A long, long time ago, when Carson Daly reigned over TRL and Texas Tuxedos were a valid red carpet choice, casual observers couldn’t be blamed for thinking there were only two major boy bands: the sophisticated, polished Backstreet Boys and their slightly wackier arch-rival, *NSYNC. But discerning connoisseurs knew that there was a third option, the Mandy Moore to Backstreet’s Britney and *NSYNC’s Christina, if you will, the Vanessa Carlton to their Michelle Branch and Avril Lavigne.
I’m talking, of course, about 98 Degrees, a group that stood apart for a variety of reasons. First of all, 98 Degrees wasn’t scientifically created in a lab by creepy Lou Pearlman — the band’s members actually knew each other before they started working together, and the group formed independently before getting signed to a label. Secondly, 98 Degrees had four members. Four! Not five! Very different.
Though the group hasn’t released an album since 2002, its members have said for the past 10 years that 98 Degrees hasn’t gone cold — it’s just on an extended hiatus. That hiatus finally ended this morning, when the band reunited on Today. How stoked were they to be back together? “Well, now that we’ve gone through puberty, finally, we’re very excited,” front man Nick Lachey said with a straight face. Swoon!
After a performance of “Invisible Man,” their debut single, the “man band” stopped to chat about back pain and vocal strain (things have changed since the ’90s). Then they took the stage again for “I Do (Cherish You)” (above), a goopy ballad played at hundreds of imaginary weddings to Jeff Timmons in 1999. The song gets points for the parentheses and the part that goes, “I do, doo doo, baby,” but it isn’t nearly as great as “The Hardest Thing”: