male soul groups in the 90s were destined never to replicate the success of their pop counterparts. pop requires a manufactured yet individual, who’s-your-favourite type image. soul groups are usually quite similar. only fans can tell the difference. there’s no cute one, sporty one, fat one, funny one – and if there is, it’s real not a product of an over-zealous marketing department.
what also set these groups apart was their ability – robbie williams and jordan knight couldn’t hold a candle to these vocalists. the mass market, for the most part, seemed slightly threatened by this fact. they succumbed to some of the music, boyz ii men’s ‘end of the road’ a notable example, but swept the rest under the carpet where it couldn’t draw unflattering comparisons with their pin up popstars.
check out the b list and the c list too. and now, the z list.
ten boybands who could actually sing – download here
guy – do me right
kings of the new jack swing era, comprising teddy riley, aaron hall and his bro. pioneers of the sound in the late 80s they deservedly held the crown as the scene took off. aaron went to moderate solo success a few years later, and teddy…
blackstreet – booti call
…from the ashes of new jack swing, teddy riley created blackstreet. possibly the biggest true male r&b act of the 90s, they had huge success with their first two albums and collaborated twice with swv ,who were somewhat their female counterparts. started to fall off after a tinny duet with weak-voiced mya for the rugrats movie. dave hollister has become a credible yet underappreciated solo artist.
boyz ii men – please don’t go
clean cut boys who met at performing arts school in philadelphia. first achieved worldwide recognition with ‘end of the road’ in the video for which they sang earnestly whilst wearing knee length shorts. the group sold itself on heartfelt ballads and released few uptempo numbers. their wholesomeness possibly allowed member wanya to get away with a relationship with then-underage brandy in the mid-90s.
jodeci – come and talk to me
jodeci were the bad boys of r&b from 1991 to 1996 and provided a sleazier alternative to boyz ii men. kci hailey has long been tarred by his troubled relationship with mary j blige. despite the group being a sorry shadow of their former selves today, their swing mob collective did launch the careers of missy, timbaland and ginuwine amongst others.
tony toni tone – my exgirlfriend
raphael saadiq and co were always the slightly less sleazy and more conscious act of this genre. several successful albums in the early to mid 90s then raphael went solo, and the other two…anyone’s guess. raphael has since discovered a penchant for very young girls and is rumoured to be dating joss stone, 23 years his junior. which goes to show its always the quiet ones you have to watch….hi-five – i like the way
sweet new jack swing for the ladies, this hit the top of the billboard on release in 1991. the group split in 1994 and never really strayed from this tried and tested formula. now back together and releasing an album – how old must they be now???
mint condition – so fine
along with tony toni tone, revered as one of the more talented and credible groups from the 90s. originally tried to appeal to the new jack crowd but their harmonies were more suited to classic soul and they had many hits in this genre. still recording today, minus keri lewis who left the group to produce, most notably for his wife, toni braxton.112 – only you
bad boy creation that went global thanks to a remix featuring then hot rappers mase and notorious big, shortly before his death. they have since made a living as members of the bad boy family despite possessing not much vocal talent and zero individuality. but their willing participation on infinite tribute songs keeps them on the payroll and in the recording studio, intermittently.
another level – be alone no more
uk lads who cheekily, like all good authentic cockneys, nabbed their name from a recent blackstreet album. bobak kianoush, dane bowers and the other two were fairly hot uk property in the late 90s. bobak mumbled alongside dane‘s surprising vocals and er, the other two who no one can remember. dane then disgraced himself by following victoria beckham around like a puppy dog for several years after a one-off uk garage collaboration.
jagged edge – let’s get married
twins brian and brandon are often credited for distracting letoya and latavia from the destiny’s child duties whilst touring together in the late 90s. the group have had reasonable success ever since but have the odd knack of making their songs impossible to pinpoint by year. i often hear a track of their and think its old, only to discover its new. hmm.