Best Boy Band Songs of the 80s, 90s, and 2000s
If you’re feeling nostalgic for the time you were awkward and pimply, listening to some old boy band favorites could be just what you need.
A top ten list isn’t going to be perfect and won’t please everyone. I know that I’ve left out some good songs, but these are my picks right now.
In general, I haven’t included songs from vocal groups that could be classed as R & B, with an exception or two.
This is a celebration of boy bands who taught us that true love means reaching out to the camera, throwing yourself up against a wall, and standing aimlessly in a spacious room.
The lists are in no particular order; It was hard enough picking ten for each category.
Top 10 Mid / Up-Tempo Songs
The mid to up-tempo / dance song is a boy band staple. Here are ten of the best ever.
You Got It (The Right Stuff)- New Kids On The Block
The New Kids have found a girl who’s exactly what they want, and makes all their dreams come true.
Questionable line: “I can see it in your walk, tell ‘em when you talk / see it in everything you do, even in your thoughts”- This is one perceptive young man. I’m pretty observant myself, but I haven’t mastered seeing into people’s thoughts.
“Oh, oh, oh, O-OH”- If you don’t know how that’s supposed to sound, I pity you.
Truly, Madly, Deeply- Savage Garden
This song is so good I want to stand with it on a mountain and bathe with it in the sea.
Savage Garden vows to be everything for their love without asking anything for themselves.
This song makes me wish I could sing falsetto, or at all. It’s a timeless, all round beautiful song that deserved every week of its remarkable chart run.
I Want You Back- NSYNC
This early NSYNC hit still sounds great. The guys sing about going crazy after losing their love.
Great line: “Baby I remember, the way you used to look at me and say, promises never last forever”- This girl sounds like a major downer. The boys of NSYNC should be glad they can finally enjoy themselves.
Hanson tells us to cultivate lasting, meaningful relationships because that’s what will matter when we’re old.
Interesting line: “Keep planting to find out which one grows, it’s a secret no one knows”- This is why botanists should write more songs. I hate to take the mystery out of this, but I think it’s not a secret and some people do know. I’m not an expert, but even I remember something about light, carbon dioxide, and soil nutrients. Just don’t tell Hanson; it will spoil their premise.
Everybody (Backstreet's Back)- Backstreet Boys
Backstreet comes back to bring the flavor, show us how, and make us wave our hands like we just don’t care. I think I can speak for everyone when I say mission accomplished.
This silly upbeat dance song still holds up today. If you can listen to the pre-chorus series of questions without smiling (Am I original? Am I the only one? Am I sexual?), then you are made of stone.
Bye, Bye, Bye- NSYNC
NSYNC breaks up with a girlfriend because she doesn’t treat them right.
There isn’t much progression in the lyrics; they essentially keep saying the same thing in different words. Still, this one is a candidate for best song from the whole boy band era. It’s one of the most perfectly crafted pop hits ever.
The title is clear and simple. I would have called it Farewell, Godspeed, Toodle-oo; fortunately, my opinion was not sought.
If I Let You Go- Westlife
The boys of Westlife sing about what their lives would be like without the one they love.
This is a great sing-along song, especially the chorus. Westlife songs weren't as well-known in America. If you're not familiar with their stuff, this is a good one to start with.
I Want It That Way- Backstreet Boys
This mid-tempo hit is another candidate for best song ever from a boy band. Even those who aren’t fans of the genre can appreciate the sound of this one, while no one can appreciate the lyrics. They just plain don’t make any sense.
The main problems are there’s no way to identify what it is referring to, and the chorus and verses seem to belong to different songs. Usually, that would be enough to make a song stupid, but not this time.
Step By Step- New Kids On The Block
The New Kids are willing to take all the necessary steps to get the girl. One of the steps must have been to sing a song that only contained clichés and common phrases–and they nailed it.
This is a catchy and fun song, though. You don’t get to be the biggest singing group in the world without some memorable tunes.
Larger Than Life- Backstreet Boys
The boys send out a big thank you to all their fans in this high-energy dance hit. It's nice to be a multi-millionaire, but it's even nicer to be appreciated, or something like that.
They might have been "wishin' I could thank you in a different way" but I, for one, am glad they chose to do it with a song.
Top 10 Slow Love Songs
This is the kind of song a boy band should do best, and it doesn't get much better than these ten standout hits.
I Knew I Loved You Before I Met You- Savage Garden
This one is really sappy, but it works. I knew I loved it before I heard it.
Great lines: "Maybe it's intuition, some things you just don't question"- This is a beautiful feeling that could lead to a life-long relationship, or to mailing your life savings to a con-artist.
“A thousand angels dance around you”- Ladies, ask your man how many angels he can see dancing around you. If it’s less than a thousand, that’s a deal-breaker.
All or Nothing- O-Town
The O-Town boys give their love an ultimatum: either she’s all in or it’s over. Spoiler alert–it’s over.
Really nice lines: “You know I’d fight for you but how can I fight someone who isn’t even there”.
“There are times it seems to me, I’m sharing you with memories”
This I Promise You- NSYNC
If only every boy band love song was as good as this. The melody is perfect and the lyrics are great–thanks to Richard Marx. It has one of the best openings in love song history. The first twenty seconds is one of the nicest things I’ve heard.
Best line: “I’ve loved you forever, in lifetimes before”- That’s a perfect balance between love song exaggeration and an accurate description of the feeling.
The Hardest Thing- 98 Degrees
The guys of 98 Degrees love two women at once, but as they are class acts, they remain faithful to the one they loved first.
Interesting line: “Like Doctor Zhivago, all my love I’ll be sending”- This comparison is supposed to make the situation clearer, but I doubt their early teen audience knew the plot of this novel / film.
Back For Good- Take That
The guys of Take That apologize for anything they might have done–not that they know what that is. Although it’s hard to take someone seriously who doesn’t know what he’s apologizing for, this is still one of the best-written love songs ever.
How many times in a love song have we heard I’ll love you forever / always / till the end of time? Not in this song: “We will never be uncovered again”
There are several unusual but meaningful lines in this song that present a common love song sentiment in a new way.
Miss You Like Crazy- The Moffatts
This one doesn’t usually turn up on best songs lists, but it’s an old favorite of mine and I still like hearing it a lot. The lyrics are really simple; this might be one of those songs you’d have to hear when you’re young.
No Matter What- Boyzone
Boyzone tells their love they’ll be together no matter what other people say or do, or what the weather is like.
Best line: “If only prayers were answered, then we would hear God say”- Wait, what would God say? The lyrics don’t tell us. The next line just repeats the opening. If God said the opening, they really buried the lead by not telling us sooner; if the next line isn’t being attributed to God, then why tease us like that?
Drowning- Backstreet Boys
This isn’t one of the Backstreet Boys biggest hits, but I think it’s one of their most memorable love songs.
The boys sing about experiencing severe respiratory distress, both caused and cured by their love, who keeps them in alternating states of panic and contentment.
Invisible Man- 98 Degrees
98 Degrees longs for their secret love while torturing themselves by imagining the intimate details of her relationship.
Worrisome line: “He’ll hold you close when you’re making love”- If one of their goals is to not jump off a bridge, they shouldn’t be dwelling on things like this. Deal with the situation like a healthy person by spreading nasty rumors about her.
As Long As You Love Me- Backstreet Boys
The boys are totally infatuated in this one. You can enjoy this song forever, but if you can relate to it after 16, there’s something seriously wrong.
Great line: “I don’t care who you are (that’s open-minded) where you’re from (that’s admirable) what you did (that’s insane) as long as you love me”
Since being in love is similar to being mentally disturbed, maybe these lyrics aren't too extreme.
Top 10 "What?!" Songs
These are the boy band songs that made us ask, "Did I hear that right?" These ones can still be enjoyable; just don't listen to the words too closely.
Faded- Soul Decision
A guy sings about wanting to go all the way, and how the girl is making it difficult for him to do so.
Best line: “When I get you all alone, I’m gonna take off all your clothes”- I’m surprised he got the order right, given the stupidity of this song.
This song is very catchy so be warned if you're going to listen to it.
Every Other Time- LFO
This is about a guy who loves his girl even though she's crazy and dangerous.
This anthem to infatuation and dysfunction is very catchy. If you don’t want to sing about stupidity, I suggest not listening to this. If it registers in your brain, it will come back again and again. I’m singing it right now.
Playground- Another Bad Creation
The young fellows of ABC rap about the playground.
Sorry, I can’t tell you any more than that. After listening to 4 minutes of their feelings about said playground, I still don’t know anything about it.
Slam Dunk Da Funk- 5ive
I think this one’s about syncopated intimacy on a basketball court. That’s my best guess.
Best line: “Do you wanna get freaky, when the five of us make one”- For teen idols, they weren’t greedy; I’ll give them that.
Summer Girls- LFO
LFO guy sing-raps about the memorable summer when he met the girl of his dreams. Most of it is historical pop-culture details, which I think is to prove that this is an actual summer that really happened.
This song is charming and silly, so I can’t be too hostile about it.
Liquid Dreams- O-Town
An ode to a natural bodily process, this song has the boys constructing a woman from the features of various celebrity women. Of course, individual good features don’t necessarily combine well, so the imaginary woman would probably cause nightmares instead.
Best line: “Waterfalls and streams, these liquid dreams”- Maybe I misinterpreted this song; that sounds more like a serious medical condition.
The Call- Backstreet Boys
This up-tempo, feel-good tune is about a guy cheating on his girlfriend.
This has to be the worst BSB single. It was so bad, it made AJ start doing cocaine.
Best line: “Let me tell you the story about the call that changed my destiny”- Since it’s titled The Call, I figured it would be about a fairly important call. Also, this makes it sound like we’re in for an epic tale, but the story is just that he meets another woman and cheats. I’m on the edge of my seat.
Too Close- Next
I don’t know why, but bodily functions don’t make the best subjects for songs. This one’s about a guy who experiences a physiological response while dancing with an attractive woman.
If you’ve never heard this one, you might be thinking it’s full of innuendo and double-entendres–it’s not.
When the Lights Go Out- 5ive
The boys of 5ive sing about an inexpressible love and tenderness that will be evident when the lights go out, and which will make up for any bad behavior on their part.
Best line: “I never wanted to be so unkind, the only one thing on my mind, is just kickin’ it with you girl”- This guy tells us he was unkind to his girl, and as an explanation, he says he couldn’t help it on account of wanting to kick it so badly.
This sounds like one of those heavy ethical issues the ancient Greek philosophers debated.
Wise Greek #1: “A man should not be unkind.”
Wise Greek #2: “What if his only desire is to kick it?”
(Murmurs of “Oh, snap”, and “You got served” are heard from the spectators. Wise Greek #1 sits at the feet of his new teacher.)
Any Kind of Guy- Big Time Rush
The boys of BTR want their girl so badly that they’re willing to be anything she wants.
Suspicious line: “Any kind, any kind, any kind of guy you want / you decide, change your mind”- When you’re young, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable thing to say. When you’re older, you realize that it would lead to a life of misery.
Well, that's all the top tens. I hope you relived some good memories and maybe found a new song to enjoy.
U + Me = Us (Calculus)- 2Gether
Listen to every boy band hit ever at once with this great spoof of boy band songs and videos.