The world of pop music was forever changed when the first group of “boys” – or young men – got together and started singing and dancing together. The term “boy band” was soon minted and the craze followed. Passionate fans surround these groups even into modern music and while the best boy bands may be from yesteryear, this genre of music will never truly die.
Surprisingly enough, some reporters such as The Hollywood Reporter say that the boy band genre started with the best rock band of all time. “The Liverpool quartet known as The Beatles were not only the quintessential rock band, but many considered John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Star to be the original boy band — especially in the early 1960s when young girls would scream at the top of their lungs and pass out upon first sight of the ‘Fab Four’.”
Despite the screaming at the top of their lungs, a boy band’s groovy music can improve brain function. Scientists from the University of Tsukuba report that “music with a groove” can significantly increase measures of executive function and associated brain activity. There is a catch, though: You have to be familiar with the tune. Additionally, music has the ability to reduce stress when you’re going through a tough time.
That being said, let the dancing and singing begin! StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to put together this list of the best boy bands of all time. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Boy Bands of All Time, According to Music Experts
A popular boy band, helmed by the illustrious Justin Timberlake, of the 1990s and early 2000s, *NSYNC was known for their synchronized dance moves and hits like “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”
When it came down to it, NSYNC just epitomized what a boy band should be, “NSYNC recorded music with an urban pop feel that just made you want to dance. The group also has been covered to death by other musicians—NSYNC made the kind of music that makes other artists want to rock out! Talk about being pop icons and being able to influence artists across genres,” says Tylt.
They were a money maker in the year 2000, “When the boy band’s sophomore LP, No Strings Attached, dropped on March 21, 2000, it sold 1.2 million units its first day. By the end of the week, that number had doubled to 2.4 million, a bar that no artist in any genre would clear for 15 years,” says NPR.
Medium talks about how they changed the pop genre forever, “*NSYNC still has a massive hold on pop culture and pop music. Even though the band broke up in 2002, the group’s eight years together was enough to elicit a collective nostalgia that never really let them fade into obscurity. Some of this is due to Justin Timberlake’s solo success, which continued the band’s legacy, keeping hopes of a reunion looming every time he gets a prestigious honor or headlines the Super Bowl. The other part is due to their musical influence. Without *NSYNC, pop music wouldn’t sound like it does. You can hear it in the way newer boy bands like One Direction, The Wanted and Why Don’t We play off each other. Artists as varied as Meghan Trainer, Kelsea Ballerini and Paramore’s Hayley Williams all cite the group as being influential on them as musicians.”
2. The Backstreet Boys
The other side of the premier boy-band coin and formed in 1993, the Backstreet Boys became one of the best-selling boy bands of all time, with hits like “I Want It That Way” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
“Since their formation in the early ’90s as body-shaking teen dream heartthrobs, the Backstreet Boys have been one of the most integral pop groups to ever hit the charts. With hundreds of millions of albums sold universally, the boys of Backstreet — AJ McLean, Howie D., Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell — remain the best-selling boy band of all time. In their 25 years as a unit, the Backstreet Boys have released eight studio albums and 28 singles. Among them are some of the greatest pop songs the genre has to offer,” says Pop Crush.
They were consistent in all phases of the game according to Vulture, “At their best, the Backstreet Boys were a sharp singing group bolstered by the precision of a newly minted pop-music juggernaut. The hits were inescapable. The mid-tempo deep cuts were fascinating experiments. The ballads were sturdy but a touch too drippy. If you could get past the sterile cleanliness of the enterprise, there were hummable tunes for days.”
The Ringer took on the now classic debate of NSYNC versus BSB, and came out a fan of the Boys in this one. “The Backstreet Boys were better than ’NSync, and more important than ’NSync. ’NSync has the single most undeniable member of them all (Justin Timberlake), but, when you do the top-to-bottom average, the Backstreet Boys win out. They’re just more solid. It’s very much a 2004 Detroit Pistons situation. There’s no bad spot on their roster. Even their version of The Ordinary One (Howie) is a powerhouse. He’s cool. He’s handsome. He’s charming. He had a period when he looked like Antonio Banderas in Desperado. Those are all check marks. Really, the only weird thing about him is his name is Howie, which sounds less like a boy-band member and more like a cartoon duck or something.”
3. New Kids on the Block
Formed in the 1980s, New Kids on the Block were one of the first modern boy bands and had a string of hits like “Hangin’ Tough” and “Step by Step.” 80s Kids put it simply, “For us, there are only five faces that come to mind when we hear ‘boy band’, and their names are Donnie, Danny, Joey, Jonathan and Jordan. We are of course referring to New Kids on the Block, or NKotB, who exploded into our lives in the late 1980s with their catchy tunes, good looks and amazing dance skills.”
Without NKOTB, there wouldn’t be the future of boy bands, “Where would we be without New Kids on the Block? Clean-cut and always ready to burst into harmonies or a complicated piece of choreography at a moment’s notice, they set the template for subsequent boy bands,” says The Guardian.
The successes kept coming for the group, “Once ‘Hangin’ Tough’ hit shelves, what followed, was a string of hits in 1988 and 1989. Five songs from the album went to the Top Ten and went double platinum. With the sudden success, Columbia began releasing singles from their previous album and those jump-started record sales, even though the songs were three years old at that point,” says The Richest.
4. One Direction
The newest group on the list that was born from a hit reality TV show, One Direction quickly became one of the most popular boy bands of the 2010s, with hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Story of My Life.”
They were one of the first new boy bands to really make a lasting impression, “It’d been a decade since the heyday of ‘NSync and Backstreet Boys, and the churn of generations demanded a new boy band. One Direction’s songs were great and their charisma and chemistry undeniable, but what made them stick was a sound unlike anything else in pop — rooted in guitar rock at a time when that couldn’t have been more passé,” claims Rolling Stone.
Their inception is one of the more interesting stories in pop music, as Huff Post details here, “Their rise to stardom is a very inspiring story that touches the hearts of millions. Anyone who has ever dreamed of making it big is able to relate to the boys. Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and Zayn started off with big hopes and dreams. When separately auditioning for the British ‘X Factor,’ they had no idea that within two years they would be one of the biggest bands in the world. Their story teaches anyone out there who has big dreams to never give up, work hard, and reach for the stars!”
At the end of the day, their music is what speaks the loudest, “Their music is catchy. Perhaps the most blatant reason to love this boy band is that their songs are good, and their music videos are even better. The upbeat jam ‘Best Song Ever’ truly is the best song ever, while ‘Story of My Life’ will evoke emotions you didn’t even know you had,” says Marie Claire.
5. Boyz II Men
A vocal group from the 1990s, Boyz II Men specialized in R&B and soulful ballads, earning them hits like “End of the Road” and “I’ll Make Love to You.” There’s a high chance you love many of their songs, “Regardless of your age, chances are you know every word to many of Boyz II Men’s greatest hits, so it’s hard to pick just one defining tune. But there really is something special about 1994’s ‘I’ll Make Love to You.’ Discounting their Carey collab ‘One Sweet Day,’ the song is the band’s biggest standalone hit (14 weeks at #1). The Babyface-written song defines the phrase ‘power ballad’ and won the group a 1995 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals,” says MTV.
“They updated old-school doo-wop for a new generation with their ‘Motownphilly’ sound cultivated at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Their vocal abilities and harmonies set the standard among boy bands,” commends NY Post.
Philly Mag sums it all up here, “Somehow, this group of high-school friends has been singing, recording and performing for 30 years. They’ve outlasted most of their peers, their competition and all those boy bands. What keeps them going? A love of performing… No one can control it. They still dress to the nines. They still sing for the people. And they do it on their own terms — still kicking it just for you, but also for themselves.”
You might also be interested in:
- The Best Drummers of All Time
- The Best Male Country Singers
- The Best Female Country Singers
- The Best Music Videos of All Time
- Pop Crush
- The Ringer
- 80s Kids
- The Guardian
- The Richest
- Rolling Stone
- Huff Post
- Marie Claire
- NY Post
- Philly Mag
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.