25. One Direction
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One Direction was fully a ‘thing’ for roughly six years. However during this time, the English group exploded into homes of virtually every tween on the planet. It offered the classic boy band set up of two guys (Harry Styles, Zayn Malik) standing out from the rest. It also was a group rooted in turmoil — as Malik left to become a solo artist. The group of 20-somethings have sold over 50 million records worldwide.
24. The Pussycat Dolls
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One may be surprised to see The Pussycat Dolls within this list. However, we must recognize how successful they’ve been as a group. For seven years, the group led by Nicole Scherzinger released such hits as “Don’t Cha” and “Buttons”. Additionally, The Pussycat Dolls are one of the best-selling female-centric music groups ever (with nearly 55 million records sold across the globe). There are rumors that the group may reunite for more opportunities down the line.
23. The Kinks
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The Kinks never really broke out commercially compared to other groups of the time (such as The Beatles). With that said, The Kinks are wildly significant to the pop genre as a whole. Their influence sits with music today. Essentially, this precursor band set the stage for The Beatles to become…well…The Beatles. Led by Ray Davies, the group dabbled in a number of different genres to find their own sound. “You Really Got Me” and “A Well Respected Man” are both triumphs of the highest order.
22. Bangtan Boys (BTS)
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BTS (Bangtan Boys) may not be well known within the United States. However, the seven-man group from South Korea is a world phenomena. Beginning in 2013, they are essentially the headliners within the famed K-pop iteration. BTS became the first South Korean group to go Platinum in the United States. They also are trailblazers from the standpoint of being the first South Korean band to feature at the No. 1 spot for Billboard. Perhaps more than anything, they’re bringing Korean music to the world in a huge way.
21. Jonas Brothers
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The group of real-life brothers paired together to become one of the most successful music entities over the last 15 years. Though their demographic originally targeted children and young adults, the Jonas sound has since evolved into a more mature feel. After a lengthy hiatus, the group bounded back together in March of 2019 with a single entitled “Sucker”.
20. New Edition
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Of course, we’d be remiss if we don’t mention one of the hottest pop bands from the ’80s. We’ll opt to call New Edition a pop band despite elements of R&B intertwined within their musical construct. New Edition was a group chock-full of energy “Candy Girl” quickly became a hit worldwide. The most noteworthy member of the crew was Bobby Brown (who later went on to marry Whitney Houston).
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Much like New Edition (and many of the bands within this list), TLC is a pop band with heavy elements emanating from another genre (Hip-Hop). For over a decade, TLC elated fans with anthems such as “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls”. When speaking of pop music, something must be said about the long lasting ability for any band to stay relevant within pop culture. 25 years later, you’ll still hear TLC songs being blasted at both bars and clubs. This is a sign of both universal respect and supreme talent.
18. No Doubt
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Throughout the ’90s, No Doubt exploded onto a number of emerging music platforms (such as MTV). Led by Gwen Stefani’s movie star looks and raw energy, No Doubt went from a lowly Southern California band to a mainstream entity. The sound of the group also shifted, as it went from more ska to pop as the band gained commercial success. “Don’t Speak” and “Hella Good” are two of those tracks most associated with the band. In the mid-2000s, No Doubt won two Grammy Awards (as well as five MTV Video Music Awards).
17. A Flock of Seagulls
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A Flock of Seagulls is the quintessential ’80s synth-pop band from England. Everything they did was both rhythmic and calculated. The band had a clear direction, and routinely executed when attempting to entertain fans. Hailing from Liverpool, A Flock of Seagulls won a Grammy for the song “D.N.A.”. However, the group’s most known song — and one which suffices as an iconic karaoke tune — is “I Ran (So Far Away)”. One can still hear this song routinely utilized in television and film.
16. Destiny’s Child
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Much of Destiny Child’s fame stems from Beyonce’s larger-than-life persona. As a young performer, Queen Bey got her start with the group based out of Houston. The trio of Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams achieved crazy success. This included earning 14 Grammy nominations, winning two Grammy Awards, and the selling of over 60 million records across the world. “Survivor”, “Say My Name”, and Bootylicious” will forever be associated with the group.
15. New Kids On The Block
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New Kids on the Block are one of those bands that essentially continue to live off of a ridiculously high peak. During the ’80s, few boy bands were as successful as NKOTB. The duo of Joey McIntyre and Donnie Wahlberg often stole the show — though the Knight Brothers (Jonathan and Jordan) also had their loyal fans. Despite never winning a Grammy, NKOTB have sold over 80 million records worldwide since their debut in 1984.
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Capitalizing upon the trendy synth-pop from the ’80s in England, the Eurythmics were highly important to the growth of the genre. Annie Lennox had a bravado few matched on stage. She was unapologetic and all the while passionate when performing. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) turned the band into a known commodity across the world. As a group, the Eurythmics have sold 75 million records.
13. Ace of Base
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For nearly 25 years, Swedish band Ace of Base was a heavy fixture within the airwaves both in Europe and in the United States. In fact, Ace of Base’s introductory album — The Sign — went Platinum nine times in the United States. This album itself sold more than 23 million times. As such, it’s one of the best-selling albums in the history of music. “Don’t Turn Around”, “The Sign”, and “All That She Wants” each would’ve been singles on any other album. Instead, all three hits featured on the same album.
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During the ’90s boy band craze, you were either a Backstreet Boys fan, or an ardent supporter of *NSYNC. While (in my opinion) the Backstreet Boys made better music, *NSYNC was more popular — largely based upon their creative music videos, and the stylings of front man Justin Timberlake. To give one an indication of how popular the band was, *NSYNC sold over one million copies of No Strings Attached in a single day. Collectively, estimates indicate the band selling close to 70 million records over its eight-year run.
11. Depeche Mode
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For nearly 40 years, Depeche Mode has been crushing the pop scene with hit after hit. Pairing pop elements with electronic music, the English band became a sensation in a rather quick amount of time. In fact, much of the ’80s music scene can be categorized by Depeche Mode’s prolific nature. In total, the group has sold more than 100 million records since 1980. The band’s potency has influenced a number of big-time bands (such as Coldplay, Arcade Fire, Chvrches, and Muse).
10. Backstreet Boys
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The height of boy band hysteria during the 1990s largely sat with the Backstreet Boys. A harmonious group where the whole was greater than the sum of its parts, BSB didn’t rely upon a figurehead with star power. Instead, it developed songs which could be relatable to a number of different generations. Those songs eventually were commercialized, blasted all over the radio, and sung to millions via many worldwide tours. There’s something to be said about BSB’s duration as a group. In 2019, the album entitled DNA featured No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
9. Maroon 5
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The pop rock genre has exploded into one of the most popular genres around the world. We clump Maroon 5 into the pop realm because, well, nothing about Adam Levine really screams “rock” to us. This largely is due to his softer voice and lighter lyrics. The Los Angeles-based group has won three Grammy Awards since 2011 (and have been nominated for eight more in total). Four of Maroon 5’s singles have hit the No. 1 spot on the charts. Very few bands can boast that claim.
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Led by Debbie Harry, Blondie also sat in the realm of pop rock. The band should be lauded for its ability to be experimental. Blondie wasn’t afraid to explore a sound emanating from a number of different arenas. As such, it resulted in Blondie selling more than 40 million records globally. “Heart of Glass” represented the general transition in music from the end of the ’70s to the more atypical feel of the 1980’s.
7. Duran Duran
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Around the same time Blondie was emerging, U.K. band Duran Duran was emerging as one of pop’s most respected groups. 14 of the band’s singles made it within the top-10 of the charts. Pairing melancholy themes with upbeat accompaniments, Duran Duran simply appealed to the masses in a real way. The band’s mastery of synth-pop enabled them to sell over 100 million records (a mark the band is still improving upon currently).
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Since 1996, Coldplay has evolved into one of the world’s most popular band. Lead singer Chris Martin (as seen above) does a smashing job at involving crowds with Coldplay’s eclectic, energetic performances. Though initially a band featuring sad ballads, Viva la Vida transformed the group into an all-out pop entity. Much of their performances are light, vibrant, and highly entertaining. To date, Coldplay has sold upwards of 100 million records.
5. The Spice Girls
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The United States enjoyed “The British Invasion” towards the late ’60s. In the 1990’s, the U.S. played host to another form of U.K. brilliance in the form of the Spice Girls. Cool, catchy, and powerful, the five-woman group enjoyed a crazy-hot stretch of success. Spice — the group’s debut album — was the best-selling album by a female group in the history of music (31 million copies). Duly, “Wannabe” went No. 1 in nearly 40 countries around the world. Plus…how many other bands can hold the distinction of having a movie (Spice World) made after the group?
4. The Beach Boys
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Think of a time where you’re lounging out on the beach — perhaps sipping a piña colada as you look out at the crystal blue water. The perfect music to accompany this sanguine environment will likely be rhythmic, catchy, and possess somewhat of a softer sound. This is The Beach Boys in a nutshell. Though the band utilized a number of elements from other genres, the band is a purely pop group. Created in 1961, the group has sold over 100 million records. The band — sometimes with John Stamos of all people — continues to perform today.
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ABBA enjoyed a 10-year run from the early ’70s to the early portion of the 1980’s. The Swedish band became not only a hit within the United States, but conclusively around the world as well. There are estimates which indicate ABBA selling potentially up to 500 million records across the globe. Aside from the countless amounts of number-one hits, ABBA essentially is recognized as the first band from a non-English speaking country to dominate the charts in all English-speaking locations
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Staying relevant after nearly 50 years of existence is what makes Queen such a giant. A multitude of Queen songs are embedded within the fabric of today’s pop culture scene. Look no further than this year’s Oscar-nominated film, Bohemian Rhapsody. Lead actor Rami Malek won the Oscar for Best Actor after portraying the enigmatic Freddie Mercury. Musically-speaking, Brian May and John Deacon were geniuses. Mercury also boasts one of the most iconic voices ever created. We also have the song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” — a piece of art which will be revered for millenniums to come.
1. The Beatles
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Was there really going to be another choice for the top spot other than The Beatles? The Liverpudlian band has smashed countless records as it pertains to record sales. From a content standpoint, all four members (Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison) have produced thought-provoking songs — which also are filled with utter brilliance. As the annals of music continue to get thicker and thicker, The Beatles will stand out as one of the best musical entities of all-time.