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With its smooth brand of doo-wop/hip-hop, Boyz II
Men has spearheaded the renaissance of the R&B vocal group, in the process
revitalizing Motown Records (the band has become Motown's best-selling act, and
its second album, Boyz II Men II, is the label's best-selling album of all
time). The Boyz have sold over thirty million albums worldwide as of the first
half of 1997, and have managed to capture plenty of awards--not to mention
plenty of hearts--along the way.
The Boyz II Men story begins in 1988, at the Creative & Performing Arts High
School of hiladelphia, where Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, Nate Morris (no
relation), and Mike McCary first discovered that the sum of their four voices
was definitely greater than the individual parts. Besides singing at school,
they honed their harmonizing skills by singing on street corners and on subway
platforms, billing themselves as Unique Attraction. Believing that things would
start to happen for them professionally if they could just get heard by the
right person, they charmed their way backstage at a 1989 show at the
Philadelphia Civic Center, where they knew their idol, Michael Bivins (of New
Edition and Bel Biv Devoe fame) would be.
In 1992, just as the excitement over Cooleyhighharmony seemed to be dying down a
bit, the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy movie Boomerang, which featured the Boyz
II Men track "End of the Road," was released. The single hovered at No. 1 for a
phenomenal thirteen weeks, beating an eleven-week record set by Elvis Presley's
"Don't Be Cruel/Hound Dog" single back in 1956. The band's record was broken
just a few months later by Whitney Houston, whose sentimental "I Will Always
Love You" clinched the top spot for fourteen weeks. But Boyz II Men seemed
destined to hold that "most weeks at No. 1" crown: the band tied Houston's
record with the single, "I'll Make Love to You," in 1994, and then went on to
surpass it the following year with "One Sweet Day," a collaboration
with Mariah Carey that held solid at No. 1 for sixteen weeks.In October of 1993,
the Boyz released the Christmas Interpretations album, a collection of both
traditional and original Christmas songs. Their version of "Let It Snow" cracked
the Top 40 for one week, entering in at No. 32, and the album itself hit the Top
20. By the time the Boyz released Boyz II Men II in September of 1994, they had
become the poster boys for a new era of R&B music.
Their magnificent vocals provided a welcome alternative to the lip-sync trash of
Milli Vanilli and the white-boy rap of Vanilla Ice, and their looks and smooth
ways made them instant teen idols. Magazines outdid themselves trying to come up
with ways to categorize the four singers, and the results were pretty amusing:
Wanya was generally portrayed as the hyperactive one; Nate, the serious one;
Shawn, the mellow one; and Mike became known as the Barry White of his
generation. But they had already come up with their own stage personas: Mike
"Bass" McCary, Wanya "Squirt" Morris, Shawn "Slim" Stockman, and Nate "Alexander
Vanderpool" Morris (the moniker belongs to a character from Morris's favorite
Boyz II Men II was recorded in a live-in studio called Granny's House, located
in the Southwest desert . The band had attempted to record the album at home in
Philly, but found that they were too distracted by friends, family, and
neighbors to get anything accomplished. The first single from the album, "I'll
Make Love to You," was a Babyface collaboration, and it spent fourteen weeks at
No. 1. The second, "On Bended Knee," a Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis collaboration,
immediately followed the first to the top of the chart, where it camped out for
six weeks. Once again, the guys were breaking records: charting two songs
back-to-back in the No. 1 slot put the Boyz in a very small and select company
of artists who have accomplished the same feat--Elvis and the Beatles. The album
itself debuted at No. 1 in the States, becoming the first Motown album to do so
since Stevie Wonder's 1976 release Songs in the Key of Life. The record sold an
amazing six million copies worldwide during its first four months in release,
and eventually went on to sell more than eleven million copies in the U.S.
alone. Boyz II Men II was followed by The Remix Collection in November of 1995.
The album included an edgy remix of "Vibin'" that featured additional vocals
from Treach, Craig Mack, Busta Rhymes, and Method Man; it also included the No.
3-charting "Hey Lover," an LL Cool J song for which the Boyz sang backing
vocals. The band's amazing chart success and massive sales numbers were made all
the sweeter when it racked up a slew of preeminent music awards, including
Grammy, American Music, Soul Train, and NAACP Image honors. Boyz II Men
performed before Pope John Paul II during his 1995 American visit, and sang the
national anthem at the closing ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In
1996, the band was inducted into the Philadelphia Hall of Fame. Following the
release of II, the Boyz took a year-and-a-half break before commencing work on
their next album.
Three of the tracks--"Come On," "Can't Let Her Go," and "To the Limit"--were
co-written and co-produced by the ubiquitous Sean "Puffy" Combs. The Boyz
commemorated their pre-fame Unique Attraction days by including an a cappella
version of "Can You Stand the Rain," the song that first brought them to the
attention of Michael Bivins. All that remains to be seen is what records the
Boyz will break this time around.
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Boyz II Men And Kia Sorento Help A Super-Fan Serenade A Loved One Celebuzz When was the last time you were really surprised? How about the last time you got a big surprise from a legendary recording artist like Boyz II Men? If you were Stephen, winner of the Sorento Serenades with Boyz II Men contest, you had a chance to ...
Boyz II Men help fan propose Starpulse.com R&B legends Boyz Ii Men helped make a fan's proposal one to remember by serenading his girlfriend with their ballad On Bended Knee before he asked for her hand in marriage. The trio partnered with auto company Kia for the Sorento Serenades with Boyz...
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