An Era of Boybands

November 6, 2013

As music evolves over time, you can’t help but notice that the artists that develop these songs evolve as well. One of the staple genres of music isn’t really a genre at all. The topic of boybands is a highly discussed, “NOBODY compares to my generation” topic and each generation firmly believes that their boybands hold the title of “the best”. Boybands have been around since the early 1960s and WeKnowTheDj is about to take to all the way back to your grandmum’s glory days of music and show you just how much boybands have evolved.

The 1960s: Jackson 5 and The Osmonds

the osmonds

The very first boyband in history probably wasn’t The Osmonds, but they’re the first that anyone remembers. The group originally consisted of brothers Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay Osmond. They were later joined by their younger brothers Donny and Jimmy. The Osmonds’ biggest hits include “One Bad Apple”, “Yo Yo”, and “Down by the Lazy River.”
j5Following the rapid pace of The Osmonds was the Jackson 5. Formed in 1964, the quintet of brothers Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Randy, and everyone’s favorite, Michael, J5 solidified themselves in the music spotlight with hits such as “ABC”, “I Want You Back”, and “I’ll Be There”. Of course Michael would later go on to become the major superstar of the 80s and 90s but nobody turned their nose away from a Jackson 5 reunion when they happened.

 1970s and 80s: New Edition and New Kids on the Block

new editionAhh now we get into my mum’s decade of music. Not that it’s relevant but my mum was born in 1971. New Edition was formed in 1978 but they didn’t actually reach the peak of their popularity until the late 1980s. So my mum knew what she was doing when it came to her music.  New Edition was originally composed of members Ricky Bell, Ronnie DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, Michael Bivens, and Bobby Brown. Ahh Bobby Brown… top lad he is! (Hopefully that sarcasm is noted ala Whitney Houston). Bobby left New Edition in 1985 and the group didn’t feel the need to disband. In fact, they picked up new member Johnny Gill in 1988 and it’s almost as if Bobby Brown did the group of favor. Some of New Edition’s best tracks (according to my mum) are “Cool It Now”, “Candy Girl”, and “If It Isn’t Love”, “Can You Stand the Rain”, and “Mr. Telephone Man”.

The 1990s: Take That, 98 Degrees, & New Kids On The Block

take that

Take That are a boyband from across the pond in England composed of members Gary Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen, and Robbie Williams. Take That collectively won multiple BRIT awards while together and released two of the biggest albums in the 90s Everything Changes and Greatest Hits. Internationally, Take That had number one albums in 35 countries, and 54 number one hit singles. Those tracks include “Back For Good”, “Never Forget”, and “Relight My Fire”.

98 degrees

98 Degrees was also a massive boyband in the 90s. Formed by brothers Nick and Drew Lachey, joined by members Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons. This quartet rose to stardom in the late 90s with hits such as “I Do”, “The Hardest Thing”, and “Still”.

new kids on the block

Boston-based New Kids On The Block were actually formed in 1984 but didn’t rise to fame until the late 80s and early 90s, so why not? Members include brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood.  Their smash hits include “Step By Step”, Tonight”, and “Cover Girl”.

The 2000s: ‘NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and even The Jonas Brothers

Ahhh the 2000s. I, myself, was born in 1994 so I do have a fair recollection of music from then. Shania Twain was huge in country music. Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” was REALLY big. But nothing compared to boybands in the 2000s. More specifically, ‘NSYNC. If there was any boyband that competed with or even topped the success of any artist of the 90s, it’s ‘NSYNC. Keep in mind that there was no Twitter or Facebook in the early 2000s. The Internet was JUST starting up and if you had it, it was dial-up. There was only television and radio so if the opportunity arose for teenage girls and grown women to get a glimpse of ‘NSYNC, they would come in herds (ticket or not) and show up. Hits from the group include “Bye, Bye, Bye”,  “It’s Gonna Be Me”, and “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays”.

backstreet boys

Now the Backstreet Boys were the other boyband (apart from ‘NSYNC) that carried over from the 90s to make it BIG in the 2000s. Members Nick Carter, A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, and Kevin Richardson completely slaughtered the 90s with hits such as “I Want It That Way”, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”, and “Larger Than Life.” Personally, I’ve always considered myself a BB fan rather than ‘NSYNC just because their music was a bit edgier. I guess my 6-year-old self had a great taste in music because the Backstreet Boys are actually the best-selling boyband of all time.


Although the early 2000’s signified the apparent end of boybands, in 2005 the Jonas Brothers stormed onto the scene, bringing back all the nostalgia that their predecessors brought before them. Composed of members Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas, The Jonas Brothers covered Busted’s “Year 3000” and that cemented their place in boyband history. The JoBros later joined forces with Disney Channel and aired the videos for “Year 3000” as well as their other singles “SOS”, “When You Look Me In The Eyes”, and “Burnin’ Up”.

 The 2010s: The Wanted, Big Time Rush, Emblem 3, and One Direction

the wanted

The Wanted is a British-Irish boyband composed of members Nathan Sykes, Siva Kaneswaran, Max George, Jay McGuiness, and Tom Parker. The Wanted were formed after an international audition in 2009 and these five lads were brought together after surviving the final cut. The Wanted revitalized boybands for the women who fangirled over ‘NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys and that’s why they’ve become so popular. It’s a boyband with no boys at all. Ironic, innit? These lads are so popular that they even have their own reality show on E! entitled “The Wanted Life”. Hits from this band include “Glad You Came”, “I Found You”, and “We Own The Night”.


Big Time Rush were formed almost the same way that The Wanted was formed. Nickelodeon had an open casting call for a new television show entitled “Big Time Rush”. When auditions concluded, Logan Henderson, Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena, and James Maslow were brought together and thus, Big Time Rush was formed. With a major hit television show under their belt, BTR released albums featuring hits such as “Big Time Rush”, “Boyfriend”, and “Windows Down”.

emblem 3

The world first learned about Emblem 3 on the US version of The X Factor. Composed of brothers Keaton and Wesley Stromberg and best friend Drew Chadwick, E3 tore through The X Factor USA (much to the chagrin of Demi Lovato) and eventually finished fourth on the show before being sent home. Despite not winning the competition, their mentor Simon Cowell signed them to his label SYCO Music anyway and Emblem 3 released their first single, “Chloe”, not long after the show concluded.

one direction

Now contrary to popular belief, One Direction epitomizes the word “boyband” for this generation. Composed of members Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Louis Tomlinson, One Direction got their start on the UK version of The X Factor…individually. All five members auditioned as soloists before being cut during boot camp. However, Simon Cowell thought the five lads were “too good to let go” and put them in a group and (after a bit of bonding time and little rehearsing at Harry’s house) One Direction was formed. These boys broke the United States with their debut number one smash “What Makes You Beautiful”, and well as their debut album Up All Night which also went to number one. A year later, they released Take Me Home and that shot to number one instantly as well. Other hits by these lads include “Live While We’re Young”, “Little Things”, and their most recent “Story of My Life”.

As you can see, boybands have evolved dramatically over the decades. But that doesn’t mean that there are MAJOR differences between them all. Take away their skin tones and their ability (or inability *ahem* E3 and 1D) to dance, and you just have amazing voices releasing amazing music. Each band has the occasional comparison to The Beatles (who isn’t even a boyband to begin with), but they all have their own unique style and their own unique sound and that’s why boybands are so popular (their good looks don’t hurt ’em either). The boyband is a trend that works for some (as made apparent by this article) and for some, it doesn’t. The boyband is a trend that comes and goes when it pleases, as well. Not every generation is fit to have boybands, either. But we can all agree that without boybands, music would be a lot less enjoyable and a lot less entertaining. Besides, we all have that ONE band member (okay the whole band but whatevs) that we’d still marry!

-Blake M




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