One Direction, The Wanted VMA Rivalry Recalls Old-School Backstreet, 'NSYNC Battles

Ahead of the VMAs, MTV News looks back at another boy-band craze from a decade ago.

It's a big year for boy bands at the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. With both performers One Direction and presenters The Wanted up for Moonmen, it's kind of like Y2K all over again.

About a decade ago, there were two other boy bands also making waves and setting girls' hearts aflutter. Those guys? Backstreet Boys and 'NSYNC. Back in the late '90s and early aughts, two groups of heartthrobs ruled the world, the charts and, of course, the VMAs. With both the Wanted and One Direction being newbies to the VMAs, they still have a lot of catching up to do to approach the VMA magnitude of their predecessors.

Between BSB and 'NSYNC, the groups have a combined nine awards (two for BSB, seven for 'NSYNC) and five performances (two for BSB and three for 'NSYNC). So, before One Direction and the Wanted storm the Staples Center on September 6, they might want to take some notes on what their precursors did all those years ago.


The Backstreet Boys kicked off the last VMA boy-band craze in 1998, when they took home the Best Group Video for their creepy "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" video. That same year they also took the stage to perform the track.

One year later, in 1999, BSB won the Viewer's Choice prize for "I Want It That Way." They also performed a medley that included the classic tune, off their Millennium album, also amping up the crowd with "Larger Than Life." While 'NSYNC wouldn't take home any prizes that year, it would mark the first time they would take the stage. In a schoolroom setting, the boys, along with Britney Spears (also her first performance), played a mash-up of their "Tearin' Up My Heart" with Spears' "... Baby One More Time."

Backstreet took a break in 2000 as 'NSYNC won three Moonmen for their video for "Bye Bye Bye," taking home Viewer's Choice, Best Pop Video and Best Choreography. They also did a medley that included "This I Promise You," "Bye, Bye, Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me."

It was a triumphant year for the Backstreet Boys in 2001. The nominees welcomed back to the group A.J. McLean, who made his first post-rehab appearance with the guys at the big show. 'NSYNC also had a reason to celebrate, nabbing four trophies for "Pop" (Best Group Video, Best Dance Video, Best Pop Video, Viewer's Choice). As if that weren't enough, the guys were joined by the one and only Michael Jackson, who showed off his smooth moves during their legendary performance.


While 2012 marks a true return to form for boy bands, they had a mini-resurgence in 2008, when the Jonas Brothers were nominated for Best New Artist and performed at the show. But it would take four years for the "love bug" to get caught by pop music lovers again. With the show approaching, the Wanted and One Direction face off in Best New Artist. 1D also nabbed two more nominations for Best Pop Video and Most Share-Worthy Video.

The Wanted will be at the show to serve not just as nominees but also as presenters, while fellow contenders 1D will take the stage for their first-ever VMA performance. Can these two groups reignite the world's interest in boy bands like BSB and 'NSYNC once did? Tune in to the VMAs on September 6 to find out.

Are you excited to see what the Wanted and One Direction have planned for the VMAs? Tell us in the comments!

The 2012 MTV Video Music Awards will air live from Staples Center in Los Angeles on Thursday, September 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Head to or text BNA to 22444 (message and data rates may apply) to vote for Best New Artist all the way through the show! Get the latest VMA updates sent right to your inbox: Sign up for the MTV News alert.