Yahoo Picks: These NSync-inspired fake boy bands are almost better than the real thing... Ain't no lie!

Meaty Cheesy Boys, 2gether, DuJour and Fingerbang faked it so real, they were beyond fake.

Clockwise: DuJour, Meaty Cheesy Boys, Fingerbang, 2gether (Everett Collection, YouTube, Everett  Comedy Central, Collection)
Clockwise: DuJour, Meaty Cheesy Boys, Fingerbang, 2gether (Everett Collection, YouTube, Everett Comedy Central, Collection)
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Fans have been excited about the possibility of NSync putting the band back together ever since Justin, JC, Joey, Lance, and Chris were sighted in the New York City area the day before last month’s MTV Video Music Awards. But while NSync are officially set to release their first single in 22 years, “Better Place,” on Sept. 29 as a “love letter” to their fans, so far their reunion has been anticlimactic enough to tear up those fans’ hearts. The quintet’s appearance at the 2023 VMAs was brief and uneventful, and rumors of a full new album or world tour have turned out to be fake news.

But all this news, fake or not, has inspired us to look back at some of pop culture’s best fake boy bands — some of which made music almost as real-deal as anything NSync ever released (or at least as credible as anything by 98 Degrees, who also somewhat anticlimactically reunited last month). A couple of these faux groups even featured actual members of... NSync and 98 Degrees! This must be pop, indeed.

Meaty Cheesy Boys

McDonald’s once hired Justin Timberlake as its spokesman, and Burger King had the Backstreet Boys. But rival chain Jack in the Box brought a whole new meaning to the term “beefcake” in 1999 with its genius Meaty Cheesy Boys campaign — which, according to a press release, starred “a group of heavily moussed, hip-gyrating, lip-synching teenage boy-toys ... guaranteed to whip 13-year-old girls into a hormone-fueled frenzy.” EJ (aka “The Shy One”), TK (“The Exotic One”), JT (“The Tough One”), TJ (the requisite “Cute One”), and the Other EJ (“The All-American One”) — who we assume were assembled via cattle call auditions — fired up both the grill and the fake pop charts with their sizzling fake debut album, Meat, Cheese & Love. The record sold “Multi-Meat” (as opposed to multiplatinum) and included such carnivorous classics as “Ultimate Cheeseburger,” “Your Love's Melting Me, Baby,” and “With or Without Buns.” Surely cow-flesh consumption among the all-important millennial girl demographic skyrocketed as a result.

But then it came time for the increasingly gristled group’s difficult sophomore album, featuring beefier, more ambitious tracks like “The Meating - Part I” and, of course, “The Meating - Part II.” That LP still remains untitled and unreleased. Maybe it all started to rot when, according to fast-food/boy-band lore, visionary sixth member JJ was fired for microwaving a veggie burger on MCB’s tour bus — two decades before Impossible Meat became a trend. Perhaps if Jack in the Box ever comes out with a plant-based menu, the Boys, including JJ, can finally reunite. In the meantime, check out MCB performing at the 1999 Billboard Awards. We’re lovin’ it.


The art-imitating-life 2gether (or 2ge+her, 2Ge+Her, or 2GE+HER) — the stars of an MTV movie and series by the same grammatically challenged name — were honestly better than many of the real boy bands of MTV’s Total Request Live era. “U + Me = Us (Calculus)” and “Say It (Don't Spray It)” were even solid enough for the group’s Jerry O'Keefe (“The Heartthrob”), Chad Linus (“The Shy One”), Q.T. McKnight (“The Cute One”), Doug Linus (“The Older Brother”), and Mickey Parke “(The Bad Boy”) to open for Britney Spears’s 2000 summer tour. “The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Back Your Stuff)” actually went to No. 87 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and charted on TRL as well). Their hit MTV sitcom also spawned several other B- and C-list fake rival bands, like Whoa, Unity, and 4ever. Tragically, actor Michael Cuccione, who played Q.T., died from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2001 at age 16, and a proposed 2011 reunion of the group’s surviving members, to benefit the Michael Cuccione Foundation for Cancer Research, never happened. But Q.T., Jerry, Chad, Doug, and Mickey will always be 2gether in our hearts.

The Style Boyz

Conner4Real may have gone on to Timberlake-style solo stardom in Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, but we all know he was at his unstoppable best when he performed with his homies, Kid Brain and Kid Contact. The Style Boyz’s “Incredible Thoughts” reunion at the 2016 Poppy Music Awards was much more incredible than NSync’s fleeting, performance-free cameo at the 2023 VMAs.


There’s a good reason why “Backdoor Lover" and “DuJour Round the World” by Josie and the Pussycats’ pop peers DuJour were so catchy: These jams were jam-packed with conspicuous-consumption subliminal messages! But we were buying whatever they were selling. Clearly Travis, D.J., and Marco were the roles that Seth Green, Donald Faison and Breckin Meyer were respectively born to play.


The Simpsons had the NSync-endorsed Party Posse, SpongeBob SquarePants had Boys Who Cry and Bob's Burgers had Boyz 4 Now. But in the battle of cartoon boy bands, South Park’s Fingerbang — while not exactly tween-friendly — always reigned supreme. We only wish Cartman had formed Fingerbang in time for them to appear alongside the Cure’s Robert Smith on South Park’s epic “Mecha-Streisand” episode in ‘97.


Back in 2007, VH1 aired Mission: Man Band, a seven-episode series chronicling a fake comeback attempt by four fallen boy-band idols: Color Me Badd’s Bryan Abrams, LFO’s Rich Cronin, 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons and even NSync’s Chris Kirkpatrick. The grand idea was they would form a mature new supergroup — a “man band,” if you will — called Sureshot, and reclaim their past glory, all under the guidance of straight-talking, tough-loving, “ball-busting” music manager Katie McNeil (aka the future Mrs. Neil Diamond). Although Sureshot did release three singles and stayed together for about a year, their comeback never became real. (Cronin sadly died from leukemia three years later.) However, Mission: Man Band stands as a fascinating, if largely forgotten, artifact of VH1’s bonkers “Celebreality” programming slate of the aughts.

Boys No More

Sureshot’s failure to launch didn’t dissuade Timmons and Kirkpatrick’s respective former boy-bandmates, Nick Lachey (“The Dedicated One”) and Joey Fatone (“The Reliable One”), from forming their own faux man band with New Kids On the Block’s Joey McIntyre (“The Cute One,” of course) and Boyz II Men’s Wanyá Morris (the other “Cute One”). Like Meaty Cheesy Boys (or the unwitting) DuJour), Boys No More were mere ad mascots, shilling for AAA Insurance. But we’re genuinely disappointed that this supergroup is no more (or never was), because their one song, “Make it Right,” legitimately slapped.

Boyz Unlimited, Boyz II Menorah, M3n Not Boyz

James Corden clearly harbors a secret, or not-so-secret, fantasy of being a boy-band superstar. Way back in 1999, he starred in the British comedy series Boyz Unlimited as wannabe heartthrob Gareth Jones. And his love for boy-band spoofs apparently really was unlimited, because he later revived that persona for M3n Not Boyz’s “I Can't Be Your Boy Cuz I'm a Grown Man” (with Bryan Cranston and Reggie Watts) and Boyz II Menorah’s totally lit Hanukkah slow-jam “A Week and a Day” (with Zach Braff and Charlie Puth). Check out several can’t-unsee clips of Corden tapping into his inner Kirkpatrick below.


Going back to the pre-NSync 1980s, the 2007 film Music and Lyrics paid perfect homage to pirate-shirted, keytar-wielding, high-cheekboned Smash Hits pinups — like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet — who paved the way. PoP!, fronted by aging new-waver Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant), had us shouting the circa-’84 slogan “I want my MTV!” all over again. And if you’re wondering why their signature song was such a totally awesome synthpop bop, it’s because it was penned by the late, great Adam Schlesinger — who wrote music for another period-piece cinematic band, the Wonders from That Thing You Do!.

The New Monkees

Hey, hey, they’re the Monkees! Sort of. Or, maybe not. Here's another '80s oddity, but it's worth a mention. Suffice to say, lightning did not strike twice, or get recaptured in a bottle, when the masterminds behind the original Monkees sacrilegiously tried to capitalize on the nostalgia sparked by MTV’s 1986 Monkees marathon and create a new edition of group. The doomed-to-fail New Monkees sitcom was yanked just 13 weeks into its planned 22-episode run, but the prefab band did make, with the help of top-flight producers and songwriters of mid-‘80s, what drummer Dino Kovas once described to Yahoo Entertainment as “not a bad little pop record.” That album was recently rereleased, much to the delight of the band’s small but passionate cult following.

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