The ‘90s Aussie Boy Bands Time Forgot

16 December 2021 | 12:11 pm | Stephen Green

The Music takes you back to the bedroom pinups you never knew still lurked in the recesses of your mind.

C’wise from top left: Indecent Obsession, Invertigo, Kulcha, CDB & Ilanda

C’wise from top left: Indecent Obsession, Invertigo, Kulcha, CDB & Ilanda (Compile)

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Everyone remembers Backstreet Boys and Take That, but the ‘90s weren't just a pop paradise for our international brothers. Australia had its share of boy bands, but unlike the superstars, our boy bands largely didn't go on to hold the same place in world music history. 

Just because the rest of the world didn't understand the brilliance of the Aussie boys, doesn't mean we don't hold them close to our teenage hearts. The Music takes you back to the bedroom pinups you never knew still lurked in the recesses of your mind.


Ok, so these guys have stood the test of time, but are known more for their great Motown shows and Vegas stardom than their humble beginnings as one of our most loved Westfield centrestage stalwarts. Before they went Vegas, the band had four successful records including platinum hits Wishes, He Don't Love You and their mega-hit with John Farnham, Every Time You Cry. But who can forget where it all started? About 1500 bad costume changes in Got It Goin On


Getting the jump on Human Nature was Kulcha, hitting in 1994. With Samoan and Maori heritage, the Sydney act had a run of hits from their first album, with Shaka Jam nominated for highest-selling single at the ARIA Awards. Their second album in 1997 was less successful and the band went their own way soon after its release. 

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As the ‘90s dawned there was no bigger Aussie boy band than Indecent Obsession. Featuring heartthrobs David Dixon and Michael Szumowski, the band were the first act signed to Molly Meldrum's Melodian Records. Scoring back-to-back top 20 hits in 1989 with Say Goodbye and Tell Me Something, the band had massive success in South Africa and Europe with their second album Indio which strangely underperformed here at home. Singer Dixon went on to leave the band and star in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Home & Away while keytar extraordinaire Szumowski went on to be a successful songwriter and producer, creating the first Bardot album, including their #1 hit Poison. But for ‘90s kids, you can't go past Kiss Me


A trio of heartthrobs, Radio Freedom emerged from super-soap E-Street, but seemed to be allergic to wearing shirts. With names like "Pehl" and "True", the band were tailor-made for a TV Hits centrefold and their abs didn't disappoint. Along with many of the E-Street pop stars (Bruce Samazan, anyone?), Radio Freedom's career was reasonably short-lived, but I Can Feel It managed to head to the top 10 and go gold. 


Another product of E-Street, Boys In Black were Australia's crack at the "new jack swing" fad of the early ‘90s. Unfortunately, history has scrubbed this one so well that the video isn't even on YouTube. With such classic rhymes as "If I go and do you wrong you can hit me in the head/But I'd rather settle this in a bed", I can't believe this hasn't been cherished by whatever record company thought this was a good idea in the first place. 


These guys rivalled Human Nature for the mid-'90s boy band crown and almost hit #1 with their cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's Let's Groove being held out of the top spot by the juggernaut that was Coolio's Gangsta's Paradise. As with Kulcha, their second album didn't land quite as smoothly with the public and they broke up soon after. Members Gary Pinto and Andrew De Silva had reality TV experience, Pinto as a vocal coach on Australian Idol and X-Factor and De Silva as a contestant on Australia's Got Talent. The group re-formed in 2017 and are still around today, although for most, it'll always be about Let's Groove


One of the many bands that streaming services forgot, Past To Present had a number of stabs at a hit, but only really broke through as the featured artist on Peter Andre's Get Down On It. Their follow-up September was an Earth, Wind & Fire track (a year after CDB's Let's Groove... but lightning didn't strike twice). 


This one's cheating. After four years of trying to crack it as Past To Present, the band thought perhaps a re-brand would help, so re-emerged under the name Ilanda. As with Past To Present, they were best known as being as second bananas, this time to Joanne (who was coming off the back of a massive hit with Jackie), but alas they still couldn't crack the top 20 on their own, despite having a good run with this Tasty tune that managed #25. 


Another boy band that never said die, The Robertson Brothers emerged in 1994 with I Know Why which nabbed them a nomination for Best New Talent at the ARIA Awards. The song missed the top 40 and they disappeared before re-emerging in 2000 as the singers of the latest version of Home & Away's theme tune. Indie label Transistor Music picked them up for an album in 2002, Destra Music (RIP) gave an album a crack in 2008 and an Everly Brothers covers album popped up in 2015, making these guys one of the longest-running Aussie bands never to crack a hit. Still doing shows today, they are definitely better described as a man-band these days.


Obviously created in a time before Google, Australian boy band Universal had a crack with this horrible cover of Rock Me Good. It charted in the UK, but Australia had the good sense to ignore it. In 2005 the band re-formed as The Brothership on the first season of Australia's X-Factor.


Technically a band with instruments, these guys were more Indecent Obsession than they were CDB. Forming as Vertigo in 1997 the band had a minor hit with Forever Lately before re-grouping and coming back on Ralph Carr's Standard Records in 2000. They had two top 30 singles, Desensitized and Chances Are, which were massive radio hits, but in the classic Australian pop tradition the marketing cost more than the success recouped and the band disappeared after their first album. 


BMG had a crack at the boy band genre in 2002 with Mercury 4. They hit #5 with their debut Get Me Some but dropped quickly as soon as the in-store appearances dried up, showing just how hard it was to launch a boy band after the '90s were over. 


Also technically not a '90s band, these guys showed up in 2002 with Mercury 4 a bit after the boy band bubble had burst. Coming out of the gates on Brisbane indie label MRA, better known for its DVD and world music catalog, Boystar debuted at #12 with this Billy Ocean cover before dropping like a stone. And with that, the era of the '90s Australian boy band was over. Two years too late.