Top Ten Most Popular Boy Bands of All Time

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Posted on January 11th, 2008

There seems to be no universally accepted definition for the term boy band. Many factors are to be considered if you intend to draw a defining line between one that is a boy band and one that is not. Perhaps we could use a template, a prototype if you will. Let’s pick out one group that unquestionably IS a boy band and based on its obvious characteristics, attempt to separate the apples from the oranges. An easy pick would be the “Backstreet Boys”. Their very name gives them away. What did they do? They sang, did choreographed dances, were composed mainly of teenagers and, their fans ranged from pre-treens to the early twenties and their songs were pop/r n’b. That narrows down the field a bit. “Hanson” will be eliminated because they weren’t a song and dance group and “Boys II Men” will likewise be out since they were mainly an Rn’B vocal quartet with a minimal pre-teen fan base. All this is admittedly still a rather lame basis for categorization, but we do have to start somewhere. With the proper formalities and bases out of the way, let us now count down the top ten boy bands of all time:

10. FIVE

This British five-man group came on the heels of the boy band craze of the late 90s, and sold an impressive 20 million albums during its brief but eventful run. “Five” received numerous pop music awards including an MTV Europe Music Award show in 1998 and a Best Pop Act trophy during the 2000 Brit Awards. “Five” was one of the few British boy bands that have been able to gain some measure of success in the US, managing to sell more than 2 million albums there. They disbanded in 2001 and a planned 2006 reunion fizzled out. No member has had success as a solo artist.


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“Boyzone” was formed in 1993, as Ireland’s answer to the phenomenally successful British boy band “Take That”. In its seven years of existence, “Boyzone” had four U.K. Number one albums and six U.K. Number one singles. It failed to create a dent in the U.S. Market but had a considerable international following. Two of its members, Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately pursued solo musical careers, with Keating eventually releasing 5 albums of his own and Gately one.


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This Irish boy band began in 1998 and became one of the most successful pop groups in U.K. singles history with 14 of its songs reaching number one. The group has bucked the departure of one of its members, Bryan McFadden in 2004 and continues as band until today. They have since then surpassed the success of their predecessor, Irish boy band “Boyzone” in terms of albums and singles sold all over the world.


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Patterned after “The Jackson Five”, “New Edition” was formed in 1983, and became one of the most influential forces behind subsequent American Rn’B groups. It enjoyed considerable success throughout the 80s as the U.S.’s premier boy band prior to the arrival of the “New Kids on the Block”. Band members have also had major success outside the group, particularly Bobby Brown and “BellBivDevoe”, which is composed of three “New Edition” members. Despite the contractual issues and infighting that have caused the band problems through the years, it has managed to regroup and continues to perform all over the US. A brand new album has been set for release in 2008


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“Take That” was formed in 1990 amidst the international success of the boy band genre triggered by the “New Kids on the Block”. The group has produced five platinum albums going and sold 27 million copies worldwide. With its success, the BBC even described “Take That” as the most successful band in Britain since “The Beatles”. Original member Robbie Williams left the group in 1995 following disagreements with management and fellow band members. He eventually became one of the biggest pop stars in world and “Take That” disbanded shortly after in 1996. The band reunited in 2006 without Williams and was well received by the public.


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“N’sync” was created in 1995 by the same man who created the “Backstreetboys, Lou Pearlman. Like the “Backstreetboys”, “N’sync” first gained success overseas before eventually breaking into the U.S. Market. The group members later freed themselves contractually from Pearlman and enjoyed unprecedented success with the release of the album “No Strings Attached”. This holds the all-time record for most albums sold in the first week of release (2.4 million copies). They have not made an album since 2001’s “Celebrity”. The group’s lead singers JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake have embarked on successful solo careers, with Timberlake achieving international megastar status.


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4. Backstreet Boys

By the mid-1990s, boy band interest had gone down in the US. This was changed when the “Backstreetboys” re-entered the scene in the late 90’s following their success in Europe and other parts of the globe. Although they were formed in 1993, they began releasing albums for the North American market only in 1997. They shortly became pop music’s biggest hit since the “Spice Girls”. Their second US album sold a record-setting 1.13 million units in its first week (a record soon to be broken by “N’Sync”). The “Backstreetboys” released four more albums, with a member Kevin Richardson leaving the group before the last album in 2007. Although overall fan interest and album sales have now gone down considerably, the “Backstreetboys” have secured their place as one of the biggest selling pop groups of all time.


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The “New Kids on the Block” was the brain-child of Maurice Starr, the same man behind “New Edition”. Formed in 1986, this Boston-based group started slowly but eventually took the world by storm, selling an estimated total of 70 million albums worldwide. They cornered the teen pop market and became the biggest singing group of their time. The band began a steady decline in the early 90s as new music such as gangster rap and grunge came to the forefront. They officially disbanded in 1994 but not before setting the standard for boy band success, including merchandising and corporate support.


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Puerto Rico was the birth place of this boy band franchise when in 1977, local music manager Edgardo Diaz thought of creating an all male teen sing and dance group. The members would be changed on a rotating basis where the boys would be replaced when he has reached 16 or if his voice changed or if he has grew too tall. Gaining popularity first in Latin America, the group soon became known world-wide with the boys singing in different languages. The band started an international boy-band craze and created a pop model on which future groups such as The “New Kids on the Block” could base their act. “Menudo”’s most famous alumnus is international singing sensation Ricky Martin.


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The forefathers of the modern boy band, these brothers were brought together by their father Joseph Jackson as a musical unit in 1966. As a pre-teen motown group, the band anchored their act on their vocal melodies, choreographed dancing and the immense talent of their brother Michael. They scored hit after hit, becoming one of the biggest names in music during the late 60’s and early 90’s. Their image appeared in cartoons, coloring books, stickers and they even had TV specials and their very own TV show. The Jacksons left a legacy of family musical talent never before matched, influencing generations upon generations of artists and launching the career of the biggest pop superstar of all time, Michael.Jackson.

These musical groups have all had great success in the field of pop music. Album sales, concert tours, merchandising, even musical influence, you name it, they’ve literally and figuratively cashed in on it. They will not be the last of their kind. As long as there are young girls to woo, a cute song to sing and some nifty dance moves to do, nothing will stop any one from using this tried and tested boy band formula.


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But if you don’t love Boy Bands, try Metal bands or Rock bands and know who was on top of the lists.

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