Friday, August 24, 2012

YOU CAN CALL IT A COMEBACK: 98 Degrees Is Back To Make You Swoon (Again)

I'll be honest. Back in the early 00's during the last teen pop boom in America (aka my youthful days of yore), the boys in 98 Degrees were somewhat tertiary in my boy band music listening habits. (First came *NSYNC, obviously; then came 5ive, because I was a bit of a "rebel" when I was 13; and then came soulful 98 Degrees.) However, I am proud to say I owned all three of their albums (I don't count Christmas records...and neither should you), saw them live in concert (co-headlining with Britney Spears at the New York State Fair with No Authority and my beloved PYT opening) and even owned a "JEFF" necklace from Claire's (yes, I also owned a "JUSTIN" one for my fave *NSYNCer...they probably still sell those now...except it's for a different Justin....sobs quietly).

Hence the silly grin that is plastered on my face when I hear word that the quartet will be officially reuniting for not just a one-off Today Show performance, but for potentially new music! (5ive is also on the comeback trail, so they say, but I'll take that for what it's worth because...well, it's 5ive.) This also comes on the heels of my own Twitter conversation with the real Jeff Timmons (@jefftimmons98 -- follow him now) -- not once, but twice. I know. I know.

The bros 98 officially reunited via the Today Show here in grand ol' NYC (fitting, as their last official performance as a group was also here in New York eleven years ago, just prior to 9/11). They sang a handful of their hits, including "I Do (Cherish You)" and "Because of You",  but none better than the best 98 Degrees jam of all time -- also known as "The Hardest Thing" from their sophomore album, 98 Degrees & Rising. Check it all out below:

From Left to Right: Jeff Timmons, Drew Lachey, Justin Jeffre & Nick Lachey.

Sigh. Good times, fam. It's unsurprising that they still sound good (and look good -- I mean, come on!) but perhaps this time 'round they'll work a bit more on their choreography. The 98 was always known as the soulful boy band of the early 00's (with hot bods -- remember it how you want to if 98 wasn't your boy band choice at the time, but no one else was as ripped as these dudes were), but that doesn't mean they have to model themselves after The Temptations. Let Jeff lead the way, guys -- he was a Chippendale during your time off, after all. Drew can help out, too -- he's now officially a "Dancing With the Stars" All-Star...

Any who, as all of us "seasoned" boy band lovers sit back and wait for another temperature-rising session with 98 Degrees (show us what the 98 can do!), here's my list of my fave 98 Degrees jams you might have forgotten about...

- INVISIBLE MAN - (music video here)
True fans of the group will know this song was the group's debut single back in 1997, but it was largely overshadowed to the general populace for its slick 90's slow-jam feel (by a white quartet, no less! How strange! she said sarcastically) in a market bending toward more upbeat boy band fare by the Backstreet Boys and my beloved *NSYNC. (Side Note: How sexy is this other guy if the girl in question is "not seeing" hunky Jeff or Nick? I mean, really...)

- DON'T STOP THE LOVE - (listen here)
A Boyz II Men-esque (complete with spoken intro by bass-voiced Justin) co-written by Robin Thicke.

- TRUE TO YOUR HEART (feat. Stevie Wonder) - (listen here)
Here is a Boy Band/Stevie Wonder collaboration you can stand behind (I'm looking at you, Jonas Brothers). If Stevie were to collaborate with anyone, it made the most sense to work with the 98 Bros anyhow, as they were also signed to Motown and made vocals their main spotlight. Comes complete with Stevie's trademark harmonica playing. It was also featured on the soundtrack to Disney's Mulan right alongside pre-"Genie" Christina Aguilera's "Reflection".

- HEAT IT UP - (listen here)
Why this wasn't a single, I don't know, and I still lament it -- but I do know it was an immediate and instant favorite to my ears when I coped 98 Degrees & Rising in 1999. It also hinted to their push toward more up-tempo material in the boy band-soaked market of 2000. It was also produced by the TrackMasters and is HIGHLY reminiscent of their other main hit at around that time -- Will Smith's "Miami". I'll always be down for this version of 98 Degrees.

- THE WAY YOU WANT ME TO - (music video here)
I desperately wanted this to be the single to follow up 2000's "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)" (which went on to actually be their biggest hit) instead of the mushy ballad "My Everything" that Nick wrote about a certain now ex-wife of his that I remain to be quite fond of. Instead, it became single #3 and never charted on the Hot 100. Oh well, another loss for the American public. This one is ever relevant for that acapella-ish intro alone. As for the video -- good gravy, could this be any funnier? A video game concept. That's a good idea. (Sigh.) Oh well - as least the fact that Nick and Jeff were shirtless made "sense" (no complaints from the peanut gallery there).

- DIZZY - (listen here)
A Revelation album track that was hyped to fans because it was co-written by Drew, and actually features him singing lead vocals for a change. I liked it then because of that sizzling, urgent, swirly backbeat that sounds oh-so-very 00's boy band pop (think *NSYNC's "It's Gonna Be Me" with power punched chord changes). I like it now because I love the dark, smoked-out, sensual vocals. Oh, and it has a "rap" by Justin. What's up, KPOP?

- HE'LL NEVER BE... (WHAT I USED TO BE TO YOU) - (listen here)
Let's label this as a note of caution to all of the girls (and boys) who came to age during the late 90's/early 00's teen pop boom and are just like me -- indulging in the boy bands/teen pop(/KPOP) of now, but often comparing it to how it used to be. Another early favorite from the Revelation album that never became a single, this one was co-written by my 98Hubby Jeff. Best Part? That bridge.


JeniLee said...

I like some of your faves but I gotta add a few

If She Only Knew
Chance to Love You More
That Someone for You
Yesterdays Letter
The Way You Do
And of course Because of You!

Lilly said...

i am very pleased with this post :P

VforVera said...

Muwahahaha I was a BSB and a 98 degrees fan. Recently saw the NKOTBSBS concert last year for my BSB. I'm a diehard BSB fan, but I loved the late 90s boyband craze. Those were some solid pop music days.

One of my favorite songs from 98 Degrees is "My Everything." And you know what's better than Donghae, my current bias, and one of my fave boybands?

My bias covering 98 Degrees. You should check out Donghae's cover of "My Everything," he sang it for his father. I know, *tears*

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