We’re less than two weeks into 2018 and, already, it shaping up to be a pretty amazing year. Why? Well, mostly because Justin Timberlake is blessing us with new music and a tour. On Friday, Jan. 5, the pop crooner, 36, released the music video for “Filthy,” the lead single from his upcoming album, Man of the Woods. And while it’s not my favorite JT song ever, I have to admit that I am still amazed by his undeniable star power — nearly 16 years after he left ‘NSYNC to pursue a solo career.
Since then, Justin has released four studio albums, which have spawned 17 Top 10 Billboard hits – with five hitting the coveted No. 1 spot. The Mickey Mouse Club alum has also won 10 Grammys for his musical efforts without JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Lance Bass. Obviously, this man was meant to be on his own.
Reflecting on Mr. Timberlake’s achievements as a solo act got me thinking about other boy band members who’ve tried taking the same route. Some teen heartthrobs found similar success to Justin’s, but there were several others who should’ve stuck with their groups for good. Here, Life & Style ranks the best (and most devastating) solo careers of former boy banders.
1) Justin Timberlake (Best)
Not surprisingly, Justin tops the list. While I’m still salty over his use of a Britney Spears lookalike in his exploitative 2002 breakup anthem “Cry Me a River” — sorry, but the Holy Spearit comes before anyone (even if she did reportedly cheat on Justin with Wade Robson) — I can’t sit here and say I haven’t purchased each and every one of his albums. And, of course, I’ve watched his music videos a million times on YouTube. Plus, his January 2003 cover of Rolling Stone still remains my ultimate definition of #bodygoals. Justin is a superstar. And every boy bander looking to make a break better take notes from this guy.
2) Omarion (Best)
TBH, B2K sounds like Kidz Bop compared to Omarion’s catalog of solo hits. After splitting from the group in 2003, the sexy R&B star honed in on his personal sound — and is still dropping grade-A bops to this day. He’s released five albums on his own, and is set to drop his sixth effort, Reasons, sometime this year. The LP’s first single (and video), “Distance,” is fire. Do yourself a favor and check it out above.
3) Nick Lachey (Best)
Though I am living for the fact that 98 Degrees is still together, the group’s lead singer, Nick Lachey, can definitely hold his own. The handsome vocalist has several solo albums and a handful of hits under his belt. In 2003, he dropped SoulO, which featured the emotional ballad “This I Swear,” aka the theme song for MTV’s Newlyweds, on which he starred alongside now-ex-wife Jessica Simpson. (So many nostalgia feels RN!) And then, in 2006, he released his sophomore album, What’s Left of Me. Its titular first single described Nick’s earth-shattering divorce from Jessica. Try and watch the video (which, oddly enough, starred Nick’s now-wife, Vanessa Lachey) without crying. I dare you.
4) JC Chasez (Best)
OK, he ain’t no Justin, but ‘NSYNC’s JC released a few tunes in the early 2000s that were lit AF. Remember 2002’s “Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)” from the Drumline soundtrack? It was flawless. Then, in 2004, JC dropped his first — and, sadly, only — solo album, Schizophrenic, which included sexually charged jams like “Some Girls (Dance With Women)” and “All Day Long I Dream About Sex.”
5) Liam Payne (Best)
I had not one f–k to give about One Direction when they were together, but Liam Payne sure got my attention when he dropped “Strip That Down” in June 2017. First of all, he’s a total smoke show in the video. And you can’t help but run to the dance floor whenever you hear this song in the clurb. Since releasing “Strip That Down,” Liam has dropped several other one-off singles, including “Get Low,” “Bedroom Floor,” and “For You,” which are also superb. I needed a full-length album, like, yesterday.
Alright, hate to do this, but now it’s time to talk about the boys who missed the mark. There’s only a few who I feel need to be called out…
1) Nick Carter (Worst)
Regardless of my loyalty to ‘NSYNC, I would like to make it clear that I would never condemn one’s career simply because they were part of the Backstreet Boys. With that said, Nick Carter was never meant to be a solo artist. I could hardly get through his 2002 LP, Now or Never, let alone its first single, “Help Me.” He was trying to do the pop-rock thing which, like, was only working for Avril Lavigne at the time. Nick’s gloriously whiny voice — and that’s not meant to be sarcastic; I actually love his tone — is much better suited for intoxicatingly catchy radio hits penned by Max Martin.
2) Ashley Parker Angel (Worst)
The breakout star of O-Town — who declined the band’s invitation to reunite in 2011 — also pulled a Nick Carter, and attempted to tap into the pop-rock moment in 2006…which was also just not working for him. (Sorry fellas, but no one does Avril like Avril!) Anyway, Ashley Parker Angel’s debut album, The Soundtrack to Your Life, wasn’t as bad as Nick’s Now or Never. Its one saving grace was its angsty first single, “Let U Go,” which I occasionally still listen to. But the hair from the music video? OMG, tragic. On the bright side, APA is ridiculously hot now — and frequently shares shirtless selfies on Instagram that have inspired many liquid dreams of mine.
3) Harry Styles (Worst)
I only have three words for the One Direction frontman’s solo efforts: I don’t care.