By Thomas Sellers Jr.
In recent weeks I’ve learned more information about the K-Pop group BTS than I will ever need in a non-emergency situation.
By Goddaughter Taliyah Chalmers is a big fan of the Korean based pop group. She’s not quite an “Army” member but she has a devotion to the seven-member boy band. I am old-school, a boy band is supposed to have no more than five members.
But as time proceeds, things always change. BTS also known as the Bangtan Boys and the seven guys Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook formed in South Korean in 2010 and debuted in 2013 under Big Hit.
Now the formation is one of the best selling boy bands of all time. That is an amazing accomplishment because since the days of Buddy Holly in the 1950s, teenage girls have thrown money at bubble gum pop.
Some music-producing genius thought one day, “If Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens were all on stage at the same time… I would make four times the money.”
By the 1960s it took a British Invasion to show U.S. Americans the way to easy money in the music industry.
The boy band was born. It is defined as a vocal group consisting of young male singers, usually in their teenage years or in their twenties. Their primary weapon of choice is sappy love songs. They will throw you a dance anthem or two each album.
Those bullets are used to pierce the hearts of young girls. To make sure they capture each young woman’s soul, those “bands” give them the visual of choreographed dance moves.
This week I am taking on the painful task of ranking my favorite 10 boy bands of all time. Who actually had talent? Which group actually helped me get the girl? Who had staying power? Which band actually had fans from both genders?
Here are mentions… not necessarily honorable, just mentioning them: Backstreet Boys, One Direction, BTS, Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, Immature, 98 Degrees, O-Town, Hanson, The Monkees, The Osmonds, Westlife, Take That, Bay City Rollers, Dream Street, Piso 21, 2Gether, The Wanted, B2K, Shinhwa, Bell Biv DeVoe and Another Bad Creation
Let’s start the countdown with a legendary Latino boy band with a simple formula for success. Menudo makes this list off the power of one song, “Hold Me.”
Back in 1977, Menudo was formed by producer Edgardo Diaz in Caguas of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The powers that be with Menudo wanted the group to have staying power. So Menudo has a revolving door of members which included impactful members like Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa.
The reason for the constant changing of members was due to the band’s rule that once a member turned 16 they had to leave the band. With more than 30 studio albums, the formula keeps Menudo literally a boy band forever. The group disbanded in 2009 but all images of Menudo will be youthful.
Back in the 1990s, the city of Orlando was a boy band factory. The best to be produced from the Sunshine State was *NYSNC. Despite their sound strongly reminding you of the Backstreet Boys and 98 Degrees, *NYSNC had more personality with members Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone and Lance Bass.
And yes I can be caught singing, “Bye Bye Bye.” It was a catchy tune.
*NYSNC’s cultural impact on the music industry set the standard for other boy bands. Members have gone on to solo success, voice over work and producing new talent in the industry. While a group, *NYSNC was one of the few bands to have sold more than one million copies of an album in one day.
Before I truly understood what a boy band was and the overall impact they have on my female peers, I was jamming to Hi-Five. Forming in the early 1990s, I was a 10-year-old kid loving the tunes from the quintet formed in Waco, Texas. The original members were Tony Thompson the lead singer, Roderick “Pooh” Clark, Marcus Sanders, Russell Neal and Toriano Easley.
Hi-Five had a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the early 1990s with “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game).” Other enjoyable jams from Hi-Five are “I Can’t Wait Another Minute,” “Never Should Have Let You Go,” and “She’s Playing Hard to Get.”
The “Bad Boys” on this list are 112. Under that label back in the 1990s, they were the smooth sound of the hip-hop era. Formed in Atlanta, 112 was the soundtrack to an urban romance.
Some of their hits include “Only You”, “Anywhere” and the Grammy Award-nominated single, “Peaches & Cream.”
The group most notably won a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for featuring in the song “I’ll Be Missing You” with Sean Combs and Faith Evans. 112 had the power to carry a album or compliment any artist in a collaboration.
6. Boyz II Men
Maybe the most pure talent on this list belongs to the members of Boyz II Men. One of the best R&B groups of all time, the quartet of Nathan Morris, Wanna Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary smashed on the scene back in the 1990s. Then they proceeded to win over the hearts of most of America with hit after hit including 1992’s “End of the Road.
That song spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot charts. They also have won four Grammy Awards and have been nominated 15 times. Whether acapella or accompanied by instruments, Boyz II Men’s voices are some of the strongest in music history.
“Motownphilly” is not one of my favorites but it is a dance anthem. But I love “On Bended Knee II” “I’ll Make Love to You,” and “Water Runs Dry.”
5. Jackson 5
Let’s get this straight, the Jackson 5 was more than just Michael. All the brothers brought something to the table to create wonderful music. I am currently listening to “Life of the Party” as I type. Jermaine has the privilege of leading a few songs and his vocals were crucial to “I Am Love” and “All I Do Is Think of You.” Formed in 1965, The Jackson 5 was comprised of brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael Jackson. The boys from Gary, Indiana swept the world with discipline talent. They conquered the Motown sound and adjusted to disco well with hits like “Dancing Machine.” Oh yeah, as far as dancing skills, watch the brothers during “Dancing Machine.” Michael brought pop-n-lock to the mainstream.
4. The Beatles
The Godfathers of boy bands were the Beatles. They provided the blueprint for the genre. They deserve a spot on my list for the impact and influence alone.
But the Beatles were simply talented and great songwriters. Their musical is still strong today and will be until the end of time.
Thank you John Lennon,Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. But there is a part of me that is mad at you gentlemen. You have inspired several to form groups producing… crap.
Those wannabes wish they could come halfway to hits like”I Want To Hold Your Han,d” “She Loves You,” “Help!,” “Hey Jude,” and “Get Back”
3. New Kids on the Block
I used to call New Kids on the Block the whole milk version of the chocolate milk New Edition. Then I learned the New Kids came from the same city — Boston.
In addition, the New Kids had the same producer Maurice Starr. After subtracting Mark Wahlberg from the group, NKOTB became Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Danny Wood and Mark’s brother Donnie Wahlberg.
Columbia Records released the group’s first album in 1986. The bubblegum pop was hard to chew.
But the group bounce back in a big way in 1988 with “Please Don’t Go Girl” from their album “Hangin’ Tough.”
Then the quintet blitz the hearts of teenage girls taking advantage of the invention called music videos. The New Kids were a frequent presence on MTV during the late 1980s and early 1990s. That gave their music a chance to grow on me with hits like “Step by Step,” “Hangin’ Tough,” “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever),” “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” “Tonight,” and my personal favorite “Please Don’t Go Girl.”
They were the boy band with an edge. They would sing a ballad to your girl and beat you up if you tried to stop them. Jodeci was a quartet with members DeVanté Swing, Mr. Dalvin, K-Ci and JoJo that exploded in the black community and slowly grew on other communities. Formed in 1989 in Charlotte, N.C., the two sets of brothers combined their names and talents to became a juggernaut.
The classics from Jodeci are “Freekn’ You,” “Feenin’,” “Stay,” “Love U 4 Life,” “Cry for You,” and the mega hit “Come & Talk to Me.”
The style and sex appeal for Jodeci came from DeVanté and Dalvin. But the voice of the group was K-Ci and Jojo. That was proven with their successful duo career.
The jams from K-Ci & Jojo or Jodeci still helps form romances in 2021.
1. New Edition
Iconic songs, catchy jingle for their names, overcoming transition, memorable songs and blending talents, New Edition did it all. The songs from Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and don’t forget Johnny are amazing.
“Can You Stand the Rain” is the go-to favorite for most people. But my No. 1 New Edition song is “I’m Leaving You Again.”
The boys from Boston are the best of this genre because of the longevity, cultural impact and enjoyable sounds.
Another feather in the cap of New Edition was the success of each member once they disbanded. Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe were stars as Bell Biv DeVoe. Bobby Brown was the hottest thing on the radio in 1989. Johnny Gill has one of the most powerful voice in R&B history and lead singer Ralph held his own in the early 1990s.
I am about to “Cool It Now” with this countdown and I am sending “One Love” to New Edition was the best boy band of all time.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is the editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for West 10 Media/Magic Valley Publishing. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.