The 1990s were a blast, with trends like scrunchies, chokers, and overalls making their mark. But one trend truly revolutionized music and still dominates the charts today: boy bands. While boy bands existed before the 90s, the decade was their pinnacle, inspiring groups that followed.
From *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys to global sensations Westlife, each of these boy bands left an indelible mark on music history, captivating fans with their charm, lyrics, and melodies. Let’s celebrate the cream of the crop with a list of the ultimate 90s boy bands.
An American boy band formed by Chris Kirkpatrick, *NSYNC is undeniably one of the premier boy bands of the 90s. Formed in Orlando, Florida, in 1995, the band was composed of five members: Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass. Renowned for their infectious pop tunes, harmonious vocals, and synchronized choreography, they delivered unforgettable hits.
They showcased their talents at esteemed events like the World Series, Super Bowl, and the Olympic Games. Rolling Stone acknowledged their rapid rise as one of the top 25 moments when teen idols broke out. Their accolades include eight Grammy nominations, three American Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, and much more. A true titan among the best boy bands of the 90s.
Although their active years lasted just six, they achieved two number-one albums, with “No Strings Attached” even claiming the top spot for the entire 2000s. They secured six top 10 singles and earned seven Grammy nominations. Even long after their breakup, fans still hold onto the hope of a reunion, showcasing an enduring passion.
Notable Tracks: “Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” and “It’s Gonna Be Me”
Boyband fans always debate who’s better: Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC? These two quintets are the most successful pop groups not just during the 90s but of all time. Since their formation in 1993, the Backstreet Boys have consistently dominated the charts. Remarkably, they hold the record for being the highest-selling boy band of all time, with an astonishing 130 million records sold. Their enduring appeal continues to captivate audiences globally, making their music a beloved choice. A true testament to the enduring charm of 90s boy bands!
The band boasts a lineup of five members: Nick Carter, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, and Kevin Richardson. Facing a lawsuit against their record label owner, Lou Perlman, while recording their third album, “Millennium,” which produced hits like “I Want It That Way,” the band overcame personal challenges to create the best-selling album of 1999. Following a brief break in the early 2000s, they returned with new music and even had a Las Vegas residency.
Their most recent album, “DNA,” debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in early 2019. Even years after their peak, they continue to tour extensively, consistently filling arenas across the globe. Their last tour was the DNA World Tour, which started in 2019 but extended to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remarkably, they are the highest-selling boy band of all time, with an astonishing 130 million records sold. Their enduring appeal continues to captivate audiences globally, making their music a beloved choice. A true testament to the enduring charm of 90s boy bands!
Notable Tracks: “I Want It That Way,” “Larger Than Life” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”
New Kids On The Block
Even though their beginnings trace back to the 1980s, New Kids On The Block managed to carry their success into the 1990s, notably with their second number-one album, “Step by Step.” Their infectious dance routines, catchy songs, and high-energy performances propelled them to fame.
The group’s genesis was linked to manager Maurice Starr, who, after discovering New Edition, joined forces with Mary Alford to assemble a new boy band. Donnie Wahlberg and his younger brother Mark were among the first members. Starr largely composed the group’s debut album in 1986, released under Columbia Records. By the early 90s, NKOTB was writing their own music and amassing a massive fan club of over 20,000 US members.
The band – composed of Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Jonathan Knight, and Jordan Knight – embarked on their most significant tour, The Magic Summer Tour, spanning two years and encompassing over 200 shows worldwide. Although the band sadly disbanded in 1994, they reunited in 2007 and formed the supergroup NKOTBSB alongside the Backstreet Boys. Their journey continues with ongoing tours and their annual cruise.
Notable Tracks: “Step by Step,” “Please Don’t Go Girl,” and “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”
Boyz II Men
The 90s saw Boyz II Men’s ascent as a harmony group hailing from Philly, signed under Motown Records. Established in 1988, the group initially comprised four members: Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary. Their commercial success in the R&B realm is monumental, with global album sales exceeding 60 million. Though they were established in the late 80s, it was during the 90s that they
Distinguishing themselves from pop-focused boy bands, Boyz II Men tapped into the R&B scene, releasing their debut album “Cooleyhighharmony” in 1991. This move struck a chord, propelling them to a 50-week reign atop the Billboard charts. Their 1992 single “End of the Road” made history by spending an unprecedented thirteen weeks on the Billboard Hot 100—an accomplishment later surpassed by their subsequent releases.
Notably, they stand as only the second group and third artists ever to replace one of their singles with another on the Hot 100. Despite Michael McCarey’s departure in 2003, the trio carried on touring and releasing new music for years to come.
Notable Tracks: “End of the Road,” “One Sweet Day,” and “I’ll Make Love To You”
When 98 Degrees burst onto the scene in 1996, they brought a fresh approach by initially forming independently, setting a new trend. Consisting of four vocalists: the group’s founding member Jeff Timmons, brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre – the band serenaded the world with their soulful R&B sound.
Their journey continued with a signing to Motown, and they swiftly collaborated on their debut album. Their pinnacle arrived in 2000 with “Revelation,” securing the second spot on the Billboard charts. Their track ‘Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)’ achieved a remarkable feat by debuting at number 2, marking the highest debut week for a boy band single—a record they still hold.
Their presence was felt through contributions like featuring on Disney’s Mulan soundtrack and member Nick Lachey’s duet with Jessica Simpson. Between 2003 and 2012, they took a hiatus as members pursued individual endeavors, spanning solo music, political pursuits, and reality TV. 98 Degrees has since made a consistent return with new music.
Spotlight on a Song: “I Do (Cherish You),” “My Everything,” and “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)”
Westlife – comprised initially of Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Brian McFadden, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne – enjoyed remarkable success in the late 90s and early 2000s. Formed in 1998 in Ireland, they initially gained fame in their home country before significantly impacting the US with their debut single ‘Swear It Again.’ While their subsequent singles didn’t achieve the same level of success in the US, they continued to dominate music charts across Europe and Oceania, solidifying their position as one of the premier acts in those regions.
Established in 1998 in Ireland, Westlife had certain members meeting at school and having prior band experiences. The tale unfolds with Boyzone manager Louis Walsh introducing members of the pop group Six as One to Simon Cowell, who made some changes based on appearances. After auditions brought in new members Brian McFadden and Nicky Byrne, Westlife soared to the top of the UK charts in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Although the band went their separate ways in 2012, they reunited in 2018, and since then, they’ve been actively releasing new music and embarking on tours. Selling over 55 million records globally, Westlife stands as one of the best-selling boy bands in history.
Notable Tracks: “Swear It Again,” “If I Let You Go” and “My Love”
Boyzone, a beloved Irish boy band of the 1990s, comprised five talented members: Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Mikey Graham, Shane Lynch, and Keith Duffy. Their hallmark style blended pop music with boy band charm, characterized by spirited vocal harmonies and lively dance-pop beats.
Also created under the guidance of Louis Walsh, the same figure behind Westlife, the 90s Irish boy band Boyzone members were handpicked through auditions held in 1993. During the 90s, Boyzone brought forth three studio albums and a compilation. They decided to take a break from 2001 to 2007 and eventually disbanded again in 2019. According to a 2012 study by the Official Charts Company, Boyzone claims the distinction of being the second most successful British boy band, following Take That.
Notable Tracks: “Love Me for a Reason,” “Picture of You” and “No Matter What”
In a refreshing departure from the norm, Hanson stands out among boy bands. Hailing from Oklahoma, this trio of brothers, Taylor, Isaac, and Zac Hanson, aspired to achieve stardom together.
Hanson’s union with Mercury Records paved the way for their 1997 album, “Middle of Nowhere,” which skyrocketed with over 10 million copies sold. Their lead track, ‘MMMBop,’ struck a chord, soared to the top of the charts in 1997, and became a colossal hit. The debut album, “Middle of Nowhere,” not only solidified their success but also earned them 3 Grammy Award nominations. The city of Tulsa even marked May 6 as “Hanson Day” in celebration of the album’s release.
While Hanson keeps their musical journey alive, they’ve returned to their independent roots, steering their own ship via their record label, 3CG Records.
Notable Tracks: “MMMBop,” “Where’s the Love?” and “Save Me”
Take That, the British sensation born in the heart of Manchester in 1990. Take That set a unique precedent as an audition-based band, a concept sparked by Nigel Martin-Smith’s desire to establish a British counterpart to New Kids on the Block. Their journey led them to become one of the most beloved boy bands of the 90s. The original lineup featured Gary Barlow, Mark Owen, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, and Robbie Williams.
The band boasts a charismatic lead singer and songwriter who’s also known for his dance moves. Little did you know that the group garnered a whopping 28 top 40 singles and an impressive 17 top 5 singles on the UK Singles Chart. Their excellence earned them eight Brit Awards, including honors for Best British Group and Best British Live Act. In the mix of accolades, they also clinched The Guardian Music Award for Best Number 1 Single, while their collection of honors continues to grow. An undisputed presence among the Best Boy Bands of the 90s.
Robbie Williams chose to part ways with the group in 1995. Despite the band’s attempt to carry on without him, they announced their separation by early 1996. However, the story didn’t end there; Take That staged a triumphant return in the mid-2000s and even saw Williams briefly reuniting with the band in 2010 to create new music.
Notable Tracks: “Back for Good,” “Relight My Fire” and “Pray”
Back in 1999, music producers Louis Baldonieri and Brian Lukow orchestrated the creation of a boy band composed of tween actors from New York City. Originally dubbed Boy Wonder, the group eventually adopted the name Dream Street, inspired by their production studio. Within a year, their debut album achieved Gold certification, with their catchy tunes gracing the airwaves of Radio Disney. This platform also became a stepping stone for member Jesse McCartney’s solo journey.
This pop ensemble had a brief but impactful stint in the late 1990s to early 2000s. Their youthful dance tracks from 2000 to 2002 left a mark in the pop music realm. The original lineup comprised Jesse McCartney, Chris Trousdale, Greg Raposo, Matt Ballinger, and Frankie Galasso. However, internal conflicts and legal disputes between parents and managers led to the group’s untimely separation. Nonetheless, the camaraderie among the members endures.
Notable Tracks: “Jennifer Goodbye,” “They Don’t Understand” and “It Happens Every Time”
5ive / Five
Formed in London in 1997 through auditions, Five emerged as a boy band that Simon Cowell recognized and signed to a multi-album contract. A British sensation hailing from London, the band achieved commendable global success, especially in their home country, the United Kingdom, as well as across Europe and Asia. Key members include Scott Robinson, Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, J Brown, and Abz Love.
Curiously, the band turned down the opportunity to record “Bye Bye Bye,” a track that later became a massive hit for NSYNC. Nonetheless, Five’s own success story has been remarkable, with a global album sales tally of 20 million. Their accolades include Brit Awards recognition for Best Pop Act in 2000, as well as MTV Europe Music Awards and others.
Notable Tracks: “When the Lights Go Out,” “If Ya’ Gettin’ Down,” and “Keep On Movin'”
Seo Taiji and Boys
Seo Taiji and Boys, a South Korean boy band, left an indelible mark on the 1990s Korean music scene. The trio, comprised of Seo Taiji, Lee Juno, and Yang Hyun-suk, wielded a unique blend of rap, rock, and traditional Korean music, ushering in a musical revolution.
Seo Taiji and Boys achieved back-to-back Grand Prize wins at the Seoul Music Awards. Their first three albums, as reported by Billboard, surpassed a million copies in sales. What’s intriguing is their genre-shifting journey—venturing from rap to dance music, even delving into heavy metal influences. In 1996, they bid farewell as a group. Yet, their musical legacy continued to inspire Korean artists, with BTS remaking their hit track “Come Back Home” in 2017.
Notable Tracks: “Come Back Home” and “I Know”
The 90s overflowed with incredible music, and boy bands owned the scene. The decade birthed some of the finest boy bands in history. Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, Boys II Men—these names still resonate as icons. Merging R&B, pop, and hip-hop, 90s boy bands crafted an infectious sound that was simply irresistible. Their catchy hooks, seamless harmonies, and boundless energy defined an era of boy band excellence.