YouTube rabbit holes can be dangerous. You think about one thing, it sparks another, and by the end of the night who knows what you could be watching. That happened to me recently with boy band music videos. Which, I know, sounds a little weird. But if you grew up in the 1980s or ‘90s and listened to pop music, boy bands were the Thing, and so my wife and I carry a lot of nostalgia for the times of NKOTB, BSB, BBD, and the like.
After watching a few videos that brought me right back to those TRL days I realized something: while most boy band videos are kind of cheesy and romantic, some are...kind of amazing. Monsters and space ships and creepy puppets. These bands were so popular, they could afford to go really weird and genre with their videos sometimes.
The result of that rabbit hole I fell down is this list. I wanted to put as many sci-fi, fantasy, and horror videos from boy bands together and see which ones stood out. Here’s what I found.
Of the videos on this list, here’s the only one that I don’t actually like (sorry!). In fact, it’s admittedly only on the border of sci-fi and genre. However, I know that the K-pop group BTS is the most popular boy band out there today, and because I thought, “I’m sure they’ve done something like the boy bands before them,” I found myself watching a bunch looking for a hint of horror or fantasy. This was the only one that kind of stood out. The members are in a house that looks like Saw, the floor falls away, and while that’s kind of it, it’s certainly more genre than their other videos. Nevertheless, it’s not a very good one.
Yes. “Liquid Dreams” means what you think it does. I didn’t say these songs were appropriate. In fact, it’s almost a parody of boy band songs of the era. Something that would’ve fit better in Josie and the Pussycats than be legitimately real. It’s a quintessential, bad, but kinda good, boy band song. And still, the liquid metal setting feels much more influenced by Terminator 2 than anyone’s nocturnal emissions. So we’ll say it’s sci-fi lite.
First things first: this song rules. It’s so catchy, and now, I’m sorry, it’s going to be in your head all day. While the video is not technically “sci-fi” since the 1D boys don’t actually go to space, they do dress up as astronauts and sing next to space shuttles. If they went to space, this one would’ve torn up the charts. Well, this chart, specifically. But they don’t, so here it sits.
What does the idea of N’Sync as puppets being sent to different realities have to do with the content of the song? No one knows and no one cares. It’s fun to watch nevertheless, the song is an all-timer, plus the Inception-esque sets with the band members walking on the walls and ceilings is a bonus too.
These days, this song is best known for Justin Timberlake’s questionable pronunciation of “me” as “May,” but the song’s upbeat tempo and catchy hook are undeniable. The idea of the members as doll versions of themselves (and utilizing strings again) is creepy, but the makeup is good and the almost Pinocchio nature of the story is kind of funny. In a way, it’s an upgrade to what they did in “Bye Bye Bye” a few months earlier.
Any song that talks about Star Wars and Flux Capacitors is OK in my book, but this old school Jonas Brothers song is much, much more than that. It has time travel. It has futuristic costume changes. And it’s actually about time travel while also being wildly catchy. The Jonas Brothers flirted with fantasy in lots of their videos but this one is the best.
They may call themselves “boys” but Backstreet are the kings of the sci-fi music video. It starts with this excellent one, which is filled with all manner of spaceships, mech suits, heads up displays, and other cool sci-fi stuff. The video even opens with an homage to the opening of Star Wars. If only “Larger Than Life” had a more complete throughline, like the number one song on this list, it could have taken that spot.
“Everybody” is everything. It’s the Backstreet Boys fully committing to a bit in the same way Michael Jackson did with “Thriller”—the extended opening gave us a bit of story, plus there were the incredible makeup effects and the huge, beautiful sets. Truly it’s just an incredible music video and snapshot of a time and space in the early 2000s when boy bands ruled. It also doesn’t hurt that the video and song were so gleefully referenced in Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s This Is the End. All of which adds up to our favorite sci-fi boy band video ever.
Did we miss any? Are we totally clueless? Tell us below. [Editor’s Note: My pick? “I Love U So Much (It’s Scary)” by Boys 4 Now, which may or may not be a parody of one of the videos on this list... - Jill P.]
For more, make sure you’re following us on our Instagram @io9dotcom.