Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Best Of Boy Bands - part 3: boys in bands

JUMP TO: Part 1 II Part 2 II Part 3

Originally posted in 2012. Updated in 2020.

In Part 2, I crowned Backstreet Boys my favourite boy band of all time. But no look at boy bands would be complete without remembering those groups that looked and sounded like boy bands, but included members who played instruments. I'm going to count down my top 5 of what I'll call "boys in bands" - and the number 1 group would rank as my 4th favourite boy band if they were eligible for the main list.

I'm still dealing with the post-New Edition era (sorry Bay City Rollers, The Monkees and The Jackson 5) and I'm not including bands like a-ha, Wham! and Duran Duran, even though both had a massive teen following.

To give you an idea of the types of "boys in bands" I'm talking about, consider the groups who almost made my top 5: Let Loose, Busted and North & South - three British groups who were conceived, marketed and/or received as boy bands. Right, ground rules set, I'll get on with it.

5. Indecent Obsession

Members: Andrew Coyne/Graham Kearns, David Dixon/Richard Hennassey, Daryl Sims, Michael Szumowski
Years: 1989-1994
Top 3 songs: "Say Goodbye", "Tell Me Something", "Indio"

They might have hated being seen as a boy band (or even a teen act), but one look at the original cover for their debut album, Spoken Words (above), and it was clear that's what their record label saw them as. That label was Melodian, which was run by Molly Meldrum, and Indecent Obsession was the former Countdown host's first success (his other hit artist would be Peter Andre). After two albums, half the group - including lead singer David Dixon (who appeared on Home And Away at one point) - left, and the new-look line-up had some international success before the band folded.

4. Brother Beyond

Members: Steve Alexander, Carl Fysh, David White, Nathan Moore
Years: 1987-1991
Top 3 songs: "The Harder I Try", "He Ain't No Competition", "The Girl I Used To Know"

I've written about Brother Beyond before, but another thing I recall about them is that they were a constant fixture in Number One, a UK teen mag I used to buy on import from my local newsagent. They never really took off in Australia, despite a promo visit to our shores in 1989 and a two-for-one offer for their Stock Aitken Waterman singles (which I gladly snapped up). Singer Nathan continued living the boy band dream in Worlds Apart, who we saw at number 11 in Part 1, and for a period of time in the 2000s worked as an artist manager.

3. Ultra

Members: Michael Harwood, James Hearn, Nick Keynes, Jon O'Mahony
Years: 1998-1999
Top 3 songs: "Say You Do", "The Right Time", "Say It Once"

I have very international memories of this short-lived but enjoyable "boy band". I heard their debut single, "Say You Do", just before heading off to the UK in 1998 and while I was there, heard the follow-up, "Say It Once". By the time their third single, "The Right Time", came out, I was in Turkey and ended up buying it on CD single in the most out of the way place you could imagine. Then when I came back to visit Australia in 1999, "Say It Once" was becoming a hit here. It really did begin to feel like they were everywhere. Although, it would seem, they weren't ubiquitous enough - since they were dropped by their label after one album.

2. Bros

Members: Luke Goss, Matt Goss, Craig Logan
Years: 1987-1991
Top 3 songs: "I Owe You Nothing", "When Will I Be Famous", "Madly In Love"

I was 13 when Bros-mania hit - and it was the first time I'd really witnessed that level of fanatical devotion as Australia, like so many countries, fell under the Goss twins' sway. Fans camping outside hotels, beer bottle top shoe accessories and that urban legend about stomach pumping... everyone was interested in Bros in one way or another.
I always found it amusing that, as a band, Bros had a bass player and a dummer, but no keyboard player or lead guitarist - you know, the instruments that could be heard most prominently on the trio's records. But there really was no need for more members when you had Matt and Luke, two young men born to be pop stars.
Almost as if to prove that point, Craig quit the group after first album, Push, and has since gone on to a very successful music industry career. Matt and Luke carried on for two more albums as a duo before giving up the pop life, but my favourite song of theirs was always their debut single, "I Owe You Nothing" (which eventually became a hit on re-release in 1988).

1. McFly

Members: Tom Fletcher, Danny Jones, Harry Judd, Dougie Poynter 
Years: 2004-present
Top 3 songs: "Please Please", "Star Girl", "That's The Truth"

Here we are: my favourite "boys in band". Even though McFly took almost a decade to make a splash in Australia (and then only with one song), they were very big business for years in the UK and are still recording and touring together. McFly came hot on the heels of another guitar pop band, Busted, and the two groups shared several links - not least of which was the fact that they more or less dominated the cover of Smash Hits UK in the mid 2000s.
Since I was editing Smash Hits Australia at the time, I wished they would be successful here because I would've had a veritable treasure trove of features, posters and cover shots that I could run locally, but it was not to be. I hope McFly carry on releasing music for years to come, but if not, the songs listed above as well as the likes of "Obviously", "5 Colours In Her Hair", "I'll Be OK", "Party Girl" and "Sorry's Not Good Enough" form a more than adequate pop legacy.

Boy Bands: best of the rest

And now, to finish off this look back at all things boy band, a few groups who never quite made the grade but are worth remembering for at least one great pop moment.

Another Level
Best song: "From The Heart"
Year: 1999

Bad Boys Inc
Best song: "More To This World"
Year: 1994

Caught In The Act
Best song: "Love Is Everywhere"
Year: 1996

Best song: "Hook Me Up"
Year: 1994

Best song: "Speechless"
Year: 2003

Best song: "The Way You Work It"
Year: 1994

Best song: "I Like The Way (The Kissing Game)"
Year: 1991

98 Degrees
Best song: "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)"
Year: 2000

Northern Line
Best song: "Love On The Northern Line"
Year: 2000

Best song: "The Story Of Love"
Year: 1998

Point Break
Best song: "Stand Tough"
Year: 2000

Best song: "My Heart Is Failing Me"
Year: 1991

Best song: "Anything"
Year: 1996

Triple 8
Best song: "Give Me A Reason"
Year: 2003

Best song: "Hip To Hip"
Year: 2004

Boy bands: pop music wouldn't be the same without them! As usual, I'll take a look back at the ARIA charts 25 years ago on Thursday (August 23) and then count down my all-time favourite girl groups. It's only fair, right?


  1. Let Loose,Bros,3T are all great.
    Point Break are a very under rated boyband and had an album of great singles. They should have kept going in my opinion.
    McFly are ok but personally think Busted were far more successfull and influential just over a much shorter period. They'd be my number 1 from this list.

    1. Yeah, Busted definitely paved the way for McFly but for some reason I wasn't as big a fan of their songs. My favourite is the one they did for Thunderbirds!

      I liked all the PB singles, too!

  2. Wow! So many great memories from all these bands! That's why I decided to create a radio station just devoted to them. You can listen to it 24/7 on BoybandsRadio.com.

    BTW, you missed some great German bands that didn't quite make it outside their country but who, nevertheless, enjoyed some success over there: The Boyz (lead singer Adel Tawil is nowadays a superstar in Germany), Bed & Breakfast and Touché.

  3. Haven't heard the 3T song for many years. Woah i was probably 8-9 years old when I last heard it. Fantastic list of artists!