The group, which was formed in 1988, has released eight studio albums and eighteen top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Their first album, Cooleyhighharmony, was certified platinum by the RIAA.
Boyz II Men is a Grammy Award-winning American R&B vocal group from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They are known for their harmonies and high falsettos.
Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They sold a lot of albums and were engaged in three of the longest-running number one pop songs in history, and they did it as a group. In fact, their four-part harmonies harmonized so well that most people would have a hard time identifying any of the band’s individual members. Boyz II Men were among the first male R&B performers to embrace the hyper-technical melodic flourishes favored by virtuoso divas like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, and this isn’t a comment on their vocal ability. Its early work was influenced by new jack swing, but the trio soon discovered their calling card in rich, lyrical ballads, where their harmonies could shine. Boyz II Men haven’t replicated their early-’90s commercial success, but they’ve stayed relevant as a touring act with occasional recording sessions focused on sophisticated interpretations, even as mainstream R&B has devalued vocal groups.
Boyz II Men was founded in 1987 in the High School of the Creative and Performing Arts in Philadelphia. Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson, founding members, have been singing together for many years but had difficulty keeping a group together owing to people graduating. When they teamed up with Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman, and bass singer Michael McCary, everything eventually settled down. The quintet, known as Unique Attraction, put on a well-received Valentine’s Day performance for their school and built a repertoire that included a lot of New Edition songs (one of which, “Boys to Men,” gave them their name). In 1989, they sneaked backstage at a Bell Biv DeVoe performance and impressed group member Michael Bivins (also a former New Edition member and a rising music entrepreneur) with an a cappella rendition of New Edition’s “Can You Stand the Rain.” Bivins offered them a contract right then and there, but Nelson refused to be a part of it due to personality issues, and he left shortly after (he later resurfaced as a member of Az Yet).
Boyz II Men went into the studio as a foursome to create their first album, Cooleyhighharmony, for Motown Records. They called their sound “hip-hop doo wop” because of the new jack production that was popular at the time, but as a vocal harmony trio, they were more indebted to R&B from the 1960s and 1970s. Cooleyhighharmony debuted in 1991, and its first single, the uptempo dance tune “Motownphilly,” shot to the top of the charts, reaching number five in pop and number one in R&B on the route to platinum sales. The a cappella ballad “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” a rendition of a song from the film Cooley High, also charted in the pop Top Five, topped the R&B chart, and was certified gold. Meanwhile, the album was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. In 1992, Boyz II Men joined MC Hammer on his Too Legit to Quit tour, but tragedy struck when tour manager Khalil Roundtree was fatally murdered in Chicago. “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” was re-dedicated to him by the band.
Despite the tragedy, Boyz II Men had enjoyed an incredibly successful start to their career. Nothing, however, could have predicted the group’s Midas touch in the coming years. Boyz II Men recorded a silky Babyface ballad called “End of the Road” for the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy film Boomerang while briefly visiting the studio in between tour performances. When it was released as a single, it became not just a smash success, but one of the all-time greats, spending 13 weeks at the top of the pop charts, breaking Elvis Presley’s previous record of 11 weeks set in 1956 with the double-sided single “Don’t Be Cruel.” “Hound Dog,” according to https://www.allmusic.com. While working on their next album, Boyz II Men released a pair of placeholders: a Top Five version of the Five Satins’ doo wop hit “In the Still of the Nite,” from the TV movie The Jacksons: An American Dream, and the holiday album Christmas Interpretations. (That same year, Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” set a new record by spending 14 weeks at number one, breaking “End of the Road’s” record.)
Even though it didn’t contain “End of the Road,” the post-“End of the Road” hype helped make Boyz II Men’s second album, II, an immediate hit when it was released in 1994. II, which was produced by Babyface, Jimmy Jam, and Terry Lewis instead of Bivins (who wanted to focus on producing new singers), debuted at number one and went on to sell over 12 million copies. The first song, “I’ll Make Love to You” (also written by Babyface), soared to the top of the charts, matching Houston’s short-lived record with 14 weeks at the top — an incredible accomplishment in and of itself, but all the more remarkable by the fact that the group had previously established the record. Furthermore, the follow-up song, “On Bended Knee,” actually supplanted “I’ll Make Love to You” at number one for a six-week run; only Elvis Presley and the Beatles had ever done so. “Thank You” was a failure, just reaching the pop Top 20, but “Water Runs Dry” got them back into the Top Five, just missing out on number one. Boyz II Men spent most of 1995 traveling in promotion of II in the United States and abroad, as well as opening their own recording facility. They spent some time working with other artists, including Wanya Morris and Brandy on the song “Brokenhearted,” and the whole group sang on Michael Jackson’s “History” and LL Cool J’s “Hey Lover.” The greatest hit, though, was “One Sweet Day,” a duet with Mariah Carey. “One Sweet Day,” featuring two of the industry’s greatest chart powerhouses, was practically a guaranteed success, spending 16 weeks at number one on the pop chart after debuting there in December 1995; it was Boyz II Men’s third such record-setting song.
In late 1995, Motown published The Remix Collection, over the group’s concerns, and in retribution, Boyz negotiated a distribution agreement with Sony, not Motown, for their new vanity label, Stonecreek. It was the start of a bad relationship that only became worse when Boyz II Men’s second album, Evolution, was released in 1997. The album debuted at number one and sent “4 Seasons of Loneliness” to the same spot on the singles charts; its Top Ten follow-up, “A Song for Mama,” became Boyz II Men’s sixth platinum hit. However, since Motown was unable to put its full promotional strength behind the album (perhaps due to the label’s transfer to a new president), Evolution didn’t have the same longevity as II, selling just two million copies. Wanya Morris suffered a benign polyp on his vocal chords, forcing the group to postpone portions of their support tour. However, he completely recovered, and the group’s contract was moved from Motown to Universal in early 1999, amid significant record industry mergers.
Boyz II Men took more responsibility over composition and production for their upcoming album, handling a larger portion of each by themselves. Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya, the album that resulted, was released in 2000, went gold, and generated a minor success in the form of “Pass You By.” Following that, the band signed with Arista Records. Boyz II Men continued their refined approach with the appropriately named Full Circle, released in summer 2002. Michael McCary quit the band in 2003 due to scoliosis issues. Throwback, an album of covers of their favorite songs, was released in 2004 by the surviving members. The Remedy, their 2006 album, was originally exclusively accessible in Japan until it was published on the band’s official website a year later. In 2007, Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA, a tribute CD, was also published. Randy Jackson’s production was included, as well as an a cappella rendition of “End of the Road.” Jackson returned as producer of their third all-covers album, Love, two years later. Covered: Winter, another Japanese album, included Japanese hit covers.
Boyz II Men continued to perform and record throughout the 2010s, with backing from a variety of indie and big labels. In 2011, the band released Twenty, a compilation of new songs and re-recordings to commemorate their 20th anniversary. Collide, a stylistically varied collection of originals composed by colleagues, was released three years later. In 2017, Sony Masterworks released Under the Streetlight, which included three songs produced with longtime collaborator Brian McKnight and one with veteran vocal group Take 6.
The boyz ii men albums is a group of four American singers and songwriters. Formed in the late 1970s, they rose to fame during the Motown era as part of the popular vocal group New Edition.
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