In the 90s, five huge boy bands topped the Billboard Hot 100 charts: Take That, New Kids on the Block (NKOTB), Boyz II Men, NSYNC and Backstreet Boys. While many will argue over which was the best, there’s no doubt that they all had smash hits in their heyday.
Despite their enormous popularity, the Backstreet Boys never reached the top of the Billboard charts due to a technicality.
Six top-10 hits were pretty impressive for the Backstreet Boys
Anyone who was a teenager in the 90s and early 2000s can remember a Backstreet Boys song. The act had six top 10 hits.
‘Shape of My Heart’ was the last of their songs to climb the charts, from their fourth album, ‘Black & Blue’. While not technically a breakup song, it was definitely an “I’m sorry” song for the band. It spent 20 weeks on the charts, finishing at No. 9.
“Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” earned The Backstreet Boys a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 2000 version of the awards show. Yeah, that was a breakup song for sure. It peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 100 chart after spending six months above 100.
“Everybody [Backstreet’s Back]” showed everyone that their debut album was no fluke. The lead single from their second release reached #4 after spending 22 weeks on the charts.
From “Backstreet’s Back” came the song “All I Have to Give”, which spent 21 weeks on Billboard to reach number five. It was the band’s third top 10 single upon release.
A song reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100
“Quit Playing Games With My Heart” soared the highest for the Backstreet Boys, climbing to No. 2 while spending an impressive 43 weeks (two months short of a full year) on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. alone has sold 2 million copies in the United States, according to Rolling Stone.
But this song was not the one that played the game with the number one spot on the charts. That accolade goes to a song about having it that way.
“I Want It That Way” missed No. 1 due to a technicality
Despite being one of the most successful boy band singles in history, “I Want It That Way” never reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is one of many artists surprising who have never had authentic Hit #1. The reason comes down to a technicality.
The single had three successful weeks atop the Billboard Radio Songs airplay chart. It spent nine (non-consecutive) weeks at No. 6. However, inexplicably, the studio did not release “I Want It That Way” as a single until it rocketed up the charts. At the time, Billboard tracked the Hot 100 by combining radio airplay and single sales.
By the time the song peaked, the band missed a huge opportunity to claim the No. 1 spot for several consecutive weeks. It’s unclear if fans would have been successful had the single been released earlier. The song earned three Grammy nominations so clearly that enough people in the music industry felt the song deserved to be number 1.
The boy band can claim a No. 1 record, at least so far. The Backstreet Boys have sold the most albums of any boy band in history with 130 million albums worldwide. Until BTS dethrones them?
Other Beloved Bands That Surprisingly Never Made it to Number One
Bruce Springsteen had a vaunted career spanning four decades. “Dancing in the Dark” ranked No. 2 on the Billboard Top 100.
Boy band fans can rejoice that One Direction has never had chart-topping success. Which came closest? Ironically, it was “Best Song Ever”, which debuted at No. 2 and stayed there but never reached the top.
The iconic Bob Dylan, who inspired generations of musicians after him, had two hits reached the penultimate spot on the Billboard Top 100. But he never once climbed to the top of the heap. Her two most popular singles were “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35”.
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