1998 was a good year for *NSYNC and a terrible year for boy band hair.
With news of Justin Timberlake’s long-awaited return to music and the sacred, surreal, nuclear resurrection of Destiny’s Child (is it finally below freezing in hell?), not to mention Ryan Gosling’s bombshell confession that he could’ve (should’ve) been a member of the Backstreet Boys, we’re tripping on some late ’90s/ early aughts nostalgia like “The Sopranos” is just this brand-new little show no one’s heard of, and cell phones still look like this (WEIRD! WHERE DO YOU PUT THE TWEETS?!).
And, while boy bands gave us many eternal gifts — like the muscle memory to Pavlovianly make the chompy alligator hand gesture three times every time you hear the words “bye bye bye,” and this forever-cute photo of Jon Knight hugging a golden retriever — we’re finally far enough from the olden, golden heyday of boy bands version 3 (V1 being the 1960s, Beatles; V2 being the 1970s Bee Gees and Jackson 5 era; V3 being the late 1980s — early 2000s New Kids-NSYNC-Backstreet age; and V4 is the second decade of the 21st century with One Direction and The Wanted and the new era of boy bands, if you really want to get academic about it) that we can look back and definitively LAUGH HYSTERICALLY at how horrendous all of the hair was. Like, seriously, it was actually factually deplorable.
In most boy bands, there was often one primary offender — Justin Timberlake and his fusilli Jheri curls, or Kevin Richardson and his Guy Fawkes hairstyle and matching facial hair. Usually an entire group did not commit follicular offenses as a whole. Wait, wait am I saying, that’s a total lie. Check out ALL of Color Me Badd ALL THE TIME and most of *NSYNC most of the time.
Check out some of the best worst boy band hair in our WORST BOY BAND HAIR EVER PHOTO GALLERY, and see more examples after the jump!
If bad hair were a felony punishable by prison, Backstreet Boys’ Howie Dorough would be serving life behind bars, especially for the curly mudflap.
Not even Justin Timberlake could pull off white boy cornrows. Jury’s still out the perm.
New Kids On The Block’s Jordan Knight: Very good at falsetto, very bad at hair.
Nick Carter, I do not want it that way. No one does.
To find out why the ’90s and early 2000s gave us some of the best boy band music but the most bustedly tragic boy band hair evah, we turned to the pros over at MTV Style, where associate editor Maud Deitch (she survived the Rihanna plane!) helped shed some light on why some of our all-time favorite boy band songs came from boys with such horrible hair:
“Let’s be honest: the late ’90s and early 2000s were, as far as style is concerned, pretty rough for a lot of people. People were still figuring out how to use hair gel, leftover from the ’80s (they would eventually realize that the way to use hair gel is just to not), and the collision of street wear, sportswear and rave culture was creating a really bad situation, for boy bands and people in general. I mean, Aaliyah looked amazing in track pants but Joey Fatone in overalls, a grey crew neck, superman ice piece and red manic panic-ed, spiked hair? Not so much. I mean, ski goggles were an acceptable form of fashion eyewear back then. Is there really much else that needs to be said. Also, all variety of bad hats. I have to go wash my hands now. Ugh.”
+ PHOTO GALLERY: THE WORST BOY BAND HAIR EVER!
Credit, all images, Getty