When we heard 1990s heartthrobs Backstreet Boys were coming to the MidFlorida Amphitheare Friday, we did some serious debating here in our pop culture corner.
If we were producer Lou Pearlman (pre-Ponzi-scheme days) and had to develop the next boy band from those who came before, who would we choose?
First we defined the characteristics needed for the group, based on the formula of manufactured boy bands that were so popular in the '80s and '90s. The five specifications: the Front Man, the Baby Face, the Bad Boy, the “Who Let This Guy In” and the “Hair.”
And let's face it, our choices will have to appeal to, well, girls, girls, girls.
Days of discussion ensued, notes were jotted down on ice cream sundae-embellished stationery and finally we formed our ultimate band — our best boys.
Disagree with us? Who did we leave out? Email us your boy band must-haves or comment on TBO.com story and we'll print them in next week's Friday Extra.
— Janine Dorsey and Clarisa Gerlach
email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Front Man,” Justin Timberlake, 'NSync
Before reaching megastardom as the youngest member of 1990s supergroup 'NSync, JT already had an impressive casting on his resume: “The New Mickey Mouse Club.” After his 'NSync years, his boyish good looks, smooth dance moves and vocal chops lead him to bust out in a solo career that garnered him several Grammys. Not just limited to music, those who aren't into R&B may be more familiar with his name because of his “Saturday Night Live” appearances or his hilarious take on “The History of Rap” with late night TV host Jimmy Fallon. He returned to recording this year with his mega-album “20/20 Experience” and on Sunday will reunite with his bandmates when he receives MTV's Video Vanguard Award.
“The Baby Face,” Ricky Martin, Menudo
Whether or not you paid attention in Spanish class, chances are you had a Teen Beat poster of Ricky Martin hanging in your bedroom. Fifteen years before he was “Livin' La Vida Loca,” Ricky joined as the youngest member of Menudo, the mega-popular boy band from Puerto Rico. After five years he “retired” because he aged out of the band, but he never lost his baby-face. He recently found new admirers when he appeared in Broaday's “Evita!” Te amo, Ricky!
“The Bad Boy,” Bobby Brown, New Edition
Bobby Brown's fame may be over-shadowed by drugs and his reality TV-marriage to Whitney Houston (“crack is whack'). But in his New Edition days he was the coolest – and the baddest. He had already been in a gang fight at age 10, talked about stealing during interviews, but he could dance and sing reminiscent of a young Michael???? Jackson. The band kicked him out in 1986 but he went on a successful solo career, so maybe he had the last laugh. OK, maybe not.
“The Who Let This Guy In?” A.J. McLean, Backstreet Boys
Every boy band has one who not like the others. Translation: Not as cute. We're afraid even A.J. knew his place. We noticed in almost every photo of the band, A.J. is wearing sunglasses or a hat or both. This is not to say A.J. didn't have his admirers, but we're pretty certain local boy Nick Carter sold more posters. In March, A.J. underwent a hair transplant and then showed off his full head of hair on his Instagram account. Time to burn those hats and do-rags, A.J.!
“The Hair,” Harry Styles, One Direction
Arguably the most popular member of UK sensation One Direction, Harry Styles is easily recognizable because of his floppy auburn tresses. Is it because tween-agers are such tactical creatures, trained in years of combing “My Little Pony” manes, that they lust after his gorgeous locks? It must be, because he is virtually indistinguishable vocally from the other four members. Harry cites The Beatles as a musical influence, who also had pretty distinctive 'dos. Will Harry ultimately be like Biblical character Samson, powerless without his hair? Only time, age and genetic predisposition will tell.