Boy Bands. Were we ever so young?
Videos by American Songwriter
In the second half of the 1990s, the popular music scene was dominated by boy bands. The decade began with rap and grunge, then a lot of violence took place sadly, and things changed, ushering in groups like the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. While these bands may not have boasted much aggression and risk, they made up for it with harmony and good looks.
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But there is also something distinct from boy bands and R&B groups like Boys II Men and All 4 One. The two seem more serious, and artful in the way they performed and comported themselves. The former classification seems somehow goofier and less serious. More marketing and manufacturing than musical soul.
So, with that distinction in mind, we wanted to present a list of the best (i.e. most catchy) boy band songs from the 1990s.
1. “Bye Bye Bye”
From *NSYNC’s third album, No Strings Attached. This song was technically released in January of 2000, but who’s counting? It’s a must on this list because of its simple, yet iconic “bye bye bye.” The song hit No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also earned a Grammy nom.
2. “I Want It That Way”
Released in April of 1999, this song was the lead single from the Backstreet Boy’s third LP, Millennium. It hit No. 1 in 25 countries and No. 6 in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100. It also earned three Grammy nominations. But more importantly, it gave the world the refrain, “TELL ME WHYYYYYYY!!”
The 1997 hit song by the brother trio Hanson, this song featured gibberish like no other pop song. The boys from Oklahoma never quite got back to the success of this track, but it remains iconic in ’90s lore. From their album, Middle of Nowhere, the track even earned them two Grammy nominations.
4. “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”
The first single, released in 1997, is from the band’s sophomore international album Backstreet’s Back, and is the first release from their self-titled U.S. debut in 1998. The U.S. version includes an extended breakdown section. It will have you singing, Backstreet’s Back! Alright! The song hit No. 4 on the U.S. Hot 100 and was the band’s second hit after “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).”
5. “It’s Gonna Be Me”
Sung every April 30 right before May (“It’s gonna be May!”), the song from NSYNC was recorded in 1999 (and technically released in 2000). The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard 100 and is a fan favorite track.
6. “Because Of You”
Another rare non-BSB or NSYNC addition here. This song from 1998 is by 98 Degrees from the album, 98 Degrees and Rising. It hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is a song of lovely saccharine devotion.
7. “Summer Girls”
Perhaps the least self-aware of all the songs, which might be saying something, this song is known also as “The Abercrombie & Fitch Song” because of its reference to the popular and now controversial ’90s and 2000s clothing company. Released in 1999, the track hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. “Larger Than Life”
A music video that featured the Backstreet Boys dressed in Transformer outfits (or something), “Larger Than Life” really felt larger than life, especially when it came to its music video. It was released in 1999 on Millennium and hit No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The video was the 14th most expensive, to date.
9. “Tearin’ Up My Heart”
Oh the pain, oh the agony of young love. That’s the message behind the 1997 song by *NSYNC.
10. “As Long As You Love Me”
From the 1997 album, Backstreet Boys, this song is as sweet and soft as it gets. As a result, the song spent 56 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart, peaking at No. 4.
Photo: PRNewsfoto/Epic Rights