Whether we like to admit it or not, boy bands shaped the music industry and pop culture. The OG boy band, The Beatles, practically invented the “fangirl” prototype. While the Fab Four quickly matured into a rock band, they undoubtedly paved the way for New Kids on the Block, *NSYNC, One Direction and so many others we pretend we don't remember. With K-Pop boy band BTS reaching hearts worldwide today, the evolution of boy bandhood is one to be recognized.
Here are some of the best songs from boy band groups, both old and new, that actually slap pretty hard.
1. “I Want You Back,” The Jackson 5
Right from the first slide of the opening piano, The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" floods our brains with the kind of sweet dopamine one usually gets from a purchase in a back alley. While most of us aren't worthy of this slice of sunshine, we'll take what we can. From their first television performances on The Ed Sullivan Show to appearing on Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 soundtrack in 2014, the group's "I Want You Back” remains one of the most successful songs from the pioneer family boy band. Who doesn’t love listening to the young King of Pop?
2. “Cool It Now,” New Edition
New Edition is iconic. The boy band performed at producer Maurice Starr’s talent show, where they caught his attention. He was so impressed he invited them to record what would become their first album the following day. From their stylish duds to their Jackson 5-influenced sounds of teen pop, R&B and early hip-hop, “Cool It Now,” released in August 1984, turned the group into a daydream teen pop sensation.
3. “Step By Step,” New Kids on the Block
After the success of New Edition, Maurice Starr formed the New Kids on the Block to keep the boy band sound alive. After hitting mainstream success two years after they formed the group in 1986, the New Kids on the Block were yet another full-force boy band that would achieve worldwide fame. “Step By Step” was the first track off the album of the same name, released June 4, 1990, and still remains their most successful track. Do people still attempt to do that crazy stair dance from the music video or is that just us?
4. “Motownphilly,” Boyz II Men
“Motownphilly'' is the jack swing track from Philadelphia boy band Boyz II Men, an upbeat offering from a band we've come to associate with their signature emotional ballads. The track was the debut single from the quartet’s debut album Cooleyhighharmony, released in April 1991. Their “hip-hop doo wop” shines with their combination of influences in the song’s title: Motown and Philly soul. This was one of the few songs from Boyz II Men that didn’t have us crying in the club.
5. “Poison,” Bell Biv DeVoe
Formed with ex-New Edition’s member Michael Bivins, Bel Biv Devoe (also known as BBD), was a trio that broke out with their debut track “Poison.” In the style of a hybrid jack swing, “Poison” remains the group’s most successful track and warns of the dangers of falling in love with a deceptive woman. The music video directed by Lionel C. Martin explored the nightclub scene in New York, and BBD defined their music in a caption in the middle of the video: a “MENTALLY HIP HOP SMOOTHED OUT ON THE R&B TIP WITH A POP APPEAL TO IT.”
6. “I Want It That Way,” Backstreet Boys
OK, OK, we know what you're thinking. First of all, fuck off. Second, we know we tortured our little sisters with our endless mocking of the Backstreet Boys, but eventually — very eventually — this song hacked its way into our hearts. The song reached No. 1 in 25 countries and became the group’s signature track. Now it remains one of the most popular requests at karaoke night. The song's been parodied plenty on YouTube and was used as an interrogation technique on Brooklyn 99, but the pop ballad from the boy band’s third studio album Millenium stands tall as a trademark in pop culture.
7. “Perfect Man,” SHINHWA
SHINWA is one of the most successful K-Pop groups of all time; the six-member collective was formed in South Korea in 1998 and has since inspired K-Pop acts such as BTS, NC 127 and Monsta X. Their song “Perfect Man” remains their most popular song to date. Their fifth studio album, of the same name, was released in March of 2002 and debuted at No. 1 in South Korea, becoming the band's second No.1 album. Although SHINWA wasn’t as popular in the U.S., “Perfect Man” is a bop that needs the attention.
8. “Bump, Bump, Bump,” B2K and P. Diddy
The short-lived, iconic R&B boy band B2K delivered one of the best club bangers to date with “Bump, Bump, Bump.” From their fourth studio album Pandemonium!, the track reached the No. 1 spot in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its release and is still the group's most-streamed song to this day. Omarion’s singing partnered with Diddy’s fire is truly unforgettable. “Bump, Bump, Bump” is still a go-to, essential track for clubs and 2000s throwback playlists. You know when a song announces that it's "for the ladies," no matter how cringe the line, it's gonna slap.
9. “Sucker,” Jonas Brothers
The highly anticipated comeback from Disney Channel boy band Jonas Brothers finally came in 2019 with “Sucker,” their first single together in six years. The opening track off their latest album Happiness Begins found the brothers at a more mature point in their evolution, showing their rekindled chemistry and growth. The group even showed up for four nights in a row on The Late Late Show with James Corden to promote the song. Don’t worry, the Jonas Brothers are here to stay.
10. “SUGAR,” BROCKHAMPTON
Coming off a one-year hiatus in 2018, boy band BROCKHMAMPTON returned with their fifth studio album GINGER, which found the group in a more emotional state after the departure of Ameer Vann. “SUGAR” showed the collective’s growth and experimented with a new alternative, R&B pop sound. Their heightened popularity even caught the attention of pop star artist Dua Lipa, who collaborated with the band on an official remix of the song.
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