This Christmas with 98 Degrees

This Christmas with 98 Degrees

Jeff Timmons, Justin Jeffre, and brothers Nick and Drew Lachey make up one of the most successful vocal groups of the ‘90s — 98 Degrees. Last year, the multi-platinum artists recorded a compelling full-length Christmas album Let It Snow that featured spot-on harmonies of classics like “Please Come Home For Christmas,” “The First Noel,” “O Little Town Of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night” plus a festive original tune, “Season of Love.”

They set tour for a hit-filled, high-energy and fun-filled holiday show that was so well received fans 98 Degrees has once again embarked with a 36-date “98° at Christmas 2018” tour that began Nov. 1 and comes to Houston’s House of Blues on Sunday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $39-$79 online at tickemaster.com plus VIP packages are available through 98degrees.com.

Let It Snow is the second holiday album for 98 Degrees, which follows their platinum-selling record This Christmas 98° some 18 years ago.

“Things are different now than back in the day,” said Timmons. “We knew that a traditional studio album requires you to tour all the time in a promotional way. Last year was a great time to get in the studio and do a Christmas album that lends to our vocal arrangements and that quality based sound that we were known for. The first Christmas album was a huge success for us so we couldn’t do the same songs on that album. If the consensus was we were feeling a song, then we recorded it.”

In just five years — 1997 to 2002 — 98 Degrees sold more than 10 million records thanks to hits like “Because of You,” “I Do,” “Invisible Man,” “The Hardest Thing,” “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche),” “My Everything” and “The Way You Want Me To.” Their hit “Thank God I Found You” with Mariah Carey and Joe reached atop of the music charts.

But what some may not know is that 98 Degrees was more than their voices. Influenced by Motown and Do-Wop music genres, the group wrote their own music.

“I think it helped separate us from other bands,” said Timmons. “We arranged a lot stuff and we were writing that type of stuff before we joined the group as individuals. We also put ourselves as a band together and we got ourselves signed to a major record label. We weren’t put together by one person or through an audition process. We are us. We learned to engineer, produce, and that was very important to us.

“I think that got lost in the shuffle of us being called a ‘boy band,’ but we also have no complaints. It enabled us to be considered in the timeframe of the greats like the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC. We traveled the world living the dream, but I do feel like 98 Degrees was more into the artistry side.”

Timmons said it was 98 Degrees’ dream to be like Boyz II Men. “They were a modern day vocal Do-Wop group and we modeled ourselves after them. There wasn’t any A cappella groups like them during that time.”

With influences such as the Temptations, Four Tops, and Otis Redding, 98 Degrees fulfilled a dream working with one of their idols, Stevie Wonder, on the song “True to Your Heart” for the 1998 animated Disney film, Mulan.

Co-written by Matthew Wilder and David Zippel, Wilder was responsible for performing his 1984 hit “Break My Stride” and went on to write for artists such as Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson and Miley Cyrus.

Timmons said that Wonder was originally supposed to just play harmonica on the song, but heard what the voices of 98 Degrees on the track and wanted to sing.

“We performed that song on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Stevie,” said Simmons. “A year and a half before, we snuck into the audience and sang A cappella and convinced Jay Leno to let us sing on stage before a taping of the show. It was a dream come true situation.”

Fans of all ages are still flocking to see 98 Degrees on stage.

“It’s been interesting across the board,” said Timmons. “We came back in 2013 with a big summer tour with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men and the crowds were a slightly older fan base. We’ve also headlined a Nickelodeon Tour and did the Disney stuff with younger crowds. Those kids have grown into adults, so our fanbase has definitely expanded from early 20s to 40s.”

And some 22 years later, 98 Degrees remains as relevant as ever. 

“To have that success back in the day and still have fans turning out with enthusiasm is crazier than I anticipated,” added Timmons. “This tour has started better than last year’s. Most of the shows have already sold out.”

 

 

Chad Cooper is the Entertainment Editor. Contact cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com

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