They’re not even a guilty pleasure. I like a significant amount of boy bands and their songs. I should be clear here. When I say and think boy bands, I mean very late 1990s and early to mid 2000s.
The nascent period of my radio career coincided with arguably the apex of boy band domination. Believe causation if you’d like! But I’m certain someone somewhere in Detroit heard me on the air, I played some 98 Degrees, Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC, and they were forever devoted. To that band or song. Not to me. Though it’s likely someone thought I was reading their mind.
I loved the stuff.
Now the trips were usually for work purposes but I didn’t mind one bit. *NSYNC at Silverdome in 1999 when I could hardly yet find a gas station (or party store) in metro Detroit. The ear piercing, 120 decibel Backstreet Boy Millennium tour at the Palace of Auburn Hills. 98 Degrees at the state fairgrounds. O-Town before they even completed the final version of the group doing a breakfast-time performance at Star Southfield. I was there.
I didn’t enjoy the songs because it’s what girls I was attracted to craved at the time. I liked the songs!
Bye Bye Bye, I Want It That Way, Summer Girls, All Or Nothing. The obvious top hits from the biggest acts of the time. Which I should state began about 1998. So sorry. No Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd or New Kids On The Block. With immense reverence to the Jackson 5, New Edition and the Beatles, the era I’m opining on halts before we get to the birth of the Jonas Brother’s fame around 2008. So sorry to Big Time Rush, 5SOS and One Direction. You’ll get a list one day!
This list endeavors to appreciate other singles or album tracks that weren’t quite the ones that won’t ever be forgotten.
Quickly some other standards for MY list:
A boy band has to have more than two members. So no Savage Garden or Evan & Jaron
A boy band group and/or song cannot have started at urban radio. No 112
A boy band song cannot have members playing instruments. No Hanson. No Sugar Ray. NOTE – Sugar Ray was awful.
A boy band song cannot be by a group of women. Sadly, no Dream
A boy band song has to be a group of all boys. No S Club 7 or City High
A boy band song cannot be a Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera song
You have to have heard of them. No JLS
Lastly, this is MY list. It’s going to be unusually biased towards what I like.
With apologies to Westlife, Soul Decision and BBMak, here. We. Go.
5. B2K – Uh Huh
Argue with me all you want that this violates my second rule above. But B2K was swiftly ripped away from urban radio by the pop world. 112 had been around for half a decade before pop radio began have regular success with their songs, and even then it was short lived – Peaches + Cream & Dance With Me. You can have Bump, Bump, Bump. I’ll take this one. And shout out to Omarion who had a moderately successful solo career in a post-B2K world, though without a real pop radio hit.
4. LFO – Girl On TV
I was down with the Lyte Funkie Ones going back to 1998 when they debuted with If I Can’t Have You, a remake of a late 70s disco classic. After that, the band got a little better looking. Shedding Brian Gillis for Devin Lima, a proto-Derek Zoolander, to join Brad Fischetti, and Rich Cronin. The latter, tragically, succumbed to a lengthy battle with leukemia in 2010. And geezus krist. Lima also received a horrific cancer diagnosis just months ago. Eccckk. Summer Girls was LFO’s monster hit, and several years later Every Other Time – the finger in the air song – also had a nice run. In between, in fact on the same album as Summer Girls, Rich Cronin began dating Jennifer Love Hewitt. He wrote a song for her, and if I could find the damn video on YouTube, I’d show you that she was also IN the video.
3. *NSYNC – Girlfriend RMX w/Nelly
The last song *NSYNC released as a group, is possibly TOO good of a song to be on this list. However, if I ask you to reel off *NSYNC songs it may not be in your top five. It’s assuredly not before Bye Bye Bye, It’s Gonna Be Me (thank you late April meme stardom) and probably (Dirty) Pop. Others you may consider, still before Girlfriend? The first singles; I Want You Back and Tearin’ Up My Heart. A monster ballad about moms, God Must’ve Spent, and lastly off that debut album, I Drive Myself Crazy – which almost made this list. There’s also Gone, This I Promise You, and even album cuts like Space Cowboy, Celebrity, Just Got Paid and It Makes Me Ill. Forgive me for slapping a Grammy nominated song (Best Pop Perf. Duo Or Group ’03) on the list, but I feel like you forgot about this one. Memorize the Nelly rap parts. There WILL be a test below on who he name-checked!
2. 98 Degrees – Give Me Just One Night
This might be somewhat of a cheat. You may say or think, ‘Eric, that IS my favorite 98 Degrees song.’ But I don’t know that 98 Degrees HAS a signature song, like other acts. Invisible Man, The Hardest Thing, I Do, My Everything? A really well-done Christmas song called This Gift? What’s their biggest song? These guys nailed ballads, so I’m not surprised you’d forgotten their spicy, top charting hit from 2000’s Revelation. And yea, if you know me, I love almost anything Spanish flavored. Matame boys!
I’m tempted to make this a double entry, but I feel liked I’ve already asked you for enough patience with MY list.
1. Backstreet Boys – Larger Than Life
AND The Call
*NSYNC could create a hit at any pace, 98 Degrees owned the
cheesy wedding songs cherished, romantic ballads, so we’ll give the perfect mid-tempo works to the Backstreet Boys. The one that took over the planet, I Want It That Way, but there was also As Long As You Love Me. Quit Playin’ Games, All I Have To Give and Shape Of My Heart. If I asked you to name others, surely you’d say Everybody and Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely. A die hard would recall the first hit, We’ve Got It Goin’ On. And even a string of ballads; More Than That, Drowning and Incomplete. But really, I think there’s a very simple reason that Larger Than Life gets overlooked as I believe it does. It wasn’t I Want It That Way, an inexorable global phenomenon. You can also win me with cosmic dancing robots.
I couldn’t stop myself, I love these two…