The 1980s was a decade full of surprises – catchy party songs, rock hits, MTV channel, and big hairs, just to name a few.
It was also a time when many iconic boy bands emerged.
From A-Ha to New Kids On The Block, the 80s will always be remembered for its love for boy bands.
And we have a special treat for you today – a list of the best 80s boy bands!
Table of Contents
- 1. New Edition
- 2. New Kids On The Block
- 3. The Osmonds
- 4. A-ha
- 5. Hall & Oates
- 6. Bros
- 7. Pet Shop Boys
- 8. Guy
- 9. Boyz II Men
- 10. Jodeci
- 11. Tony! Toni! Toné!
- 12. Bell Biv DeVoe
- 13. Tears For Fears
- 14. Duran Duran
- 15. Dead Or Alive
- 16. Menudo
- 17. Wham!
- 18. Madness
- 19. Frankie Goes To Hollywood
- 20. The Boys
- 21. Musical Youth
- 22. Thompson Twins
- 23. Spandau Ballet
- 24. Men At Work
- 25. Culture Club
- 26. Kajagoogoo
- 27. Soft Cell
- 28. The Smiths
- 29. Mr. Mister
- 30. U2
- 31. Ready For The World
- 32. Go West
- 33. The Jacksons
- 34. Naked Eyes
- 35. Wang Chung
- 36. Hi-Five
- 37. Silk
- 38. Bee Gees
- 39. A Tribe Called Quest
- 40. Kool & The Gang
- Best 80s Boy Bands – Final Thoughts
1. New Edition
Without a doubt, New Edition is one of the best boy bands from the 80s.
Their impact on pop culture is undeniable, even though they went on hiatus in the late 1980s.
But they reunited in the 90s, and released their last studio album One Love in 2004.
Their name is meant to be a ‘new edition’ of Jackson 5, and the influence of Michael Jackson’s group on their music is obvious.
Nevertheless, New Edition rose to fame thanks to their authentic sound and energy.
In 2022, the group was inducted into the Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame.
2. New Kids On The Block
New Kids on the Block is another iconic boy band from the 1980s.
They are considered the first modern boy band, and they influenced many groups that came afterward, including The Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, and Take That.
They achieved success in the 80s and and disbanded in 1994, but they reunited in 2007 to record an album.
The best NKOTB tracks include “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”, “Tonight”, and “You Got It (The Right Stuff).”
3. The Osmonds
The Osmonds reached the peak of their fame in the 1970s and continued to be popular in the 80s.
They were a group of brothers, originally named the Osmond Brothers.
Their best known songs include “Down By The Lazy River”, “Crazy Horses”, and “One Bad Apple.”
The family group sold over 77 million records worldwide, and they continued to perform in the 2000s.
So although they could be described as a 70’s boy band, their impact on the 80s music scene is undeniable, and that’s why they deserve a spot on this list.
The Norwegian pop group A-ha rose to international fame in 1985, with their hit song “Take On Me.”
The song topped the charts and earned the band a Grammy nomination.
So, A-ha achieved their biggest success with their debut album Hunting High and Low, but they released many great songs and albums after that.
They were even listed in the Guinness World Records book for having the biggest-paying rock concert attendance.
All things considered, they’re definitely one of the most successful 80’s boy bands.
5. Hall & Oates
Maybe you wouldn’t describe Hall & Oates as a typical 80s boyband.
However, the famous music duo turned to pop in the 80s, and they also made a huge impact on many other genres.
They rose to fame in the 70s, but they continued to be relevant in the 80s.
In fact, they’re regarded as one of the most successful duos of all time.
Plus, some of the best 80s hits come from Daryl Hall and John Oates, including “Maneater” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).”
Bros was formed in 1986 in Surrey.
They originally consisted of twin brothers Matt and Luke Goss, and their friend Craig Logan.
This British boy band had a large teenage fanbase in the 80s, and they also achieved commercial success with their teen pop songs.
Their most popular hits include “When Will I Be Famous” and “I Owe You Nothing.”
Bros disbanded after releasing four albums, but they managed to become an important part of music history nevertheless.
7. Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys’ members Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in 1981 (in a hi-fi shop) and became friends – and the rest is history.
The popular music duo won the Brit Award three times, and they were praised and awarded by many publications like NME and Billboard.
And they are often listed as the most successful duo in UK music history.
Pet Shop Boys’ biggest hits include “Always On My Mind”, “West End Girls”, and “Heart.”
Guy is one of the most successful black boy bands of the 80s.
Their music is mostly based on R&B, hip hop, and soul.
The group released their self-titled debut album in 1988, and they achieved instant fame – they sent a million copies.
Critics also described them as pioneers of the new jack swing genre, which ultimately made them an important part of music history.
All in all, although they haven’t released that many albums, they will always be remembered as one of the most innovative boy bands from the 80s.
9. Boyz II Men
Another prominent black 80s boy band is Boyz II Men.
In fact, Boyz II Men is categorized as a vocal harmony group rather than a boy band, due to their a cappella harmonies.
But they’re also known for their emotional ballads such as “End of the Road”, their number one single.
The group formed in the late 80s, but they achieved international success in the 90s.
Eventually, they became one of the most successful boy bands of their era, and garnered four Grammys and other accolades.
Jodeci is an American R&B boy band formed in 1989.
Their hit song “Forever My Lady” brought them mainstream success and put them among the most influential boy bands from the 80s.
They achieved the peak of their career in the 90s though.
Nevertheless, their early music has a touch of the 80s, with the influence of 80s boy bands like Guy and New Edition.
And Jodeci influenced many artists that came afterward such as Mary J. Blige, Usher, and Jay-Z.
11. Tony! Toni! Toné!
The credit for the most original boy band name goes to this Californian R&B group.
Tony! Toni! Toné! rose to prominence after releasing their debut album Who? in 1988.
They continued to thrive in the 90s, especially after their double platinum certified Sons of Soul.
The group disbanded in 1996, but their music remained popular, and their influence on the R&B music genre is undeniable.
12. Bell Biv DeVoe
Another popular 80s boy band that will always be remembered for their contribution to R&B and hip hop is Bell Biv DeVoe.
They were formed from members of New Edition, consisting of Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe.
Besides writing soulful R&B/hip hop hits, they also helped popularize the new jack swing genre.
Although they didn’t release many albums as BBD, the group has done many tours (including New Edition reunion tour) and performances.
13. Tears For Fears
Tears For Fears are widely regarded as one of the most successful duo bands and male groups of the 80s.
Their songs “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and “Shout” are award-winning, chart-topping hits.
Tears For Fears consists of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, who met as teenagers in Bath, England.
The famous duo is still active – they released a new studio album ‘The Tipping Point’ in February 2022.
14. Duran Duran
Although Duran Duran isn’t considered a boy band, they achieved a huge commercial success and made an impact on pop culture.
They began their career in the 70s, and became a leading band in the Second British Invasion in the 80s.
Duran Duran’s first big hit was “Girls On Film”, followed by “Rio” and “Hungry Like The Wolf.”
Eventually, they became one of the world’s best-selling music artists.
15. Dead Or Alive
Dead Or Alive is best-known for their 80s hit “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record).”
But they released seven singles that made it to the UK top 40, and generally achieved great success in the dance-pop genre.
They were a boy band with 4 members, led by the androgynous frontman Pete Burns.
In a way, Dead Or Alive’s early music captures the spirit of the 1980s perfectly,
Menudo has been ranked as one of the biggest boy bands of all time by several publications.
The Puerto Rican boy band also paved the way to success to the Latin superstar Ricky Martin.
Besides Ricky Martin, the group has had many members throughout the years.
And although they started off as a teen boy band in the 80s, they continued to be popular in the 90s as well.
George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed a pop duo that became one of the most popular music duos in history.
When the holiday season arrives, their song “Last Christmas” is suddenly everywhere.
But they’re also responsible for major hits like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and “Careless Whisper.”
And since Wham! initially wrote songs targeted for teenage audiences, they definitely deserve a place among the best boy bands of all time.
“Our House” is arguably one of the most popular 80s songs.
When it comes to radio-friendly ska pop songs, Madness really stands out.
The boy group began their career in the 70s, and experienced their biggest success from 1980 to 1986.
Their other popular songs include “One Step Beyond”, “Baggy Trousers” and “It Must Be Love.”
19. Frankie Goes To Hollywood
The 80s group Frankie Goes To Hollywood is best-known for their heart-wrenching ballad “The Power Of Love.”
But they rose to fame thanks to the controversy around their debut single “Relax”, which was banned for being too ‘sexually suggestive.’
Nevertheless, the song became a big hit, and the group remains one of the most prominent 1980 boy bands.
20. The Boys
This 80s kids boy band’s manager didn’t brainstorm a lot about the band’s name.
However, The Boys became a huge hit in the USA, and their singles topped the charts.
And they started performing at a very young age – one member was only 5.
21. Musical Youth
Many 80s boybands were actually composed of kids.
And Musical Youth is another great example.
However, their genre and style was a little different – they were making reggae music, and they achieved mainstream success.
Their 1982 song “Pass The Dutchie” became popular again after being featured in Netflix’s Stranger Things, re-entering a number of international charts.
22. Thompson Twins
Thompson Twins were a British pop band formed in the 1970s.
The duo achieved popularity during the 80s, after turning to a more mainstream sound.
But they were initially a new wave group, and they switched to a different genre again in the 90s – they started making music as Babble, an electronic dub-influenced group.
23. Spandau Ballet
When it comes to popular 80s all-male groups, it’s hard to forget about Spandau Ballet.
They were formed in Islington in 1979, after schoolmates Gary Kemp and Steve Norman decided to form a band.
Their songs like “Gold” and “True” remain popular hits, and their role in the ‘new romantic’ movement of British pop was essential.
So it’s fair to say that they were one of the most successful English acts of the 80s.
24. Men At Work
“Down Under” is widely regarded as one of the greatest 80s hits.
And that’s the song that catapulted Australian band Met At Work to stardom.
Besides their breakthrough hit, they’re also known for their songs “Who Can It Be Now?” and “Be Good Johnny.”
They won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1983, and they remain one of the most memorable groups of the decade.
25. Culture Club
Another song that was super popular in the 80s is “Karma Chameleon.”
And Culture Club is arguably one of the biggest boy bands ever.
Led by the iconic singer Boy George, the group helped define the pop sound of the 80s.
They emerged in the new romantic scene, and eventually ended up selling more than 50 million records worldwide.
Culture Club’s music can be categorized in many genres, including pop, soul, new wave, and dance-rock.
It’s hard to forget about the band named Kajagoogoo.
However, we also want to mention them because of the group’s international success in the 80s.
WIth their hit song “Too Shy”, they rose to fame and established themselves as one of the most successful 1980s boy bands.
Their music style is centered around synth-pop, pop rock, and new wave.
27. Soft Cell
Soft Cell is best-known for their 1981 version of “Tainted Love.”
Consisting of vocalist Marc Almond and instrumentalist David Ball, the Soft Cell duo entered the music industry with a ‘boom’- their debut album was a success.
Their music can be described as a mix of synthpop, new wave, and electronic music.
They cited David Bowie, Marc Bolan and Suicide as primary influences.
28. The Smiths
When you think about boy bands, The Smiths probably isn’t the first band you think of.
However, their impact on the 80s music scene is undeniable, and with their pop-influenced sound, they achieved mainstream success.
Plus, they have a huge fanbase, and they’re generally regarded as one of the best British bands of all time.
The Smiths’ greatest hits include “How Soon Is Now”, “This Charming Man”, and “There is a Light That Never Goes Out.”
29. Mr. Mister
There are some groups that aren’t super popular (at least to younger generations), but they are still often listed as one of the best 80’s boybands.
On the other hand, Mr. Mister has a name that’s hard to forget.
They were active from 1982 until 1990, and released several hits such as “Broken Wings.”
And one of the proofs of their 80s popularity is the verse in Train’s song “Hey, Soul Sister” that goes: “Ain’t that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo?”
When thinking about male groups of the 80s, U2 definitely comes to mind.
Although they’re not typically considered a boy band, they’re one of the most popular rock bands of all time.
And they had quite a fanbase in the 80s, when they recorded some of their best albums.
They have been making music and performing for decades now, and their songs will undoubtedly be popular for many generations to come.
31. Ready For The World
Ready for the World is an American R&B band that rose to fame in the 80s.
They were also pioneers of the new jack sound, and they released several pop, soul, and dance hits.
Some of their best-known songs are “Love You Down”, “Tonight” and “Oh Sheila.”
32. Go West
Go West is another musical duo formed in the 1980s.
Composed of vocalist Peter Cox and rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist Richard Drummie, Go West became quite popular in the mid-1980s.
They received the Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act in 1986, and their hit “King of Wishful Thinking” brought them international success.
33. The Jacksons
The Jacksons were formed in 1964, but they remained popular in the 1980s.
The brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael were managed by their father, and some of their songs achieved great success.
The Jacksons’ biggest hits include “Can You Feel It” and “I’ll Be There.”
This was only the beginning of Michael Jackson’s career – but The Jacksons certainly paved a way to the success of King of Pop.
34. Naked Eyes
“Always Something There To Remind Me” is a popular 80s song.
The guys from Naked Eyes probably owe their success to that song, even though it was actually a cover of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard.
Either way, Naked Eyes can be found on many lists of the best boybands of the 80s.
35. Wang Chung
It’s a similar story with Wang Chung.
The band perhaps isn’t super popular anymore, but they’re considered to be one of the best dance-pop boybands of the 80s.
They were formed in London, but they achieved the biggest success in the US.
Some of their most notable songs include “Dance Hall Days”, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, and “Let’s Go!”
Hi-Five is one of the popular boy bands with 5 members.
They were formed at the very end of the decade though, but the impact of the 80s boy bands is undeniable.
Their track “I Like the Way (The Kissing Game)” sounds like a typical R&B boy band song – and not in a bad way.
Another R&B group formed in 1989 is Silk.
Their song “Freak Me” reached number-one on the US Billboard Hot 100, and it remains their biggest hit.
Silk continued to make music and perform in the 2000s too.
38. Bee Gees
Some people wouldn’t categorize Bee Gees as a boy band.
However, they were composed of two brothers, and they had a lot of influence on the 80s music and pop culture in general.
They were a crucial part of the disco music era in the 70s, and inspired many artists that came after them.
Apart from being their signature song, “Stayin’ Alive” is regarded as one of the best dance songs of all time.
39. A Tribe Called Quest
One of the genres that became mainstream in the 1980s is hip hop.
Therefore, many hip hop boy bands emerged, including the legendary Tribe Called Quest.
Although they achieved mainstream success, they were the pioneers of alternative hip hop.
They released numerous critically acclaimed albums, and one of their biggest hits include “Can I Kick It?” and “Check The Rhyme.”
40. Kool & The Gang
Another popular group that is sometimes included in the lists of the best 80s boy bands is Kool & The Gang.
Well, one thing is for sure: they are responsible for some of the most iconic dance hits.
Their unforgettable hit singles include “Celebration”, “Get Down On It”, and “Joanna”.
Whether you see them as a boy band or not, Kool & The Gang certainly played an important role in shaping the sound of the 1980s.
Best 80s Boy Bands – Final Thoughts
We hope you enjoyed this trip down the memory lane, with the best boy bands of the 80s.
Many of the groups we mentioned today are no longer together, but their music still lives on.
And it’s always nice to hear their iconic 80s tunes.