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The History of Boyz II Men

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Formed in 1988 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Boyz II Men went on to become one of the most popular R&B groups of all-time. They released several hits throughout the 1990s, and these found much success as a result of their multiple-part harmonies and emotional and romantic lyrics. Boyz II Men also helped to popularize the trend of male vocal groups and were leaders of the coordinated ensembles. In this WatchMojo.com video, we take a look at the history of Boyz II Men, who were behind such singles as "On Bended Knee," "I'll Make Love to You," "Water Runs Dry," and "End of the Road".
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Transcript

Formation and Discovery


R&B group Boyz II Men formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1988. Members Nathan Morris, Marc Nelson, Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary realized they had a mutual love for singing while attending high school. They were discovered by singer Michael Bivins after they snuck backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe concert and sang a capella for him.

Foursome


Though Bivins helped them get a record deal, Nelson left before the release of the group’s debut. The classic Boyz II Men line-up was thus comprised of baritone Nathan Morris, tenor Wanya Morris, tenor Shawn Stockman and bass singer Michael McCary.

Debut


In 1991, they released the R&B and new jack swing effort Cooleyhighharmony on Motown Records, and on this record every member was featured as a lead vocalist. To describe this Grammy-winning album, the band coined the term “hip hop doo wop.” It peaked at the third position of the Billboard 200 chart and spawned two top 5 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.

"End of the Road"


However, in 1992, Boyz II Men had their biggest hit yet. The number one single “End of the Road” was co-written and produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, and appeared on the movie soundtrack for “Boomerang.” It was then included as a bonus track on the 1993 re-issued version of their debut. This song became the band’s signature tune, and turned Boyz II Men into international stars.

Second Album


Later that same year, the group released the holiday album Christmas Interpretations. Their sophomore effort II came out in 1994, and that number one effort became one of the best-selling albums of the 1990s. It yielded two number one singles, and in fact, “On Bended Knee” replaced “I’ll Make Love to You” at the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

"One Sweet Day"


The band spent the next year touring and recording with other artists. The most popular of these collaborations was 1995’s “One Sweet Day” with Mariah Carey. That single proved to be a worldwide success, and broke the record for the longest time spent at number one on the American charts at sixteen weeks.

Third Record


The Remix Collection was released that same year and was followed by Evolution in 1997. While it did manage to reach the top of the Billboard 200 chart, the disc received mixed reviews and sold fewer copies than their previous records. The R&B album featured the number one hit “Four Seasons of Loneliness.”

Tensions and Another Album


During the subsequent tour, tensions arose between the band members and the record label. In addition, health problems affected their dance routines and several performance dates. Despite these issues, they released Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya in 2000. The majority of that album was written and produced by Boyz II Men themselves. Though it was better received than their previous effort, the disc sold even less than its precursor and contained no hit singles.

McCary's Departure


Following 2001’s Legacy: The Greatest Hits Collection, Boyz II Men came out with Full Circle on Arista Records in 2002. The album did hit the top 10 of the Billboard 200, but it was their last with McCary. He dropped out of the band to attend to a spinal condition.

Covers



After a short break, the trio returned in 2004 with the R&B and soul covers album Throwback, Vol. 1. 2006 saw the release of the record The Remedy and this was followed the next year by the critically and commercially successful covers LP Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA. They released Love in 2009, and this disc featured covers of non-R&B songs.

20th Annivesary


In 2011, Boyz II Men celebrated their 20th anniversary with Twenty. The double album contained both new material and updated renditions of their classics.

R&B Legacy


Thanks to their smooth vocals, a cappella harmonies, moving ballads and millions in record sales, Boyz II Men have become the best-selling R&B group in history.
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