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PHOTO ESSAY

Motown

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Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men and longtime host Dick Clark at the American Bandstand 40th Anniversary Special, 1992. Courtesy of Photofest.

After a stretch of profit-losing years, the Motown Record Company was sold to the Music Corporation of America in 1988 for $61.9 million. Despite its decline, the brand was not yet exhausted: R & B outfit Boyz II Men's 1991 debut, COOLEYHIGHHARMONY, sold over nine million copies, making it the fourth bestselling album under the Motown label. No doubt influenced by the success of COOLEYHIGHHARMONY, the label was sold to PolyGram in 1993 for $301 million. 1994's II sold over 12 million copies, making it "Motown's" bestselling album of all time and one of the top-selling albums in recording history. (The label's other two bestsellers are Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key Life [1976] and Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down [1983], each of which has sold over 10 million copies.) Remarkably, even with two multiplatinum albums within three years, Boyz II Men still hadn't peaked: "One Sweet Day," the group's 1995 duet with Mariah Carey, remains to this day the longest-running number 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, having spent 16 weeks in top position. Boyz II Men's relationship with Motown began to sour, however, as the label continued to change hands—it was sold to the Universal Music Group in 1998, subsequently merging to form Universal Motown in 2005—and in 2001 they signed with Arista Records.

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