HomeMusicWhen Boybands go solo; our top 5 success stories

When Boybands go solo; our top 5 success stories

This week saw the release of the debut solo single from Max George of The Wanted fame, as well as Danny Jones from McFly releasing his first proper solo single.  Will either of them be able to make it without their bandmates?  We thought we’d take a look at which bands have spawned the most successful solo careers.

Boybands aren’t a new thing, with some arguing that The Beatles could fit the bill.  Then there’s the Bay City Rollers, Wham! and Bros who all created hysteria and a loyal, predominantly teen girl, fanbase.  For us the dawning of the boyband as we know it, was in the early 90s when New Kids On The Block and Take That ruled the charts.  The dance routines, the cute one, the rebellious one, guessing which one was gay etc – boybands have given us some of pop’s finest moments.

Join us as we pick five of the biggest boybands from that era onwards and rank them in order of their members’ successful solo careers.



Antony Costa

Antony has had just one top 40 hit to date and that came in 2006 when Do You Ever Think Of Me peaked at no.19.

Duncan James

Following Blue’s temporary split, Duncan teamed up with soprano Keedie to deliver a  I Believe My Heart, a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical at the time, The Woman In White.  The track just missed out on the top spot of the chart and was followed in 2006 with Duncan’s first solo album Future Past which unfortunately only got as high as no.55 in the UK album chart.

Lee Ryan

Better known for his foolish antics, Lee actually has a powerful voice with a beautiful tone.  Out of all the Blue boys, he was perhaps the one you’d have put money on becoming the next big solo artist.  His debut solo single Army of Lovers was released in the summer of 2005 and is the highest charting solo Blue single reaching no.3.  It was the lead track from his self-titled and only album to date which got as high as no.6 and spurned two other top 20 singles.  Lee released a new single in 2010 but it only got as high as 33.

Simon Webbe

Congratulations to Simon who has the honour of having the most chart success as a solo artist amongst the Blue boys so far with two top twenty albums and four top twenty singles.  Released less than a month after Lee Ryan’s solo single, Lay Your Hands gave Simon his first top 5 single and No Worries matched the no.4 peak when it was released in November 2005.  His debut album went top 10 and was certified double platinum.  He released a second album Grace the following year which got to no.11 and was certified gold.  His third album was released last year but failed to chart.

Here’s a song to put a smile on your face, No Worries

[brid video=”270056″ player=”531″ title=”Simon Webbe No Worries”]

4.One Direction

One DirectionThe only boyband where all five members have had top 10 solo singles following the band calling it a day (at least for now).

Louis Tomlinson

After the passing of his mother, Louis gave an emotional performance on X Factor of his debut single with Steve Aoki in December 2016 and it very nearly hit the top spot, peaking at no.2.  He followed this with another top 10 hit with Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals but his third single Miss You only just scraped the top 40 at no.39.  We are still waiting for his debut album.

Liam Payne

Liam is taking his time to perfect his debut album release but that’s not stopped him releasing singles however and he can boast five top 40 singles so far including two top 10s.  He has of course been busy being a dad to Bear with Cheryl, but alas it looks like the power couple are no longer together.  Still it’ll be material for the album!

Niall Horan

Niall surprised fans when he dropped This Town in October 2016 with no real warning or fanfare.  The acoustic style track, set the tone for a folk influenced rock album and gave Niall his first top 10 single.  It was soon followed up by the fantastic Slow Hands which was released in May 2017.  His debut album Flicker was released last November and got to no.3 on the charts and gave him a third top 40 hit single.

Niall has also just released a brand new song from animated film Small Foot.  Listen now

[brid video=”270256″ player=”531″ title=”Niall Horan Finally Free (From “Small Foot”Audio)”]


Harry Styles

He was the last 1D boy to release his debut solo single and it was worth the wait as he gave us the epic Sign Of The Times which went to no.1 in April last year.  He released his self-titled album soon after and that also topped the charts.  He also won over the critics for his role in the movie Dunkirk.


The first to jump ship and also the first to release a solo single, Pillow Talk which went straight to no.1 in the UK.  His debut album Mind of Mine topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic making him the first British male solo artist to debut atop the Billboard 200 with his first release.  He’s notched up 7 top 40 hits including duets with Taylor Swift and Sia.  He has teased that his second album will be released in a mysterious way…what this means we will have to wait and see.

Meantime, here’s Pillow Talk

[brid video=”270057″ player=”531″ title=”ZAYN PILLOWTALK”]



The co-main vocalist in N*Sync alongside JT,  JC arguably had a stronger voice than Justin but his solo career never really took off.  JC’s label Jive/Zomba was going through a restructure and unfortunately he never seemed to get the push he deserved.  He has since gone on to write for others (McFly/ ) and starred as a judge on US TV show America’s Best Dance Crew.  If you haven’t listened to 2004’s masterpiece Schizophrenic you need to do so immediately.

Here’s a taster with Blowin Me Up With Her Love

[brid video=”270059″ player=”531″ title=”JC Chasez Blowin’ Me Up (With Her Love)”]


Justin Timberlake

He was the cute, curly blonde haired all-American boy in N*Sync who went on to become one half of the late nineties/early noughties power couples when he dated fellow Mouseketeer Britney Spears; who can forget the double denim look!  His split from her helped cement his career as a solo artist when he followed his debut single Like I Love You with Cry Me A River, who’s video contained a Britney look-a-like.  With 5 top 3 UK  albums to his name and 26 top 40 singles, JT is still going strong and has just dropped a surprise new track that isn’t featured on current album Man Of The Woods.  Could this be a hint at a new album or perhaps a repack in time for Christmas?

Check out the new single SoulMate

[brid video=”270060″ player=”531″ title=”Justin Timberlake SoulMate (Audio)”]


Credit: Universal

Mikey Graham

Michael ‘Mikey’ Graham released his debut single and only top 40 UK hit in 2000.  It was called You’re My Angel and reached no.13, but unfortunately the album Meet Me Halfway didn’t make the top 40 and a further two singles failed to chart.

Stephen Gately

Second lead singer in Boyzone, Stephen sadly passed away in 2009 at his home in Majorca.  In 1999, he was forced to out himself when a former acquaintance was said to have gone to the newspapers and Stephen decided to take control of the story, by telling it his way.  He followed this with a single New Beginning in 2000 (a double a-side with his take on Bright Eyes) which got to no.3 in the UK.  He had two further top 20 singles and a top 10 album, also called New Beginning.

[brid video=”270295″ player=”531″ title=”Stephen Gately New Beginning (Original Video)”]


Ronan Keating

Lead singer of Boyzone, Ronan Keating has had the luck of the Irish with solo success that has seen him rack up eight top 10 solo albums including 4 no.1s and 15 top 40 singles, three of which topped the chart.  It all started with When You Say Nothing At All which was helped by being included in the soundtrack to Notting Hill back in 1999.  Of course, his solo career hasn’t stopped him joining the lads for more Boyzone music too but this November they’ll release their final album Thank You & Goodnight.

Let’s go back to the start of his solo career with the no.1 When You Say Nothing At All.

[brid video=”270053″ player=”531″ title=”Ronan Keating When You Say Nothing at All”]

1.Take That

Credit: BMG/Sony

Mark Owen

When Robbie left Take That and the band called it a day, perhaps noone was expecting Mark Owen to release a trippy indie rock album called Green Man.  It was preceded by the Lennonesque Child which reached no.3 in November 1996.  Second single Clementine also reached no.3 but the album only got to 33.  Mark then left his solo career for a number of years before returning with the anthemic 4 Minute Warning which ironically got to no.4 in 2003.  Once again the parent album failed to ignite and stalled at no.59.  As did his third album How the Mighty have Fallen in 2005 and fourth album The Art of doing Nothing peaked at no.29 in 2013.  To date Mark has had six top 40 UK singles.

Gary Barlow

It all started so well for Gary.  He was the main songwriter and often lead singer in Take That’s first phase and he started strong with a no.1 single in the UK with piano ballad Forever Love in summer of 1996.  He had a whole album in a similar style ready to go but US music mogul Clive Davis wanted to make Gary a big star in the US too and so new songs had to be recorded.  Second single Love Won’t Wait came out some 9 months after Fovever Love and was co-written by Madonna nonetheless.  It went to no.1 in the UK and set up the album Open Road which also topped the charts.  By the time Gary released second album Twelve Months, Eleven Days there seemed to be a backlash against him and he struggled to have success with single Stronger only getting as high as no.16 and the album peaking at no.35.  It wasn’t cool to be a Gary fan any more, possibly due to his former band mate Robbie’s growing success and the rivalry that the latter was very vocal about.  Fast forward to 2005 and a documentary aimed to reunite all the members of Take That but Robbie bottled it.  It did however, lead to Take That relaunching as a four piece and incredibly successfully so.  Barlow and Williams made up off camera and to show there was no hard feelings the pair duetted on Shame in 2010, a track they wrote together for Robbie’s second greatest hits album.  Gary released his third proper solo album Since I Saw You Last in 2013 and it peaked at no.2 and was certified double platinum.  To date Gary has had nine top 40 UK singles including three no.1s and four top 40 albums.

[brid video=”270297″ player=”531″ title=”Gary Barlow Open Road”]


Robbie Williams

Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the success Robbie Williams has had.  Firstly, as part of Take That from 1991 to 1995, where he fronted songs like Everything Changes and Could It Be Magic, and as a solo artist.  He left Take That in 1995 admist drug taking issues and a year later released a cover of George Michael’s Freedom as a statement song that took him to no.2 in the charts.  Robbie’s solo career was looking a bit shaky when his next few singles and his debut album Life Thru A Lens didn’t seem to win over the public.  But then came Angels and with it the album suddenly had a new lease of life.  In 2010, Robbie rejoined the Take That boys and made Take That mk2 a five piece again for the album Progress (and the EP Progressed).  As a solo artist, Robbie has an incredible 35 top 40 hits and 12 no.1 albums on the UK chart, plus his credibility as a live performer is second-to-none.

Here’s our favourite Robbie track, Rock DJ

[brid video=”270052″ player=”531″ title=”Robbie Williams Rock DJ”]


Do you agree with our choices?  Should Five, Westlife or NKOTB been on our list?  Tell us your thoughts on our social media @entfocusmusic.

Check out Max George’s Barcelona HERE.

Listen to Danny Jones’ Is This Still Love HERE.

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