In the late ’90s and early ’00s, boy bands ruled all. Though these pop stars were preceded by the likes of the Beatles and followed by the mania that is One Direction, the trios, quartets, and quintets of the millennium have a special place in pop history. Check out EW’s ranking of the best of the heyday boy bands, ahead.
Long before he was Glee‘s Will Schuester, Matthew Morrison was a member of the early 2000s boy band LMNT (pronounced “element.”) The actor crooned alongside Mike Miller, Bryan Chan, and Jonas Persch, telling Mr. Porter about the gig in 2012, “It’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made in my life… It was at the height of *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, so I really thought I was going to make a lot of money being in a boy band… Singing and dancing to stupid, ridiculous songs didn’t feed my soul.”
17. Dream Street
In the late ’90s, a young Jesse McCartney teamed up with Greg Raposo, Matt Ballinger, Frankie Galasso, and Chris Trousdale to perform as the ever-dreamy group of teeny-boppers, Dream Street. The group saw its greatest success with the 2001 studio album Dream Street, led by the singles “It Happens Every Time” and “I Say Yeah,” but dismantled soon after.
In an attempt to be the boy band answer to the Spice Girls, 5ive was made up of British pop singers Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson, J Brown, and Abz Love. While they topped charts in the U.K., the performers nabbed their one hit stateside with the 1998 single “When the Lights Go Out.” The track hit No. 10, and was featured on the group’s most successful album of their run — the 1998 self-titled debut record 5ive.
Led by singer Trevor Guthrie, soulDecision rose to fame with the 1999 single “Faded.” While they picked up a gig opening for Christina Aguilera, the popularity of the Canadian boy band fell off soon after their debut album, and they dissolved following the release of their sophomore record Shady Satin Drug.
Mark Barry, Christian Burns, and Stephen McNally formed the late ’90s-early ’00s British boy band BBMak. The group saw its highs with a 2001 appearance on Even Stevens and a No. 13 single in 2000’s “Back Here.” The 2002 sophomore album Into Your Head included the single “Out of My Heart (Into Your Head),” but was BBMak’s last record before a 2003 breakup.
13. New Edition
Originally formed in the ’70s, New Edition saw a resurgence with the 1996 album Home Again. The multiplatinum record included the hit singles “Hit Me Off” and “I’m Still in Love with You,” and was the last big success of Ralph Tresvant, Johnny Gill, Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, and Michael Bivins. With the exception of sporadic reunions and performances, 2004’s One Love was the last major project of New Edition.
12. Crazy Town
A slightly rock iteration of the late ’90s boy band, Crazy Town topped charts with the 2000 single “Butterfly.” The track hit No. 1 in countries worldwide and aided in a gig with Ozzfest. Falling in line with the widespread boy band sophomore slump, Crazytown went on hiatus following 2002’s Darkhorse. The group got back together for the release of 2015’s The Brimstone Sluggers, but saw little impact with the collection.
LFO — or Lyte Funkie Ones — gave pop fans the immortal lyrics, “I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch / I’d take her if I had one wish / But she’s been gone / Since that summer, since that summer.” Made up of the late Rich Cronin, Brad Fischetti, and Devin Lima, the ’90s group dropped LFO in ’99, seeing success with the now-infamous “Summer Girls,” as well as the hit “Girl on TV.” LFO fell to the sophomore curse after 2001’s Life Is Good, disbanding in 2002.
Quinnes “Q” Parker, Daron Jones, Marvin “Slim” Scandrick, and Michael Keith became 112 in the ’90s. The R&B boy band debuted with a self-titled album in 1996, returning in 1997 with Room 112. 112 topped singles charts with “Only You” and “It’s Over Now” before becoming a smash success with 2001’s “Peaches & Cream.” The Grammy-winning performers have reunited a few times in recent years, but released their last collection of new material in 2005.
9. Savage Garden
Pop fans knew they loved Darren Hayes and Daniel Jones of Savage Garden before they met them, dreaming them into life. The Australian duo released Savage Garden in 1997, earning top-charting singles with “I Want You,” “To the Moon and Back,” and “Truly Madly Deeply.” The group continued its successful run with Affirmation in ’99, led by the single “I Knew I Loved You,” but announced their split a couple of years later in 2001.
Lil’ Fizz, J-Boog, Raz-B, and Omarion formed the R&B boy band B2K on the eve of the new millennium. The singers got their footing with the “Uh Huh”-led 2002 album B2K. Within months they released the holiday record Santa Hooked Me Up and the sophomore album Pandemonium!, featuring the smash hit “Bump, Bump, Bump.” After appearing in the 2004 movie You Got Served, B2K broke up as Omarion pursued a solo career.
Long before the Jonas Brothers, there was Hanson. Brothers Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, and Zac Hanson dropped their debut studio album Middle of Nowhere in 1997. Led by the famed earworm “MMMBop,” the album hit No. 2 and went multiplatinum. The group continues to perform decades later, going on regular tours and releasing albums every few years.
The Ashley Parker Angel-led boy band rose to fame on MTV’s Making The Band. The pop stars dropped their self-titled debut studio album in 2001, getting airtime with the hit singles “Liquid Dreams” and “All or Nothing.” O-Town hit the sophomore curse with 2002’s O2, but reunited sans Angel in 2014. The foursome released a third album, Lines & Circles, and continues to perform stateside.
5. 98 Degrees
Brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, along with Jeff Timmons and Justin Jeffre, formed 98 Degrees in the ’90s. Complete with on-brand bicep tattoos, the boy banders dropped 98 Degrees in 1998, releasing 98 Degrees and Rising the following year with the singles “Because of You,” “The Hardest Thing,” and “I Do (Cherish You).” Led by the hit “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche).” 98 Degrees’ third album Revelation arrived in stores in 2000. The boys reunited more than a decade later, touring in support of the 2013 album 2.0 alongside New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men.
4. New Kids on the Block
As LFO famously sang, New Kids On The block had a bunch of hits. An early entrant of the boy band craze, NKOTB was made up of Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, and brothers Jonathan Knight and Jordan Knight. The group released a self-titled debut album in 1986, going on to release Hangin’ Tough in 1988 and Step by Step in 1990. The kids went on a hiatus after their fourth studio album Face the Music, but reunited in the 2010s for a new album and tours with the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men.
3. Boyz II Men
R&B heavyweights Boyz II Men rose to fame with the 1991 release of their debut studio album Cooleyhighharmony and its accompanying singles “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” and “End of the Road.” The 1994 album II and 1997’s Evolution took the boy band to new heights soon after, aided by the hit songs “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee,” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness.” While the group fell short of topping charts in the 2000s, they continued to release new albums, dropping Collide as recently as 2014.
2. The Backstreet Boys
Backstreet is officially back (alright!). One of the pop group’s with the most enduring legacy, BSB first rose to fame in Europe in the 1990s, picking up fans in Germany before they made a name for themselves stateside. A. J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Brian Littrell made an impact with the 1997 U.S. release of Backstreet Boys before reaching massive success with 1999’s Millennium. Boasting hits such as “Quit Playing Games (with My Heart),” “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “I Want It That Way,” and “Larger than Life,” the Backstreet Boys took a brief hiatus in the mid-2000s before reuniting. In 2013, they dropped In a World Like This and toured for the record through June 2015.
Backstreet Boys may have had the longevity, but *NSYNC had the glory. The famed boy band debuted in the late ’90s with *NSYNC and its accompanying singles “I Want You Back,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” and “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.” Then came 2000’s No Strings Attached, led by the now-infamous “Bye Bye Bye.” A few coordinated dance moves later and Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, and Lance Bass were international superstars. While Timberlake’s starpower famously went on to eclipse that of his bandmates, the group has a spot in pop history more than a decade later, even reuniting with Timberlake for a talked-about performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.