Then + Now: ’90s Boy Bands
With the recent resurgence of boy bands both new and old, we’ve decided to look back at our favorite boy bands of the ’90s, the decade where those sweet, sweet harmonies (and even sweeter dance moves) all really started. [Editor’s Note: We’ve defined a boy band as an all-male band that sings and dances, but isn’t known for playing instruments. That’s why we didn’t include groups like Hanson, BBMak, Evan and Jaron and more.]
It may be at least 15 (or even 20!) years since some of these groups first came out, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t fangirl at the mere mention of their name or upon hearing that one swoon-worthy pop hit. Dying to know where the ultimate ’90s boy bands have gone since closing out one of the best decades of pop music? Read on to see where they are today.
Then: ‘N Sync burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s and were steadily on the rise in the last few years of the decade, with their first two albums — their self-titled and subsequent Christmas CD — allowing Justin, JC, Lance, Joey and Chris the honor of having two records on the Billboard Top 10 at the same time. The group exploded in 2000 with their third album, ‘No Strings Attached,’ spawning the top-selling hits ‘Bye, Bye Bye’ and ‘It’s Gonna Be Me.’ Oh, and did we mention that ‘No Strings Attached’ became the best-selling album of the entire decade and the fastest-selling album of all-time? No big deal.
Watch ‘N Sync’s ‘Bye Bye Bye’ Video
Now: Soon after concluding the tour in support of their 2001 album, ‘Celebrity,’ the band went on an indefinite hiatus. As we all know, Justin Timberlake began what would be an extremely successful solo career (his latest album, ‘The 20/20 Experience,’ was certified 2x platinum), also foraying into a critically acclaimed acting venture and marrying Jessica Biel in 2012. When we last left Lance Bass in 2002, he was attempting to become an astronaut and go into space, a venture that was ultimately thwarted. He has since come out as gay and is living happily with his fiancé, Michael Turchin, and is the host of the show ‘Dirty Pop’ on Sirius XM radio. Chris Kirkpatrick (remember his 2000s-era clothing line, FuMan Skeeto?) has dabbled in voice work, voicing the character Chip Skylark on ‘The Fairly Oddparents.’ In 2008, he attempted to kickstart a country music career, appearing on the CMT show ‘Gone Country,’ where his performances were well-received. Joey Fatone, who is currently the spokesperson for Bosley hair products, took his career to Broadway, starring in ‘Rent’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ before hosting the NBC reality show ‘The Singing Bee,’ and later competing on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ JC Chasez attempted a solo career, with his debut solo album, ‘Schizophrenic,’ landing in the Top 20 on Billboard in 2004. Since then, Chasez has released a second album, but has since become a producer and also formed the all-female group Girl Radical. In 2013, ‘N Sync thrilled fans everywhere when they briefly reunited for a much buzzed about performance at the VMAs.
Then: The Backstreet Boys were one of the biggest groups of the ’90s and were instrumental in ushering in the boy band craze of the decade. Their 1997 self-titled album, which contained such hits as ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’ and ‘As Long as You Love Me,’ ultimately went an incredible 14x platinum. Their 1999 follow-up, ‘Millennium,’ launched Nick, Brian, AJ, Howie and Kevin into superstardom and became the best-selling album of the year.
Watch the Backstreet Boys’ ‘Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)’ Video
Now: After releasing the crazy successful back-to-back albums ‘Black & Blue’ and a compilation CD, the Boys took a small hiatus as Nick Carter launched a solo career. In 2005, the group reunited and came out with ‘Never Gone,’ which went platinum. Soon after, Kevin Richardson decided to part ways with the group, and BSB released two albums (‘Unbreakable’ and ‘This Is Us’) without him. The four remaining members joined forces with fellow ’90s boy band New Kids on the Block, launching a successful album and subsequent tour, fusing the bands’ names into one, called NKOTBSB. Richardson soon reunited with his former bandmates and rejoined BSB for good. In 2013, the band released their eighth studio album, ‘In a World Like This,’ and were granted a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In March 2014, the Boys announced that they will be extending their ‘In a World Like This’ tour, which will be supported by Avril Lavigne.
Then: Though 98 Degrees piggybacked onto the boy band trend in the ’90s, they were one of the only groups that formed independently, as opposed to being created by a producer or manager. The band’s second album, ’98 Degrees and Rising’ — released, funnily enough, in ’98 — went 4x platinum and spawned the group’s biggest hits, ‘Because of You’ and ‘The Hardest Thing,’ and launched the band into superstardom. Their third album, ‘Revelation,’ went 2x platinum and debuted in the No. 2 spot on the Billboard 200 in 2000. It was the last album the band recorded before they went on hiatus.
Watch 98 Degrees ‘The Hardest Thing’ Video
Now: During the band’s 13-year hiatus, each member pursued different projects. Nick Lachey famously married (and later divorced) Jessica Simpson and starred in the MTV reality show ‘Newlyweds.’ He also had a moderately successful solo career, releasing ‘SoulO’ and ‘What’s Left of Me,’ with the latter album being certified gold. Lachey has also hosted a number of reality shows, including ‘The Sing-Off’ and ‘Stars Earn Stripes.’ In 2011, he tied the knot with former MTV VJ Vanessa Minillo, and the two welcomed a son, Camden, in 2012. In 2005, Drew took over for ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone as Mark Cohen in ‘Rent’ on Broadway. A year later, he competed (and won) Season 2 of ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Jeff Timmons embarked on a solo career, releasing his first solo album, ‘Whisper That Way,’ which was a moderate success both in the U.S. and internationally. In 2007, he joined other ’90s boybanders Chris Kirkpatrick, Rich Cronin of LFO and Bryan Abrams of Color Me Badd to form the band Sureshot on the reality TV series ‘Mission: Man Band.’ After a successful run as a Chippendales dancer, Timmons will star in the upcoming E! reality show ‘Men on the Strip,’ which centers on the the day-to-day life of a male revue. Justin Jeffre ran for mayor of Cincinnati in 2005, and though he lost, his passion for politics knows no boundaries. In 2011, he was reportedly arrested for trespassing while protesting the Occupy Cincinnati movement. n 2013, 98 Degrees reunited as a band for the first time in over a decade, releasing a new album and touring with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men on the Package Tour.
New Kids on the Block
Then: The original boy band, New Kids on the Block, formed in the mid-’80s, but found true, earth-shattering success in the ’90s with their hits ‘Step by Step,’ ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)’ and their earlier single ‘Please Don’t Go Girl’ achieving multiplatinum sales. Despite this success, in the mid-’90s, the band’s popularity started to wane and the group soon went their separate ways, with Donnie Wahlberg embarking on a stellar acting career, Joey McIntyre starring on Broadway, Jonathan Knight publicly and proudly coming out as gay, his brother Jordan venturing into a solo career and Danny Wood starting his own record label but largely straying from the spotlight.
Watch New Kids on the Block’s ‘You Got It (The Right Stuff)’ Video
Now: In 2008, the group reunited and put out their first album in over a decade, titled ‘The Block.’ The album was a success, landing the top spot on the charts and spawning the tunes ‘Summertime’ and ‘Single.’ In 2011, they embarked on the NKOTBSB tour with the Backstreet Boys and two years later united with other ’90s boy bands ‘N Sync and Boyz II Men for the Package Tour. The band is still going strong today and plan to tour in the spring and summer of 2014.
Then: If you don’t remember Westlife, the Irish boy band from the late ’90s, it’s because — despite their enormous success in the U.K. and Europe — they only managed to score one hit in the U.S., with the song ‘Swear It Again.’ The group, like fellow U.K. boyband 5ive, were created by mastermind Simon Cowell and were one of the biggest groups in the U.K., garnering eleven No. 1 singles from the ’90s to the early 2000s.
Watch Westlife’s ‘Swear It Again’ Video
Now: The band continued to find success throughout the 2000s, despite the departure of member Brian McFadden. In 2008, after marking 10 years as a band, the group decided to go on hiatus for a year, and quickly came back in ’09 with yet another Top 10 album and sold-out tour. In 2011, the guys embarked on their farewell tour, a run of shows that sold out in minutes. A year later, in 2012, the group disbanded for good after more than a decade of incredible popularity and unbelievable commercial success.
Then: British boy band 5ive, made up of Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson, Abz Love and J Brown, hit it big in the U.S. in 1998 with their smash hit, ‘When the Lights Go Out.’ (Now try and get that tune out of your head!) In the early 2000s, the group made some mistakes along the way (like turning down ‘Bye Bye Bye’), and after a series of mishaps, decided to disband in the early 2000s.
Watch 5ive’s ‘When the Lights Go Out’ Video
Now: In 2006, after several years of a hiatus, the group decided to reunite — though the reunion failed to happen. Six years later, the group attempted another comeback and this time were more successful, though J Brown refused to be associated with the group. 5ive still continued as a foursome and filmed a documentary series called ‘The Big Reunion’ to hype fans about their return, later embarking on a tour by the same name. In March 2014, Abz Love recently popped up in the news to continue the group’s ongoing feud with 98 Degrees after Nick Lachey revealed that the two boy bands always had “beef” with one another. Some things never change.
Then: Who could possibly resist the sweet sounds of ‘Summer Girls’? The catchy, pop culture reference-heavy hit launched LFO into stardom in 1999. The bubbly single — along with LFO’s other hit, ‘Girl on TV’ — led the band’s eponymous debut album to sell more than two million albums that same year. Though the group embarked on several high profile tours, their second (and final) album, ‘Life is Good,’ failed to achieve the same success as their first record did.
Watch LFO’s ‘Summer Girls’ Video
Now: The group broke up in 2002, and the members decided to pursue their own solo projects. During this time, lead singer Rich Cronin attempted to find his niche in the music industry, joining several other groups and ultimately releasing his debut album. LFO member Devin Lima also continued to pursue a career in music, releasing an album with his new band, The Cadbury Diesel, in 2008. In 2009, the group briefly reunited for one tour and one new song before ultimately calling it quits for good. Sadly, one year later, Cronin passed away at the young age of 36 after a long battle with leukemia.
Boyz II Men
Then: Boyz II Men became one of the most successful R&B vocal groups with their instantly recognizable slow jams and love ballads, ‘End of the Road,’ ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ and ‘One Sweet Day.’ The a cappella quartet broke numerous records with their hits — and to this day their emotional ballad ‘One Sweet Day’ (featuring Mariah Carey) holds the record for the greatest number of weeks spent in the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. Boyz II Men soon became synonymous with the decade and have continued to record new music and release new albums throughout the 2000s.
Watch Boyz II Men’s ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ Video
Now: In 2003, member Michael McCary decided to leave the group due to his ongoing battle with scoliosis. Despite McCary’s departure, Boyz II Men have continued as a trio and have since released several original albums, a cover record and a combination new-and-compiliation album for the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011. In 2013, they teamed up with NKOTB and 98 Degrees and embarked on the Package Tour before holding a residency at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas.
Then: Before One Direction, Take That were one of the biggest British boy bands to emerge from the U.K.. The group skyrocketed to fame in the early ’90s, with their first three albums all going multiplatinum and their faces plastered everywhere from teen magazines and books to every kind of memorabilia imaginable. Fun fact: Take That differed from many boy bands of the decade because lead singer Gary Barlow wrote the majority of the music. In 1994, the group were forced to continue as a four piece as Robbie Williams’ drug abuse got out of hand. Just two years later, the group officially broke up, and after getting clean, Williams embarked on a hugely successful solo career.
Watch Take That’s ‘It Only Takes a Minute’ Video
Now: In 2006, the band (minus Williams) reunited for a comeback album which became one of the best-selling records in the history of the UK music industry. Several years and another successful album later, Williams ultimately rejoined the group in 2011 and the band put out another album, ‘Progress,’ and toured in support of the record before embarking on a three-year hiatus. During the hiatus, Williams continued his successful solo career while Barlow continued his stint as a judge on ‘X Factor.’ Most recently, the band announced that they were regrouping and are in the process of recording another album, set for release around Christmas 2014.
Then: R&B group All-4-One were already pretty well-known when they hit it big with their smash cover hit ‘I Swear’ in 1995. The epic love ballad was nominated for several Grammy Awards that year and won the title of Best Pop Performance by a Duo or a Group With Vocal. After the success of their first two CDs (‘All4One’ and ‘The Music Speaks’), they released two more studio albums, ‘A41′ and ‘Split Personality,’ before going on hiatus in the early 2000s.
Watch All-4-One’s ‘I Swear’ Video
Now: In 2009, the group — Jamie Jones, Delious Kennedy, Alfred Nevarez and Tony Borowiak — came back with a critically-acclaimed new album, ‘No Regrets.’ In 2013, the band released their second live album, titled ‘S.O.U.L.’ According to their Twitter, the guys still tour and most recently played several shows in Florida.
Then: No Authority are probably one of the more forgotten boy bands of the ’90s, but the four-piece group had several semi-hits that you may remember: ‘Don’t Stop,’ ‘Can I Get Your Number (A Girl Like You)’ and ‘Keep On.’ The group, which consisted of Josh Keaton (later replaced by Tommy McCarthy), Eric Stretch, Ric Felix and Dan Zavatsky, split in 2001 after their self-titled second album came out in 2000.
Watch No Authority’s ‘Can I Get Your Number’ Video
Now: After quitting his acting career to focus on the band, Josh Keaton soon did the reverse and quit the group to focus on his acting career, and has acted steadily since. He is particularly known for his voiceover work in ‘Hercules’ and ‘Green Lantern: The Animated Series,’ though he has had a wealth of other credits to his name as well. Tommy McCarthy is still working in the music industry, though he focuses more on songwriting and event managing now. Eric Stretch has since ventured into theater, having had several swing parts in Broadway productions. Ric Felix reinvented himself as Ricky Rebel, proudly came out as gay and is still working in the music industry and making music as an independent artist. Not much is known about Dan Zavatsky, who appears to have virtually no Internet presence at all.
Then: Though more under-the-radar, R&B group Immature also got into the boy band fad of the ’90s. The threesome, which consisted of Marques Houston (who you probably know best as Roger from ‘Sister, Sister’), Jerome ‘Romeo’ Jones and Kelton ‘LBD’ Kessee, released five albums during the decade before changing their name in 1999 to IMx.
Now: In 2002, the group broke up and each pursued various other projects. Houston (arguably the most prominent member of the group) and Jones embarked on solo careers; the two also ventured into acting, starring together in 2004’s ‘You Got Served.’ Kessee became a record producer. In 2013, the group reunited and performed a concert together. They apparently have plans to record a new album together, reportedly titled ‘Forever Immature.’