSGranitz/WireImage
Years Active: 1993-2005
Members: Trevor Guthrie, David Bowman and Ken Lewko
Breakout Boy: Trevor Guthrie, sort of. He was nominated for a Grammy in 2014 for Best Dance Recording for his song “This Is What It Feels Like.”
Background Info: While their single “Faded” hit No. 1 in their home country, the Canadian boy band failed to ever go mainstream, though they did open for Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child and *NSYNC.
Song to Stream: “Faded”