There would be no such thing as pop music without boy bands. For the past few decades, groups of all-male singers from across the globe have dazzled us with their singing, dancing, good looks, and magnetic personalities.
From fledgling teenage heartthrobs to seasoned middle-aged dads, boy bands have rocked the music industry, topped the charts, sold hundreds of millions of records, and sold out arenas.
With this amazing legacy, we are here with 13 of the most famous boy bands of all time. Read on to learn about them!
1. One Direction
English-Irish boy band One Direction (1D) burst onto the music scene in 2010 after auditioning as solo artists for The X Factor. Legendary record executive Simon Cowell saw something special in the five singers and grouped them as a boy band.
Consisting of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and previously Zayn Malik, the group is one of the most successful and famous boy bands ever.
Their greatest hit, “What Makes You Beautiful,” rocked the airwaves in 2011, selling over 5 million copies, and won British Single of the Year Brit Award. After their debut, the teen idol members proceeded to tour worldwide and sell over a 70 million records.
Malik left One Direction in 2015, and the group went on hiatus in 2016 to pursue solo projects, with Styles enjoying particular success.
2. New Kids On The Block
Pioneer of modern boy bands, the New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) blazed the path for future groups in the genre. With brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood, the group formed in Dorchester, Massachusetts, during the 1980s.
While their 1986 eponymous debut album failed, the group soon experienced success in the 1980s and 1990s. New Kids had several chart-topping hits, including “Hangin’ Tough” and “Step by Step,” and sold out stadiums across the country.
NKOTB broke up in 1995, but they got back together in 2008 and continue to tour and release new music today. In 2014, they gained a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
3. Backstreet Boys
American band from Orlando, Florida, the Backstreet Boys started in 1996. The group members are Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, and Kevin Richardson.
With music combining R&B, dance, club pop, and hip hop, they’ve sold over 180 million records and are the most successful and top-selling boy band.
Millennium, their third studio album, was certified Diamond, selling over 24 million copies and topping charts worldwide. Their signature song, “I Want It That Way,” was also in the album.
The Backstreet Boys continue to tour and create new music today, including a Las Vegas residency.
Another American boy band that started in Orlando, Florida, we have N*YSNC. The group—consisting of Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass, and Joey Fatone—got together in 1995.
A contemporary rival of the Backstreet Boys, the N*SYNC boys were teenage heartthrobs that were talented dancers and performers.
They achieved remarkable success during their brief seven-year run, including two certified-Diamond albums. Their songs—”Bye Bye Bye,” “This I Promise You,” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” to name a few—charted on Billboard.
N*SYNC disbanded in 2002, with Justin Timberlake going on to have a massively successful solo career. Entertainment Weekly later named them the best boy band of the 1990s and 2000s.
5. Boyz II Men
Members are Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman (previously Michael McCary) formed Boyz II Men (B2M) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the late 1980s.
The group gained early acclaim with their song “Motownphilly” in 1991 but went on to become pop royalty with their anthems “I’ll Make Love to You,” “End of the Road,” and “One Sweet Day.”
B2M is one of the most successful musical groups ever. They won four Grammy Awards and set Billboard records for most weeks atop the Hot 100. Billboard named them the #1 boy band from 1987 to 2012.
From the US, we go to South Korea for BTS (Bangtan Boys), who began performing in 2010. They are one of the most famous active boy bands in the world. They are larger than most boy bands, with seven members (Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, Jimin, V, and Jungkook).
BTS produces K-Pop, Korean pop music that incorporates traditional pop elements with hip-hop. Like their boy band predecessors, BTS includes elaborate dance routines in their performances and music videos.
The group topped Billboard 100 and Global Billboard 200 with their single “Dynamite.” Since then, they’ve sold more than 30 million albums and were the worldwide top-selling musical act in 2021.
American rhythm-and-blues boy band Jodeci features two sets of siblings: DeVante Swing and Mr. Dalvin, and K-Ci and JoJo. The group formed in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1989 and quickly became a pop sensation.
Jodeci was a groundbreaking act because it prominently featured new music styles like hip-hop and new jack swing elements in its music.
Their three-times Platinum debut album in 1995 Forever My Lady spawned some of their greatest #1 hits: the title track, “Come and Talk to Me,” and “Stay.”
K-Ci and JoJo took a hiatus from the group to pursue a successful career as a duo but later rejoined the group in 2014. They continue to release new music and perform today.
8. Jonas Brothers
The Jonas Brothers—consisting of brothers Joe, Nick, and Kevin Jonas—is an American pop-rock boy band that started in 2005 in New Jersey. They’re well-known for their work on the Disney Channel, including filming sitcoms and movies.
Their first two albums charted, but were not as successful as the next three they released, which all became #1 hits. They’ve had 25 songs chart on the Billboard Hot 100, including the 2019 #1 single “Sucker.”
The Jonas Brothers took a hiatus from 2011 to 2019 to focus on solo and side projects but have since reunited and are again creating new music and touring.
9. 98 Degrees
Our next group, 98 Degrees, started in Los Angeles, California, in 1996 with members Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre, and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey. They were part of the boy-band-mania of the 1990s and 2000s and were a contemporary of Backstreet Boys and N*SYNC.
The group achieved commercial and critical success, topping the Billboard Hot 100 in 1999 with their song “Thank God I Found You” with Mariah Carey and Joe. They also had three other songs that were top-ten hits.
98 Degrees temporarily disbanded in the early 2000s but eventually reunited and is still active today.
In their impressive longevity, the group has released over 30 studio albums and sold more than 20 million records worldwide.
Menudo has a rotating membership that previously removed singers once they turned 16 and has had over 30 members throughout its existence. In addition to their musical exploits, the group crossed over into several films and television shows.
The most famous member of Menudo is Ricky Martin, who launched a successful solo career after leaving the group.
11. Take That
Long before One Direction became the most popular boy band in England, there was Take That. They were a group that started in Manchester, England, in 1990.
Take That was extremely successful, winning eight Brit Awards with multiple chart-topping singles and albums. Their signature song, “Back for Good,” reached #1 in an astounding 31 different countries.
The group broke up in 1996, with Robbie Williams launching a successful solo career, but has recently reunited for new music and performances.
12. New Edition
Singer Bobby Brown formed New Edition in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1979. The original members were Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, and Ralph Tresvant.
New Edition was a trailblazer for the boy band genre. They performed rhythm and blues, hip-hop, and pop music. They were successful throughout the 1980s with songs like “Cool It Now” and “Candy Girl.”
Singer Johnny Gill joined the group in 1987 after Brown departed for a solo career, and in the early 1990s, the group splintered. Bivins, Bell, and Devoe then formed the group Bell Biv DeVoe.
New Edition has since reunited and continues to perform today.
The group has had a successful 25-year run that included international touring and Grammy Awards. They continue to release new music and perform today.
Summing Up Our List Of The Best Boy Bands Of All Time
Boy bands have left an indelible mark on the music industry, from the old school boys like NKOTB to the youthful BTS.
Our insatiable appetite for their style of music almost guarantees bands like these will continue to entertain us in years to come.
With the way boy bands are performing from across the globe, there will be no end in sight of their success.
Have we left out a band that should be on this list? Let us know and we’ll add them.