Between NSYNC reuniting (however briefly) and the One Direction documentary hitting theaters this weekend, EW’s PopWatch is getting a serious wave of nostalgia—and the urge to revive one of the most important debates: What is the all-time greatest boy band?
Any good fan girl (or guy!) knows this debate is about so much more than just the hits. There’s things like group appearance, harmonies, music videos and dance moves to consider. For the next week, each day all the bands listed below will be competing in various categories. While an EW writer will be advocating for each, the final decision is up to you. Each day a band wins the vote, they’ll receive a point. At the end of a week, whichever band has the most points will be declared EW’s Ultimate Boy Band.
Yesterday, Backstreet Boys earned their second victory, topping the list for Best Music Videos. Today’s category? Best Dancing.
I could talk for days about how a lot of people don’t realize just how good of a dancer Brian Littrell is, but instead, let’s take a quick trip down the BSB dance memory lane. The early days gave us the open shirt, roundhouse kick, pelvic thrust combination of “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” – which they did; they had it going on – followed by the “Thriller”-adjacent (with a hint of ballroom) moves of “Everybody,” which remains one of the band’s most memorable routines (and yes, they still perform it at their concerts). Then we get into the “Larger Than Life” dance break, where AJ shines with his hard-hitting moves. And finally, the boys become men and transition flawlessly to smoother moves (less gyrating) that make women swoon. And when in doubt, they have a little fun with the Harlem Shake – where they still incorporate the “Everybody” dance, obvs. -Samantha Highfill
Boyz II Men:
Boyz II Men may be better known for their slow jams but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to do a little east coast swing. The Motown philly guys always put on an engaging live performance — especially when rocking matching turtleneck and plaid shirt ensembles. Plus, Boyz II Men wouldn’t record so many songs about, you know, if they didn’t have the best moves in town. So when Michael McCary asks, “Excuse me, I know we just met, but may I have this dance?” You say yes. -Maricela Gonzalez
New Edition’s synchronized dance-moves and smooth mic work paved the way for all the other boy bands. Just watch “If It Isn’t Love,” (also our choice for their best music video), and it will make you see that not only did they do it first, they did it best. -Denise Warner
New Kids on the Block:
Before we can truly start a conversation about boy-band dance moves, we have to make one really important decision: Is this category won by dance moves that are more intricate or ones that are more iconic? Because if we’re crowning the best pop-and-locker, I will admit defeat for my Bean Town boys. But if we’re talking about a dance move that defined a decade, then look no further than the moves to “You Got It (The Right Stuff).” So simple, yet so brilliant, it’s been the hoedown heard ‘round the world since 1988. Don’t get me wrong, the video also has its fair share of complex choreography (kick ball changes! floor work! contagions!), but for lasting cultural impact, it’s all about those tick-tocking legs. The move holds up even today (yep, the boys are still doing it on tour). Now go ahead, I challenge you: Listen to those opening chants of “Oh-oh-ohohoh” and resist throwing up a leg. Try it. -Lanford Beard
Quick question: If you and I are at a bar, and I ask you to show me some ‘classic boy band’ dancing, what move do you do? The iconic “Bye Bye Bye” dance, duh. Their dancing was incredible, creative and perfectly in sync (Ha!). Whether they were pop and locking, pelvic thrusting, no strings attach-ing or just pumping up the crowd, these guys did the impossible: Made choreographed dancing look cool at a place other than a wedding. Need further proof? Check out the video below. -Erin Strecker
You have to admit, it’s adorable how bad One Direction is at dancing, but it’s the spirit that counts, right? …Right? Fine, the boy band doesn’t have the greatest moves compared to the choreographed shows of the other candidates in this battle, but they do have enough moves to pull off a group dance at the end of Best Song Ever (start at the 4:41 mark). Plus, no choreography means more time to hang with fans and just jump around to the beat—it’s not like Directioners are going to learn the moves anyway. (Or are they?) Zayn puts it best in This is Us: “When people say, ‘Oh, you’re in a boy band?’ I say, ‘Yeah I am, but I’m in a cool boy band.’” And cool boy bands don’t have to dance. -Shirley Li