I understand I'm risking putting my indie cred on the line, but I have to say it: I love me a good Backstreet Boys sing-a-long. And really, let's be honest: when it comes to things like karaoke, nobody wants to be singing some weird Animal Collective B-side. They want potent pop power that sends the entire room back to 2001. If you want to showcase good taste in music, then yeah, the pretentious side of me that lives in Brooklyn expects you to have a stack of Velvet Underground vinyls. But, if you want to be a karaoke hero, you have to go with boy bands.
And, because I'm sure you're worried about the upcoming post-work karaoke night this Friday, I have eight surefire tunes that will be a hit amongst close friends and colleagues alike. From perennial classics by the two monoliths of boy bandom, to dashes by the forgotten bands of the era, I have 'em all.
(Of course, these are merely suggestions to get you started, and I invite you to dig through pop solo acts for some true musical gems, too. Aaron Carter, anyone?)
So, enjoy these eight retro classics, and remember, kids: One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer just don't have that throwback edge.
1. Backstreet Boys - "Backstreet's Back"
If 2013's This Is The End proved anything, it's that this track is timeless and inevitably what will be waiting for us all at heaven's pearly gates. The energy is what should get everyone going, even though most people singing this at a karaoke bar are probably not the Backstreet Boys and therefore probably have no right saying they're back. Actually, considering this is off the Backstreet Boys' first album, the guys themselves shouldn't have the right to say they were back... but whatever, good song nonetheless.
2. *NSYNC - "It's Gonna Be Me"
Some people might be partial to the break out hit "Bye Bye Bye" off No Strings Attached, but I still lean towards "It's Gonna Be Me" as *NSYNC's number one. It is one of the few songs in the world I know all the words to by heart.
3. LFO - "Summer Girls"
LFO was low priority on the scale of turn-of-the-millenium boy bands, but "Summer Girls" is an epically ridiculous song, bottom to top. Pick this one if you want to be ultra ironic, or if you have a hatred of music. Either/or.
4. Hanson - "MMMBop"
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Hanson's "MMMBop," and those who hate fun. Hanson isn't a typical boy band in the sense that they, like, played instruments and all — but this track is upbeat pop perfection.
5. Backstreet Boys - "I Want It That Way"
This ballad is perfect for parody, so milk it as much as you can. (True story, my friends and I used to get drunk and scream this out the window and into the streets of Philadelphia. We also did the same with The Spice Girls' "Wannabe." The important thing is that I'm in a better place now.)
6. 98 Degrees – “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)"
The boy band equivalent of a cult classic, I guess? And really, one of the stand out tracks of Now That's What I Call Music 5.
7. Boyz II Men - "I'll Make Love To You"
Like Hanson, it's debatable you can characterize Boyz II Men as a boy band, because they have that whole soulful talent thing going for them. But, anyway, I'm thinking this is the best way to tell your office crush that you're into him.
8. *NSYNC – “Tearin’ Up My Heart”
Remember how I said I know all the lyrics to "It's Gonna Be Me"? Double that for "Tearin' Up Me Heart," which is a track I can unearth some serious dance moves for. Give it a second listen and you'll have no doubt that it's the perfect *NSYNC song — nay, the perfect ANYTHING song.
Is there really a bad choice when it comes to choosing a boy band song for karaoke? No, there isn't — but choosing one off this list will definitely ensure you're making an exceptional choice.