We all know Take That, don’t we? We all know Boyzone, and we all know Westlife.
But what about…Hanson? Do you remember them from the 90s? How about 911?
Is it getting a little hazy now? In spite of the inevitable foggy recollection, the 90s really was the true era of the boyband.
Some of them were manufactured, some of them were genuine mates, but all had one thing in common – they wanted success.
And success is what they got – for some briefly, for others a lifetime career.
In fact, time has been extraordinarily kind to many of these bands, with their music still played on the radio.
For others, their sound is very much rooted in the 90s and you rarely hear it these days.
No matter, for when these boys shined at their brightest, the future didn’t matter.
So crack open a Sunny Delight, grab a packet of Opal Fruits – NOT Starburst – and let’s have an entertaining look at the lost boy bands of the 90s…
Another Level – “From the heart, I’m giving you everything, everything”
This heavily soulful and R&B-influenced outfit racked up a magnificent seven top ten singles, including Freak Me, I Want You For Myself – which featured Ghostface Killah, and, of course, the hugely popular ballad From The Heart.
Another Level’s most high-profile member was none other than Dane Bowers, who went on to team up with Victoria Beckham for 2000’s Out Of Your Mind.
In 2014 it was heavily rumored Another Level would be making a comeback. But they didn’t.
East 17 – “We are the seed of the new breed. We’ll succeed, our time has come”
Their time certainly did come in the 90s.
A curious mix of light hip-hop and harder-edged pop, Walthamstow’s East 17 were always the “bad boys” to Take That’s altogether more wholesome image.
East 17 were on fire in the 90s, churning out popular tracks such as the catchy House of Love, the pleading Gold and the bubble pop of Deep.
These were all followed up by the jaunty It’s Alright, the yearning Around The World and punchy Steam.
Uber success was reached in 1994 when they topped the charts with the Tony Mortimer-penned Stay Another Day – a bona fide Christmas classic.
The band were notoriously unstable, so there was little surprise when they called it a day in 1997.
They returned the following year as E-17. But things were never the same.
Wayward member Brian Harvey went on to become a tabloid favourite, with one memorable incident in the noughties involving him running himself over in his car while vomiting up a jacket potato.
5ive – “Everybody get up singing ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ 5ive will make you get down now!”
This London-based quintet were all the rage back in the mid to late 90s.
Their blending of pop, hip-hop and a dash of rock made them hugely popular at both discos and nightclubs.
With floor-filling anthems such as the aforementioned Everybody Get Up, Slam Dunk (Da Funk), Queen-sampling We Will Rock You and Let’s Dance, the band were very popular back in the day. The current line-up consists of Ritchie Neville, Scott Robinson and Sean Conlon (yes, that is only three!), with J Brown and Abz Love since high-5iving it into the sunset.
Boys II Men – “Although we’ve come…to the end of the road”
Still we can’t let go. Yes, it’s that vocal harmony group from Philadelphia who scored a monster hit with the earnest End Of The Road in 1993.
Other hits included the rather direct I’ll Make Love To You as well as On Bended Knee and Water Runs Dry.
With a syrupy blend of Motown and new jack swing thrown into the mix, Boys II Men were a rather unique prospect back in the 90s.
They are still on the go now – with an incredible 12 albums under their belt.
Backstreet Boys – “Backstreet’s back – alright!”
But they’ve never actually been away! Sure the boys are reaping diminishing returns these days, but back in the 90s this Florida ensemble were massive.
Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) was a daytime radio smash in 1997, and you still hear it a lot today, such is its enduring appeal.
Other hits included Quit Playing Games (With My Heart), All I Have To Give and, of course, the global smash I Want It That Way.
As the noughties drew on and singles such as the aptly-named Inconsolable stalled at No 86, the boys had clearly fallen out of favor with the record-buying (or CD-buying) public.
But it was good while it lasted!
NSYNC – “You may hate me but it ain’t no lie, baby bye bye bye”
While never going to win any prizes for lyrical content, Florida outfit NSYNC were a colossal dance/pop/R&B act in the mid 90s.
Singer Justin Timberlake, who sported a distinctive poodle haircut during this era, of course later moved on to bigger (and arguably better) things.
But at the time the boys were very much “NSYNC” with the public, with hits such as Bye Bye Bye, It’s Gonna Be Me, I Want You Back and Tearin’ Up My Heart screamed along to by teenagers everywhere.
911 – “My private number, oh oooh, so if I called you will you be home?”
Emergency CDs had to be rushed to the shops when 911 hit the charts back in the 90s.
Well, not quite, but certainly a lot of CDs were dispatched as 911 were just so darn popular.
The London-based trio of Lee Brennan, Jimmy Constable and Spike Dawbarn scored a string of dance/pop hits with the likes of A Little Bit More, More Than A Woman, The Journey and Bodyshakin’.
The band were very popular in the UK, but were even more so in South East Asia where their first two albums went straight to No 1.
Bad Boys Inc – “Is there more to this world, more than you can see?”
With just the one album to their name, Bad Boys Inc epitomizes a flash-in-the-pan success.
The London quartet had one dalliance with the top ten – More To This World, in 1994 – while other songs, such as Don’t Talk About Love and Walking On Air, hung around the top half of the charts.
An odd claim to fame is that the boys were the first band to appear on the UK National Lottery television programme. That can never be taken away from them.
Hanson – “Mmmbop, ba duba dop. Ba du bop, ba duba dop”
Who can forget the jaunty refrain of 1997’s deliciously silly MMMBop?
Brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac truly landed with an Mmmsplash.
And lest we forget, the power pop trio were aged merely 16, 13 and 11 respectively at the time.
The outfit from Tulsa, Oklahoma, never got anywhere near that initial smash, but still scored highly with Where’s The Love and I Will Come To You.
As they shifted into adulthood, their star inevitably diminished. But they are still performing to this day – Mmmyes!
Let Loose – “I’m crazy, crazy for you. And there’s nothing that I won’t do”
Crazy For You was initially released in 1993. It got to No 44 in the charts. Nobody was bothered about London’s Let Loose.
But confidant of the track’s future success, the band remixed and released it again in 1994 – and bingo! It became a sensation and a staple of teen discos everywhere.
They followed it up with the poptastic Seventeen and the catchy One Night Stand.
The yearning ballad Best In Me cruised into the Top Ten as did their cover of Bread’s Make It With You.
The band’s career then faltered and the loose ends were tied up. That is until the reformed line-up were due to tour the UK in 2014, but the tour was canceled just two weeks after tickets went on sale. Presumably they did not sell well. A shame as Let Loose had some great songs.
New Kids On The Block – “You got the right stuff, baby”
…they certainly did! This five-piece from Massachusetts were EVERYWHERE in the 90s. Made up of brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg (brother of Hollywood actor Mark) and Danny Wood, they had the world at their feet.
As the 80s drew to a close with megahits such as Hangin’ Tough, the boys propelled into the 90s with hits such as Step By Step, Tonight and Call It What You Want.
The lesser-known track Dirty Dawg signaled their slow and steady slide into obscurity. But for a while there they definitely had The Right Stuff.
What do you miss most about the past 30 years? The fashions, music, or perhaps the way of life. Take a look at our nostalgia survey.