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Boyz II Men

March 31, 2023

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According to no less an authority than the RIAA, Boyz II Men are the most commercially successful R&B group of all time. Starting with the nine-times platinum Cooleyhighharmony (1991) and the diamond platinum II (1994), they have sold ludicrous numbers of albums. Moreover, they are responsible for three of the longest-running number one pop singles -- "End of the Road," "I'll Make Love to You," and the Mariah Carey collaboration "One Sweet Day" -- and have done it as a unit of equals. In fact, their four-part harmonies blended so smoothly that most of the general public would be hard-pressed to name any of the group's individual members. And that's no reflection on their skill as singers; Boyz II Men were among the first male R&B artists to adopt the sort of hyper-technical melodic embellishments that were popularized by virtuosic divas like Whitney Houston and Carey. Their early music was indebted to new jack swing, but the group quickly found their forte in lush, soulful ballads, where their harmonies could be showcased to greatest effect. Boyz II Men haven't duplicated their incredible early-'90s commercial success, but they have remained relevant -- even as mainstream R&B has devalued vocal groups -- as a touring act with occasional studio sessions heavy on tasteful interpretations. Among their most notable later albums are Motown: A Journey Through Hitsville USA (2007), Twenty (2011), and Under the Streetlight (2017).