Although they’ve never been taken too seriously, boy bands have been a force ever since The Beatles took the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show and the world witnessed female "hysteria" at its most potent. In fact, some critics even argue that boy bands have helped carve a feminist space for tween and teen girls to safely explore their sexuality.
Whether it’s the pop-rock genius of the early Fab Four, the grooviness of The Jackson 5, the Latin flair of Menudo, the ’80s cheesy goodness of New Kids on the Block, or the totally '90s power of the Backstreet Boys, there’s just something about boy bands that keeps the genre on fire throughout the decades. Here are 25 facts about some of our all-time faves.
1. Approximately 73 million people watched the Beatles make their U.S. television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
The teenage girls in the audience famously screamed and hyperventilated, and The Beatles's iconic performance of “She Loves You” is possibly the most important two minutes and 16 seconds of music ever broadcast. “Nearly 50 years later, people still remember exactly where they were the night The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show,” asserts the Ed Sullivan website.
2. There was a Saturday morning cartoon in the ’70s all about The Jackson 5.
Called The Jackson 5ive, it aired on ABC from 1971 to 1972 and featured the music of Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael—although none of the animated characters were voiced by the real-life band members due to their hectic touring and recording schedule. It was one of the first cartoon representations of a Black family, and animation director Robert Balser (known for his work on 1968’s Yellow Submarine) was adamant that the series be “fair and not resort to cheap gags and stereotyping,” according to a 2013 CNN article.
3. Justin Timberlake recruited JC Chasez to join *NSYNC.
Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez had been costars on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Timberlake believes Chasez had the best voice out of the group.
4. The name *NSYNC was created using the last letter of each member’s name.
This required Lance, however, to go by “Lansten.”
5. The Backstreet Boys are the most successful boy band of all time.
The Backstreet Boys have sold 130 million records, making them one of the top 50 bestselling artists of all time—and the most successful contemporary boy band. Their first nine albums reached the top 10 on the Billboard 2000.
6. No, Ryan Gosling was not almost a Backstreet Boy.
Members of The Backstreet Boys lived in the same apartment complex as Ryan Gosling when he was on The Mickey Mouse Club. One day, during a basketball game, AJ McLean told Gosling that the group was going to be huge, to which Gosling allegedly replied, “Not gonna happen, bro.” And that was pretty much it. Gosling never auditioned; he just talked some smack during a friendly game of hoops.
7. Before Ricky Martin and Marc Anthony had successful solo careers, they were members of Menudo.
Formed in Puerto Rico in 1977, Menudo was the most successful Latin boy band in history. Unlike a lot of other boy bands, the band went through several iterations, and had a total of 39 different members before the group disbanded in 2009. (Largely because, in order to keep the band full of fresh-faced members, the boys were usually replaced when they hit 16.) Ricky Martin was a key member of the group, and a fan favorite, and Marc Anthony was a backup singer for a time.
8. The members of Take That became sick with the flu after making the video for “Back for Good.”
Too much walking and dancing in the rain for the moody 1995 black-and-white video gave those Brits the sniffles.
9. Bobby Brown’s stage fright led to the forming of New Edition.
Bobby Brown choked while performing in a local talent show, and his friends Ricky Bell and Michael Bivins, who were in the audience, performed alongside him. Of course, soon came the addition of Ralph Tresvant and Ronnie DeVoe to the group, followed by beloved hits like “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now.”
10. New Edition’s “Candy Girl” was written in the style of The Jackson 5’s “ABC.”
11. The Monkees started out as a fictional TV band, and then became a real-life band.
The Monkees ran from 1966 to 1968 and capitalized on Beatlemania. They even outsold The Beatles and the Rolling Stones combined in 1967—though they ultimately couldn’t shake the stigma of being considered a “fake” band by many.
12. David Bowie changed his name to avoid being confused with the Monkees’s Davy Jones.
David Bowie was born David Jones—but so was Davy Jones of The Monkees. “In answer to your questions, my real name is David Jones and I don’t have to tell you why I changed it,” Bowie wrote in a letter to his first American fan in 1967. "'Nobody’s going to make a monkey out of you' said my manager."
13. One Direction formed after competing as solo artists on British show The X Factor.
British boy band One Direction was the brainchild of the notoriously cranky Simon Cowell. All five members of the band competed as solo artists on The X Factor, but were brought back to compete as a band under the name One Direction. Though they placed third in the competition, the band went on to become wildly successful worldwide.
14. Harry Styles, formerly of One Direction, has four nipples.
It’s apparently a common condition, and it’s called polythelia.
15. Nick Lachey created a coronavirus version of 98 Degrees’s “The Hardest Thing.”
It’s in honor of quarantine, which sometimes really does feel like at least one of the hardest things. The song mentions hand washing, isolating, and social distancing.
16. The Hanson brothers, best known for their 1996 hit “MMMBop,” now have a beer company.
Their first beer was named—no joke—Mmmhops. It’s a smooth-bodied pale ale, with 7.5 percent alcohol. “The average beer is closer to 5 percent alcohol,” TIME wrote. "So don’t think the Hanson Brothers don’t know how to go hard."
17. BTS is the first-ever K-Pop group to top the U.S. charts.
Formed in 2013, the band borrowed their name from the Korean expression "Bangtan Sonyeondan," which translates to “Bulletproof Boy Scouts.” In 2017, they decided to have the American translation more closely fit the acronym, changing it to “Beyond the Scene.” They have quickly been achieving world domination.
18. BTS has the most commented-on YouTube music video in the platform’s history.
The video for the 2017 hit “DNA” has more than 5.07 million comments, according to Forbes. The honor was previously held by Psy’s “Gangnam Style.”
19. Kevin Jonas of the Jonas Brothers is the subject of a meme called “Lonely Kevin.”
Kevin Jonas can be seen standing on a corner, holding his phone, and looking somewhat forlorn or confused. "It's actually a really funny story, because we were legit late for something and Kevin was waiting on the corner," Joe Jonas explained during a 2016 Reddit AMA. "Nick and I were both together and we were heading to meet up with Kevin and he was just waiting on the corner looking at his phone, and now that it's like a part of the whole meme family. I'm really proud."
20. The Osmond Brothers’ mom published a cookbook.
It was called, fittingly, The Osmond Brothers’ Mother’s Cookbook. Oh, and this ’70s band was from Utah, and even wrote some songs about Mormon theology. They also dabbled in R&B and heavy metal, and had opinions about air pollution.
21. The Osmonds’ record company thought their song “Crazy Horses” was about drugs (presumably marijuana).
But it wasn’t. It was about the aforementioned air pollution. Singer Jay Osmond told The Guardian, “It’s a song about ecology and the environment: those ‘crazy horses, smoking up the sky’ are gas-guzzling cars, destroying the planet with their fumes. We shot the record sleeve in a junkyard, surrounded by big old cars.”
22. Mark Wahlberg was an original member of New Kids On The Block.
23. New Kids on the Block were originally called Nynuk.
It was a meaningless word that producer Maurice Starr came up with. Fortunately, it was short-lived.
24. NKOTB’s “Hangin’ Tough” was written with the Boston Celtics in mind.
The group hoped it would become a stadium song, much like Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” according to Donnie Wahlberg.
25. A member of Scottish boy band Rewind made headlines for fainting.
Typically, it’s the fans who are famous for fainting. But in 2015, boy bander James McElvar passed out on an easyJet flight due to wearing 12 layers of clothing. He did it in order to try to avoid paying a baggage fee.