Let Timbo’s post-*N SYNC career be the yardstick against which all other ex-boy-banders are judged: he who hath transcended his frosted tips and Lou Pearlman puppet strings to become not only a massive solo star with six Grammys and two multiplatinum albums, but now an in-demand thespian as well (see legendary SNL guest-host spots, much-anticipated David Fincher Facebook movie The Social Network).
At 12, he joined Puerto Rican revolving-door juggernaut Menudo; by the end of his teens, having learned how the pop sausage was made, he chose to go the telenovela route, acting on soaps (including America’s own General Hospital). By the mid-’90s, Martin found recording success again, but his true breakthrough didn’t arrive until 1999, when his Latin-superstar vida went truly, internationally loca. Today? His musical star has dimmed somewhat, but the recently out-and-proud single dad has turned his focus to his two young sons, and a memoir is due later this fall.
The gangly teen who crooned ”Cool It Now” and several other sweet mid-’80s hits with New Edition went on to become the multiplatinum king of New Jack Swing, the betrothed of a superstar, and ultimately, a pop-culture punchline (Does the deathless phrase ”doodie bubble” ring a bell?). But while Whitney and Bobby are no more — the pair divorced in 2006, after 14 combative years — Brown continues to stay at least nominally on the radar, most recently appearing on CMT’s Gone Country and VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club.
After the dissolution of New Kids on the Block, the band’s resident bad boy followed his A-list sibling Mark into acting, appearing notably (and almost unrecognizably) in The Sixth Sense, and carving out a niche for himself with small but respectable parts in the WWII miniseries Band of Brothers and the Saw franchise. He is currently set to appear in the fall 2010 CBS drama series Blue Bloods, costarring Tom Selleck.
He may never have been *N SYNC‘s sex symbol (or even its third runner-up), but the amiable Fatone has carved a place for himself as the goateed teddy bear of reality television, placing second on Dancing With the Stars, hosting karaoke game show The Singing Bee and various red-carpet events for TV Guide, and most recently, serving as the announcer on Family Feud.
Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie Devoe
The New Edition alumni left behind their PG-rated ditties for the tougher and more explicit street stylings of Bell Biv Devoe, which scored massive hits in the early ’90s (”Poison,” ”Do Me”). The B-Boys Three have been quieter this century, though they have reportedly reunited to record again after 2001’s disappointing BBD. They continue to work on their own projects as well; Bivins, specifically, has flourished behind the scenes as a producer, manager, and A&R executive.
The youngest kid on the New Kids block didn’t make his solo foray until 1999, five years after NKOTB disbanded. His debut, Stay the Same, did well, and yielded a top 10 Billboard hit with its titular single, but a follow-up met with less interest, and McIntyre turned his attentions to Broadway, appearing on stage in productions of Wicked, Happy Days, and Tick, Tick….BOOM; he reunited with the New Kids in 2008 and recently found moderate viral success with his MA Men series on Funny or Die. He was also part of the first cast of DWTS in 2005, placing third.
Though bested by former bandmate Fatone on DWTS (he came in third to Joey’s second), the *N SYNCer and onetime aspiring cosmonaut trumped him with a best-selling autobiography, 2007’s Out of Sync; an official coming-out on the cover of People magazine; and various gigs for stage and screen, including a Broadway run as Corny Collins in Hairspray. Today, he appears to be focusing his efforts primarily on behind-the-scenes production and philanthropy.
If anything, Lachey has had more renown as a personality than as a pop star; his 98 Degrees were arguably the Jan Brady of boy bands, selling steadily but never quite reaching the heights of their peers. While his brother and bandmate Drew would go on to win Dancing With the Stars‘ second season, Nick pushed his onscreen reality profile even further, exposing the world to his and then-bride Jessica Simpson’s conjugal shenanigans on the MTV hit Newlyweds. The marriage didn’t last, but What’s Left of Me, the solo album detailing its collapse, was a hit. Today, he remains a lower-rung reality staple, appearing on and hosting various shows, and still occasionally appears in the tabloids with on-and-off girlfriend Vanessa Minnillo.
His run with ’90s R&B hitmakers Dru Hill wasn’t so shabby, but it wasn’t until the man born Mark Andrews unleashed the dragon with his chart-busting panty ode ”Thong Song” that Sisqo became a household name — even then-Commander-in-Chief Bill Clinton was reportedly a fan. That lightning in a bottle, alas, was not easy to replicate; no further smashes followed on subsequent releases, though he did parlay his 15 minutes into spots on reality shows like CMT’s Gone Country and the U.K.’s Celebrity Big Brother and has performed on nostalgia tours with acts like New Edition and SWV.
Following a four-year stint with B2K, the boy born Omari Ismael Grandberry segued into other areas of entertainment, acting in films like You Got Served and Fat Albert. Today, he is a judge (alongside fellow ex-boy-bander JC Chasez) on America’s Best Dance Crew and continues to score moderate hits on the urban and R&B song charts as a signee to Lil Wayne’s Young Money label.
The New Kids on the Block pinup earned four Top 40 singles in his post-NKOTB incarnation, including the 1999 hit ”Give It to You.” Stints on VH1’s The Surreal Life and spin-off The Surreal Life: Fame Games may not have been the high point of his career, but he acquitted himself on both with relative dignity, and continues to make music while raising a family.
When the Staffordshire, England-born Williams left Brit boy band Take That in 1995, he did so with a bang, unleashing a string of hit singles over the course of two massive albums before the end of the millennium. But few former boy-banders have reached his level of international solo success while almost entirely failing to translate that momentum to America. Despite a significant U.S. push, Williams has never attracted more than a cult audience Stateside, even as he remains a superstar across the globe. In June 2010, he announced both a solo greatest-hits release and a reunion with Take That.
Success: America: 3. Everywhere else: 10