Boy bands, specifically ’90s boy bands, will always hold a special place in our hearts. Iconic bands such as Backstreet Boys, N’SYNC, Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees created tunes that we still can’t get out of our heads. A few have returned with new albums and started touring again, such as Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block. Here are some fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about your favorite ’90s boy bands.
Ryan Gosling Almost Became a Backstreet Boy
Who knew the Hollywood heartthrob could’ve been a Backstreet Boy? While the band was still recruiting members in 1992, AJ McLean lived in the same Orlando apartment complex as Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. During a game of basketball, McLean talked about forming a band and asked Gosling to join the group. Gosling turned down the offer,saying boy bands were a thing of the past.
When the Backstreet Boys blew up, Gosling wanted another chance to join the band and called McLean several times. McLean never picked up the phone, and later apologized for not returning Gosling’s calls.
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The Main Founder of N’SYNC Isn’t Who You Think
Chris Kirkpatrick, the first member of N’SYNC, would have never started the boy band if he wasn’t rejected from the Backstreet Boys. Kirkpatrick and Backstreet Boy Howie Dorough were in the same community college choir. Although Kirkpatrick didn’t make the final cut for Backstreet, it did lead to his introduction to BSB’s manager, Lou Pearlman.
Kirkpatrick decided to form his own band with Pearlman’s support. Kirkpatrick invited Joey Fatone, an associate from Universal Studios in Florida, to join the group. According to Insider, Kirkpatrick also recruited Justin Timberlake. Timberlake then brought on JC Chasez, his buddy from the “Mickey Mouse Club.” Jason Galasso was also recruited, but left before signing with the record company because he didn’t want to be famous and disagreed with the band’s musical direction. Timberlake called his vocal coach, who recommended to replace Galasso with Lance Bass. After Bass auditioned, he was immediately asked to join the group.
Nynuk was NKOTB’s Original Name
Before they were the New Kids on the Block, the boy band was named Nynuk. According to Buzzfeed, Starr suggested Nynuk, which is a play on the name of the dog “Nanook” in the movie “The Lost Boys.” However, Rolling Stone reported that the name was a play on the documentary “Nanook of the North.”
The label, Columbia Records, did not like Nynuk and asked Starr to rename the group. They finally chose New Kids on the Block, which was inspired from Donnie Wahlberg’s rap song that he wrote initially for their first album.
Boyz II Men’s Big Break Came from Sneaking Backstage at a New Edition Concert
In 1989, Boyz II Men snuck backstage at a New Edition concert, where the band and other celebrities were hanging out. They managed to perform New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain” in front of members Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe.
Everyone who saw and heard the boys were blown away. Bivins gave the boys his number and told them to call him. Morris called Bivins, who offered to manage the band and produce their albums. With Bivins at the helm, the Boyz released “CooleyHighHarmony” in 1991, which had their first hit: “Motown Philly.”
Backstreet Boys was a Big Deal in Europe First
Europe became obsessed with Backstreet Boys’ harmonies and dashingly good looks before the U.S. In May 1996, they released their first album “Backstreet Boys,” internationally. Their European fans were so crazy and out of control that multiple European hotels banned the boy band from staying there because staff weren’t able to handle the wild crowds.
Germany had the biggest appreciation for BSB at the time. It was the first country where the group’s album hit platinum. In 1996, Germany ranked the Boys as the No. 1 international group. After selling 250,000 copies of “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” the band earned Gold status there. The United States didn’t become die-hard Backstreet Boys fans until 1998.
One of the N’SYNC Bandmates Found out Bass’s Sexual Orientation by Accident
Fatone was the first member to find out that Bass is gay. Bass’s date was sitting on his lap, when Fatone walked in. Bass remembered Fatone saying, “Dude, I don’t care. I have so many gay friends — I don’t care.” A few months later, Bass came out to the rest of the group and their reaction was positive as well.
Bass had dated women before, such as “Boy Meets World’s” Danielle Fishel, from 1999-2000. Fishel had no idea Bass was gay while they were dating. According to OK Magazine, Bass came out to Fishel after the couple broke up.
New Kids Went from Opening Act to Headliner By the End of a Tour
The New Kids opened for teen pop icon, Tiffany, on her tour in 1988. But after “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever),” a single from their second album, took the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, the New Kids became the supreme boy band. According to Billboard, by the end of the tour, Tiffany and the New Kids switched places because of their sudden popularity. Tiffany was then scheduled to open for NKOTB.
The New Kids went on to create more success in the early 1990s, knocking out Madonna, Prince and Michael Jackson for the top spot on Forbes’ 1991 list of highest paid entertainers. After facing lip-syncing allegations and Jonathan Knight quitting the band because of anxiety and panic attacks, the group split in 1994. The New Kids reunited in April 2008. Since their reunion, the group has released singles and has gone on multiple tours. They continue to make music and perform to this day.
Elvis Presley’s 35-year Billboard Record was Broken by Boyz II Men
The famous R&B vocal acapella group, Boyz II Men, formed in 1988. Boyz II Men seemed to release one hit right after another throughout the ’90s. “End of the Road,” released in 1991, spent 13 weeks as No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Elvis Presley previously was the only person to hold that record with his song “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog” in 1956.
In 1994, “I’ll Make Love to You” remained in the No. 1 spot for 14 weeks, breaking another Billboard record. Their 1995 hit single, “One Sweet Day,” which features Mariah Carey was No. 1 for 16 weeks. As of 2018, “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and featuring Justin Bieber, tied with “One Sweet Day,” but did not break the record set by Boyz II Men.
N’SYNC Was meant to be an Acronym of Each Member’s Name
The band’s name is a play on the last letter of each member’s first name: JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN, and JC. The group came up with N’SYNC after Timberlake’s mom commented that the boys’ voices were all in sync.
But when Bass replaced Jason Galasso (the original member of the group), they had to find a way to make the name Lance fit with the band’s acronym. The boys already had their hearts set on N’SYNC, so they nicknamed Bass “Lanceton.” Bass told Entertainment Weekly, “They did call me Lanceton for a good year, just basically as a joke. I think it was Justin who first was like, ‘Okay, Lanceton.’ Then it kinda faded out once we got a deal and then came out. It didn’t stick very long.”
Who Is the Best-Selling Boy Band of all Time?
The media enjoyed promoting a rivalry between N’SYNC and Backstreet Boys: Who is the best boy band of the ’90s? While N’SYNC fans might be upset, it’s a fact that the Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boy band of all time.
The band has sold 130 million records worldwide during their 20-plus year career. It doesn’t seem like they’ll stop making their fans happy anytime soon. After the Backstreet Boys, the best-selling boy bands from the U.S. are New Kids on the Block, The Osmonds, and The Jackson 5. Surprisingly, N’SYNC doesn’t make the list until No. 5!
NKOTB’s First Album Flopped and Their Label Almost Dropped Them
The New Kids’ first self-titled album didn’t perform well when it was released in April 1986. Starr wrote and produced most of the songs. The bubble-gum pop songs had little airplay on the radio, but the band still went on a small tour throughout New England at bars, schools and clubs. Columbia Records was upset with the low numbers, but Starr convinced them to give the boys another chance.
On their second album, “Hangin’ Tough,” the boys wanted to write and produce the songs instead of Starr doing most of the work. New Kids released the single “Please Don’t Go Girl” in 1988 and it seemed ready to perform poorly. Columbia Records was about to drop the New Kids until a Florida pop station played the song. It soon became the most requested song on the radio. Columbia Records decided to keep New Kids on its label and promote their new hit song. It rose to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. Later, four more songs from the album made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
One Man ‘Created’ the Boy Band Craze of the ’90s, Then Stole Millions From Them
Lou Pearlman founded Backstreet Boys and N’Sync after being inspired by New Kids on the Block. He also managed O-Town, LFO and Aaron Carter. But even with all the fame and riches, Pearlman couldn’t avoid greed.
In 1998, Brian Littrell brought the first lawsuit against Lou Pearlman and his record company, Trans Continental, for lying about the earnings of the band. It turns out he defrauded the Backstreet Boys of over $10 million from 1993 to 1997. The boys had only received $300,000 combined. Later on, the rest of the band joined the lawsuit. Lou Pearlman was then sued by N’SYNC in 1999. In 2008, Pearlman went to prison for committing one of the largest and longest-running Ponzi schemes in history. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and died while in federal custody in 2016.
NKOTB Formed a Megaband with Backstreet Boys
What’s better than one boy band? Two boy bands! After the New Kids reunited in 2008, they released two hit singles: “Summertime” and “Single” with R&B singer Ne-Yo. The New Kids performed on tour with many big artists including Natasha Bedingfield, Lady Gaga, Jesse McCartney, Jabbawockeez and the Backstreet Boys.
In 2010, the Backstreet Boys and New Kids performed together for the first time at the NKOTB Radio City Music Hall show. As a result of their successful collaboration, the two bands formed a super group for a summer tour called NKOTBSB and produced an album with the same name. The New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys are currently still active.
Marvel: “Infinity War is the most ambitious crossover event in history.”Me: pic.twitter.com/jlQa5F6FPP— New Kids on the Block (@NKOTB) March 22, 2018
N’SYNC’s Hiatus Was Initially Temporary
N’SYNC was active for only seven years. Their third and final recorded album was “Celebrity,” released in 2001. In 2002, they promoted it with the Celebrity Tour, and afterward announced a temporary hiatus that would last around six months.
During that time, Bass worked on becoming an astronaut, Kirkpatrick released a clothing line, Chasez was in the studio working on a solo album, Fatone starred in movies and Timberlake also jumped into his own personal projects. As Timberlake’s solo career skyrocketed, everyone realized things had changed. The band never recorded another album or toured again. Bass told Huffington Post, “I had several songs that I wrote that I was going to present, so that was definitely sad that I didn’t get to experience that part of making the next album.” The band was heartbroken, but also happy for Timberlake’s success. N’SYNC never officially announced their break up. To this day, they are all still close and talk to each other.
Boyz II Men Practiced Acapella in the School Bathrooms
Boyz II Men rehearsed harmonies in their high school bathrooms due to the impressive acoustics — that, and they didn’t have anywhere else to practice. It made practicing easier that they all attended the same high school, Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA).
The group was formed by two friends, Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson. Other members came and left, but Michael McCary, Wanya Morris and Shawn Stockman joined the group and stayed as they helped develop their sound.
The Name Boyz II Men was Inspired by a New Edition Song
The original band name Boyz II Men used was “Unique Attraction.” But after hearing New Edition’s song, “Boys to Men” from the 1988 “Heart Break” album, the group decided to change their name to “Boyz II Men.”
New Edition, another famous R&B group, inspired the young men with their harmonies and routines. Boyz II Men pleased the crowd at a Valentine’s Day show at school with a performance influenced by New Edition songs.
Bass has a Part in Same-Sex Marriage History
Bass made history when he married actor-artist Michael Turchin December 20, 2014, in Los Angeles. They were the first same-sex couple to tie the knot on American TV. He invited all of his bandmates and other famous friends to the wedding, including Lisa Vanderpump, Jamie Lynn Sigler and JoAnna Garcia Swisher.
Bass and Turchin decided to have supermodels as flower girls and their dogs as ring bearers. Each groom was given away by their mother. At the wedding, Chasez performed Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” for the couple’s first dance.
Backstreet Boys: Their First Performance was … Opening for a Whale?!
On May 8, 1993, the Backstreet Boys performed for the very first time at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida. About 3,000 people attended the show, where the boys opened for none other than the trained orca, Shamu.
The Backstreet Boys formed a month before their first performance. The youngest member of the group was then 13-year-old Nick Carter. Kevin Richardson was the oldest member, at 22 years old. After their first gig, the boys continued to perform at malls and restaurants. It took them two more years of hard work before stealing hearts around the world.
On April 20th, 1993 we became the Backstreet Boys. If you would have told us that 25 years later we would still be making music together, we would have never believed you. Thank you #BSBArmy ❤️ Who’s ready for another 25 years? #KTBSPA #BSB25 pic.twitter.com/105aaPNxur— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) April 20, 2018
Mark Wahlberg, an Original NKOTB Member, Led a Hip Hop Group and Became an Underwear Model
Mark Wahlberg, Donnie Wahlberg’s brother, was originally a member of the New Kids on the Block. However, he left after only a few months to instead pursue a solo rap career. Rumor also flew about his bad boy persona being a reason he left the group, but it was never officially confirmed. His career lead to the forming of the hip hop group “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch.” “Good Vibrations” the single from their album, “Music for the People,” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991. A year later, Mark Wahlberg became a Calvin Klein underwear model.
The group’s second album, “You Gotta Believe,” released in 1992, had little success. When the band broke up a year later, Mark Wahlberg continued to create music on his own. In 1998, he retired from the music industry and transitioned into a successful actor.
98 Degrees Tried Passing a Demo to Boyz II Men at a Concert
98 Degrees was inspired by the harmonies of Boyz II Men, Take 5 and Jodeci. In an effort to try and be noticed by their idols, the group attended a Boyz II Men concert in Los Angeles, hoping to perform for their idols by sneaking backstage, or at the very least, getting their demo tape to them.
Instead, manager Paris D’Jon got their demo and is credited with discovered them. At the time, he was also managing Montell Jordan, the “This Is How We Do It” artist. Following D’Jon’s guidance, 98 Degrees was soon signed by Motown Records to show the world their talents in R&B and Soul. Their self-titled first album debuted in 1997.
Your Uber has arrived ? pic.twitter.com/VveUv1mMK5— 98 Degrees (@98official) February 12, 2018
One of BSB’s Greatest Hits Makes No Sense
One ’90s boy band hit you may remember the lyrics to is “I Want It That Way.” But if someone asked you if it was a love song or a breakup song, you likely aren’t sure. When the Backstreet Boys first heard the song, they thought the lyrics were fine. However, JIVE records disagreed and ordered a rewrite. What they got back was what we know today:
“You are my fire/The one desire/Believe when I say/I want it that way/But we, are two worlds apart/Can’t reach to your heart/When you say/That I want it that way/Tell me why/Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache …”
A few people blamed Max Martin, the Swedish songwriter, because he didn’t know English well. The band recorded another version of the song with the lyrics that made more sense, but everyone agreed the original was better.
98 Degrees Took a Really Long Hiatus
After releasing a bunch of Billboard hits, four platinum albums and collaborating with other famous musicians, the group agreed to take a break in 2002.
During that time, Drew Lachey went on to win the second season of Dancing With the Stars and started a family; Nick Lachey married, and later divorced, singer Jessica Simpson, launched two solo albums, married Vanessa Minnillo and had three children with her; Timmons released his own album and Jeffre held a campaign to be the mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio.
After a 10-year hiatus, in 2012 they reunited for a one-time performance at Mixtape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Later that year, the group felt it was the right time to work together again and announced that they were recording another album. The new album, “2.0,” was released May 7, 2013.
Happy Friday! ?What’s everyone up to this weekend? pic.twitter.com/zyh7QAGj0W— 98 Degrees (@98official) July 27, 2018
Joey McIntyre Was Brought In to Replace a NKOTB Member
Although New Kids on the Block was formed in 1984, they didn’t become superstars until the late 1980s/ early 1990s. Donnie Wahlberg was the first “Kid” recruited by music producer Maurice Starr. He encouraged his brother, Mark Wahlberg, his classmates Jordan Knight and Jonathan Knight, and his best friend Danny Wood to tryout.
Out of the 500 boys who auditioned, Donnie Wahlberg, Mark Wahlberg, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Wood passed. Before they recorded, Mark Wahlberg left to pursue a solo music career. He was quickly replaced by Jamie Kelly. Starr was not satisfied with Kelly, so he replaced him with 12-year-old Joey McIntyre. McIntyre is the youngest member of the group.
98 Degrees was One of the Few Groups to Form Independently
Many people think Lou Pearlman started all the boy bands in the ’90s, but 98 degrees actually wasn’t created by him. Instead, Jeff Timmons, Nick Lachey, his brother Drew Lachey and Justin Jeffre, formed 98 Degrees on their own. Timmons, one of the founding members, left Kent, Ohio, and flew to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. When Nick Lachey flew out to visit Timmons in Los Angeles, the two decided to start a boy band. Nick Lachey invited his friend Jeffre and his younger brother Drew Lachey to join the group.
In Los Angeles, they started singing at small gigs before reaching superstardom. The group agreed on the band name “98 Degrees” to reflect their body temperature and their music. According to Cosmopolitan, Drew Lachey explained to Lime Magazine, “We wanted a name that would represent the atmosphere our music creates — think heat, love, and passion.”
Who’s ready for Football Sunday? ? Comment your team! pic.twitter.com/qjSW8mGhdl— 98 Degrees (@98official) September 9, 2018
Boy Band ‘Rivalries’ Were Made Up
In 1997, 98 Degrees released their first album around the same time the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC were becoming popular. The media had fun pitting the boy bands against each other, and even the Backstreet Boys felt some rivalry toward NSYNC because they felt like Lou Pearlman had put them up against one another, according to an article in Rolling Stone. The “feud” wasn’t as large as people let on, and both bands actually respected each other and are close.
Jeff Timmons even said 98 Degrees were friends with N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys. They all respected each other.
Some N’SYNC Members Can Be Seen on the Big Screen
Fatone and Bass were the first members from the group to star in a film. They both starred in 2001’s “On the Line,” which was produced by A Happy Place, Bass’s production company. Bass played Kevin, who fell in love with a girl he met on a Chicago train and tried finding her after their encounter. Fatone took on the role as Kevin’s roommate, Rod.
Fatone also played a supporting role in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and its sequel. Timberlake has starred in many movies, such as “Alpha Dog,” “Friends With Benefits” and the voice of Branch in the “Trolls” animated feature.
Japan is in Love With Boyz II Men
If you thought the U.S. was crazy for Boyz II Men, you should see their fanbase internationally. Their fan base is so large in Japan that the Boyz originally released their 2006 album, “The Remedy,” only in that country. The rest of the world didn’t have access to “The Remedy” until the band released it digitally on their website the following year, February 14, 2007. “The Remedy” was the group’s seventh studio album.
To celebrate their 20th anniversary as a group, the Boyz released their album “Twenty,” which included 13 original songs and eight rerecorded classics. Once again, Japan had the album earlier than everyone else — this time it was only by 13 days, but still something to brag about.
NKOTB Toured with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men
In 2013, 98 Degrees went on The View to announce The Package Tour, a summer tour including Boyz II Men and New Kids on the Block. Each band gave their fans a trip to nostalgia by performing their greatest hits. 98 Degrees went on to tour with more musicians that were popular in the 1990s and early 2000s.
In May 2017, New Kids on the Block hit the road again for The Total Package Tour with Boyz II Men and Paula Abdul for 47 shows throughout North America. Since then, each of the boy bands went their separate ways to tour with other big artists.