The 1990s was a fun decade responsible for iconic trends like overalls, chokers and scrunchies. While some of these trends have come, gone and returned, one trend remained and changed the scene of music forever: boy bands.
While the first bands appeared long before this decade, boy bands of the ‘90s boasted of the most memorable performances and music, which inspired many groups that have come out since then (yep, even the 2000’s rock bands).
From the Backstreet Boys to *NSYNC, ‘90s boy bands have left their mark on the music industry and continue to make fans swoon with their music, dorky dances and good looks. Bands like BTS and One Direction can attribute their success to these ‘90s boys and their music because without them, today’s popular bands wouldn’t have existed.
So, which of these ‘90s boy groups came out on top and proved themselves the best of the best? Here are some of our favorite boy bands of the ‘90s!
Boyz II Men
One of the first ‘90s boy bands was also one of the ‘90s most successful R&B groups. In 1991, Boyz II Men debuted on the music scene with their single “Motownphilly. The band, composed of Marc Nelson, Michael McCary, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Nathan Morris, also released their first album, Cooleyhighharmony, in 1991, which had their biggest hit End of the Road.
During this time, the band held the top spot on the Billboard charts for 50 weeks. They are also the only second group and third artists to replace one of their hits with one of their songs on the Hot 100.
In 1994 and 1997, Boyz II Men released II and Evolution respectively — both of which boosted the four-piece R&B group to new heights. It was during this time they released one of their most memorable tracks, I’ll Make Love to You.
The band experienced some downtime during the early ‘00s, but they continued to release studio albums. Their most recent studio album is Under the Streetlight, which hit the shelves in 2017.
In the conversations of ‘Best ‘90s Boy Bands,’ the *NSYNC members are always on our minds. Known as the Kings of the Boy Band scene, this five-piece boy band remains one of the world’s most popular boy bands from the ‘90s — EVER.
The iconic boy band was formed in Orlando, Florida in 1995. *NYSNC, composed of Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake, also shared the same record label as the Backstreet Boys. Similar to the Backstreet Boys, they also first launched in Germany.
The band enjoyed success with singles like ‘Tearin’ Up My Heart,’ ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.’ They skyrocketed to popularity with their 2000s studio album No Strings Attached, which featured the smash single Bye Bye Bye.
*NSYNC enjoyed multiple Grammy nominations and international stardom. They’ve also recorded and performed with a long list of the world’s greatest performers, which includes Stevie Wonder, Britney Spears, Elton John and Michael Jackson.
Their boy band-ship ended in 2006 and since then, the members pursued their solo careers with Justin Timberlake setting the standard for the most successful career post-boy band life. Since their breakup, fans have been hoping for their return while keeping tabs on each member (“*NSYNC members, where are they now?” is a popular Google search term). Fortunately, the band answered the prayers of their fans when they reunited at the 2013 MTV Music Awards and the 2019 Coachella Music Festival.
Unlike most boy bands that featured a group of friends or strangers coming together to form a group, Hanson already had three brothers working on their music to make it big. This Oklahoma-based boy group did make it big with their hit single ‘MMMBop,’ which topped the charts in 1997. Middle of Nowhere, their debut album, also gave them three Grammy Award nominations.
In 1993, AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter formed The Backstreet Boys. The Florida-based group is one of the world’s most popular boy bands from the ‘90s with the strongest track record for chart-topping hits. The band rose to fame in 1996 with their self-titled album. Since then, they have sold more than 100 million records globally, making them one of the biggest boy bands in history.
The Backstreet Boys are the reason we dance to hits like ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)’, ‘Larger Than Life’ and ‘I Want It That Way’.
Long after the peak of their career, the boys continue to sell out concert arenas all over the world. They show no signs of stopping.
98º first entered the scene in 1996 and immediately changed the boy band game. They later signed to Motown and started working on their first album. In 2000, they released Revelation, which was the band’s biggest album. It scored the second spot on the Billboard charts. Their single ‘Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)’ scored the highest debut week for a boy band single. The band holds that record to this day.
Perhaps one of the most famous ‘90s boy bands in the UK, Take That was formed in Manchester back in 1989. The group took inspiration from the ‘80s boy group New Kids on the Block.
Originally called Kick It, the band had five members: Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams. Their first public performance was on The Hit Man and Her where they performed ‘My Kind of Girl,’ which was an unreleased son by singer-songwriter Barlow. They would make it big with their cover of ‘It Only Takes a Minute.’
The UK boy band eventually won the Best Live Act award at the 1995 MTV Europe Music Awards. However, member Robbie Williams also left the group in 1995 to pursue his solo career.
Before Simon Cowell formed One Direction, he signed the Irish quintet we’d know as Westlife. Composed of Brian McFadden, Nicky Byrne, Kian Egan, Mark Feehily and Shane Filan, the band debuted in 1998 in Dublin, Ireland and gained fame in the UK. However, their song ‘Swear It Again’ made a huge splash in the United States, which led to them rising in popularity internationally.
The band enjoyed global success with hit songs like ‘Bop Bop Baby,’ ‘If I Let You Go,’ ‘Queen of My Heart,’ ‘I Wanna Grow Old with You,’ ‘My Love’ and their cover of Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl.’
Westlife broke up in 2012 and concluded its run with a farewell tour. However, they reunited in 2018 (sans McFadden who left the group in 2004 to pursue a solo career) and released their album Spectrum in 2019.
Thanks to the boy bands of the ‘90s, we’re still falling in love with every boy band that comes our way. How about you? Who’s your favorite ‘90s boy band?