The Backstreet Boys are one of the most famous boy bands of all time. They were perhaps an inevitable evolution from groups like New Kids on the Block, they pioneered a new style of pop and were the first real PR controlled world mega-stars. The BSB are Kevin Scott Richardson, from Lexington, Kentucky, Nicholas Gene Carter, from Jamestown, New York, Brian "B-rok" Littrell, from Lexington Kentucky, Alexander James "A.J." McLean, from West Palm Beach, Florida and Howard Dwaine Dorough (Howie D) from Orlando, Florida. Having got themselves some cool nicknames (imagine the girlies now, "I love you Dwaine D). As with many pop groups the BSBs are centred around two friends, Kevin and Brian. Both hailing from Lexington they sang together as children in church choirs and festivals. However the boys never did anything professional and it was only when Kevin moved to Orlando, Florida, and begun to sing with a group made up of Nick, AJ and Howie that things started to happen. Kevin invited Brian to join them and the quintet clicked immediately.

From here the boys managed to hook up with Louis J. Pearlman, future manager of both *NSYNC and O-Town, who got them a record deal with Jive Records in 1994. They spend the next two years working on their self titled debut album. Released in 1996 it was a big hit in Europe but failed to make an impact stateside. The singles We've got it goin' on and I'll never break your heart were big hits, the first helping him to the Smash Hits Best newcomer award in 1995. The group however had little success in their home country until they released a reworked version of their debut album in the US in 1997 combining their European hits with a number of new tracks. This new version was successful and hits like Quit Playin' Games (with my heart) and As long as you love me helped them to make their mark in America. Meanwhile in Europe their popularity grew as they released the new tracks featured on their reworked US album in a new LP Backstreet's Back. As late as 1999 singles were still coming from this album, including their most famous song Backstreet's Back.

In 1998 Brian had to under go surgery for a congenital heart defect and the group got involved in a complex legal battle with Pearlman and their management over royalties. After a year of wrangling a large number of lawyers drove of into the sunset in their brand new Ferarris and Pearlman was the only member of the management team left standing. So, in 1999, almost four years after their first album, their second offering, Millennium was released worldwide. With this release nothing could stand in the way of the BSB. The LP went platinum, selling over 12 million copies worldwide, and singles such as I want it that way and Larger than life dominated airplay all over the globe. The boys knocked out a Christmas album for the end of 1999 and followed it up in Autumn 2000 with their latest album, Black and Blue.

The album has once again sold a huge number of copies but has not been the success that Millennium was. The BSB are losing out to their similar, younger rivals *NSYNC particularly in Europe. It was noticeable that the singles from their latest album haven't done too well in the charts *NSYNC have begun to corner the market in upbeat pop songs with decent beats. As Kevin points out,

"it's very frustrating on the creative part because they have the same producers, same management, and even the same record deal. it's like somebody should tell them "get your own identity!""
It is certainly true to say that *NSYNC are very similar in style to the BSB but recently they have done the BSB style better than the originals.

These young lads are not allowed to be bad boys, in fact sometimes you might be forgiven for thinking they're still 9;

"I used to lie a lot when I was younger. There was this one time I went to the fridge and ate a pizza. When my Mom asked me if I'd eaten it, I was like 'I didn't eat it.' Then she spanked me!" - Nick
"I know Brian in every way because I share a house with him. He's at his most craziest when he's with Nick. Both of them together are completely mad .... especially if they've had a lot of coca-cola. Its the caffeine they put in the drink. It makes them hyper. Its worse than if they've got a six-pack of beers. They always behave like a pair of clowns, doing silly pet noises." - AJ
However being in a boy band obviously has some strange side effects, as Nick testifies,
"Meat Loaf. My man. I love him. One of my favourite artists."

I personally think that the Backstreet Boys are masters of their trade. They consistently produce quality infectious pop songs with upbeat lyrics and rhythms and they introduced a new style of pop unto the world. They have successfully combined pop music with R&B to produce excellent tracks as well as paving the way for the likes of *NSYNC. The remix *NSYNC's track Girlfriend, featuring Nelly, is a perfect example of the more hip hop direction that pop music has taken, it features an excellent beat with a verse of rapping combined with the high toned harmonies of the white boys.Everybody (Backstreet's Back) is one of my favourite pop tracks of all time and their ballads are just the epitome of pop cheese. One of my fondest memories is sitting on a ski lift moving very slowly in Val D'Isere, France, with a female friend in heavy snowing conditions blasting out Backstreet Boys classics at the top of our voices.

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Backstreet's Back, 1997

  1. Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
  2. As Long as You Love Me
  3. All I Have to Give
  4. That's the Way I Like
  5. 10,000 Promises
  6. Like a Child
  7. Hey, Mr. DJ (Keep Playin' This Song)
  8. Set a Drift on Memory Bliss
  9. That's What She Said
  10. If You Want It to Be Good Girl (Get Yourself a Bad Boy)
  11. If I Don't Have You

Millennium, 1999

  1. Larger Than Life
  2. I Want It That Way
  3. Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely
  4. It's Gotta Be You
  5. I Need You Tonight
  6. Don't Want You Back
  7. Don't Wanna Lose You Now
  8. The One
  9. Back to Your Heart
  10. Spanish Eyes
  11. No One Else Comes Close
  12. The Perfect Fan

Black and Blue, 2000

  1. The Call
  2. Shape Of My Heart
  3. Get Another Boyfriend
  4. Shining Star
  5. I Promise You
  6. The Answer To our Life
  7. Everyone
  8. More Than That
  9. Time
  10. Not For Me
  11. Yes I Will
  12. It's True
  13. What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful
  14. All I Have to Give - Acapella

The Hits Chapter 1, 2001

  1. We've Got It Going On
  2. Anywhere For You
  3. Get Down (You're The One For Me)
  4. I'll Never Break Your Heart
  5. Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
  6. Everybody (Backstreet's Back)
  7. As Long As You Love Me
  8. All I Have To Give
  9. Larger Than Life
  10. I Want It That Way
  11. Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
  12. The One
  13. The Call
  14. Shape Of My Heart
  15. More Than That
  16. Drowning