20. The Naked Brothers Band
It’s surprising that anything with the Nickelodeon brand would hold such a provocative title. Disney would never allow that! Brothers Nat and Alex Wolff were like little Jonases in training, fronting their own television show and selling albums. The show went off the air in 2009 but the brothers are working on a studio album.
Long before American Idol, Simon Cowell signed this Irish pop group. In the decade since, they’ve sold 40 million records and gained considerable international recognition. But on American soil? Not so much. The closest to star-spangled success that these Irish boys have found is when Ruben Studdard covered their hit song ”Flying Without Wings.” Thanks a lot, Simon.
Tweaking reality series Making the Band, Diddy — or maybe he was Puff Daddy at the time — took the show to MTV. After a search for a lady group (a.k.a. Danity Kane), Diddy went back to the boys in 2007, creating Day26, a male group with a more R&B/hip-hop sound.
A ”Summer Lovin”’ for the new millennium, ”Summer Girls” made LFO (Lyte Funky Ones, what else?) worthy of momentary boy-band fame. It also made lead stud Rich Cronin soooo relatable! Chinese food makes me sick too! I think it’s the MSG. I wear Abercrombie & Fitch and love Fun Dip and Cherry Coke! It’s like he knows me! (Sadly, Cronin, who’d battled leukemia, passed away in 2010 after suffering a stroke.)
16. Take That
Just like cats, boy bands are gifted with multiple lives. In their first, Take That sold 30 million records, sold out tours, and built a huge fan base. Then, Robbie Williams left the band in 1995 to wrestle with personal problems and ultimately rebounded into solo fame, leaving the four other guys to forge much less successful careers on their own. Almost a decade later, the quartet came back for a very popular tour and good reviews. And in November 2010 Williams reunited with the group for their Progress album and a 2011 tour.
15. Big Time Rush
What’s all the hubbub about this Nickelodeon-created band that’s the focus of a hit show and saw its debut album hit number 3 on the Billboard 200 in its first week out in 2010? Just ask any tween you know.
As the bubblegum-pop fame of the ’90s boy bands faded away, B2K (Boyz 2 Kool) rose to popularity with R&B ballads and club-worthy dance tracks. Shortly after they appeared together in the 2004 film You Got Served, they announced their breakup. Since then, Omarion has had a decent solo career (he was even a judge on America’s Best Dance Crew in 2010), and in 2008, Lil Fizz, Raz-B, and J-Boog briefly got back together.
The joke started off on them, with MTV creating a hilarious TV-movie spoof on the creation and marketing of boy bands. The network put together a heartthrob, a shy guy, a bad boy, a bright-eyed youngster, and an older brother type. The ”gag” produced two albums, a television series, and a gaggle of girly fans. It looks like the joke ended up on us.
It’s no lie that a lot of boy bands are randomly assembled in the hopes of fame and seven-figure payoffs, so why not just make a TV show about the process? Making the Band, an MTV-produced reality show, culminated in moderate success for ABC, a successful (enough) group, O-Town, and a prominent leading man, Ashley Parker Angel, who would later have his own MTV reality show.
11. 98 Degrees
Although they never quite reached the same fame as the fellas of ‘N Sync and BSB, these four guys found each other and then found a record label and manager to package and ship them out to hungry fans — introducing teenage girls to a beefier cut of boy-band meat complete with the cheese that they were already used to.
10. The Monkees
While it was easy to criticize the Monkees for not being as good as the Beatles, it was even easier to sing along to their cheery tunes. And though the band members were picked to create a goofy TV show set to a laugh track, Davy Jones and the boys weren’t just monkeying around — they ended up as chart-topping heartthrobs.
9. Boyz II Men
They were one of the first cassette tapes I ever bought — so it’s safe to say that Boyz II Men shaped all of my romantic expectations with their smooth voices and sultry harmonies whispering promises and seduction from my Sony Walkman. But to be fair, they did teach me to never wait ’til the water runs dry. Or I could make the biggest mistake of my life!
8. Jonas Brothers
They seemed so slight when their Disney show began but brothers Kevin, Joe, and Nick would enrapture a new generation of young girls, who helped propel their four albums to over 8 million in sales and gave them a very successful tour. There would also be two Camp Rock movies. In 2009, Nick went off and did his own thing with a blues-rock band called Nick Jonas and the Administration.
With synchronized footwork, fresh faces, carefully chosen characters, and a willingness to perform at shopping malls, the Puerto Rican sensation Menudo laid the groundwork for later acts. The group has been active and evolving since 1977, finding replacements each time a member — even Ricky Martin who was a Menudie in the ’80s — turned 16.
6. New Edition
Those high voices and awesome moves, how could we not fall for Boston boys Bobby Brown, Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, and Ralph Tresvant when they crooned ”Is This the End?” on their hit debut album Candy Girl? We didn’t want it to be the end, even after they booted the trouble-prone Bobby in 1986 and replaced him with Johnny Gill. Over the years, New Edition has released 10 albums and sold more than 40 million records worldwide. Well, get excited, fans. All six members are reuniting to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Candy Girl and kicking things off at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.
5. Backstreet Boys
My junior high school health teacher used Backstreet Boy lyrics ”I don’t care who you are/where you’re from/what you did/as long as you love me” to push abstinance on us, but Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, Kevin Richardson, A.J. McLean, and Howie Dorough were just trying to outline puppy love for the PG crowd. And give their groupies a real VIP pass…to their hearts of course.
They may have MMMbopp’ed their way into our consciousness but the talented and wholesome brothers Isaac, Taylor, and Zac would hold on to their fan base by capitalizing on their musical and writing skills. Now well past puberty, the trio cut their hair, got hitched, had babies, started their own independent label, and continue to play to their all grownup ”Fansons” on tour. Shout it out!
3. New Kids on the Block
They had the ”Right Stuff” for millions of fans and ”Step by Step” they took over the charts, not to mention the hearts of diehard fans. Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, Jordan Knight, and Jonathan Kinght are finally reuniting with their boy-band brothers Backstreet Boys for a 2011 tour.
2. 'N Sync
It ain’t no lie that these ”Bye Bye Bye”-ers taught the Y2K generation how to scream, faint — and buy cheap crap with their faces plastered over it — all over again. Despite all the other reunions going on, there’s been no serious talk of a reunion since their hiatus in 2002. Lead hunk Justin Timberlake has had a triumphant solo career and JC Chavez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass, and Joey Fatone have had, um, other pursuits.
1. The Jackson 5
They’re the only family band on this list with more Behind the Music fodder than, well, Michael Jackson on his own. Born, bred, and carefully molded for the stage by their father/manager, Joe, brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael made Motown magic and a million girls swoon with their bell-bottoms and ‘fro fashions.