The Backstreet Boys have had their share of albums. From their 1996 original Red album to their latest album, DNA in 2019, we’ve gotten some amazing music through the years. One of their lesser known, or lesser celebrated, albums came in 2009, while Kevin was still on hiatus from the group. This Is Us was released in September/October 2009 internationally. It was followed with a worldwide tour that included some of the first meet and greet and Soundcheck parties.
I have to admit, this album has a weird history for me. I said in previous blogs that I was not following the boys much during the dark ages, which is the time that Kevin was not with the group. During that time in my life I was focused on other things, and had just slipped away from the fandom for a while. Thankfully, my best friend continued to follow them a little bit more closely and came across this album shortly after it came out. She also attended a This Is Us concert, which I, unfortunately missed. My best friend shared this album with me, even though I had not been following them as closely. At first, I didn’t want to listen to the album. Years later, I was still missing Kevin. But once I finally did, I realized I’d been an idiot holding out. What an amazing record.
That was kind of the beginning of my resurgence as a fan. This album has some amazing songs that make it hard to ignore that it truly is one of their best. I spent some time just playing most of this album on repeat. Then went further into the things I’d missed, like Unbreakable. And thus began the rabbit hole of BSB I have yet to remove myself from.
First and foremost, this album gave us Undone. This is arguably one of their best songs in their entire catalog. Personally, I would put this in my top three all-time Backstreet Boys songs. It was written and produced by Ryan Tedder, of One Republic fame, along with Troy Johnson and Josh Hoge. Kevin, not on the recorded version of the song, had stated that he wishes this was something that he could have taken part in. This is the only song that the boys continue to do live in their shows from the entire time Kevin was not with the group.
This song should have been a staple. This song deserves to be on a current album, remastered with Kevin’s vocals. Just imagine that for one moment… We could really use a remake of this, and it really could do well on radio. Seeing this one performed live, especially in Vegas, was a huge highlight for me. The emotion behind the lyrics and vocals, along with the music itself-phenomenal. I hope this continues to be a regular in their shows for the foreseeable future.
As far as singles go, the boys released two off this album. The first, Straight Through My Heart has previously made my top 10 Backstreet Bangers list. I love this song because it has so much energy. It’s a fun dance song, something I wish would’ve been played in the clubs. Kevin has been very vocal that he’s not a fan of this song, but I really have to disagree there. It just makes me want to get up and dance. The second single was Bigger. I have to admit, this is not one of my favorite songs on this album. And if you dig in the archives of interviews, it was not one of the boys’ favorites either. The single was released mostly due to label choice. There are a number of songs on this album that could’ve been quite a bit more popular than that, but alas, they were not to be.
Of all the BSB albums, this one has my favorite heartfelt ballads. Along with Undone, this album had a title track, This Is Us,
which was co-written by Howie, and another called Shattered. I really don’t think either of these got their due. Like undone, the emotion and passion behind the lyrics and vocals on these songs are unparalleled. Just fantastic, clean voices and raw emotion.
In addition to Straight Through My Heart, we also got a couple other upbeat songs as well. Masquerade was a fun, fast paced, great dance song. And then there was PDA. What can I say about PDA? It is certainly an entertaining song and to this day I am so bummed I missed this live during the This Is Us tour. It’s a lot more risqué than the majority of BSB songs and is a fun, sexy track. As with many of the songs on this album, all 4 guys got a chance to sing lead and it was just a fun change to what we are used to hearing from them all.
There were a few other mid-tempo tracks on the record, including one co-written by all the boys and produced by T-Pain called She’s a Dream. If I’m being honest, this is probably my least favorite on the album. It was very reminiscent of T-Pain’s auto-tune type song which didn’t seem to suit the boys in my opinion. Their voices are so pure and perfect that synthesizing them takes away from their talent. But it was something for the times and certainly a change, which might have been what they were going for at the time.
Like I said before, I missed the live tour for this album and I will forever regret that. But I have certainly perused others’ videos of the show and soundcheck parties and seen and heard about the meet and greets. The show seemed to be a shift from some of the traditional BSB ways. They still sang their previous hits, but put different spins on them, like changing the choreography we were used to. They had a few dancers, but didn’t have them on stage throughout, but more for highlights, which allowed them to highlight themselves more. But what never changes with Backstreet Boys is the amazing show they put on, and this one seemed to be no different.
All in all, this album really should be celebrated more than it has been. There’s a few songs from This Is Us that deserve to be brought to the stage more often. Maybe one day, I’ll get that live PDA performance! A girl can dream…