The Backstreet Boys
Synopsis of Pop Music
“Tell me why (ain't nothing but a heartache),
Tell me why (ain't nothing but a mistake),
Tell me why (I never wanna hear you say),
I want it that way...”
As the 1990’s ended, teen pop returned in a big way as artists like Britney Spears and 'N Sync hit it big with a distinctively danceable style of bubblegum pop. New Kids on the Block gave an early taste of things to come at the beginning of the decade, but the real pioneers of this late-90's trend were The Backstreet Boys. This five-man vocal group became international sensations at the end of the decade with a radio-friendly combination of hip-hop grooves, sweet harmonies and plenty of old-fashioned pop hooks. Their mega-stardom also paved the way for the new dominance of teen-pop.
The Backstreet Boys began when A.J. McLean started running into Howie Dorough at various auditions. The two sang together a cappella to kill time, and they decided to form a trio after meeting Nick Carter. A manager advised them to add two members, which led to Kevin Richardson and his cousin Brian Littrell being added. Taking their cues from Boyz II Men and Color Me Badd, the new five-piece group forged a harmony-based mixture of pop and old-school r&b with a little hip-hop on the side. They began performing around Orlando, and their smooth sound quickly made them local favorites.
The Backstreet Boys’ concert success led to a record contract in 1995. Their debut album, Backstreet Boys, was first released in Europe, where boy-bands like Boyzone were big business. They began scoring hits all over Europe with danceable vocal workouts like “Get Down (You’re The One For Me)” and slick ballads like “I’ll Never Break Your Heart.” After touring Europe and Canada (and scoring a few MTV Europe awards in the process), the group released their album in America. As they made appearances on Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Saturday Night Live, their debut album became a Top-5 hit.
The group scored their first U.S. hit single at the end of 1997 with the #2 smash “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” Their sweet yet danceable sound caught on fast, leading to further hits like “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “As Long As You Love Me.” Meanwhile, they racked up awards by the truckload, including honors from the MTV Music Video Awards, the American Music Awards and MTV Europe Awards. By the end of 1998, Backstreet Boys had sold over nine million copies and had become the best-selling album of the year. However, even bigger success was yet to come.
The Backstreet Boys returned in 1999 with Millenium. It instantly shot to the top of the charts, selling over a million copies during its first week and five million by the end of its first month. It did just as well in the international market, going to #1 in 25 countries and selling an additional 5 million copies. It was also full of hit singles: Both the tender ballad “I Want It That Way” and the forceful dance jam “Larger Than Life” enjoyed long stays on the charts and on MTV. They were also a sensation in the concert halls: All the tickets for each date of their 39-city 1999 tour sold out in one hour.
As the new millennium begins, The Backstreet Boys have made their mark on pop culture. However, they continue to remain active as recording artists and live attractions, planning a new album release at the end of the year 2000. They were immortalized in their own comic book and have been given kudos in the press from none other than Elton John. The hysteria they inspire in fans around the world doesn’t look like it will die down anytime soon, so it’s a safe bet that The Backstreet Boys will be scoring hits with their r&b-styled pop long into the future.
Artist Release History1996 - Backstreet Boys
1997 - Backstreet's Back
1999 - Millennium
2000 - Black & Blue
Pop Sub Categoriespop
Essential Music AlbumsMillenium (Jive)
Band MembersKevin Richardson vocals
Nick Carter vocals
Brian 'B-Rok' Littrell vocals
A.J. McLean vocals
Howie Dorough vocals