In 1994, I was the world's most lovelorn middle-schooler. And through the throes of my unrequited love for my eighth-grade crush, there for all the highs and lows, I had one constant companion: Boyz II Men.
Maybe it sounds cheesy now, but that's kind of the point: The Philly four-piece got me through some tough, overly sentimental teenaged years. And that's been the case for most pop music fans, beginning with the release of the band's debut album, CooleyHighHarmony.
Gold- and platinum-selling singles like "Motownphilly," "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye," "On Bended Knee," "I'll Make Love to You," "Water Runs Dry," and "End of the Road" from the Boomerang soundtrack (one of my first CDs) made Boyz II Men's smooth, accessibly PG-13 R&B inescapable throughout the '90s. Together, Michael, Nathan, Shawn, and Wanyá produced a sweet perfume of romance and good vibes that wafted through decades and resonates still.
Through their unique combo of doo-wop and hip-hop swagger, Boyz II Men influenced scores of modern R&B artists as well as the a cappella from which they were born. Shawn Stockman even served as a judge on all five seasons of NBC's The Sing-Off alongside Ben Folds and Jewel.
These days, the quartet is down to a trio since bass singer Michael McCary left due to health issues. Still, as the most successful R&B group of all time, having sold more than 64 million records worldwide, the men of Boyz II Men continue their mission as soldiers of love. They have a residency at the Mirage hotel in Las Vegas through at least 2018, though their contract for "select weekends" allows them to perform elsewhere and even dabble in TV. Wanyá Morris is one of the strongest contenders on the latest season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars.
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Boyz II Men will give South Florida all it can Saturday at the Lauderhill Performing Arts Center alongside En Vogue, their female counterparts in terms of success and talent. It'll be an evening to rejoice not only in the group's 25th anniversary this year but also in all those old feelings we once harbored when they sang the lines, "For tonight is just your night/We're gonna celebrate, all through the night."
Boyz II Men
With En Vogue. 8 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Lauderhill Performing Arts Center, 3800 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill. Tickets cost $85.27 to $160 plus fees. Visit lpacfl.com.