The 1990s and early 2000s were an absolute treasure trove for a particular kind of musical group: A gaggle of gorgeous young people, typically in coordinating outfits, often brought together via corporate strategy rather than likeminded musical happenstance. There was always a Bad Boy or an Innocent Girl, or a Bad Girl and a Pretty Boy. They often had one absolute bop of a pop jam before fading into obscurity.
Turns out, there's nothing more fun than revisiting these songs that you didn't even realize you still knew the words to from the pop groups that you'll be sorry you may have forgotten. Get ready to start a new Spotify playlist, because these gems are going to take you back.
Here are 38 of the best pop groups you forgot existed (but that you'll be glad to remember now).
You might recognize the members of Blaque from their role as cheerleaders in Bring It On—an iconic set of roles. But the band, which lasted from 1999 to 2004, had a few hits like "Bring It All to Me" and "808." Sadly, one of their members, Natina Reed (center) passed away tragically in a car accident in 2012, and the band broke up permanently.
Adrienne Bailon is a brand unto herself—the host of The Real, she was also a recurring face on early seasons of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, thanks to her relationship with Rob—but her fame all started in 1999 with a girl group called 3LW. You might remember the group's extremely catchy hit "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)"—how could you not?—but do you also recall that two members, Bailon and Iely Williams were members of the Disney Channel original movie about a girl group The Cheetah Girls? Now you do. You're welcome.
Nick Lachey and, to some extent, his brother and fellow bandmate Drew, achieved fame outside of music, but 98 Degrees was from whence the world first met them. With hits like "Because of You" and "Thank God I Found You," the group made their mark (remember when they recorded a song for the Mulan soundtrack?!) but never quite achieved the same level as their contemporaries N*Sync and Backstreet Boys. Fortunately, we'll always have the MTV reality show Newlyweds, for which Nick and ex-wife Jessica Simpson will always be inextricably linked.
By far the most Irish of the early-aughts pop bands, B*Witched had a massive hit with "C'est La Vie," the video for which I recall involved step-dancing. From 1997 to 2002, they were big in Europe and to this day represent a very specific eary aughts teen girlhood that's so specific yet universal that the band even gets a shout-out in the Hulu series Pen15.
S Club 7 was a manufactured pop group in the vein of many others circa 1999 to 2003, but each member was so compelling—especially on the fictionalized show about the group, in which they all played themselves—that they're better remembered than the others. S Club 7 had a hit with "Bring It All Back," and went on a 2015 reunion tour that was fittingly named after the track.
Though singers and groups launched by TV shows are old hat now, when Making the Band first launched the career of O-Town in 2000, it felt like catching lightning in a bottle. By that time, the idea that bunch of gurus would assemble a random collection of pretty-faced young men into a boy band wasn't some trade industry secret, but O-Town's actual success post-series was pretty surprising. They had one hit, "Liquid Dreams," that charted, though only member Ashley Parker Angel went on to have a semi-successful solo career.
Okay so this one shouldn't count, since 2gether was sort of created as a joke created for a short-lived MTV show that satirized the entire nature of the boy band machine. Nevertheless, their single "The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Back Your Stuff)" was relentlessly catchy and funny, and even made its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart back when that was a feat.
The British boy band 5ive came up right as we hit Peak Boy Band in the late 1990s. Though much, much bigger in England (which seemed more susceptible to Boy Band Fever than the U.S. was), their stateside hits included the hilariously-named "Slam Dunk (Da Funk)" and still-catchy "When The Lights Go Out."
This Irish boy band had a surprising amount of staying power across the pond, though they were more of a blip in the U.S. Their first album, 1999's Westlife, including the single "If I Let You Go," put them on the map, where they stayed around until 2012, at which point member Brian McFadden departed for a solo career. Apparently they're still kicking! Aw. Good for Westlife.
LFO's two hits—"Girl on TV" and "Summer Girls"—were so pervasive in the summer of 1999 that I'm surprised they didn't have a bunch more. Their twinkly, R&B-inflected brand of pop (and references to Jennifer Love Hewitt) are like a time capsule for anyone with a radio that year. Sadly, two of the original three members (Devin Lima and Rich Cronin) passed away in recent years. But their music lives on, and is genuinely still boppy, outlasting even Abercrombie and Fitch's greatness.
Norwegian pop duo M2M—consisting of childhood friends Marit Larsen and Marion Raven—were fixtures on Disney Channel original movie soundtracks with hits like "Don't Say You Love Me," "Pretty Boy," and "The Day You Went Away." Both Larsen and Raven have had solid solo careers in Norway since the group disbanded in 2002.
Oh, t.A.t.U. Though they had a pretty big hit with the goth-y "All the Things You Said," this Russian duo is now most remembered for how they faked a lesbian relationship to gain publicity, and then later admitted to the scam. Interestingly, I think that member Lena Katina bears a striking resemblance to fellow Russian scammer Anna Delvey. They have a look!
Dream Street was late to the boy band hype game, but got a boost from kids' channels like Disney and Nickelodeon for songs like "It Happens Every Time." Now, they're best known for launching the career of Jesse McCartney, whose "Beautiful Soul" is still just an absolute jam. Thanks, Dream Street!
Wild Orchid got more of a push for hosting Great Pretenders, the hilarious lip-syncing competition show that, come to think of it, is probably owed royalties by RuPaul's Drag Race. We get the sense that Fergie would like us to forget she was ever in a milquetoast girl group prior to Black Eyed Peas and her illustrious solo career. But we remember, Fergie Ferg! And we stan Wild Orchid.
British group BBMak sold millions of albums—largely on the basis of their big hit "Back Here"—between 1999 and 2003, but they were also kind of everywhere at the time? They had a role on Even Stevens and showed up on a ton of movie soundtracks, plus they just had great faces. Like, I will always remember what these three looked like even though I can't remember anything else about them.
Remember the kinda goofy song "Butterfly" (it's a funny recurring joke in the deeply underrated movie Orange County)? Apparently that was not created by an Extremely 90s Algorithm but by the actual band Crazy Town. I love this band's whole vibe (they also did "Starry Eyed Surprise" with Paul Oakenfold, which was in a Dr. Pepper commercial or something a decade ago), and how very tough they look even though they call girls "butterflies." Very cool!
Back in 1995, you could get away with calling your band 911 so I guess this English group gets a pass. They were another "bigger in England" group in the late-90s, though had a minor hit in the U.S. with the slow jams "The Day I Find Love" and "I Do." They're still going, in case you want to relive your middle school dance days.
Oh man, The Moffatts. This boy group was kind of like the Canadian Hanson, and even included a set of triplets, but they never quite hit the same stride that Hanson did. Mainly because they just weren't that good, if we're being really honest. Sorry!
Okay so the Australian duo Savage Garden is like slightly too much of an actual band to be on this list (one of them played an instrument or two) but their songs are just so particularly iconic that we're mostly revisiting them for our own sakes. "I Want You" was almost certainly on the soundtrack of a Jonathan Taylor Thomas movie, while "Truly Madly Deeply" is the epitome of "cry in your room because the boy you like doesn't know you exist." Actually, so was "I Knew I Loved You." Savage Garden was great, though they sadly disbanded in 2001. All of the above remain excellent karaoke jams, however.
Swedish pop group The A*Teens started as an ABBA cover band but then went off and did their own thing, presumably to the great relief of the individual members. They had a non-ABBA hit (if that's even a thing) with "Upside Down," and contributed a very poppy cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love" to the soundtrack of Disney's Lilo and Stitch.
Liberty X, a British co-ed group that was like a very horned up S Club 7 landed in the UK and pretty much stayed there, but their hit "Just a Little" might ring a bell if you went for breadth instead of depth with your pop music discovery in the year 2001.
Okay, full disclosure? I mostly know about Blue because they are competing with Bill Nighy's Billy Mack character in Love Actually for number one holiday album. Nevertheless, Blue's (real) songs "All Rise" and "Best In Me" are some of the best boy band pop of the early aughts.
British dance group Steps did the hilarious line-dancing anthem "5,6,7,8" in which the chorus includes the phrase "my boot-scootin' baby." It's deeply annoying and yet you won't be able to unhear it. They were around from 1997 to 2001, and seem at least partially inspired by the perennial Rednex dance hit "Cotton Eye Joe," which is a really sad sentence to type.
Take That is also probably too big to be on this list and they also have never really stopped recording excellent pop jams, but 1995's album Nobody Else and the track "Back For Good" are Classic boy band. They are the ur-boy band. Member Robbie Williams went off to major solo success, and had a particularly memorable episode of MTV Cribs.
What they lack in search engine optimization, Allure made up for in harmony. "All Cried Out" was the New York–based R&B group's hit slow jam with 112. They also had a lesser hit "Head Over Heels" with Nas.
Boyzone was an Irish boy band whose lead singer sounded a bit like Christopher Cross and who had a very catchy hit single with "Picture of You" back in 1997. This is another one of the boy bands that was much bigger in Europe than in the U.S., but member Ronan Keating is still a celeb across the pond for his music and philanthropy (also, we assume, his designation as a stone cold fox).
Now this is how you optimize your name for a search engine! Atomic Kitten is still around, though they made their biggest splash in the U.S. in the early-aughts with their very hooky cover of Blondie's "The Tide Is High," which was inexplicably in like five movies around that time. Their members past and present have occasionally become media gadflies in the UK, notably Kerry Katona who is a tabloid fixture.
British girl group All Saints had some killer harmonies and a cheekily melodramatic sensibility, as demonstrated by their 1997 hit "Never Ever." They had the third best-selling girl group album of all time with that self-titled record.
Sugababes released their first album in the UK in 2000, and England was a bit more taken with them than the U.S., which is a shame because these songs definitely hold up! Their catchy but spooky 2000 song "Overload" would be totally relevant right now, and 2005's "Push The Button" is a certifiable bop. But anyway, the band's lineup had been completely changed by 2009 after the systematic departures of all of the original members over several years, and then the group called it quits in 2011. There is a philosophical conundrum in there but I don't feel like wasting that kind of brain power on the Sugababes, no offense.
Though their lewk is very Tim & Eric, All-4-One's hit "I Swear" will perennially be a school dance slow jam. This group was absolutely killer with the romantic dirges—"I Can Love You Like That," I mean come on! They actually released a perfectly respectable album together again in 2015 called Twenty+. Fitting!