Jumping from boy band fame to solo stardom is a complex process: once a cog in a well-oiled machine, an artist is being asked to command the spotlight in ways he has never had to before. Many boy band members have attempted the leap, and while some have crashed and burned, others have soared by revealing sides of themselves previously hidden.
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The past 20 years have included a handful of professional narratives concerning the solo careers of former boy band members — here are 10 of the most memorable:
Here’s how you handle post-boy band solo superstardom: release a debut album full of R&B-leaning, MJ-evoking dance hits; bring sexyback with the help of an all-star producer; wait a few years, goof around on SNL and make everyone yearn for your return; then release an indulgent double-album full of love songs that somehow elude cornball status. Toss in a few film roles and a handful of blockbuster tours, and Justin Timberlake is currently the best-case scenario for a boy band member’s second act.
Nick Jonas released an album as the leader of Nick Jonas & the Administration in 2010, but it took him a full five years away from the Jonas Brothers‘ 2009 album Lines, Vines and Trying Times to establish a full profile as a viable solo artist. With 2014’s self-titled solo album, which included the Top 20 hits “Jealous” and “Chains,” the youngest JoBro has set himself up as a multi-dimensional leading man in pop, and has fans worshiping him at sold-out shows.
Although JC Chasez was the co-leader of one of the most successful boy bands ever, he never achieved the solo stardom enjoyed by his *N SYNC cohort Justin Timberlake. Chasez released one solo album, Schizophrenic, in 2004, and while the LP included the underrated pop jam “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love),” the singer-songwriter never found his niche and eventually moved on to writing and producing for other acts.
Jordan Knight has flirted with solo fame over the past 15 years, ever since his 1999 self-titled debut included the breakout hit “Give It To You,” co-written by a young Robin Thicke. Since then, Knight has dutifully rejoined New Kids on the Block whenever the group has reformed for an album or tour, although two more solo albums and a collaborative full-length with Nick Carter have slaked the thirst of Jordan fans.
The youngest member of New Kids on the Block attempted to break out with his 1999 solo album Stay The Same, which included a Top 10 hit in the title track, and tour with a fresh-faced Britney Spears that year. McIntyre continued releasing solo material and dabbling in the film/TV world before reuniting with NKOTB in 2008; he also randomly popped up in a bit role in the 2013 action-comedy The Heat.
The former leader of B2K moved on to solo hits like “O,” “Touch” and “Ice Box” after marking boy band smashes like “Bump Bump Bump” and “Uh Huh.” In the 2010’s, Omarion has remade himself as a member of Rick Ross‘ Maybach Music Group roster, recently scoring the Top 20 hit “Post To Be,” featuring Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko.
Although Take That never became a stateside phenomenon, he did dent the U.S. charts a few times as a solo artist — while, of course, becoming a much bigger icon across the pond. His 1997 debut Life thru a Lens was followed by his proper American debut, 1999’s The Ego Has Landed, which contained the modest hit “Millenium”; Williams has spent much of the new millennium releasing hit albums and filling European arenas.
Following Backstreet Boys‘ run of chart dominance to kick off the 2000’s, Nick Carter expressed interest in embarking on a solo career, and the album Now or Never came out in 2002. Carter never collected a solo hit to rival the biggest BSB tracks, although a second album, 2011’s I’m Taking Off, was moderately successful overseas.
Nick Lachey has managed a certain degree of relevancy long after 98 Degrees cooled off, thanks in part to television opportunities like Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica and a hosting stint on The Sing-Off. It’s worth remembering, however, that Lachey did accrue a solo smash with “What’s Left of Me,” from his 2006 solo album of the same name.
The breakout member from O-Town toyed with solo success thanks to the single “Let U Go,” then headed to Broadway for a supporting role in Hairspray. O-Town reformed in 2011, but Angel declined to participate, opting to focus on “the next chapter of my career.”