Boyz II Men have proven that a mainstream pop group emphasizing ballads is capable of outselling more trendy alternative rock and rap competitors. Their sound—a blend of doo-wop, the 1960s Motown singing groups (particularly the Temptations), and 1970s Philly Soul, accented by contemporary vocal nuances—appears unlikely to ever seem dated.
Formed in 1988 at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, the quartet—comprised of Michael McCary, Nathan Morris, Wanya Morris, and Shawn Stockman—was championed during their formative years by the New Edition’s Michael Bivins. Their debut LP, Cooleyhighharmony (Motown 6320; 1991; #3), driven by three Top Twenty singles, ultimately sold more than nine million copies. A single from the film Boomerang, "End of the Road" (Motown 2178; 1992), had—for the time—the most successful chart run ever during the rock era, remaining number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for thirteen weeks. The group’s other albums—Christmas Interpretations (Motown; 1993), II (Motown; 1994; #1 pop, #1 R&B; over thirteen million copies sold), Remix Collection (Motown; 1995), Evolution (Motown; 1997; #1 pop, #1 R&B; a Spanish-language version also released), and Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya (Universal; 2000)—maintained the group’s hot streak, despite competition from countless imitators, most notably ‘N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.
Assisted by state-of-the-art video clips and a romantic, non-threatening image, Boyz II Men have also gone on to become one of the top singles groups of all-time. According to Joel Whitburn’s The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, they have recorded three of the six most successful songs since 1955: "My Sweet Day" (Columbia 78074; 1995; #1 16 weeks; with Mariah Carey—rated 1st); "I’ll Make Love to You" (Motown 2257; 1994; #1 14 weeks—rated 3rd); and "End of the Road" (rated 6th). Other number hits have included "It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday" (Motown 2136; 1991; #1 R&B), "On Bended Knee" (Motown 0244; 1994; #1 pop), "4 Seasons of Loneliness" (Motown 0684; 1997; #1 pop), and "A Song For Mama" (Motown 0720; 1997; #1 R&B).
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