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Music / Boyz II Men

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L - R: Shawn, Nathan, Wanya

A'ight, check this out: one day back in Philly, four guys wanted to sing...
They came up to me, I said "What's your name?" "Boyz II Men!" Yeah, you know what I'm saying
Then I said, "All right, fellas, well let me see what you can do", and then the smart one named Wan, he said
"Yo Mike, check this out, see if this one moves you!
—The bridge to Motownphilly, as rapped by Michael Bivins
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Boyz II Men is an R&B vocal group who are well known for both their emotional ballads and their A Cappella harmonies. They also proved to be one of the most successful music acts in the '90s and helped re-popularize R&B for mainstream audiences when it saw a decline in the '80s. Their names come from the song Boys to Men by New Edition, a group that helped inspire their sound. Unlike the usual arrangement of having 1 or 2 lead singers with the other members doing backup vocals, the members of this group have all provided lead vocals on a regular basis.

Band members Nathan Morris and Marc Nelson formed the group, then known as Unique Attraction, in 1985 while they were in high school. Wanya Morris, Shawn Stockman and Michael McCary, who also attended the same high school as Morris and Nelson, also joined as permanent members. Nelson left the group after personal conflicts while the rest remained as a quartet.

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They saw success with their first album Cooleyhighharmony (1991), which had a New Jack Swing style to it, which provided the group 4 top 10 singles (including a number 1 for "End of the Road" which was placed on a reissue of the album and remains the best selling single by Motown) and would go on to be certified 9x Platinum by the RIAA as well as give them their first Grammy win. Their sophomore album II was an even bigger success, selling 12 million copies in the US alone and earned the group 2 more Grammys. Their third album, Evolution, was not as big, selling about 3 million copies though it did give the group another number 1 hit single.

Chronic back problems forced McCary to leave the group in 2003. While they in general have not been as successful in 2000s nor have they received as much marketing support as they did in their peak years, they are still actively recording albums, going on tours and making a number of media appearances over the years, typically as a nostalgia act. These have included an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Grease: Live, Dancing with the Stars, and Long Shot.

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Members

  • Nathan Morris (1988-present)
  • Shawn Stockman (1988-present)
  • Wanya Morris (1988-present)
  • Marc Nelson (1988-1989)
  • Michael McCary (1988-2003)

Discography

  • Cooleyhighharmony (1991)
  • Christmas Interpretations (1993)
  • II (1994)
  • Evolution (1997)
  • Nathan Michael Shawn Wanya (2000)
  • Full Circle (2002)
  • Throwback, Vol. 1 (2004)
  • The Remedy (2006)
  • Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (2007)
  • Love (2009)
  • Twenty (2011)
  • Collide (2014)
  • Under the Streetlight (2017)


Boyz II Men provides examples of the following:

  • Alternate Music Video: The group released two videos for "Vibin'": One featuring them recording in the studio, performing onstage, and partying, and the more well known one that shows them performing in an underground boxing ring. The latter was filmed for the song's remix, and also featured Treach, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Sean Combs, and the late Craig Mack, all of whom were guests on the remix.
  • Basso Profundo: Mike McCary has an extremely deep voice and is a very skilled singer. Shawn noted his talent during an episode of The Sing-Off after Home Free bassist Tim Foust wowed everyone with a floor-shaking end to their rendition of "Ring of Fire". Just before the show cut to commercial afterward, host Nick Lachey was talking with the other judges and Shawn noted that Mike was the only other person he knew that could both hit and sustain notes that low.
  • Boy Band: The members were quite young when they started and is primarily a group of vocalists. They have generally appealed a bit more to adult audiences though compared to other boy bands.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Michael McCary had to leave the group in 2003 due to chronic back problems caused by multiple sclerosis.
  • Celebrity Endorsement: They have done commercials for Geico Auto Insurance.
  • Christmas Songs: Did an album of them called Christmas Interpretations.
  • Cover Version: They have a few of them. Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA is a cover album of Motown songs, Love is an album that covers popular love songs that weren’t associated with R&B and Covered:Winter consists of covers from a number of popular Japanese artists.
  • Dedication: Their song "It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye" is dedicated to their tour manager in the early 90s who got murdered in 1992.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: "I Remember" talks about a friend/lover who turned on the group when they were trying to make it big, only to try and get back in their good graces when they became international stars:
    I remember when you wouldn't come around
    Now you want to be down
    Not supposed to let you back in no way
    I remember that day so well
    When you wouldn't talk to me
    Now you see me everyday on TV.
  • Greatest Hits Album: They have a couple, most notably Legacy: The Greatest Hits Collection which was initially their last album on Universal before leaving the label in 2001.
  • Grief Song: Their collaboration with Mariah Carey, "One Sweet Day" is about missing someone who died that they previously took for granted.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 2 with two different lineups. The current lineup (the Morrises and Stockman) has been intact since 2003, and they and McCary had been together from 1989 until McCary's health issues forced him to leave.
  • Lyrical Tic: 'Nay-hoooooo!"
  • Parental Love Song: "A Song for Mama"is a child to parent variant, with the singer praising his mother for raising him right and always being there for him.
  • Silly Love Songs: "I'll Make Love to You" is a good example. Their album Love consists of covers of popular love songs.
  • Spiritual Successor: Fellow R&B group New Edition were one of the biggest influences on the group, to the point that they named themselves after one of their songs. It doesn't hurt that Michael Bivins even helped groom them into superstars during the 90s.


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