Backstreet Boys

Love them or hate them, boy bands were an incredibly formidable force in the music industry during the late-90s. Sure, they were often aptly criticized for being record label-produced pretty boys, but if you were an American female pre-teen growing up in the era of the boy band, then you very likely had (and, admit it, still have) a special place in your heart for some of these Tiger Beat-worthy centerfolds.

5. 98 Degrees

R&B-tinged quartet 98 Degrees set themselves apart from the pack not only with their sound but with the fact that they wrote much of their own lyrics (that writing your band’s lyrics distinguished you from your peers is a testament to how ridiculously produced some of these acts were). While many of this era’s boy bands emphasized catchy dance numbers, 98 Degrees grabbed the hearts of teenage women everywhere with soulful ballads. Croon on, Nick Lachey. Croon on.

4. 2gether

Technically early-2000s, but I’m letting this one sneak under the radar. Although 2gether was a fictional spoof band created by MTV to star in a satire about the boy band fad, they shot to super stardom with “U + Me = Us (Calculus).” They followed up their theatrical debut with charting singles, opening stints for Britney Spears, and a successful TV show. Sadly, it all came to a standstill following the untimely death of member Michael Cuccione.

3. Backstreet Boys

The boy band that started a whole new era of boy bands. There’s a reason why “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” is the karaoke song of choice for my generation. No, that reason isn’t the lyric “Am I sexual?” To this day, BSB remains the most lucrative of the boy bands with over 130 million records sold. Their singles are as synonymous to the boy band era as Nick Carter’s dreamy hair.

2. *NSYNC

I was in the 6th grade when my aunt who worked for the Disney Channel handed me a VHS tape of an advance copy of a then-obscure boy band’s concert prior to its air date. Shortly afterward, *NSYNC’s stock skyrocketed. “I Want You Back” seemed to be playing on infinite loop, and we entered a world where *NSYNC was doing Christmas music and guest spots on The Simpsons. Of all the boy bands on this list, they also deserve some props for having the only member who’s gone on to achieve icon status in the music world, Justin Timberlake.

1. 5ive

Okay, so BSB and *NSYNC may have totally whomped these guys in the record sales department, and we will forever be debating which boy band had the most eye candy, but 5ive had one distinct advantage over the others: British accents. Need I say more?