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Which '90s Boy Band Ruled Above All Others? (Hint: Not Hanson)

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    "Which boy band ruled the '90s?" is truly one of the great questions of our time. No, this is not a joke. It is a pressing issue that we're taking very seriously. First, let's get the ridiculous suggestions out of the way: The answer is not 98 Degrees or Hanson. And if you even try to suggest O-Town, your '90s right to participate in this debate will be swiftly revoked.

    The true competition has always come down to the same two contenders — the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. Each group has their own set of strengths. "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" is still the go-to song at any large social gathering. *NSYNC, meanwhile, introduced Mr. Justin Timberlake to the world and had its own slew of "can't get it out of your head" hits. But each also stumbled on its path to the boy-band crown. The overalls photo. This disco moment. We just cannot.

    To decide once and for all I, a lifelong Backstreet Boys fan, broke down the group's superiority by important categories like cuteness and longevity. My colleague, Ally Hickson, made the case for *NSYNC to be the one group that ruled them all.

    Click through to decide for yourself.

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    Greatest Longevity: Backstreet Boys

    "When Seth Rogen's biggest heavenly ask was a BSB reunion, it made perfect sense. Because while *NSYNC is sealed in the amber of '90s nostalgia, Backstreet Boys persevere."

    "This celestial moment hammers home another point about BSB's continued fame: While boy bands are made for, and for the most part beloved by, adolescent girls, Backstreet Boys also got the seal of approval from teen guys. They came off as sensitive, but tough. When the group sang about heartbreak wearing business casual during a rainstorm, it was emotional. But also a total power move.

    "Looking solely at stats, *NSYNC began their reign in 1996 and had their last hit in 2002. BSB dropped their first hit in 1995 and were still charting in 2007." — Molly Horan

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    Greatest Longevity: *NSYNC

    "If you don't think that *NSYNC has longevity, you need to leave. When your hit song is turned into a meme used for the indefinite future — hello, "It's gonna be May" — then you are still relevant in pop culture. When musicians try to use your old videos as inspiration for new ones — hello, Demi Lovato — then you've got staying power.

    "*NSYNC didn't have as many albums as Backstreet, but they sold 2.4 million records in one week when they debuted their second album, No Strings Attached! Do you know how hard it is to sell even a million damn records in one week today?

    "Justin Timberlake has gone on to have an incredibly successful solo career and that's thanks to *NSYNC — not just as a notoriety springboard, but because they also let him experiment. The later years of *NSYNC were practice for his solo career, and they even started to segue more into R & B.

    "But the realest measure is this: When there was the prospect of an *NSYNC reunion, the internet lost their damn minds. And when those men popped up on stage with Justin Timberlake at the 2013 VMAs, people could NOT handle it. *NSYNC may not be touring anymore, but that's because they don't have to. They secured their legacy and they've moved on. Meanwhile, the Backstreet Boys are doing joint tours with other old acts on the '90s nostalgia circuit, and it's kind of sad.

    "If *NSYNC did tour again, they would do it à la the Spice Girls — because I honestly think they have that kind of staying power. Be honest with yourself: If *NSYNC reunion tickets went on sale today, would you buy them?" — Ally Hickson

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    Best Hit Songs: Backstreet Boys

    "This is the power of Backstreet Boys: They had '90s kids excited for their comeback at the beginning of their career. Because let's be clear, when 'Everybody (Backstreets Back)' came out in 1997, they hadn't gone everywhere. They'd had had a hit single, "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," just a year earlier. But 'Everybody' remains a staple of any respectable dance party to this day. Admit it, if an *NSYNC songs comes on during a wedding, you're excited. But if the DJ drops 'Everybody,' you will abandon the piece of cake you've been waiting for all night to go dance.

    "And BSB couldn't just turn out a danceable single. They had classic slow, sway in the school gym tracks like, 'I Want it That Way,' and 'this touches my teen soul in a way you just wouldn't understand' classic, 'Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely.' Between 1995 and 2007, they had 16 songs chart on the Billboard Top 100. And let's not even get into the hit clips numbers." — Molly Horan

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    Best Hit Song: *NSYNC

    "Do you feel like a preteen again when you hear the opening of 'Tearin' Up My Heart'? Do you start singing along when you hear 'It's Gonna Be Me'? Do you dance to 'Pop'? Do you have to need to break it down with your friends when 'Gone' comes on? Don't lie! You know you do!

    "Mathematically, Backstreet definitely had more big hits — they had more Billboard Top 40s. But *NSYNC had just as many songs in the top 10 charts and even a number one hit with 'It's Gonna Be Me.'

    "I think when it comes to having a signature song, Backstreet wins this one with 'I Want It That Way,' but *NSYNC is bigger than one song. You don't love them just for 'Bye Bye Bye,' but for their musical anthology. When you put them all together, it creates something that you still love.

    "And I personally believe that the singing from *NSYNC was better. There were more intricate vocal runs from Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez than anyone on Backstreet. That makes listening to songs like 'Girlfriend' and 'Gone' more fun, because there's real vocal talent there." — Ally Hickson

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    Most Crushworthy Member: Backstreet Boys

    "Many a middle schooler discovered their sexuality while Nick Carter was feeling himself on a basketball court in the rain. Just for comparison, while the men of the BSB were flexing their naked, glistening torsos and recreating Herbal Essences commercials, the *NSYNC boys were doing this.

    "No one is disputing Justin Timberlake grew into the kind of pop star worthy of a place on a dorm room wall. But there was the turtleneck phase and the very-long ramen hair phase to get through, first. Nick Carter was solidly cute as soon as BSB formed.

    "Carter wasn't the strongest singer in the group, but he was a vaguely edgy Ken doll, the kind of guy your parents wouldn't really be happy with, but would let you go with to the dance anyways. Points to the BSB." — Molly Horan