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Where Are These 12 Boy Bands Now?

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Groups like One Direction, The Wanted, and Big Time Rush are keeping the legacy of boy bands alive, but lest we forget the previous generation of singing boys who captured our hearts, here's a look at what the boy bands of yesteryear are up to these days. (In keeping with this spirit, this piece was written while listening exclusively to the Backstreet Boys.)

1. New Edition (1978)

Harbingers of the boy bands to come, New Edition has stayed largely silent in the past few years. After the 2004 release of One Love, the group has performed sporadically at awards shows and music festivals. They are scheduled to release a comeback album, though no official date has been announced.


2. New Kids On the Block (1984)

Making the dreams of countless teenaged girls come true, in 2011 New Kids On the Block joined forces with the Backstreet Boys to tour as a super boy band, NKOTBSB. They released one self-titled album that featured songs from each individual group as well as joint recordings like “Don’t Turn Out the Lights.” The supergroup consisted of all members of both groups, save for Kevin Richardson of BSB and NKOTB’s Mark Wahlberg and Jamie Kelly, who left the group in the 1980s.


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3. Boyz II Men (1988)

After losing Michael McCary in 2003 due to his severe scoliosis, Boyz II Men continued as a threesome, releasing several albums including the cover albums Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA and Love. The group celebrated their 20th anniversary last year in style, cruising from Miami to the Bahamas and releasing Twenty, a two-CD album with a mix of original and rerecorded Boyz II Men songs.


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4. Take That (1990)

Following Robbie Williams’ return to Take That in 2010, the group’s Progress album broke records, becoming the fastest-selling album of the past century with 235,000 records selling on release day alone. They recorded the official single of the film X-Men: First Class in 2011, all while members pursued individual careers simultaneously. Gary Barlow spent two years judging on The X Factor, while Robbie Williams continued recording solo material. In 2012, Take That performed at the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, though Williams was not present as he was attending the birth of his daughter. Word on the street is that the band is working on a new record for 2013.


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5. Hanson (1992)


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Fifteen years after the release of “MMMBop,” the Hanson brothers are still making music and touring, most notably with Carly Rae Jepsen in 2012. They were also featured in the music video for Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.),” keeping an impressive schedule for brothers who, between them, now have nine children of their own.


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6. soulDecision (1993)


Notable for receiving top 40 airplay before signing a record deal, soulDecision have all but disappeared into obscurity with other groups featured on Now That’s What I Call Music! 5. Their song on the compilation, “Faded,” was also the charting single of their album No One Does It Better. After opening for Christina Aguilera and *NSYNC, they released a second album, after which David Bowman, and then Trevor Guthrie, left the group. They have remained inactive since.

7. Backstreet Boys (1993)


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Though they allegedly prefer the term “vocal harmony group” to boy band, the Backstreet Boys remain the epitome of boy band goodness to countless girls who were in the third grade in 1998. Thankfully, they have managed to stretch their career successfully over the past two decades. BSB released Never Gone in 2005, after which Kevin Richardson left the group amicably and the four remaining members put out Unbreakable, which debuted in the top ten of the Billboard charts in 2007, as did 2009’s This Is Us. In 2012, BSB announced that Richardson rejoined the group and the five would be releasing their eighth album in 2013. “It’s Christmas Time Again,” the first song to feature all five members since 2006, was released last month.


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8. *NSYNC (1995)

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*NSYNC played their last televised performance in 2003, performing a tribute to the Bee Gees at the Grammy Awards, and they made their last public performance in 2004. In his 2007 autobiography, Lance Bass cited Justin Timberlake’s solo career as the main catalyst behind the band’s demise, though they never officially announced a breakup. Comments on the band’s potential reunion from JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone remain mixed. You can catch JT every once in a while on Saturday Night Live, in the movies, or trying to revamp MySpace.

9. 98 Degrees (1996)


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The guys who gave us “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)” went on hiatus in 2002, after which, you no doubt recall, Nick Lachey married and starred in a reality TV series with Jessica Simpson. Response to rumors of a reunion between the members has been skeptical, but the band performed together twice in the past year, and reportedly they have been working on a new album—their first in 12 years.


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10. Dream Street (1999)

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The Dream Street boys broke up in 2002—and they are probably the only boy band to be disbanded by judicial decision. After a legal disagreement between their managers and their parents (which the parents lost), the boys were instructed to break up. Jesse McCartney has seen the most post-breakup success with three top ten singles and acting credits on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Summerland, and the movie Chernobyl Diaries.

11. O-Town (2000)


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Like One Direction, O-Town was formed during a reality show. Arising out of MTV’s Making the Band in 2000, the band broke up only three years later. Though several members moved on to solo careers, Ashley Parker Angel probably stayed most in the limelight with a reality TV show, a solo album, and a run as Link Larkin in the Broadway production of Hairspray. Rumors of the band reuniting sans-Angel surfaced in 2011, but thus far no album releases have been planned.

12. B2K (2001)

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After their four releases between 2002 and 2003, B2K all but disappeared. Lil’ Fizz and J-Boog launched a record label, Popular Entertainment, and J-Boog starred in You Got Served with Omarion. Omarion has continued to work on Rick Ross’ label Maybach Music Group. Raz B has reportedly written a memoir amid a stir of controversy, as it alleges molestation and homosexual acts by several prominent members of the rap community.

For 12-12-12, we’ll be posting twenty-four '12 lists' throughout the day. Check back 12 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
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They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
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English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

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