No single musical act owned the year 1994, but if one came the closest, it might have been Boyz II Men. The R&B quartet was absolutely inescapable 20 years ago thanks in part to its single “I’ll Make Love To You,” which spent 14 weeks on the Hot 100 chart and was eventually replaced by… its follow-up single, Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee.” The group’s sophomore album, II, was released in August 1994, and eventually helped Boyz II Men become the biggest-selling R&B group of the SoundScan era, with 24.9 million albums sold.
Looking back on the group’s run in 1994, Boyz II Men’s Nathan Morris says that “a lot of it was a blur, which really sucks. I think it was a blur because all we wanted to do was focus on singing, and being the best singers we could possibly be. We didn’t partake in a lot of the other things that came along with what most superstars and entertainers did. We were kind of like robots to a degree, musically and creatively.”
The amazing part of Boyz II Men’s success with II, which has sold 8.6 million copies to date according to Nielsen SoundScan, is that the group’s previous album, 1991’s Cooleyhighharmony, was nearly as massive, selling 7 million copies. “It was nuts,” Morris admits. “You had two colossal albums like that, back-to-back.” And while “I’ll Make Love To You” and “On Bended Knee” were dominating the charts well into 1995, the quartet of Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Michael McCary (McCary has since left the group) toured the globe with few breaks to return to Philly.
“We were around the world literally for almost two years and never came home,” says Morris. “We were a lot younger then, so we didn’t really care. Two hours of sleep, and keep it moving!”
Boyz II Men has continued delivering silky R&B music to longtime fans — a new album, Collide, is due out this fall — but will likely never replicate the dazzling run of 1994, in which they tossed out love songs that have endured for decades. “’94 was definitely huge for us,” says Morris. “I don’t think there was a day in that year that something wasn’t going on. It was almost like there was something brand new, every single day.”