Boyz II Men: The ‘Battle Of The Boy Bands’ Forefathers
Boyz up against longtime rivals Jodeci in round one; voting open now!
By John Mitchell, with reporting by Jocelyn Vena
Our Battle of the Boy Bands got off to a roaring start Monday as fans of new groups like the Wanted and One Direction and legacy acts like ‘NSYNC and New Kids on the Block hit our bracket hard to push their favorites on to the next round.
One group that is in it to win it is Boyz II Men, who told MTV News they were among the “progenitors” of the entire boy-band genre. “We were kind of like the progenitors, the torch holders of a lot of the artists, of a lot of the boy bands that came about,” Nathan Morris told us.
Highest Chart Achievement
In the mid-’90s, Boyz II Men ruled the charts. That’s not hyperbole, either — three of the top-10 longest-running #1 singles in the history of the Billboard chart belong to the band. Their top song, though, is actually a duet, and with 16 weeks spent atop the chart, it’s also the biggest single ever: “One Sweet Day” with Mariah Carey.
Boyz II Men are one of just four artists or groups to have held the #1 spot for at least 50 weeks cumulatively. On the all-time list, they fall at #4, behind only (ahem!) Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Carey. (With 47 weeks, Usher falls just short at #5.) Clearly, the band has quite a few chart achievements under its belt.
The Boyz made a series of great videos for their hits “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You” and “Water Runs Dry,” but for its cameos alone, “On Bended Knee” rises above. In the clip, each band member breaks up with and eventually reconciles with a girlfriend, played by four famous actresses: Victoria Rowell, Renée Jones and, most importantly for nostalgia addicts, Kim Fields (Tootie from “The Facts of Life” and later “Living Single”) and Lark Voorhies (that’s Lisa Turtle from “Saved by the Bell” to you).
Regardless of your age, chances are you know every word to many of Boyz II Men’s greatest hits, so it’s hard to pick just one defining tune. But there really is something special about 1994’s “I’ll Make Love to You.” Discounting their Carey collab “One Sweet Day,” the song is the band’s biggest standalone hit (14 weeks at #1). The Babyface-written song defines the phrase “power ballad” and won the group a 1995 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
These guys got straight to the hitmaking with their 1991 debut, Cooleyhighharmony. Executive produced by Michael Bivins of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe, the album introduced the Boyz in grand fashion with the funky R&B jam “Motownphilly” and brought them another hit with “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.”
That would most definitely be Jodeci, who in the ’90s went head to head with the Boyz on the charts with their similar (if not as internationally successful and chart-topping) blending of R&B and soul.
So, how does the band feel about the competition? Well, they seem to have a lot of respect for their former competitors. Regarding Jodeci, Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman told MTV News, “It was a mutual respect that we had for those guys and them for us.”
After revealing that the two bands once had a bit of a beef, Stockman elaborated that it was really just “friendly competition.” “I’m sure they had the same mentality as far as being onstage and trying to outdo us just like we were trying to outdo them,” he shared. “They were great artists, and we didn’t want to have people talking about [how] they did better than us, just like they probably felt the same way.”
Voting in round one of MTV’s Battle of the Boy Bands is now open and runs until noon ET on Thursday, April 26. Winners are determined by fan votes, so if your favorite band made the cut, make sure you keep voting. Spread the word on Twitter using the hashtag #BBB and like us on Facebook for updates!