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Battle of the Boy Bands

by Hannah Caprara on August 2,2012

British lads, One Direction, has seemingly rekindled the crazed fangirl in all of us by becoming one of the hottest boy bands of the year. With One Direction tickets sales reaching an average price of $250, these boys seem to be leading the second wave of the boy band trend. The 90s birthed a generation of boy-band loving girls (myself included), that gave a new definition to ‘pop-culture’. But even before that, boy bands were made popular by artists like The Beatles and The Beach Boys. It got me thinking, who should hold the title of the best boy band of all time? I picked 16 of the most notable boy bands in my opinion and rated them based off style, best lyrics, popular music videos and achievements.

1. The Beatles:

This was an obvious choice for me. Their legacy has outlived half their members, and every generation can relate to their music. You can’t get much better than the Beatles, and for me, they win in every category.
•Style: Come on, you’ve seen the Beatles progression from innocent, skinny tie-wearing English lads to brightly colored uniforms to denim-on-denim (here’s looking at you, George). Plus, where else do you think Bieber got his inspiration for his side-swooping hair cut? Rubber Soul. It’s fact.
•“Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind, possessing and caressing me.” - Across the Universe
•Achievements: You can’t argue with the charts - they have 6 Diamond albums, 24 multi-platinum albums, 39 platinum albums and 45 gold albums in the States alone. They’ve been appointed by the Queen of England as Members of the Order of the British Empire. They’ve been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Oh, and did I mention they are the best selling band in history?

2. The Beach Boys:

Maybe I’m just a nostalgic, but how can you frown when listening to the Beach Boys? They even have a compilation called The Smile Sessions. Listening to them is like a breath of fresh air, and like The Beatles, their music has lasted for generations.
•Style: NSYNC and Backstreet Boys weren’t the first band to wear adorably matching outfits. The Beach Boys originated the group shot with matching plaid or stripes. They mixed business with pleasure - business suits to bathing suits.
•“If you should ever leave me, though life would still go on, believe me. The world could show nothing to me, so what good would living do me. God only knows what I’d be without you.” - God Only Knows
•Achievements: The Beach Boys were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the same year the Beatles were, and Paul McCartney has said Pet Sounds is his all-time favorite album. Pet Sounds has been counted as one of the best albums of all time by Time Magazine and Rolling Stone.

3. Backstreet Boys:

Although I grew up an NSYNC loyalist, I grew to at least respect (and ok, maybe love) the Backstreet Boys. To their credit, they already had two albums before NSYNC’s first title album. They also continued on after NSYNC broke up and are in the process of making a new album, as well as currently being on tour. Respect, brothers.
•Style: The Backstreet Boys have always gravitated towards white and neutral colors, which is completely respectable. Nothing can top the cover of Millennium. Nothing.
•“Sadness is beautiful loneliness that’s tragical. So help me I can’t win this war, oh no. Touch me now, don’t bother if every second makes me weaker. Now let me show you the shape of my heart.” - Shape Of My Heart
•Achievements: Backstreet Boys and Millennium were both certified Diamond. The Backstreet Boys also share a spot with Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart and Tim McGraw as 41 best selling artists in America.


When I was in elementary school, you were loyal to either NYSNC or Backstreet Boys - not both. I was an NSYNC fan, and I’ve remained loyal since then - but the facts don’t lie. The Backstreet Boys outrank NSYNC in more than one category, so I had to place them ahead. I feel only slightly guilty to my third grade self.
•Style: How could you resist JT’s curly bleached hair that spurred its own meme earlier this year? Or Joey Fatone’s flaming red hair? Of course, the most fashionable of the group was Lance Bass, which makes complete sense.
•“I loved you endlessly when you weren’t there for me. So now it’s time to leave and make it alone. I know that I can’t take no more, it ain’t no lie.” - Bye Bye Bye
•Achievements: NSYNC received two Diamond awards from the RIAA for NSYNC and No Strings Attached. They have also made the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Year every year from 1998 to 2002 as well as the Billboard Hot 200 Albums of the Year.

5. Jackson 5:

It’s hard to resist little Michael Jackson, especially with such an impressive vocal range at such a young age. The kid showed serious star power which made it no surprise that he was so successful as a solo artist, may he rest in peace.
•Style: Fringed leather vests, color coordinated suits and great 70s patterns put the Jackson 5 high on my list.
•“I’ll be there with love that’s strong. I’ll be your strength, I’ll keep holding on.” - I’ll Be There
•Achievements: The Jackson 5 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and have successfully made music that people continue to listen to.

6. Boyz II Men:

No one on this list can sing a ballad like Boyz II Men, nor will anyone come close. Some may try, but few can pull off a love song without sounding cheesy. And yes, I’m arguing that Boyz II Men are not at all cheesy.
•Style: It’s a hit or miss. Refer to the “I’ll Make Love To You” video. Striped shirts and suspenders - success. The unfitted white suits? Keep those in the past.
•“I’m gonna swallow my pride, say I’m sorry. Stop pointing fingers, the blame is on me. I want a new life and I want it with you.” - On Bended Knee
•Achievements: In 1992, “End of the Road” set a new record by staying in the number one spot on the Billboard charts for thirteen weeks in a row. They then proceeded to break that record with “I’ll Make Love To You” and “One Sweet Day”, which still holds the all-time record at sixteen weeks. Billboard has named them the most successful musical group of the 90s.

7. The Monkees:

The Monkees sort of slip through the cracks when thinking about iconic boy bands, but they set the stage for current bands like Big Time Rush. Originally a fictional show about a boy band, the Monkees fought to hold the rights to their musical output.
•Style: Right at the height of the sixties, the Monkees pulled off different colored button-ups and bell bottoms like nobody’s business.
•“Oh and our good times starts and end, without dollar one to spend. But how much, baby, do we really need?” - Daydream Believer
•Achievements: The Monkees were the first artists to have number one hits in both the US and the UK at the same time. They also have their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

8. New Kids On the Block:

I can’t help but love NKOTB for having the Wahlberg brothers, if only for a short time with Mark. I also respect the fact that they used stringed instruments in their earlier songs. But for some reason, I never quite liked their music half as much as the previous artists.
•Style: Jordan Knight had the perfect hair, circa 1990; the Greaser-inspired coif just never goes out of style. And whoever wore the American flag button up in the “Step By Step” video (I assume it’s Jonathan Knight) was a prophetic style game-changer.
•“Sometimes I can be careless and blind. Can you forgive the fool I’ve been?” - If You Go Away
•Achievements: NKOTB have had three number one singles hit the Hot 100 on the Billboard charts and have sold over 80 million records worldwide

9. 98 Degrees:

An example of where ballads can go cheesy, 98 Degrees didn’t quite make the jump into longevity. On the other hand, my respect for them is high, as they formed independently and were then picked up by Motown, not crafted by a huge label.
•Style: Nick Lachey in a turtleneck is unfortunately something you cannot unsee.
•“I’ve got somewhere else to be, promises to keep. Someone else who loves me and trusts me fast asleep.” - The Hardest Thing
•Achievements: 98 Degrees had three songs on the Billboard Top 100; “The Hardest Thing”, “Because of You” and “Give Me One More Night (Una Noche)”.

10. Jonas Brothers:

The JoBros were sort of a stand alone boy band to bridge the generation gap between 90s and the newly resurrected boy-crazed era. They didn’t have much to compete with, so their success as tween pop stars has set them higher than recent bands on this list.
•Style: They were birthed from Disney, of course they had style. But seriously, they have class, what with their blazers and loose ties.
•“We’re chasing stars to lose our shadow, Peter Pan and Wendy turned out fine, so won’t you fly with me?” - Fly With Me
•Achievements: The Jonas Brothers have won various MTV, Nickelodeon, Teen Choice and American Music awards.

11. One Direction:

Once 2012 hit, it became clear that boy bands were making a comeback, with One Direction in the lead. Luckily, they’re just old enough for me to legally think they’re adorable (here’s looking at you, Harry Styles.)
•Style: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad ensemble on these boys. They know how to represent class (thanks to their personal stylists.)
•“The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell, you don’t know (oh oh) you don’t know you’re beautiful.” - What Makes You Beautiful
•Achievements: Up All Night debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, which was the first British band in history to make it to number one on their first album.

12. Hanson:

As much as I love “MMMBop”, that’s pretty much the only song I can think of when someone mentions Hanson. Think about it, what other songs do they really have that made it to commercial success?
•Style: That hair.
•“Mmmbop, ba duba dop, ba du bop, ba duba dop.” - MMMBop
•Achievements: “MMMBop” charted at number one in 1997 and their album, Middle of Nowhere peaked at number two on the Billboard 200.

13. Midnight Red:

Not much is known about Midnight Red, except that they opened for the NKOTBBSB tour, so they HAVE to be somewhat cool.
•Style: Upon closer inspection, I’d have to say these boys get major style points. They appear more individualistic than a majority of the bands on here, staying close to their own style. Thomas Augusto rocks harem pants and a denim vest in the video “Hell Yeah” - a feat not easily pulled off.
•“Tonight we’ll kick it like Beckham do, girl my only goal is to score with you.” - Hell Yeah
•Achievements: I mean, they toured with New Kids On the Block and Backstreet Boys.

14. The Wanted:

Slightly less cool than One Direction, The Wanted doesn’t really have much to offer my pretentious ears, besides their thick accents.

•Style: Not as put together as one would hope in this time period where suits and button ups are finally deemed cool.
• “This ain’t Heartbreak Hotel, even though I know it well. Those no shows, they sure tell, in the way you hold yourself.” - Heart Vacancy
•Achievements: “Glad You Came” hit number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and their first album, The Wanted, went platinum in the UK.

15. O-Town:

For reasons unknown, I continue to sing out “All Or Nothing” during arbitrary moments. And that is really all that O-Town has given us. Well, maybe Ashley Parker Angel - best name in show business, if you ask me.
•Style: Nothing really stands out to me except for the guy with the dreads, who seemed a little out of place anyway. He was cool.
•“Don’t make me promises baby you know you never did know how to keep them well. I had the rest of you now I want the best of you, it’s time to show and tell.” - All Or Nothing
•Achievements: They were the first band to form from MTV’s Making the Band. And of course, “All Or Nothing” is really damn catchy.

16. Big Time Rush:

I don’t quite see the appeal of this band. Perhaps because it is formed of four grown men catering to an audience of eight to 15 year olds. Or maybe because I can’t quite tell if they’re a show based on a band or a band based on a show.
•Style: Honestly, their outfits are a little outdated compared to the One Direction boys. Step it up!
•“No sweeter sound than what I’ve found. No perfect love could be more perfect than us.” - Music Sounds Better With You
•Achievements: Their first album, BTR, peaked at number one on the Billboard 200. The band has sold around 4.1 million singles worldwide.

Now it’s time for you to decide - do you agree that the older boy bands reign supreme or do think Big Time Rush deserves the crown?