From what feels like the dawn of time (and no, we’re not being dramatic) there was… the boyband. A group of cute, talented, charismatic boys that sing and dance and make us cry. From classics like New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees to One Direction and BTS, there will always be a group of boys that capture our attention and our hearts. Here are eight groups you might have forgotten or never knew existed!
We’re sure the phrase “the boys are back” might be a little… sensitive… right now, but we couldn’t have a boyband throwback article without mentioning US5. Formed in 2005 on the German television series Big In America, they saw most of their success in central Europe. Although they later found their footing in America with the release of ‘Maria,’ most will remember them for their rendition of ‘The Boys Are Back’ from High School Musical 3: Senior Year that played on Disney Channel non-stop!
Speaking of Disney Channel throwbacks, it would be blasphemous not to mention 5IVE. A British boyband, they also found most of their success in Europe in the late 90s and early 2000s. Before disbanding in September 2001, they became a short-lived American household name after their song was featured in the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Smart House. That dance scene will forever be iconic. If you know, you know! Their second single, ‘When The Lights Go Out,’ also fared well in the US. They even scored Bethany Joy Lenz (pre-One Tree Hill) to appear in the music video!
Completing our Disney trifecta is Youngstown! Named after their hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, they released two albums between 1999 and 2001. Their claim to fame (at least with most millennials) is definitely ‘I’ll Be Your Everything,’ which appeared on Disney’s Inspector Gadget soundtrack. The video played on the channel during commercial breaks and now serves as a late ’90s time capsule, complete with parachute pants and a classic all-white background!
Although LMNT could be lumped in with the boy bands who graced us with their presence on Disney Channel, appearing on Radio Disney Jams and the Lizzie McGuire soundtrack, we can’t consider them in the same category. Only surviving three years before disbanding in 2003, they released one single, ‘Juliet,’ making them a true one-hit-wonder. We still honor them, though, because ‘Juliet’ is a bop! Also, we love to be able to spill some trivia. Did you know Matthew Morrison (yes, the Matthew Morrison) was a member in 2001? Sadly, he left shortly after and does not appear in any music videos or on the album. Still cool though, right?
Want to know another GLEE alumni with boy band roots? None other than the fantastic Kevin McHale. True fans know that before he was Artie Abrams, he was making hearts swoon as a member of NLT. Formed and managed by Johnny Wright, who has worked with legends like Britney Spears and NSYNC, they attempted to make their own name in the industry with their unique mix of dark pop vocals and old-school boyband flare. Unfortunately, they never got to release their debut album, but released several singles that gave them a dedicated cult following. They even made a small appearance in Bratz: The Movie before calling it quits. While most of the members went on to do solo work, one member, Justin Thorne, went on to join a new group: One Call. Maybe we’ll cover them in a part two?
It wouldn’t be right to talk about NLT without mentioning V Factory. If you were a fan of one during this time, you surely listened to the other! Both V Factory and NLT toured together in 2008 on the Bandemonium Tour. Their most popular song, ‘Lovestruck,’ debuted a year later but unfortunately failed to gain momentum. Another band lost too soon in the disastrous “boy band resurgence” attempt in the mid-2000s. Gone but never forgotten!
In Real Life
The resurgence attempts continued on and we, as avid boy band fans, kept holding on. We finally struck gold with In Real Life. Formed on the reality series Boy Band in 2017, we watched them compete week after week for the chance of a lifetime. The show was hosted by the gorgeous Rita Ora, and Baby Spice herself was one of the judges! What made In Real Life so special was their spin on the traditional boy band. They often sang in both English and Spanish and most included original raps. Conor Michael Smith had blown everyone away as a rapping violinist and brought that flare to IRL! They released their debut album, She Do, in 2019 and toured with PRETTYMUCH before disbanding in early 2020.
We couldn’t finish up this tribute without the band that truly should be considered the OG “boy band.” In a time of O-Town and NSYNC, there were five boys from New York trying to make it big. They prided themselves on putting the boyish charm back in boy bands and it worked! Dream Street is often times overlooked and forgotten, but was essential listening for teen girls from 1999 to 2002. After all, this is when we all first fell in love with Jesse McCartney! The band released their runaway single ‘It Happens Everytime,’ which appeared on their debut self-titled album. They toured with Aaron Carter and guest starred on TV shows like Slime Time Live and All My Children. In June 2020, the band reunited virtually to pay tribute to former member Chris Trousdale who had passed away. You can watch that video here!
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Writer for The Honey Pop and Founder of Electric Fame. Cat mom, poet, traveler, and aspiring professional concertgoer.