1. The Beatles: Pop/Rock/Folk
No list of the best boy bands of all time is complete without the name of the boy band to beat all boy bands: The Beatles. Fab Four, as they are affectionately known, consisted of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. Their music became the soundtrack of teens’ lives in the 1960s. They were just as comfortable singing ballads like “Yesterday” as they were singing pop tunes like “I Wanna Hold Your Hand.”
The Beatles eventually broke up in 1970, but their beautiful harmonies, along with their groovy vibe, sealed them in the annals of world pop forever. On December 8, 1980, Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman. He gunned Lennon down in front of his NYC apartment, believing that doing such an act would make him famous.
2. The Beach Boys: Pop/Rock/Jazz
With songs like “Good Vibrations,” “Surfin’ USA,” and more recently, “Kokomo,” the Beach Boys’ poppy style wiggled its way into the American consciousness in true earworm style.
Founded in 1961, the band, which included brothers Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson, along with friend Al Jardine and cousin Mike Love, this garage-band-turned-main-stream player incorporated not just pop and rock sensibilities into their music, but also jazz and classical elements, too. This, coupled with their Ode-to-California vibe, make them one of the most popular and best boy bands of all time.
3. The Righteous Brothers: Rock
If you’ve ever spent time singing karaoke, then chances are, you know the music of The Righteous Brothers. More specifically, you or someone in the karaoke bar sang one of their most famous hits, “Unchained Melody.” The pair is made up of Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley and found popularity starting in 1962 (though they’re still active today). We must admit it, The Righteous Brothers count as sentimental favorites among our ranks, and more than a few of us here have tried—unsuccessfully—to replicate the musical heights of “Unchained Melody.”
4. Simon & Garfunkel: Rock/Folk
With songs like “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” and “The Sounds Of Silence,” Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel harmonized their way into the music scene, starting in the mid-1950s.
Although their personal disagreements eventually led to the break-up of their group, their ability to create beautiful and lasting melodies has never been in doubt. And thanks to movies like The Graduate and 500 Days of Summer, it is pretty much guaranteed that those harmonies will remain with us forever.
5. Wham!: Pop/Rock
Before George Michael was a solo artist, he was the lead singer of the 1980s band, Wham! Made popular by tunes like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Everything She Wants,” the UK-based duo appealed to pop lovers all over the world. The release of “Careless Whisper,” though technically a Wham! song, effectively launched George Michael’s solo career.
Michael’s band partner, Andrew Ridgeley, has spent his post-Wham! career making more music and trying his hand at acting. Michael eventually passed away in 2016 on Christmas Day due to a disease. The world lost an amazing vocalist with his passing.
6. The Monkees: Rock/Pop
The Monkees came to fame when TV producers Bert Schneider and Bob Rafelson created a sitcom about, you guessed it, The Monkees in the late 1960s. The band featured the vocal stylings of Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Micky Dolenz. Poppy songs like “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train To Clarksville” ensured that the group eventually went on to sell millions of albums and solidify their place in boy band history.
7. Bee Gees: Pop/Rock
Formed in the late 1950s, the Bee Gees count among the earliest examples of the best boy bands of all time. With their gentle falsetto harmonies and soft rock vibes, they reached the height of their fame in the 1970s and 1980s. The release of the movie Saturday Night Fever and their song “Stayin’ Alive” solidified their place in boy band history.
8. The Temptations: R&B/Soul
The smooth lyrics and heavenly harmonies of songs like “Just My Imagination,” “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone,” and “My Girl” ensured that this Motown group would make it to the list of the all-time best boy bands. Otis Williams formed the band in 1960 with Paul Williams, David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, and Melvin Franklin.
Otis Williams, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, Melvin Franklin, and David Ruffin
9. The Osmonds: Pop/Country/Rock/R&B
Before there was the Donnie and Marie Show in the 1970s, there was The Osmonds. This 1970s-era boy band got its start singing barbershop and later grew into the popular teen boy band The Osmonds, which dominated the airwaves for nearly two decades.
Members of the group included brothers Donny, Jimmy, Alan, Jay, Wayne, Jimmy, and Merrill Osmond. Although sister, Marie, occasionally joined in the fun, this group is and was primarily one of the earliest examples of a pop boy band. Nowadays, The Osmonds are most often seen at the Osmond Family Theater in Branson, Missouri.
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10. The Jackson 5: Pop/R&B/Disco/Soul
Choosing The Jackson Five as one of the best boy bands of all time is as “…easy as, 1 2 3.” Like the Osmonds, this family band lit up the airwaves in the 1960s and has enjoyed extended career iterations since that time. At the height of the group’s fame, Michael Jackson did much of the singing. Brothers Jackie, Marlon, Randy, Tito, and Jermaine joined him on stage and count among the most influential and important groups from Motown. Michael, who eventually became known as the “King of Pop,” passed away on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50.
11. The Knack: Rock/Pop
The Knack, known best for its song “My Sharona,” became one of the most prominent examples of 1970s-era one-hit wonders. This song originally sold half a million copies when it was released but has since gone on to sell millions, making The Knack one of the most successful one-hit wonder boy bands in music history.
12. Menudo: Dance/Rock/Pop
Menudo, one of the best boy bands out of Puerto Rico, got its start in the late 1970s as the boy band that was eternally young. Early rules for the boy band stipulated that members aged out of the band at the age of 16. However, since then, the rules have changed slightly, allowing the boys to stay in the band until they turned 18. Some speculate this rule change was due to how popular band member, Ricky Martin, became. However, because of this, it’s difficult to name the members of the band, except the most notable ones, like Martin, who later started a solo career.
13. Commodores: R&B/Soul/Pop
Like Menudo, this is another boy band that has numerous past members, including R&B and pop singer, Lionel Richie. They saw most of their fame during the 1970s and 1980s, though the group still performs today. During the late 1970s, many roller skating fans grooved to the likes of songs like “Easy” and “Brick House.” Richie eventually went on to enjoy a solo career, spawning hits like “Dancing On The Ceiling” and “All Night Long.”
14. Earth, Wind & Fire: R&B/Jazz/Soul
During the disco/roller skating era of the 1970s, one band stood out on the dance floor and in the skating rink: Earth, Wind & Fire. The band began in 1969 and has had numerous members, including current members Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Serg Dimitrijevic, and Ralph Johnson to name but a few. It is not only one of the best boy bands of all time, but it’s also one of the most important. Earth, Wind & Fire has won numerous awards, including an NAACP Image Award and a Rock and BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
15. Söhne Mannheims: Pop/R&B
As one of Germany’s most popular and best boy bands, Söhne Mannheims was founded in 1995 by singer Xavier Naidoo. The band sings in both German and English, though mostly in German, and is known to collaborate with other artists on important projects like Brother’s Keeper. Söhne Mannheims is known for hits like “Und Wenn Ein Lied” (And When a Song) and “Vielleicht” (Perhaps). Frontman Naidoo also enjoys a separate solo career, with hits like “Ich Kenne Nichts” (I Know Nothing…) and “Wo Willst Du Hin?” (Where Are You Going?)
16. Kool & The Gang: Pop/R&B
Formed in 1964, Kool & The Gang count among the most popular R&B boy bands of the past decades. This multi-award-winning group includes members like the band’s frontman, Robert “Kool” Bell, Michael Ray, Lavell Evans, and George “Funky” Brown to name but a few. The group is known for experimenting with different styles of music, including disco, funk, pop, and R&B, which partially explains its staying power.
17. New Edition: Pop/R&B
Started by singer Bobby Brown, New Edition hailed out of Boston in the late 1970s. It saw most of its popularity in the 1980s, though this boy band still performs today. It was discovered at a local talent night in Boston at the Strand Theater. Since then, the band has been an inspiration for a number of artists, including another boy band on the best boy bands list: New Kids On The Block.
18. New Kids on the Block: Pop/Rock
New Kids On The Block or NKOTB rose to prominence in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The general rise in popularity of boy bands is largely attributed to the New Kids On The Block, which is considered to be the first modern iteration of the boy band. It isn’t an exaggeration to say that the work of brothers Jonathan and Jordan Knight, along with bandmates Danny Wood, Joey McIntyre, and Donnie Wahlberg inspired some of the best boy bands of the era, including *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. Some of their most popular songs include “I’ll Be Loving You” and “Summertime.”
19. *NSYNC: Pop/Rock
The harmonious sounds of Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Joey Fatone—otherwise known as *NSYNC—became the soundtrack to many a teen’s life in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Songs like “Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” have become pure boy band pop candy. Band member Timberlake has gone on to have an impressive solo singing career, as well as an acting career of his own, appearing in movies like The Social Network, Trolls, and Shrek The Third.
20. Hanson: Pop
Isaac, Taylor, and Zac Hanson came into our consciousness in the 1990s with the infectiously happy song “MMMBop.” This multi-talented brother group began as piano players but eventually learned how to play other instruments as their careers progressed. They continue to play music to this day, with one of their latest albums being Red Green Blue. And given their leanings toward philanthropy, it’s easy to say that not only are the guys of Hanson members of one of the best boy bands around, but they are also some of the best humans around.
21. Backstreet Boys: Pop/Rock
From 1993 to this day, the Backstreet Boys have been one of the most well-known and best boy bands around. This talented group of guys—AJ McLean, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson, and Nick Carter—have knocked it out of the proverbial park since the beginning of their career. Their first ten albums made it into the top 10 spots on the Billboard 200. In 2006, Richardson left the group to pursue personal projects.
22. 98 Degrees: Pop/Rock
Ten million albums sold and collaborations with people like Stevie Wonder show just why 98 Degrees counts among the best boy bands in the world. It consists of Nick and Drew Lachey, as well as Justin Jeffre and Jeff Timmons. The guys got their start in the late 1990s, and after a decade-plus-long hiatus, came back together in 2012 and have been making music together ever since.
23. Boyz II Men: Pop/Rock/R&B
A cappella singing got its due when Philadelphia-based group Boyz II Men, or B2M, emerged on the music scene in 1988. By the time the early 1990s rolled around, they had gained worldwide recognition. Throughout the years, members of the band have come and gone, with Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman being the group’s staples now. Due to their popularity and influence, the band now has a street named after them in Philly, a fact that ensures that they’ll land on the best boy bands lists from today on into perpetuity.
24. Color Me Badd: R&B/New Jack Swing
Who knew that elementary and junior high school friendships could produce one of the most famous and best boy bands of all time, but that’s exactly what happened. Original Color Me Badd band members Kevin Thornton and Bryan Abrams met while still in junior high, while Mark Calderon and Sam Watters met in elementary school. These lifelong friendships would eventually produce one of the most famous boy bands to come out of Oklahoma. They’ve been nominated for and have won numerous awards, including an American Music Award.
25. Jodeci: R&B/New Jack Swing/Soul
When K-Ci, JoJo, and the DeGrate siblings came together, they not only formed a boy band with a completely unique name—Jodeci—but also a completely unique sound. Hailing out of Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1989, Jodeci came into public consciousness with their debut album Forever My Lady. Being one of the pioneering groups of New Jack Swing, Jodeci has influenced a number of important artists, including Usher and our personal favorite, Mary J. Blige.
26. Five: Dance/Pop
Five got its beginning as a five-piece boy band in the late 1990s. Currently, it survives in a three-piece group that includes Sean Conlon, Ritchie Neville, and Scott Robinson. Since its inception, the band has released four albums and has headlined five tours. After a long absence from the music scene, Five finally released its fourth album, Time, in November of 2021.
27. All-4-One: Pop/R&B
Although several of the members of this early 1990s boy band have gone on to do solo projects, they have, since 1993, been collectively known as All-4-One. Their smooth sounds earned them a Grammy in 1995 and several weeks at the top of the international music charts. The members of All-4-One have also spent time on the road with other premier acts of the 1990s, including Salt-N-Pepa, Rob Base, and another one of the best boy bands on this list, Color Me Badd.
28. Take That: Pop/R&B
Known for top 40 singles like “Never Forget” and “Greatest Day,” Take That, a UK-based boy band, has been firing up the music charts since 1990. Currently, the band consists of Mark Owen, Gary Barlow, and Howard Donald, though it once included the vocal stylings of heartthrob and “Angels” songster Robbie Williams as well. Since its inception, this group has been nominated for and won numerous awards, including the Brit Awards. They’re a personal favorite of ours on this list of the best boy bands of all time, partly due to Williams’s amazing vocals.
29. One Direction: Rock/Pop
If you haven’t turned the radio up really loud when “The Story Of My Life Came On,” then we’re not sure that you can say that you’re a true boy band lover. Famously put together as a group by Simon Cowell in 2010, One Direction (Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik) had made their way up the music charts and into teen hearts until 2016. To date, the group has sold millions of albums and has been named among the highest-earning celebs of the 2000s.
30. The Wanted: Pop/Dance
Nominated for numerous awards since its inception in 2009, including the Brit Awards and the MTV Music Video Awards, The Wanted count among the UK’s most popular boy bands. Its poppy dance-style music has been inspiring club-goers to get up and dance since its beginning. The Wanted currently consists of Nathan Sykes, Siva Kaneswaran, Max George, and Jay McGuiness. Former member, Tom Parker, passed away due to cancer in 2020. The Wanted’s song “Gold Forever” was a tribute to the fallen band member.
31. Jonas Brothers: Power Pop/Rock
As former Disney Channel royalty, the Jonas Brothers were positioned to become one of the best boy bands of all time. Composed of brothers Nick, Joe, and Kevin Jonas, the Jonas Brothers have been making power pop earworms since 2005. Although the band broke up in 2013, the break-up didn’t stick. They reunited in 2019 and have been singing together since then. They’ve certainly come a long way from their Camp Rock days on Disney.
32. Tokio Hotel: Rock/Pop
We must admit that this boy band out of Germany is a guilty pleasure for us. Fronted by singer Bill Kaulitz, and joined by brother Tom Kaulitz, Georg Listing, and Gustav Schäfer, Tokio Hotel got its start in 2001, under the name of Devilish. Eventually, led by manager David Jost, Tokio Hotel rose to popularity with songs like “Scream,” “Through the Monsoon,” and “Rescue Me.” The boys’ poppy style eventually caught on with English-speaking audiences, affording Tokio Hotel a spot on the worldwide music scene. They’ve been nominated for a number of music awards and have taken home more than 100 of them.
33. VoXXclub: Folk Pop
You’ve gotta appreciate the Internet for its ability to make the formerly unfamous famous. That’s the case with the German band, VoxxClub. Staging flash mobs in various German malls, the boy band eventually went viral with the song “Rock Mi.” Although they are known for singing German folk songs, Florian Claus, Michael Hartinger, Korbinian Arendt, Stefan Rafflaub, and Christian Schild put a decidedly modern pop twist on these oldie but goodie songs. Like Tokio Hotel and Xavier Naidoo, we must admit to having a fondness for this German export. We dare you not to play their “Rock Mi” flash mob video on repeat. It’s utterly infectious in true flashmob style.
34. Westlife: Pop
We admit it was instant boy band love the minute we heard Westlife’s version of the Billy Joel song “Uptown Girl.” It’s a bold move to cover a song by the likes of Joel, so if you can impress us big-time fans of Joel, then you’re on to something.
Westlife hails out of Ireland and features bandmates Nicky Byrne, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Shane Filan. But despite covering the songs of some fairly famous singers, the boys from Ireland are impressive in their own right. They hold the Guinness World Record for being the first to get seven singles on the UK charts consecutively and most appearances in public in a 36-hour period (amongst other things). They’ve been playing together off and on since 1998 and show no signs of slowing down, making them one of the most impressive boy bands on this list.
35. BTS: K-Pop/R&B
It would be impossible to create a list of the best boy bands of all time without including a few from the K-Pop world. BTS, or the Bangtan Boys, hail from Seoul, South Korea, and are among the biggest names on the K-pop charts. The band is known for writing and producing its own music, which includes references to literature and philosophy. In our opinion, this makes them as deep as they are talented.
In 2017, their music crossed international airwaves, which led the way for K-pop in general to traverse international musical borders. This boy band also holds the distinction of being South Korea’s best-selling artist ever, making the band’s place on the list of best boy bands of all time a no-brainer.
36. SHINee: K-pop/R&B/J-pop/Hip Hop
Known for its complex dance routines and excellent vocal stylings, SHINee is considered to be one of the best boy bands to see live. It is known in both the Korean and Japanese pop markets, in addition to having a worldwide following of fans. The group tours in both Korea and Japan, and around the world.
SHINee has been nominated for numerous awards since its inception in 2008. Currently, the band consists of members Onew, Tae-min, Key, and Min-ho. Former frontman Jonghyun passed away in 2017. All the members of the band enlisted in the military. Tae-min was the last to sign up for his service obligation as he enlisted in May of 2021.
37. Seventeen: K-pop/R&B
Likely to be the largest group of the best boy bands of all time list, Seventeen boasts 13 members. They’re multi-talented and produce their own music, which has earned them titles like “Theater Kids of K-Pop” and “Performance Kings.” It is accurate to say within the group are three subgroups that perform various music styles. They’re known for their live streams on UStream, called Seventeen TV, which ran from 2013 to 2015.
In 2017, the band began touring outside the borders of South Korea. Three years later, they received true international recognition when their song landed on Japan’s Hot Billboard 100. Since its inception, Seventeen has been nominated for and awarded numerous industry awards, including the 2021’s Billboard Music Awards Top Social Artist.
As the Head Editor and Writer at Music Grotto, Liam helps write and edit content produced from professional music/media journalists and other contributing writers. He works closely with journalists and other staff to format and publish music content for the Music Grotto website. Liam is also the founding member of Music Grotto and is passionate in disseminating editorial content to its readers.
Liam’s lifelong love for music makes his role at Music Grotto such a rewarding one. He loves researching, writing and editing music content for Music Grotto.