ABOUT THE EPISODE
The 1990s marked the height of popularity for boy bands. In that decade, the pop charts were dominated by the likes of Take That, New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, Boyz II Men, Hanson, NSYNC, Five and Westlife. They paved the way for more recent chart-toppers like One Direction and BTS. But which of them was the best?
On this poptastic podcast, we have an expert lineup debating that very question with host Sandro Monetti, himself a former columnist for much loved music magazine Smash Hits.
Will Henshall was a founding member of the boy band Londonbeat, writing hits including ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’. Eva Gardner is one of the world’s leading guitarists, playing with Pink, Gwen Stefani and Cher. Michael Jay is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and producer whose songs have been recorded by everyone from Celine Dion to Eminem. Rising star Dyson is a singer-songwriter who has written songs on two number one albums recorded by the world’s current biggest boy band, BTS.
They all have opinions about who was the best 90s boy band, but the ultimate decision comes with the result of the public vote announced at the end of the show. Will your choice be the winner?
BACK FOR GOOD – THE ENDURING APPEAL OF 90s BOY BANDS
by Sandro Monetti, host, Who’s the Best Podcast
“Getting your band back together is like remarrying your three ex-wives.”
That’s what former Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure told me last week at one of his solo concerts.
But so many groups – especially boy bands – choose to reunite for various reasons including finance, fame, adulation and, yes, fun.
Among them are many of the contenders for the title in this week’s podcast debate: Who’s The Best… 90s Boy Band?
In America, the Backstreet Boys have enjoyed huge success with a residency in Las Vegas, for example, as have Boyz II Men while New Kids on the Block even have their own annual cruise, singing high C’s on the high seas.
Britain’s best-selling boy band ever, Take That, may be reduced in number but there’s no let-up in the quality of their live concerts, which continue to pack in the fans.
The 90s were truly the golden age for boy bands. It was an entertaining, inspiring era for that winning formula of close harmonies, cheesy smiles and synchronized dance moves. The acts which thrived in that period have won a place in pop history forever.
There are so many memories from that special time in music. Allow me to get all nostalgic and relive a few favourites here…
Westlife were the absolute masters of the ‘stand up from the stools at the key change’ move. Hanson had the most ludicrously catchy song of the decade with ‘MMMbop’. Backstreet Boys provided the best karaoke song of the period with I Want It That Way. (You should hear my version!) NSYNC were the best dancers. Just watch how well Justin Timberlake and the boys move when performing ‘Bye Bye Bye’. Boyz II Men take the title for best singers. Their crystalline harmonies can’t be beaten. Take That were perhaps the most consistently good, with 12 number ones, but also had the best behind-the-scenes story, with the creative clashes between great talents Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow almost Shakespearian in their drama.
Many other trios, quartets and quintets inspired 90s mania and lasting memories, including Boyzone, East 17, Color Me Badd, Five, All-4-One, 98 Degrees and Londonbeat.
I’m so lucky to have written about them all, and met most of them, back when I was a columnist on Britain’s greatest ever music magazine, Smash Hits, and so it was a wonderful walk down memory lane to discuss these 90s icons with a panel of podcast guests who have all carved out their own places in the pop zeitgeist.
Guitarist Eva Gardner grew up in the heyday of boy bands, Londonbeat founder Will Henshall and Grammy winner Michael Jay both played big parts in that era, and emerging singer-songwriter Dyson was so inspired by the groups of the time that she’s been able to write hits for today’s biggest boyband: K-pop sensation BTS.
Enjoy listening to Who’s The Best… 90s Boy Band – and then listen to any of the great pop songs of the era. You will be smiling by the first chorus!