25 Most Popular Boy Bands of All Time

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Although the term “boy band” didn’t come into common usage until the late 1980s, all-male vocal groups have been around for far longer. The roots of the modern boy band are sometimes traced back to the a cappella barbershop quartets of the late 19th and early 20th centuries – though the singers were usually adults, not “boys.”

Another antecedent often mentioned is the jazz-oriented group the Ink Spots, again all-male, but with only two of its five members (barely) under 21 when it was formed in 1934. Whatever their ages, they did, however, influence the doo-wop bands of the 1950s and ‘60s, which were typically made up of teenagers.

The original boy band in the modern sense might well have been The Beatles (aged 17 to 20 when they got together). Their success inspired the emergence of the first “manufactured” boy band, the Monkees, who were created for a TV sitcom, though they went on to have hit records of their own. Many of the boy bands that followed were created and packaged by a manager or music business executive. (Though they’ve rarely enjoyed the same level of success, all-female groups have long been part of the musical landscape, too. These are the most popular girl bands of all time.)

The Monkees had been preceded by a few years by the Jackson 5 – out of which came one of the 20th century’s biggest music stars, Michael Jackson – and were soon followed by The Osmonds (which had begun as a family barbershop quartet). Both were undeniably boy bands, though nobody called them that in that era. (These are the most popular rock stars of all time.)

To determine the most popular boy bands of all time, 24/7 Tempo began by defining ‘boy band” as a group consisting of three or more male members who were teenaged when the band formed and are or were primarily vocalists, and whose creation and development was largely guided by a manager or music business executive. 

Next, we developed an index based on lifetime Billboard chart performance and certified record sales. A custom score representing a band’s total time on the Billboard Hot 100 and 200 charts was calculated through January 15, 2022, wherein a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 is worth 100 points, a week at No. 2 worth 99 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 100 worth one point,  . Certified U.S. album sales come from the Recording Industry Association of America. Both measures were equally weighted. (Data on each group’s biggest song comes from Billboard.)

The top three places on our list, not surprisingly, are held by what are probably the three most famous boy bands – Backstreet Boys (at No. 1), ‘N Sync (No. 2), and New Kids on the Block (No. 3). It was the success of the last of these in the late 1980s that encouraged the creation of a new wave of ‘90s boy bands. With the rise of One Direction and of the K-pop genre in the 2010s, the boy band phenomenon shows no signs of slowing down.