Boy bands were at their biggest in the 90s and early 2000s, but they tended to fade into the periphery after that. For the purposes of this article, we won’t just be looking at prototypical boy bands that might come to mind when you first hear the term. We’ll include some of the biggest all-male pop groups in history to add a little flare to the list, but rest assured, your favorite teen idols are probably on here. Without further ado, here’s our list of the 23 best-selling boy bands of all time.
1. The Beatles (600+ Million)
The Beatles are a group that probably needs absolutely no introduction. This English rock band would become a cornerstone of the counterculture movements of their era and is widely considered to be the most influential band of all time. They won untold numbers of awards and owned every possible chart they were eligible for during their time together.
Even today, they remain the best-selling recording artist of all time with somewhere north of 600 million worldwide record sales—not album sales—and are unquestionably the group that should hold the top spot of this list as pop idols.
2. Backstreet Boys (130+ Million)
I feel like it probably shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Backstreet Boys are one of the best-selling boy bands of all time with over 130 million albums sold. From the time they released their debut album in 1996 onward, they were an international sensation. The 90s saw the major rise of the boy band as a major player in the music industry, and Backstreet Boys really were the biggest group during that craze.
Of course, they have plenty of accolades to their names. Their first 10 albums all reached the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, making them the first group to achieve that feat since Led Zeppelin. They have two albums with official diamond certifications in the US, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and earned a total of nine Grammy nominations. Even today, they still do occasional world tours and they released an album as recently as 2019.
3. Bay City Rollers (120+ Million)
The Bay City Rollers have gone by several names throughout their lifetime and were one of the biggest groups to come after The Beatles. They formed in the early 60s, going on numerous runs with different lineups over the years, and they’re actually still active today.
While not the prototypical boy band you might think of, their all-male lineup should give them enough credit for the list. After reaching superstardom in the UK, they would spread to North America and have gone down in history as one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
4. The Jackson 5 (100+ Million)
The Jackson Five aren’t the first group to come to mind when you think of boy bands. They would get their start in 1964 in Indiana, with their lineup mostly consisting of the Jackson brothers for their entire career—with Michael Jackson being one of them. Their success was immense, seeing them become one of the first African American groups to have a crossover following, both in terms of genre and the race of their audience.
Almost all of them would release solo albums, with Michael undoubtedly being the most successful of the brothers. In 1980, they would be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and in 1997, they would be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside two of their recordings. I’ll Be There was also enshrined in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
5. New Kids on the Block (80+ Million)
New Kids On The Block is really the pioneer boy band that paved the way for later groups like *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. Forming in 1984, they would find tremendous success throughout the 80s and 90s as one of the earlier groups in the boy band craze of the Western world. The original members would include Johnathan and Jordan Knight, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg, and Danny Wood.
The group would win two AMA’s for Favorite Pop/Rock Band, Duo, or Group and Favorite Pop/Rock Album during their time together, ultimately earning themselves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and an appearance at the Super Bowl.
6. The Osmonds (77+ Million)
The Osmonds weren’t a boy band for their entire time together, but the best-known lineup for the group was billed as the Osmond Brothers. Born as siblings from a musical family, they’ve been a well-known group since the 60s. Starting out as a barbershop quartet, they eventually shifted to country and pop-rock music. In total, they have sold over 77 million records worldwide and have had on-and-off touring schedules ever since they were founded.
7. *NSYNC (70+ Million)
*NSYNC is probably the second boy band that comes to mind when anyone brings those groups up—at least for the older generations. Forming in 1995, their debut album would be an international hit and receive a US release shortly after finding success in Europe in 1997. When their second album came out, it sold almost 2.5 million copies in a single week.
This kind of massive commercial success would continue for the group on subsequent albums, and several members would launch successful solo careers, with Justin Timberlake being the most profitable of them all with 10 Grammy Award wins as a solo artist. In total, *NSYNC would sell over 70 million records worldwide but has been on an indefinite hiatus since 2002. As a group, they performed at incredible venues from the Olympic Games to the Super Bowl and would earn eight Grammy Award nominations.
8. One Direction (70+ Million)
One Direction was an international sensation that took over the world. Formed in 2010 with Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, the group would come together to compete on season seven of The X Factor, eventually finishing third in the competition. Social media really helped propel them to greatness, and all five of their albums would top the charts in several countries.
Some of their best-known tracks include What Makes You Beautiful, Story Of My Life, and Best Song Ever. They were the first band in history to have their first four albums top the US Billboard 200, and Midnight Memories was the best-selling album of 2013 worldwide. As international stars, it’s no surprise that they managed to win awards, but winning nearly 200 is still absurd to think about.
9. Boyz II Men (64+ Million)
Boyz II Men are best known for their a cappella work and emotional ballads. While they were a four-man team throughout the 90s, Michael McCary would leave the group in 2003 because of health issues.
The year 1991 was their breakout one, earning them international success and acclaim. They would top charts worldwide with End Of The Road and set a record for longevity at the top of the Hot 100 by staying there for 13 weeks. All-time, they have the sixth-most time spent at number-one with 50 cumulative weeks. As recently as 2017, they have released new music and continue to tour worldwide today.
10. Westlife (55+ Million)
Westlife is one of the most successful Irish groups of all time with over 55 million worldwide record sales. In Ireland alone, they have produced 11 number-one albums and 16 number-one singles.
They also own the Guinness World Records for being the first to achieve seven consecutive number-one singles in the UK, the most public appearances within 36 hours by a pop group, the most singles to debut at number one on the UK Singles Chart, and the best-selling album in the UK in the 21st century. Since 1991, they have been a mainstay in music and are one of the most successful groups of the 21st century across the pond.
11. BTS (44.6+ Million)
BTS is the best-selling Korean artist in the history of The Circle Chart with over 44.6 million album sales worldwide. They started in 2013 but have gone on hiatus as the members each complete their mandatory service in the Korean military. While they originated as a hip hop group, their sound and style have changed over their years together, but it’s their message that makes them so special.
Their songs mostly focus on themes of self-love, individualism, and mental health, all of which are topics that many people need help with. They have set all kinds of records; the most impressive of which was charting four US-number-one albums in less than two years’ time. They’re also the fastest act to earn four US number-one singles since Justin Timberlake did it in 2006.
Recommended: Top K-pop boy bands
12. Jonas Brothers (17+ Million)
The Jonas Brothers initially gained popularity thanks to their television show on the Disney Channel. Stars of the Disney original movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2, they would stick together even after leaving the Disney brand and continue to produce music.
In 2008, they would be nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards, winning Breakthrough Artist at the AMAs. Though they would take a short hiatus from recording together, they would reunite to produce new music in 2019 and are bigger than they ever were in the past.
13. Hanson (16+ Million)
Hanson would form in 1992 with members including Isaac Hanson, Taylor Hanson, and Zac Hanson, but supporting members would rotate in and out such as Dimitrius Collins and Andrew Perusi, two later additions.
They’re best known for their 1997 hit single MMMBop, the best song on their debut album that year. The album alone would earn them three Grammy nominations, which was a shocker as none of the brothers were older than 16 at the time the music video was made for the track. They are still together and touring today, but so far they’ve managed to earn three top-20 albums in the US, three top-20 Hot 100 singles, and eight UK top-40 singles.
14. The Wanted (12+ Million)
The Wanted was formed in 2009 and quickly signed a record deal with Universal Music Group. Their debut eponymous album in 2010 was a huge success, reaching number four on the UK Albums chart and producing three top-20 singles on the UK Singles chart.
Their debut single All Time Low would reach the top spot of that chart as well. By 2012, they had found success in North America as well, and Glad You Came became their second UK number-one single. Despite going on hiatus in 2014 after starring in a reality show on E!, the group reunited in 2021 to return to touring.
15. Color Me Badd (12+ Million)
Color Me Badd was formed in 1985 and would remain active until 1998, eventually reuniting in 2010 with a revolving door of lineups ever since. They are undeniably best known for their single I Wanna Sex You Up. It was a feature on the soundtrack for the film New Jack City and would spend four weeks at the number-two position on the Hot 100, eventually turning both the single and the group into an international success.
16. 5 Seconds of Summer (10+ Million)
The band 5 Seconds Of Summer gives us an Australian entry to the list. Each of the original members got their start on YouTube, eventually becoming celebrities on the site and finding fame while touring alongside One Direction. While their record sale figures are impressive, the 7 billion streams on Spotify are just as staggering.
17. 98 Degrees (10+ Million)
The band 98 Degrees was formed by Jeff Timmons, Nick and Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre. All of the members were born in Ohio, but the group was formed in California. Most boy bands form at the behest of a record label, but they would come together independently, only later signing a deal.
During their time together, they would notch seven top 40 singles on the US charts and would find one number-one single when they teamed up with Mariah Carey on Thank God I Found You. Of their career awards and nominations, their best was their win at the Choice Awards for Choice Music: Breakout Artist in 1999.
18. Big Time Rush (10+ Million)
Big Time Rush has an interesting start to their career. Debuting in 2009, the boy band starred in a Nickelodeon series that ran until 2013 and helped promote the music they were releasing. While they would go on hiatus from 2014 until 2021, the group has resumed live shows and is working on new music, evident in their single Call It Like I See It.
19. 112 (5.7+ Million)
The group 112 found quite a lot of success with their R&B sound. They would win a Grammy Award in 1997 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for being on Puff Daddy’s I’ll Be Missing You and would earn a couple of award nominations for their single Peaches And Cream.
20. O-Town (3+ Million)
O-Town was formed during the first season of the show Making The Band in 2000. They got two albums out before the boy band fad faded into obscurity in the early 2000s, eventually breaking up in 2003. The biggest highlight of their time together had to be their win at the Teen Choice Awards, taking home the Choice Award for Breakout Artist, and earning a nomination for Pop Group as well. Thankfully, they would get back together in 2013 with a slightly altered lineup, premiering new music as recently as 2019.
21. B2K (2+ Million)
B2K was one of the short-lived boy bands of the 90s that found a solid amount of success. Their run lasted from 1998 until 2004, with their debut album in 2002 reaching the number two spot on the Billboard 200 and number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
22. NEXT (1.9+ Million)
NEXT is a Chinese boy band formed in 2018. Their debut single Wait A Minute and their official debut as NEXT WYTB were both fairly successful songs in Asia. They may be the next—see what I did there—group to watch.
23. No Mercy (1.7+ Million)
No Mercy came together in Germany, but the group was originally from Miami and The Bronx. Their 1995 single Missing was a cover version, and it became a moderate success in the UK. They would go on to find more success in Australia, charting a top-five and a top-20 single over there.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.