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Boyz II Men

About Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men is an R&B vocal quartet from Philadelphia who became the most successful pop group of the 1990s. They’re best known for their passionate ballads, including the number one hits “End of The Road,” “On Bended Knee,” and “I’ll Make Love To You.”

An early version of the group was founded by Nathan Morris in the mid 1980s while attending the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where he recruited students Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary. Singer Marc Nelson was also an early member, but left the group before their big break.

The group—who took its name from New Edition’s song “Boys To Men”—was discovered in 1988 after auditioning for New Edition’s Michael Bivins backstage at a concert. Bivins signed the group to his management company and secured them a contract with Motown Records.

Boyz II Men’s debut album Cooleyhighharmony was released in early 1991. The lead single was “Motownphilly,”, a new jack swing track produced by Dallas Austin that peaked at number three on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. The a capella ballad “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday,” reached number two. The album went on to sell nine million copies.

The group scored its first number one hit in 1992 with “End of The Road,” a single from the soundtrack to the film Boomerang. The song became the biggest pop hit of 1992, spending a record-breaking 13 weeks on top of Billboard’s the Hot 100 chart. It also marked the group’s first collaboration with songwriter Babyface, who would write several of their signature hits.

In 1993, Boyz II Men released the holiday album Christmas Interpretations, and also scored a number three hit with their a capella cover of “In The Still Of The Night,” a track from the soundtrack to the miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream.

Boyz II Men’s second official album II was released in 1994. It went on to sell 12 million copies and win the first-ever Grammy Award for Best R&B Album. The lead single “I’ll Make Love To You” spent 14 weeks at number one, breaking the group’s previous record. The song was replaced at the top of the chart by the album’s second single, “On Bended Knee,” which spent six weeks at number one. Another single, “Water Runs Dry,” reached number two.

In 1995, Boyz II Men collaborated with Mariah Carey on the song “One Sweet Day.” The ballad spent 16 weeks at number one, breaking the record previously set by Boyz II Men twice. It was the biggest hit of the 1990s, and today it still holds the record as the longest running number one in music history.

The group’s third album, Evolution, was released in 1997. It received mixed reviews and failed to achieve the same level of success as their previous albums. Nonetheless, it sold 3 million copies, and the single “4 Seasons of Loneliness” spent a week at number one. The second single, “A Song For Mama,” was the group’s last top 10 hit, peaking at number seven.

2000’s Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya was the first Boyz II Men album to be primarily written by the group itself. It went gold and failed to produce any top 40 hits, as did 2002’s Full Circle. Michael McCary, best known for his deep voice and spoken word interludes, officially retired from the group in 2003 due to a battle with scoliosis.

Boyz II Men reemerged as a trio with a pair of independent releases: 2004’s cover album Throwback, Vol. 1 and 2006’s The Remedy. Two more albums of covers, 2007’s Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA, and 2009’s Love, were released on Universal subsidiary Decca. The group went independent again on 2011’s Twenty and 2014’s Collide.

The group’s impact on popular culture cannot be overstated. Throughout the 1980s, R&B music largely existed outside the mainstream music industry. But thanks largely to the massive commercial breakthrough of Boyz II Men, R&B—and black music in general—became the dominant force in pop music throughout the 1990s and beyond.