Aaaaaah, boy bands...what would we do without them? Since the Beatles incited the British Invasion in the 1960s - making adoring fangirls scream their heads off at concerts and public gatherings - the concept of the boy band has never gone out of style.
In fact, since the 1960s, boy bands have only gotten bigger, stronger, and more talented. Take BTS, for example. The Bangtan Boys' latest hit "Butter" has spent an incredible 6 weeks at the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Their fanbase is literally known as the ARMY, and like the military, they've got some power just for pledging their loyalty to the K-Pop group. Whether they're helping the beloved boy band win Top Social Artist at the Billboard Music Awards 5 years in a row or literally undermining a political juggernaut to show they side with the group's views, they're just as big, strong, and talented as the musicians they support.
And it's not just BTS that has had power because of their good looks, great choreography, and swanky music. This kind of influence has been available to boy bands since the beginning. But which boy bands throughout history have had the most loyal fans, cultural impact, and record sales? That's what we're about to find out today.
For this list, we're looking at more recent boy band phenomenons who've taken the world by storm - so that means if you're expecting the Beatles or the Monkees to show up on this list, we sincerely apologize. (But don't worry! A particular 70s' boy band is within the top 5!)
Keep in mind - these rankings are just our opinions. At the end of the day, there are no winners or losers: we love every single one of these iconic groups. Without further ado, here's our list of Top 10 Boy Bands!
10. Big Time Rush
You can't think of this quartet without hearing those melodic "Oh, oh, oh, ooooooh's" in your head. Big Time Rush was formed in 2009 for Nickelodeon and consisted of members Kendall Schmidt, James Maslow, Logan Henderson, and Carlos Pena Jr. The group produced music under Nick Records before eventually signing to Columbia Records. They were active from 2009 to 2014, and had hits like "Boyfriend," "Worldwide," and their self-titled song "Big Time Rush."
While this group truly made it "big time" in the music industry, we have to give them the last spot on this list because, well...they were a made-for-television boy band. (The Monkees did it first.) Still, they've had a lot of influence on pop culture. They've sold over 10 million records worldwide, inspired a hilarious Kenny Knox vine, and are undoubtedly Nickelodeon's most successful music group. Remember The Naked Brothers Band? We don't.
9. 5 Seconds of Summer
5 Seconds of Summer (or 5SOS for short) is a group comprised of vocalist Luke Hemmings, lead guitarist Michael Clifford, bassist Calum Hood, and drummer Ashton Irwin. They originate from Sydney, Australia and since 2014, they've sold more than 10 million albums, 2 million concert tickets worldwide, and have over 7 billion streams on their songs.
It's no understatement to say that 5SOS is one of Australia's most successful musical acts. Where most boy bands try to stay sugary and appeal to standard pop tastes, 5SOS is unafraid to delve into darker territory. Songs like "Youngblood," "Teeth," and "She Looks So Perfect" incorporate punk and industrial elements into their production. They've got an unconventional formula, and that's what makes them so great.
8. Boyz II Men
Boyz II Men found their success during the golden age of boy bands, which happened in the 1990s. This R&B vocal harmony group from Philadelphia consists of members Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman. Their reign began with the the release of top 5 singles "Motownphilly" and "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" in 1991, followed by the number one single "End of the Road" in 1992, which stayed #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 13 weeks.
Besides their success on the music charts, Boyz II Men have received 4 Grammy Awards and sold 34 million records. The best part? They're still around. Their most recent release was 2017's Under the Streetlight. That same year, the city of Philadelphia renamed a section of Broad Street "Boyz II Men Boulevard."
7. New Kids on the Block
The 80s wouldn't be the same without New Kids on the Block. NKOTB is an American boy band from Dorchester, Massachusetts, and like Boyz II Men, the group is still around. It consists of brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood.
After disbanding in 1994, the group reunited in 2007 and secretly recorded an album together. Since then, they've sold over 70 million records worldwide and even toured with the Backstreet Boys in 2011. Some standout hits in their discography include "Step by Step," "You've Got It (The Right Stuff)," and "I'll Be Loving You (Forever)."
6. Jonas Brothers
Like New Kids on the Block, the Jonas Brothers are another boy band who have had a successful comeback in recent years. Originally formed in 2005 for the Disney Channel, the Jonas Brothers consists of New Jersey-raised siblings Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas. They starred in the Camp Rock franchise, had their own Disney Channel show, released four albums between 2006-2009, and even received a nod for Best New Artist at the 51st Grammy Awards. Before the release of their final early 2000s record Lines, Vines and Trying Times, they sold over eight million albums worldwide.
Eventually, the brothers took a hiatus to pursue solo projects. Although they tried to reunite in 2013, it wasn't until March 1, 2019 the trio came back in a big way. Their single "Sucker" dominated the Billboard Hot 100 and led to successful sales of their most recent album, Happiness Begins.
But "Sucker" isn't the brothers' only classic. No matter how old they get, Jonas Brothers songs like "Year 3000" and "Burnin' Up" will always hold a special place in our hearts.
5. The Jackson 5
While The Jackson 5 were formed in the 60s, they're considered more of a 70s' boy band due to the release of Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 and iconic singles "I Want You Back" and "Who's Loving You" in 1969.
Like the Jonas Brothers, The Jackson 5 consisted of members all from the same family. The group was founded by Gary, Indiana, and Joe Jackson, as well as by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine in 1965. Marlon Jackson would join later, as well as the group's standout and tiniest member...Michael Jackson. You don't need us to tell you what happened with his career.
The Jackson 5 remain one of Motown Records' biggest hits and have sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Two of the band's recordings - "ABC" and "I Want You Back" - are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Alongside "I'll Be There," the songs were also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
We already mentioned BTS in this list's introduction, but we haven't even scratched the surface of the impact they've had on pop culture - particularly pop culture in recent years.
For those who don't know, BTS is a seven-member South Korean boy band that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The septet is composed of members Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook and started off in hip hop before crossing over to pop. It wasn't until 2017 the band made it into the global market and became the posterchild for the Korean Wave in the United States.
BTS has broken an insane amount of records during their run. They are the first Korean act to top the US Billboard 200 chart with their 2018 studio album Love Yourself: Tear. BTS also became the fastest group since the Beatles to earn four US number-one albums, doing so in less than two years. Not to mention the Guinness World Records they've won for their "Dynamite" music video and multitude of awards show wins they've accumulated since their inception.
So what makes BTS so great? Is it their flashy suits, fine choreography, or catchy choruses? It's all of those things combined with the group's willingness to be open about social issues, mental health, coming-of-age struggles, and individualism in their song lyrics. While BTS is only #4 on our list for now, we don't doubt their legacy will gift them the #1 spot in the future.
3. One Direction
During the early 2010s, One Direction lit up our world like nobody else. Their swoopy hairstyles and boy-next-door charm reminded folks of British Invasion boy bands like the Beatles. No wonder they sold 50 million albums, played in packed arenas, made movies, and hit #1 on the charts several times during their 6-year run.
It all started after the boy band finished third on the show The X Factor in 2010. Simon Cowell signed them to his label Syco Records, and the rest was history. Social media helped propel their songs to global success, and Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik became household names.
Songs like "What Makes You Beautiful," "Story of My Life," and "Best Song Ever" truly defined the 2010s. It wasn't just One Direction's good looks and talent that made them successful: it was their ability in song lyrics to make it feel like they were truly talking to you, the listener.
All five of the boys have found achievement in their solo careers after 1D's split, but it's probably Harry Styles and Zayn Malik who have attained the most success. We're still sad One Direction had to go, but the fact their split led to songs like "Watermelon Sugar" and "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" just shows how talented the group was...and how deserved their fame and fortune was, too.
As you've followed along with our list, you may have noticed two iconic 90s' boy bands are absent so far. That's right: we're about to weigh in on the great 90s' boy band debate. Grab some popcorn, because this is going to get technical.
It's a tough call, as we love these two boy bands immensely and cannot understate how much they impacted 90s' teen culture, boy band standards, and the music industry in general. We know comparing these two acts is like comparing apples to oranges...but there can only be one winner. So without further ado, here's our call for the second and first place spots!
2. Backstreet Boys
What better boy band to have us rockin' our bodies in the 90s? The Backstreet Boys really are the most classic of boy bands. Consisting of Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, and cousins Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson, this group was formed in 1993 in Orlando, Florida. They blew up as soon as their debut international album Backstreet Boys (1996) was released.
The Backstreet Boys have it all. They've got the hits - "I Want It That Way" and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" just to name two. They've got the looks, the cool choreography, the record sales (100 million), and even the longevity, as the group is still active today.
Yes, the Backstreet Boys are considered the best-selling boy band in history. If boy bands were ice cream flavors, we'd say the Backstreet Boys are that traditional creamy vanilla.
So, compared to that boy band flavor, which 90s' boy band is that more popular - and equally as significant - chocolate flavor? It's gotta be the group in our #1 spot...
All hail the asterisk, the puppet strings, and Justin Timberlake's dreamy blonde curls!
Hear us out. While the Backstreet Boys have the hits, the record sales, the longevity, and the clout, there's something about NSYNC that's just...tighter. Like they've taken the same formula from Backstreet Boys but trimmed the fat. Their choreography was flashier. The music videos just had a bit higher quality. And while they were only around to make three studio albums between 1995-2002, they have just as many hits as their Backstreet counterparts.
Additionally, NSYNC had a rare ability to master their ballads just as well as their dance tracks. "(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You" is a prime example of this. Think of it this way: the Backstreet Boys are like the reliable truck you'll drive for years in order to get from point A to point B, while NSYNC was a shiny new Mustang we only had for a few years...but we'll never forget the incredible joyride.
Like the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC was also formed in Orlando and comprised of the aforementioned Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass. After a successful self-titled debut, the group released No Strings Attached and sold over a whopping 1 million copies in a single day. It might sound crazy, but it ain't no lie: there was a point in time (between 2000-2009) when No Strings Attached was the 2nd best-selling album of all time, right behind the Beatles' White Album.
The group's final record Celebrity came next, which included some underrated NSYNC tracks like "Gone" and "Pop" - the latter of which still has a modern funky feel today. But of course, NSYNC will forever be remembered for their classics "It's Gonna Be Me," "This I Promise You," and that one dance hit that makes us tap our fingers to our thumb in a sideways motion, "Bye Bye Bye."
Finally, let's talk about Timberlake. The now 10-time Grammy winner is the dictionary definition of a boy band member whose solo career took off after his group's split. His personal life dominated tabloids in the 90s, and his success might just be greater than any of the other acts mentioned on this list. And for that, we have NSYNC to thank.
We hope you enjoyed our boy band picks! Until next time...bye, bye, bye!
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