Boy bands have been a staple aspect of pop music ever since the late 1980s. It was during the 1990s that mainstream media became completely saturated with these groups.
Looking to relive the glory days of your youth? You’ve come to the right place, as the following groups were receiving repeated airplay.
In this list, you’ll find a nice mix of massively famous groups, as well as some of the more obscure.
In 1997, it didn’t matter if you liked boy bands, or not. Hanson, a group of brothers, dominated the charts with their massively famous song, MMMBop.
For a while, this group seemed to be in the hearts of almost every school-age girl. Because of the range in ages of the brothers, it provided a wide range of accessibility to audiences.
It might be easy to write off Hanson as a done deal. But, you’ll actually find many accounts of superb performances that have taken place quite recently.
Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men really set the stage for what was possible for a boy band group to achieve. Even today, they are one of the most accomplished pop groups of all time in terms of their success.
This group had more of an R&B sound, with most of their lyrics revolving around love and seduction. Take the song, I’ll Make Love To You, which is one of the staple pop hits of the 90s.
Yes, even the track title is quite telling in regard to the subject matter of the song. But really, this track embodies much of what Boyz II Men has come to be known for.
If not for Boyz II Men in the early 90s, we wouldn’t have had the influx of groups to follow. This group caused record labels quickly saw the viability of boy bands, which is no small feat.
Boyz II Men also helped to put black musicians in the spotlight due to gaining the respect of wider audiences. It might seem crazy, but Boyz II Men really did plant the seed of today’s pop landscape.
If you were into boy bands in the late 90s, you were likely divided into 2 camps. One of these camps was dedicated to the fandom and preference of the Backstreet Boys.
This group’s first 3 albums propelled them to worldwide fame beyond anyone’s imagination. Of course, none of this would have been possible without Lou Perlman’s back-page newspaper advertisement looking for boy band members.
The Backstreet Boys provided the evolutionary key that differentiated the early 90s with the sound of the new millennium. Out of any boy band group, the Backstreet Boys have sold the most records worldwide.
The other camp fans tended to be divided into was dedicated to the boy band, *NSYNC. Of the 2 groups, *NSYNC probably had the most recognizable members, which is evidenced by Justin Timberlake’s solo career success.
Many probably aren’t aware that, out of the 2 groups, *NSYNC actually came after the Backstreet Boys. However, it really wasn’t until 2000 that *NSYNC began to dominate the airwaves.
It was the Backstreet Boys’ producer that actually got *NSYNC off of the ground. You’ll see his presence throughout the genre.
It’s still not exactly clear whether their name is a play on the fact that they might be lip-syncing. The official claim is that the acronym is taken from all of the members’ names.
Shai is a group that often gets overlooked and overshadowed by the massive success of other boy bands. But, in the early 1990s, you probably had their hit single, If I Ever Fall In Love, on cassette.
Shai’s first 3 releases were really the heyday of the group. They even had a track on the Eddie Murphy flick, Beverly Hills Cop III.
Once the middle of the decade was through, it seemed like Shai’s fame had faded a bit. Despite this, Shai has been releasing new material on a surprisingly semi-frequent basis.
LFO is a group that you might not be too familiar with. Their 15-minutes of fame seemed to be a bit quicker than other groups of the period.
What’s interesting is that LFO, a Massachusetts-based group, found success in the UK before the US. Unfortunately, they weren’t exactly able to capitalize on their success the way other groups could.
Of course, once 1999 came around, their song, Summer Girls, ended up topping the Billboard pop charts. But, again, this would be perhaps the pinnacle of their career.
The group New Edition is actually quite foundational with respect to some of the greatest vocalists of the 90s. Believe it or not, New Edition actually has roots dating back to the late 1970s.
New Edition seemed full of veterans, which was a stark contrast to 90s boy bands, often formed with kids. You might be familiar with the fact that New Edition was, at one time, the musical home for Bobby Brown.
By the time the 90s rolled around, the group focused on solo projects, all of which had colossal success. New Edition then capitalized on that by releasing Home Again to immediate mainstream acclaim in 1996.
The group 98º always seemed like a group that tried to be as successful as the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. And, for the most part, they were quite successful, but maybe not as much.
What’s interesting is that all of the members formed the group and then shopped around for a record deal. This traditional model of group formation was vastly different than other groups of the time.
Most groups were usually the result of a record producer’s work, largely backed by conglomerate record labels. You know how it goes, if there’s a formula, mass-produce beyond the point of saturation.
The UK was not immune to the far-reaching infectiousness of the boy band sound. In the early 90s, it was the group, Take That, dominating the airwaves.
If you’re not familiar with Take That, you might be familiar with one of their former members, Robbie Williams. He would go on to have a successful solo career that rivals the success of Take That.
Jagged Edge came about in the mid-1990s with their own brand of soft and sensual R&B. Most consider their debut album a commercial failure by most standards.
However, Jagged Edge is one of those groups that really caught fire in 1999. What’s unique about Jagged Edge is that they’ve continued to be quite successful well beyond the 2010s.
K-Ci & JoJo
It’s not uncommon for boy band groups to consist of members of previous boy band outfits. K-Ci & JoJo, consisting of 2 brothers, is a prime example of this, both from the famous group, Jodeci.
By the middle of the decade, K-Ci & JoJo decided to split off from the group and record their own material. A few of their first releases actually landed in big Hollywood blockbusters at the time.
New Kids On The Block
Many people credit New Kids On The Block as being directly responsible for the success of other boy bands. This group’s success grew like wildfire in the late 80s.
Today’s adults who were children of that era continue to have a special place in their hearts for this group. They were definitely a bit of a cultural phenomenon at the peak of their career.
Color Me Badd
One group that was directly influenced by New Kids On The Block is the boy band, Color Me Badd. This group had a very sensual R&B sound that grew to become quite attractive to the mainstream.
Color Me Badd is generally considered one of the most important groups of the early 90s. Their music has directly influenced many in the genre, including *NSYNC’s Justin Timberlake.
Savage Garden is quite different from other boy band groups of the 1990s. Some would debate whether Savage Garden is even a boy band, considering that there are only 2 members.
Despite that, this Australian group became a household name worldwide. Around 1997, you wouldn’t be able to go anywhere without hearing one of their tracks playing.
It seems like just about every Western-societal country had its own versions of boy bands in the 90s. Ireland’s big group was the boy band, Boyzone.
Boyzone has been massively successful in UK markets and is one of its best-selling groups. Only the group, Take That, has been more successful than Boyzone, which is a massive accomplishment.
Another famous UK boy band is the group, Five, which was often characterized as “5ive”. Do you remember the Spice Girls and their far-reaching success?
If so, you might not have known that Five is the direct result of the Spice Girls’ management team. Like so many singing contest TV shows, auditions were held for membership into Five.
East 17 is yet another massively famous UK boy band that found traction in the mid-90s. This group’s success was propelled by tabloid newspapers, which always seemed to have them in their lens.
Most of East 17’s earlier releases have all been historic in their own right. What’s a little comical is that, despite this, a Christmas song remains their biggest song ever released.
If you’re trying to rack your brain to remember BBMak, try thinking more toward the turn of the new millennium. BBMak, a UK boy band, actually found success in Asia markets before having worldwide fame.
By 1999, it was evident that BBMak had planted all of the right seeds for success. During the early 2000s, they were a staple pop group, largely due to their affiliation with Disney.
Another group that is a contender for the most popular UK boy band is Westlife. This boy band capitalized on pop audiences in 1999 and quickly rose to fame.
In fact, Westlife holds a number of impressive stats with regard to the success of their singles releases. Even today, few have been able to top the quicksilver pace of success Westlife was able to achieve.
In 1994, the airwaves were dominated by grunge and punk, as well as songs like, I Swear. This track by All-4-One was one of the biggest songs of the decade, propelling them to international fame.
The group managed to be quite successful into the early 2000s, with their latest release dropping in 2015. It’s safe to say that I Swear will forever be included on wedding reception playlists.
Like sounds of different groups, it’s not uncommon for their names to also follow a formula. For this reason, you’ll find many boy band groups having numbers in their names.
The Norwegian group A1 is a classic example of this. From the very beginning of their career, it seemed as if A1 was destined to provide those top-tier musical ingredients.
While they did have some success at the start, it wasn’t until the 2000s that A1 fully hit its stride. Their success was so huge that some fans were even trampled to death during an autograph session.
In the US, 911 is generally thought of as the number to call in the event of a dire emergency. However, in the UK, 911 is most widely recognized as one of the best boy bands of the 90s.
Like many other boy bands, it was during the late 90s that 911 really gained massive attention. The group had an upward resurgence again around 2013, thanks in part to their role in a documentary.
Some might have an issue with The Calling being on this list of 90s boy bands for a few reasons. The first would be the fact that they are, for the most part, an actual band.
Secondly, The Calling really didn’t gain mainstream success until 2001. However, it was their growing popularity that gained them a record deal to record their debut album in 1999.
Sure, they might not rely on synchronized dance moves. However, the sound of The Calling really does fit in nicely alongside other pop-heavy boy bands.
There are rare instances where it seems as if children were born for the sole purpose of releasing music. The Moffatts, all consisting of brothers, began their music careers at a very young age.
This group started out really working the wheelhouse of the country music sound. As the 1990s tore on and everyone got older, they began to diverge into more of a rock sound.
O-Town is another group that might not technically fit the bill as a 90s boy band. However, their formation is the direct result of the massive success that other boy bands were able to achieve.
Reality TV began to become a normal thing in the late 90s. By 2000, one was dedicated to the formation of a boy band.
O-Town comes from this, and guess who had a major hand in the formation of the group? You guessed it, Lou Pearlman, of Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC fame.
The UK boy band, Blue, is another group that really didn’t get its start until 2000. However, members were starting to form the group in 1999.
Blue is generally considered to be another one of the UK boy band giants. Unfortunately, they came a little late to the party to really capitalize on the success of the genre.
Nevertheless, for a boy band, Blue has been quite consistent well into the modern era. Their latest album is slated for a 2022 release date.
The UK group Damage is a better-than-fiction story of kids using inspiration to follow their dreams. Members of Damage were still in high school when they began to form and cut their first demos.
By 1996, Damage managed to chart multiple times over various singles releases. Their popularity only grew with their cover release of the famous Clapton song, Wonderful Tonight.
By most standards, Damage had a fairly short career span. However, the 2 album releases seem to remain iconic amongst UK boy band fans.
Train is another group that some might have an issue calling a boy band. Again, this is due to the fact that Train is an actual band as opposed to a dance-heavy pop group.
That doesn’t diminish the fact that Train fits the sound of a boy band well while having a rock sound. Their debut track Meet Virginia quickly caught the attention of audiences.
Of course, when Drops Of Jupiter was released in 2001, Train essentially became a household name. They would continue to be quite successful well into the modern age of music.
Bell Biv DeVoe
Remember our earlier mention of the group, New Edition, and their importance to the genre? Several members of that group would go on to form Bell Biv DeVoe, which had widespread success in 1990.
Bell Biv DeVoe only released 2 albums in the early 1990s, but both had excellent sales amongst audiences. The group has managed to stay quite active, both through touring as well as an occasional release.
In a way, it’s almost comical the similarities between different groups, no matter where they are in the world. Just like a UK boy band used 911 for a name, so, too, did an American group use 112.
If you couldn’t guess, 112 is the emergency number to call in the UK. Comedy aside, 112 had an influential role in the development of modern hip-hop.
112 essentially started when its members were still in high school. Within a few years, they would be contributing and working with some of the biggest names in rap music.
Michael Learns To Rock
There was a long period of time Michael Jackson dominated the pop charts and the attention of millions. It only took a matter of time before musicians would use Michael Jackson’s influence and success in a cheeky manner.
Michael Learns To Rock is a Danish group that actually formed in the late 1980s. By 1993, they were embarking on world tours, reaching worldwide fame in the late 1990s.
If you’re living in the US, you’re probably completely unaware of the huge success that the group Kent has had. This group is one of the greatest musical groups to have ever come from Sweden.
Kent is so huge that they even have their own edition of the video game, SingStar. The group continued to have great success until they eventually hung up the phone in 2016.
Tony! Toni! Toné!
The group, Tony! Toni! Toné!, was quite unique in the early 1990s. Despite being an actual band, they had more of a hip-hop sound to the music beneath their vocals.
Today, Tony! Toni! Toné! is widely regarded as one of the most influential boy bands of their time. Unfortunately, those who grew up in the early 2000s are largely unaware of their classic catalog of music.
We’ve already mentioned K-Ci & JoJo, who achieved mainstream success in the mid-to-late 90s. Before they were established as a duo, they played a role in the famous boy band, Jodeci.
Jodeci was unafraid to incorporate different musical elements into its brand of R&B music. Compared to other groups of the time, Jodeci seemed to embrace the hip-hop aesthetic.
Hootie & The Blowfish
Sure, it might be considered heresy to include a band like Hootie & The Blowfish on a list of boy bands. However, they were one of the most successful pop bands to exist in the 1990s.
Their music was extremely accessible, gaining them audiences from both the pop world and the rock world. Believe it or not, much of the group’s musical catalog still holds up quite well in today’s modern era.
Mint Condition is one of those bands that actually transitioned quite well from the 1980s to the 1990s. They had a silky-smooth sound that incorporated elements of funk, jazz, and soul.
The early 1990s were, by far, the kindest years for Mint Condition. Their debut album was released to critical acclaim in 1991.
Throughout the entire decade, Mint Condition seemed to be in great shape as far as boy bands are concerned. They have even managed to be nominated for numerous awards well beyond the 90s.
Playa is a group that might have missed your radar on a conscious level. However, they’ve been fundamental in some of the biggest hits released in the 90s and 2000s.
Their biggest hit landed in 1998 with the track, Cheers 2 U. However, they’ve been far more successful in collaborating with giants such as Timbaland, Lil Wayne, and Aaliyah.
Playa would continue to release new material until 2009. They’ve had songs in numerous films, including Dr. Dolittle, and Romeo Must Die.
If you were alive in the late 1990s, chances are likely that you saw the blockbuster film, Rush Hour. This Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker action comedy was one of the best-selling films of its time.
During the end credits, the song, How Deep Is Your Love was played. This gained Dru Hill (who is a group, not a singular person) mainstream attention.
Dru Hill is perhaps most notable for the fact that Sisqó was a member. He would have his own hit track, Thong Song, in 2000.
Hi-Five is a group that actually had a smashing career in the late 1980s. In fact, their debut album was eventually certified Platinum, thanks in part to 3 hit singles.
Their later releases weren’t nearly as successful, but Hi-Five did manage to stay in the limelight. For instance, they had a track featured in the emotional hit film, Menace II Society.
If you’re familiar with O-Town, you’d probably think that H-Town was just ripping their name off. However, H-Town came before by a number of years and refers directly to their Houston upbringing.
H-Town stormed the charts with their 1993 track, Knockin’ Da Boots. This track gained them the same level of fame as the biggest rap and R&B acts of the time.
With a name like Silk, you would expect nothing less than a smooth sound. That is precisely what this 90s R&B boy band provided.
Silk is known best for their sensual hits, primarily the song, Freak Me, which comes from their 1993 debut album. This group had 3 album releases throughout the 90s, all of which managed to perform quite well on the market.
Silk has also released albums beyond the 1990s, with their latest having been released in 2016. It’s safe to say that the highlight of their career was definitely in the 90s.
Some families seem to possess the musical gene. The group LeVert consists of brothers who are direct descendants of one of the founding members of the O’Jays.
It’s safe to say that LeVert carried on the family tradition, as they became extremely famous in the 1980s. They managed to transition well into the 1990s, though its members were mostly focused on their successful solo careers.
Dream Street is yet another popular boy band that consisted primarily of pre-pubescent members. This group is perhaps most notable for having Jesse McCartney as a member.
For the most part, Dream Street’s career was pretty short-lived, though they did have some towering hits. Most of the group’s popularity is a direct effect of working with and being featured on Disney media outlets.
B2K is another group that could be debated whether they should be on this list. The group did form in 1998, but it took 3 years for them to record and release their first album.
Nevertheless, B2K seemed poised to take advantage of the boy band mania during the new millennium. They continued to have moderate success until about 2005 when everyone focused on solo careers.
No, the name LSG isn’t an anachronistic play on LSD. Rather, it’s an R&B group spearheaded by Eddie Levert.
Technically speaking, LSG really is comprised of superstars, featuring members of New Edition and LeVert. Based on this reputation alone, LSG’s debut album rose to become double Platinum-certified in a fast manner.
LSG might not have had the massive appeal as some other boy bands of their time. However, the 2 albums they did release are classic 90s R&B staples.
One of the most enduring R&B songs of the 1990s is, undeniably, No Diggity. This 1996 track featuring Dr. Dre cemented Blackstreet into modern music history.
Part of what made this song so famous was its insanely catchy piano parts. It was a sound that really embodied what the following years in rap music would sound like.
In that way, you could almost say that Blackstreet was a bit ahead of their time amongst their contemporaries.
We’ve mentioned many countries on this list, but Australia’s groups have been a bit hidden in comparison. As far as boy bands go, Human Nature is one of Australia’s biggest groups of all time.
The group has achieved worldwide fame largely in part due to its debut release in 1996. Believe it or not, Human Nature has been quite active in recent years, even holding a residency in Las Vegas.
Trademark is a UK group that utilized the sound of the synthesizer in their unique brand of pop music. Technically, Trademark didn’t start to gain attention until the early 2000s.
However, it was the group’s early work that gained them enough momentum to have a wider audience. They differentiated themselves at the time for primarily using synths rather than traditional instruments.
It isn’t uncommon to find boy bands incorporating sensual R&B sounds into their style. UK-based band, Another Level, managed to do this quite well in their own respect.
In fact, Another Level seemed to kick their successes up a notch over every year of the late 90s. They are noted for frequently having collaborators on their tracks, including the rap icon, Jay-Z.
Film and television tend to have a crossover of professionals with the music industry. Many of these individuals often end up having a good amount of success in both endeavors.
The UK boy band, Point Break, featured 2 actors who played roles in the famous British show, Byker Grove. They launched their first single in 1999, which ultimately helped them dominate the airwaves in 2000.
Let Loose is a UK boy band that started out strong but ultimately became a bit lost in obscurity. Their first album performed decently well, propelled by a few singles that managed to chart fairly high.
Once their 2nd album was released, it became evident that it wasn’t having the same reaction as the first. Every subsequent release from Let Loose has barely made a ripple in the vast sea of music.
However, it’s almost a certainty that some old fans have some old CDs and cassette tapes lying around. It will be interesting to see if Let Loose has another moment in the sunshine.
As you’ve seen with Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and O-Town, it’s not uncommon for producers to form groups. Quite often, it is their proven musical direction that provides the boy bands with their hit sounds.
Perfect Gentlemen is essentially a group formed by the one responsible for giving New Kids On The Block a chance. They had a relatively short stint as a career but managed to produce a few hits in the early 90s.
Music is not immune from the reaches of satire. Weird Al proved that it can be done quite tastefully and successfully.
2gether is a completely fictional and satirical boy band from the MTV movie of the same title. They actually managed to have a few songs make the pop charts and were fairly popular, even if a joke.
The boy band scene had a lot of low-hanging fruit for jokes. 2gether was great because they were one of the first to reap the harvest.
Top Boy Bands Of The 90s, Final Thoughts
Boy bands eventually faded from the eye of mainstream audiences toward the early 2000s. However, you’ll still find a large population of people who still enjoy listening to these groups.
People still can’t get enough of a group performing synchronized dancing to pop musical stylings infused with hip-hop elements. It’s a large reason why this tradition has been carried forward into today’s landscape of pop artists.