Boy bands have existed for decades, right from The Beatles in the ‘60s to today’s top boy bands, like Korea’s BTS, which is taking the pop industry by storm, and leaving floods of screaming young girls in their wake.
Often times, once a boy band has run its course, so to speak, a group member decides to go out and do his own thing. Justin Timberlake famously left NSYNC and became a massive solo artist. And while the Jonas Brothers perform together now and then, two of the three brothers have also celebrated fairly lucrative careers in music on their own. Being in a boy band can sometimes be a stepping stone to something much bigger, as these 10 successful boy band stars have proven.
10 Paul McCartney (The Beatles)
As arguably the first true boy band ever, The Beatles caused young girls in the ‘60s to scream with delight whenever the four members of the group jumped on stage to perform their catchy rock tunes. Known as one of the most influential bands in history, they weren’t so much a boy band by today’s standards (no silly choreographed dance moves for them.) But for their generation and ability to make ladies swoon, they totally qualify.
Since the group went their separate ways, Paul, a singer/songwriter, developed a lucrative career on his own. As one of the most successful composers and performers of all time, at 76, he’s still making waves in the music industry to this day.
9 Justin Timberlake (NSYNC)
It was always apparent that Justin Timberlake was one of the most talented singers and performers of this ‘90s boy band. But the more mature image, musical stylings, and killer dance moves he showed off as a solo artist in the early ‘00s proved that he really was the breakout star.
With one hit album after another, and songs that got repeated radio play, Justin took some breaks to act in between. Today, he’s won numerous awards, performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, and sold more than 32 million albums and 56 million singles, giving him the title of one of the best-selling artists in the world.
8 Ricky Martin (Menudo)
Getting his start at the young age of 12 in the Latin boy band Menudo, Martin successfully crossed over to the North American market with hit songs like “The Cup of Life” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Having sold over 70 million albums, he’s one of the best-selling Latin music artists of all time, and is credited with starting the Latin pop explosion of 1999 that has, no doubt, persisted, and grown, for the last two decades.
As if his singing talents weren’t enough, Ricky recently appeared in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story as Gianni Versace’s partner Antonio D’Amico, a role for which he was nominated for an Emmy.
7 Harry Styles (One Direction)
It’s not surprising that several of the members of this ‘10s boy band have enjoyed successful solo careers after they disbanded, given that they all originally competed on British singing competition The X Factor, and were put together by Simon Cowell to create one of the biggest boy bands of that decade.
But of the five guys, Harry has had the most success based on current net worth. He released his first album in 2017, which catapulted to the top of the charts, and experimented with acting in the successful film Dunkirk.
6 Robbie Williams (Take That)
As a member of this English boy band in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, it was Robbie’s career as a solo artist that really took him over the top.
With seven UK number-one singles to his credit, and almost every one of his 11 studio albums topping the UK charts, he has become the best-selling British solo artist in the UK, and the best-selling non-Latino in Latin America. Today, he performs at the Wynn Las Vegas, staying close to his children.
5 Zayn Malik (One Direction)
Another former member of the ‘10s boy band One Direction, Zayn, as he became known as a solo artist, auditioned as such on The X Factor along with the band’s other members. His intention was always to have his own singing career, and as first to break from the band in 2015, he switched to an alternative R&B style that seemed to better suit his voice.
Since then, he’s enjoyed a tremendous career with top hits like “Pillowtalk” and “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” The latter tune, sung with Taylor Swift, appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Fifty Shades Darker. He has been named the first British male artist to have both a debut single and album on both the UK and US charts with Mind of Mine, released in 2016.
4 Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers)
Whoever though this boy band consisting of three actual brothers disbanding would mean the end of their careers was wrong. Dead wrong. Nick, the youngest of the trio, enjoyed great success in the ‘00s, but when they went on a hiatus, Nick formed his own band and released his first album in 2010. And it has been an upward climb since then.
Now on his third studio album, his songs like “Close” and “Sucker,” and married to actor Priyanka Chopra, he’s doing just fine. In addition to singing, you can also hear him voicing the character Lou in the animated film UglyDolls.
3 George Michael (Wham!)
The ‘80s were all about Wham! and, most notably, George Michael. Catchy tunes like “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and the Christmas song “Last Christmas” made the band (well, technically a duo) a household name. But all eyes were on George. And when he released his first studio album “Faith” in 1987, complete with sunglass-wearing, shirtless performances, it was clear his career was just beginning.
He went on to have seven number-one singles in the US and eight number-ones on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Today, while he has sadly passed on, George remains on the best-selling British musicians of all time.
2 Niall Horan (One Direction)
While Simon Cowell combining the forces of four young men who auditioned for the singing competition series The X Factor proved a smart and lucrative move, it was clear that these men still yearned to be solo artists. And they’ve all done just that, with Niall being the third former One Direction-er to make this list.
When the group went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016, the Irish singer/songwriter signed on with Capitol Records and released hit singles like “This Town” and “Slow Hands” from his debut album Flicker. With two tours under his belt for the album, it charted in the top three in Ireland, the US, Australia, and the UK, and was number-one in the former two countries.
1 Ronan Keating (Boyzone)
Former member of the Irish boy band Boyzone, Ronan has released nine albums since he decided to go solo back in 1999. But his biggest success came when his single “When You Say Nothing At All” was used in the film Notting Hill.
With 20 million records sold (not including the 25 from his five years of boy band-edness), he’s used his musical talents to help others, serving as a judge and coach, respectively, on the Australian versions of The X Factor and The Voice.