98 Degrees (1996-2001): Here is What You Missed Back in the Days

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Earlier this month we talked about Backstreet Boys and more recently we looked back at the life and musical career of the NSYNC. There is no way I can end the week without talking about the 98 Degrees. This American boy band, just like the other two were a darling of teens and adults back in the mid- ‘90s.
Photo Courtesy: Napster
Do you, like me still have the images of Justin, Jeff, Drew, and Nick etched in your mind? After going through their faces on apple’s DiagnosUs App recently, I can get to forget them. It reminded me of the heydays of the 98 Degrees. It is over two decades ago, but I still feel like it was just yesterday. Listening to their earlier hits today on YouTube made took me back a nostalgic trip back in time. A quality trip that triggered my memories of the good old ‘90s.

When I was doing my digging and refilling my nostalgic cup with the memories of the 98 Degrees, I stumble upon a recent post that indicated they are planning to return to pop music after the 8-year hiatus. This got me excited and I honestly can’t wait for the return of this band. This is all I have been looking forward to. It was my best childhood pop band and I can do anything to support their plans to bring the sweet music back.

Yes, winning the hearts of this generations’ teens and adult is not as easy as it was back then. But since the group has gathered a lot of experience from the many years of performing, I am convinced they will be able to hack this through. The good thing is that they still have an active fan base. Part of it is the oldies like me who listen to them with the all-loving nostalgia from the past, and the new generation who have the ear for sweet mature music.

Let’s dig into the rise and rise of the 98 Degrees. What a good way to start this by looking back at the evolution of the group. The detailed history of the group from its inception in the mid-90s to date.

All You Need to Know About 98 Degrees

Unlike many American Boy bands of the past, the 98 Degrees has managed to stay relevant all these years. Two decades is quite some time. I am amazed by the type of investment that the group has made in themselves and the development and evolution of their genre. This has helped 98 Degrees songs to play on the airwaves until now.
While the groups will strike you as an old ‘90s group, their music resonates very well with the current generation of teens and adults. Their music fits in every situation. It is more or less cross-generational timeless music that will live with us forever.

I was excited when Timmons, in an interview confirmed that they never really broke up (as a group!). He said that they each had different things going on in their personal life and that was the reason for the hiatus. For him, he had just started a family and was giving it the necessary attention at the time. Nick had just gotten married and everyone was going in a different direction. Also, the September 11 events really hit the group hard. It is around this time that their tour was cut short by the 9/11 attack that led everything to be a flux.

Understanding The Background Of 98 Degrees Now!

The group 98 Degrees has had an interesting journey throughout its music career. A journey that made us even love the band more. This four-member American pop and R&B vocal trio also referred to as 98° featured Jeff Timmons, Nick, Drew Lachey, and Justin Jeffre. All of the members of the band are from Ohio, but Timmons started the group in Los Angeles, California.
Instead of being formed by a label or producer, they created the group autonomously and later picked up a record company. In the United States, they have eight top hits and have sold over 10 million records.

Give me Just one Night, Because of You, The Hardest Thing, and Thank God, I found You that they did with Maria Carey and Joe were among the group’s top five Billboard Hot 100 hits from the later 1990s to the early 2000s.

In 2012, the group came together for a one-time performance at Mixtape Festival in Hershey. There was a new album and a seat on the “The Package” tour in 2013 as part of the reunion agreement. This was a very successful tour and a good comeback for the trio.

How 98 Degrees Came to Be.

A few years after Massillon, Ohio resident Jeff Timmons quit college to pursue his music career with his best buddy, guitarist Jeremy Volk, 98 Degrees was born. After completing his undergraduate degree in psychology at Kent State University, he wanted to play football in the National Football League (NFL).
In 1995, he sang with three buddies at a college party and received excellent feedback from the ladies regarding his singing voice. The next day he quit school and headed to Los Angeles. Nick said looking back, it was a rash decision that he made when he was young and stupid. He added that ignorance is bliss sometimes when he recalls the move.

Nick Lachey was studying sports medicine at Miami University, where he met a former student of the Cincinnati School of Creative and Performing Arts who passed his name on to him. Lachey came to Los Angeles and decided to form a boyband after meeting a bunch of cool people. Justine Jeffre, a friend of Lachey’s, was invited to join them. As a history student at UC, Jeffree knew Lachey from their time together at SCPA as well as previous performances, including a barbershop quartet at Kings Island amusement park and cover band.

Drew Lachey, Drew’s young brother replaced Jonathan Lippman, the band’s founding member who was working as an emergency medical technician in New York City. On the advice of their manager Paris D’Jon, they settled on the name 98 Degrees to describe their music and their body temperature.

Never Mess With 98 Degrees! Here's Why
The group picked up momentum very quickly and was loved by fans in LA and all over the world. This was the group to watch for. At the time, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were also at the top of their careers. The mention of the 98 Degrees would spell chills in rivals. This group was not to be messed with in terms of winning music lover’s hearts and doing all they could to be a success.

In addition to gardening, the bad worked as club security guards and delivered take-out meals as they worked to perfect their harmonies and presentation, taking inspiration from Boyz II Men, Take 5, and Jodeci. The group also auditioned in Los Angeles and built up its relationships in the music industry over the course of a few months.

There was no time to waste as the group took advantage of an opportunity to play during the radio broadcast of a Boyz II Men concert that they attended in hopes that they would receive a demo tape. Paris D’Jon, who was managing Montell Jordan at the time, discovered them.

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One of the local radio stations that covered a Boyz II Men performance requested them to sing live on the air when they snuck backstage!
98 Degrees were off to a promising start with their debut single “Invisible Man” which reached No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold after its July 199 release. A Billboard review of their first song recognized their vocal ability, and the release of a new track served to keep the band in the public spotlight, even though their debut was met with mixed reviews.

As part of their vast tour schedule, the group performed in Asia. This gave them exposure to a wider audience, as they opened for Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour on several occasions.

The Year of Abundance: 1998 to 1999 Revolution

Due to their appearances, I Mulan and a duet with Stevie Wonder, 98 Degrees and Rising was certified 4 Platinum in 1998. Daryl Simmons, an Atlanta-based producer and co-writer with Babyface was also involved in the production.
In addition to Atlanta session musician and former Earth, Wind, and Fire guitarist Dick Smith, the album’s credits list a number of other musicians. After the release of their second album, 98 Degrees move to Universal Records, Motown’s parent company.

When “Because Of You reached number three on the United States charts and fifth in Canada, it was certified platinum in both countries (U.S Hot 100: number three; Canadian Singles Chart: number five). As a follow-up, “The Hardest Thing” peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold.

When 98 Degrees released their first Christian album, “The Gift” in 1999, it generated a number-one song. The album was declared platinum a month after its release. The quartet appeared on Amy Grant’s 1999 CBS Christmas special, A Christmas to Remember, as special guests of the singer. In the song “Where You Are” from Jessica Simpson’s album, Nick Lachey was featured. The song was released as a single and reached the top 40 charts.

The group’s song “The Love That You’ve Been Looking for” appeared on the album Jesus: The Epic Mini Series.

The Millennium Hit: The Rise and Rise of 98 Degrees (2000 – 2002)

The hit singles “Thank God, I Found You”, a collab with Mariah Carey and Joe, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. After selling 700,000 copies, the song was certified gold by the RIAA. In the Hot 10, it stood at No. 1 for a week, and at No. 2 on the top 200 singles sales list for 51 consecutive weeks. For the same song, the group was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category of Best Pop Collab with vocals.

For their new album “Give me Just One Night (Una Noche),” which peaked at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold doo. Revelation, the band’s second album, was released in the fall of 2000. Revelation peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA in the US. In addition to “My Everything”, the band released “The Way You Want Me To” both of which reached the top 40.

The band performed Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” with Luther Vandross and Usher at Madison Square Garden in September 2001. On Saturday night, Michael Jackson performed as part of a program to mark his 30th anniversary as an independent artist.

As part of the Collection, 98 Degrees released a track “Why Are We Still Friends” in 2002. They had sold over 10 million records by that point, with 12 hits under their belts.

Hiatus (203 – 2012): This Could Be 98 Degrees’ Worst Nightmare...

In order to pursue other goals and possibilities, the group decided to take a short sabbatical. According to Drew Lachey, on his website, he stated that they’re just taking a long break. Shortly after winning the second season of Dancing With The Stars, Drew and his wife welcomed their first child.
Nick Lachey, who married Jessica Simpson, recorded two albums, Soule and What’s Left of Me, before settling down with Jessica. His first solo album entitled Wisper That Way was released and he had plans for another. Jeffre was a candidate for mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, and he presently works on independent media initiatives with activists in the area.

For Nick and Jessica’s Family Christmas, the band joined together in 2004. When 89 Degrees performed at Club Purgatory in Over-the-Rhine in September 2005, it was a support of Jeffre’s mayoral campaign in Cincinnati, Ohio.

As of October 2006, Timmons was set to star in the new VH1 reality show Mission Man Band. After the announcement, previous claims that 98 Degrees will add another member and record an album were called into question. Even still, in 2011, both Lachey and Timmons said they believed 98 Degrees had the potential to reunite. His current role on the Sign-Off has rekindled Lachey’s interest in the band despite his busy schedule, according to Lachey.

According to Timmon, they would come together at the right time to release a record. That is if time would allow. He said they are open to a reunion negotiation. By 2012, the official 98 Degrees website and Facebook page were relaunched. All of the members’ Twitter accounts were equally active.

Reunion: What's So Trendy About 98 Degrees That Everyone Went Crazy Over It?
The genre and the emotions that this band did put in music enabled them to remain relevant in the music scene. Even during the hiatus, 98 Degrees remained trendy and music lovers were still crazy about their music.

They revealed that the trio would return for a one-time performance at Mixtape Festival in Hershey, PA in 2012. Additionally, the trio appeared on the Today Show that aired in August of the same year. A week before the group’s first rehearsal in over 10 years, drew state in an interview with Rolling Stone that the group decided to reunite because they were all at the point their lives where they felt comfortable to begin a band again, and they also thought that the moment was ideal since pop music and had been revived.

Final Thought

There is a lot in store in the revival of the group. I really can’t wait to see what they can put together after all those years of being away from the limelight. I understand that the music industry, and more so, the pop music genre has evolved a lot, but the group seems flexible enough to adapt.

What do you remember about 98 Degrees?

Which of their song was your favorite? Why?