As kids, my friends and I constantly debated over a very serious question: Which boy band was superior, ‘N Sync or Backstreet Boys? We changed our minds on a weekly basis, and though I ultimately decided that ‘N Sync was a more universally loved, successful group, I appreciated BSB’s edge and willingness to take risks (“Am I sexual?” come on, that was quite a scandalous song lyric for 1997, especially to immature 9-year-olds!).
But Tiger Beat and YM magazine opened my eyes to many other ensembles in the music industry, and I soon realized there were countless boy bands who were just as good, if not better, than BSB and ‘N Sync. My friend Nikita would frequently skim my magazines, point to a photo of some obscure boy band, and ask, “Why aren’t these guys popular?” I didn’t know, but chose to look into these fellows and was impressed with their material. Here are some 90s/early 2000s boy bands that deserved just as much recognition as BSB and ‘N Sync — not including Hanson or 98 Degrees, because the former was a joke and the latter was made up of milquetoast meatheads who gave birth to the douchetastic bro movement fifteen years before The Situation developed his signature abs.
You may not remember British boy band 5ive, but you can probably sing 1/3 of the chorus to “When The Lights Go Out” (just add the word “baby” before the song title, that’s the gist of my knowledge on the pop song lyrics). It played in some Disney Channel original movie, possibly “Model Behavior” (fun fact: Justin Timberlake starred in this made-for-TV movie, the selfish jerk). They also sang “Slam Dunk (Da Funk)” on that Disney reality show about performers. Simon Cowell also signed for them, and that’s saying a lot considering his prickliness.
2. Eiffel 65
Would you judge me if I told you that I still jog to Eiffel 65’s “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” and “Move Your Body” on the treadmill? I haven’t listened to “Too Much of Heaven” in almost a decade and a half, but the lyrics still resonate with me, as they speak the truth: “Heaven can always turn around.” Sorry to get all philosoraptor on you, but my 11-year-old self learned quite a valuable life lesson thanks to Europop. I just got off the phone with my buddy Nikki, who believes Eiffel 65 does not deserve to be on this list because they were basically a one-hit wonder of 1999. They may only be known as the band that produced “Blue,” which appeared in cinematic masterpieces, “Big Fat Liar” and “Loser,” but the song never lost its appeal (the music video, which was the only reason I watched MTV in junior high, has more than 25 million YouTube views, y’all) and remains authentic to this day, so Eiffel 65 definitely cemented their place in the 90s boy band hall of fame.
Nikki suggested this one. While their lyrics were only slightly more sophisticated than those of Rebecca Black, LFO put out some very catchy tunes. “Summer Girls” and “Every Other Time” still have the ability to instantly put me in a good mood.
LMNT’s “Hey Juliet” defined summer 2001 for me and my buddy Nikita. “Hey Juliet” inspired many inside jokes among our social circle, and we soon found out that one of the bandmates was a cousin of our friend Melissa. Another lesser-known fact that would show up on Trivial Pursuit if new versions of that game were still being created: “Glee” actor Matthew Morrison was recruited to join LMNT, but replaced by the time their first album went on sale. It crushed him, but everything happens for a reason, and he definitely came out ahead of the other dudes.
Though another fabulous, overlooked British boy band, BBMak did manage to guest star on “Even Stevens,” for which I’ve already professed my love. In middle school, I considered this an accolade, but because BBMak peaked around the time they popped up on the kids sitcom, my good old college educated brain tells me the network appearance didn’t work its Disney magic. What a shame, I just want you “Back Here,” baby!
Okay, so they kind of sounded like girls and make Justin Bieber seem macho, but these boys were adorable. They were gifted dancers and so loyal to their fans that spikey-haired heartthrob/lead singer, Chris Trousdale was nice enough to star in a horrendous movie with one of his most loyal followers. Dream Street was also more wholesome than a lot of the boy bands to which we were exposed, and we were lucky they allowed us to maintain our innocence in our beginning teen years. It was all downhill from there, as Dream Street was basically the last boy band before the trend shriveled up and died.