Post by Aimes | Video above by Karah
Congratulations are in order!
The Backstreet Boys have officially been around for 28 years! For some, that might seem hard to believe. With so many new fans joining the fandom, the boys as a group are older than a whole host of their fans.
They are nearing 3 decades and still going strong with more than 130 Million records sold, 10 consecutive albums that have debuted in the top 10 on the Billboard charts, a recent Grammy nomination to bring their total to 9, and countless other achievements that round out their amazing career so far.
We can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in the future, but to commemorate their 28th anniversary, let’s take a look back at their history. Here are my top memorable Backstreet Boys moments for each of the last 28 years.
1993: April 19, 1993, Brian Littrell receives a call from his cousin, Kevin Richardson, asking if he could join him in Florida to audition for a vocal harmony group. April 20, 1993, Brian joins Kevin, and meets AJ McLean, Howie Dorough, and Nick Carter. They sing together for the first time, and the Backstreet Boys as we now know them are officially formed.
1994: In 1993, the Backstreet Boys were being considered for a record deal from Mercury records. Unfortunately for them, the deal fell through. In February of 1994, JIVE records capitalized on Mercury’s mistake and officially signed them to the label. Thus began the journey to their first single and album.
1995: We’ve Got it Goin’ On, the Backstreet Boys first official single, was released internationally in the fall of 1995. Although the single flopped in the US, it did great in Germany and then spread to other parts of Europe from there. The boys’ popularity grew quickly in Europe following this single, and BSB spent time in Europe promoting the song and recording for their first album. The single was re-released in the US in 1997, and became a bigger hit in the states.
1996: On May 6, 1996, the Backstreet Boys released their first album, the self-titled “Backstreet Boys” which was later known as “The Red Album”. This was not released in the US, but earned Platinum, Gold, and Diamond certifications in over 20 countries. This album produced 5 singles (“We’ve Got it Goin’ On”, “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”, “Get Down”, Quit Playing Games”, and “Anywhere for You”), all of which are still performed in many of their shows today.
1997: Although the Backstreet Boys were international popstars who had sold millions of records and earned tons of accolades for their work, at home in the US, they still had not made a splash. The year 1997 saw a change with the US release of Quit Playin Games (with my Heart) in June. The Backstreet Boys popularity bled from Canada into the northern US states and seeped down from there. This was the first year that I heard their music. Quit Playin’ Games will always have a special place in my heart because it was my introduction to BSB (and also the song Nick serenaded me with in Vegas a whole lot of years later). And who can forget those pastel wet shirts from the video?
1998: August 11, 1998. The first time I saw the Backstreet Boys in concert at the Concord Pavilion in CA. Yes, I realize that this is not a memorable moment for most of you reading this, but it absolutely sticks out to me as one of the best and most important Backstreet memories that I have. I still recall my pre-teen self, sitting lawn for this show and absolutely falling in love with these boys. The pyrotechnics when they jumped up at the start of the show for That’s the Way I Like It, the solo songs and AJ’s rendezvous with the ground, the acapella version of Just to Be Close to You, and all the dancing! This was a night I’ll never forget!
1999: This might have been the ultimate year of the Backstreet. May 18, 1999, the Backstreet Boys shut down Times Square with the album release for Millennium on MTV’sTRL. Millennium set records for first day sales, selling more than 500,000 copies in its first day, and first week sales, selling 1.1 million records in the first week. It went on to become the best-selling album of 1999, and remains one of the best-selling albums in the US of all time. 1999 also saw the boys earning their first ever Grammy nominations for Best New Artist and then an additional 5 nominations for their work on Millennium.
2000: In November of 2000, the Backstreet Boys released their 4th album, Black and Blue. Black and Blue sold 1.6 million copies in the US alone in its first week, overpowering the Millennium release just a year and a half before. Worldwide, the album sold over 5 million copies, setting the record for the most sales in a week for any album in history. Along with the successful release, the Backstreet Boys embarked on an around the world trip to promote this album, hitting 6 continents in 100 hours. During this trip in which they stopped in Stockholm, Tokyo, Sydney, Capetown, Rio de Janeiro, and New York, the boys flew in a plush private jet with Backstreet Boys scribed across the plane. They did impromptu concerts and interviews and if you haven’t seen the footage from these and from the plane rides, go google them. It was such a wild ride and an amazing way to ring in their new album.
2001: This year was filled with interesting events including the Black and Blue tour, the release of The Hits: Chapter 1, BSB’s compilation album, and the first time AJ headed to rehab. Amongst these big moments was Backstreet Boys performing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. On January 28, 2001, Nick’s 21st birthday, the boys sang the Star Spangled Banner in Nick’s hometown of Tampa, Florida. The only thing that might’ve made this occasion better for Nick would have been if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played and won that Super Bowl.
2002: This year saw the first major solo project from any of the boys. Nick released Now or Never, his first solo album, on October 29, 2002. This album came with a lot of controversy. With Nick stepping out on his own, there were a lot of questions about the future of the group. At this point, the guys had spent practically every waking hour with one another for almost a decade and likely needed the time away to breathe. But with this time, the guys were able to explore some of their own interests, before rejoining in later years to bring their harmonies back together.
2003: 2003 was a bit of an off year with the guys spending a lot of time away from one another. Nick was wrapping up the Now or Never tour, Kevin was performing in the traveling Chicago musical, AJ was working to keep his sobriety, Howie was probably doing something in real estate, and Brian was newly a father. After several months apart, the boys reunited when AJ agreed to do an interview on Oprah to discuss his drug and alcohol abuse and recovery. AJ appeared with his mother, and was surprised when the rest of the Backstreet Boys showed up to show their support and pride in AJ for the work he was doing on himself. This was an emotional reunion for the boys and for the fans, getting to see them together for the first time in over a year. It also seems to have been a catalyst to get them back into the space they needed to be in to be ready to work on new music.
2004: In 2004, the boys were renewed and ready to begin recording again. They had spent a few years apart and ventured out on their own. Although this time produced the heavily rock-tinged Never Gone the following year, the boys spent a lot of 2004 recording R&B tracks that went unreleased. They’ve talked about this time being a tough one in terms of finding their sound because music had changed and they needed to adapt along with it. They settled on a more rock sound, which was what the music scene was leaning towards at the time. Thankfully, we still have YouTube to turn to so that we can hear some of those unreleased masterpieces.
2005: In the summer of 2005, BSB released their 5th album, Never Gone. This was a big departure from the pop and R&B albums of the past. Never Gone was more rock and roll than anything they’d done before. The heavy instrumentation gives a darker feel to a lot of the songs. Even with this different sound, the album debuted in the top 10 and sold over 3 million copies. This year also saw the Never Gone tour and the boys first show together since the Black and Blue days.
2006: In 2006, Kevin announced that he was leaving the Backstreet Boys to pursue other ventures. This was the beginning of the Dark Ages and definitely a hard time in the Backstreet fandom (and likely internally within the group). This was a huge turning point for the remaining 4 as they struggled to find their new sound without Kevin. They went on to record two albums without him, which did well, but no one can deny that they were incomplete without Kevin.
2007: In 2007, the 4 remaining Backstreet Boys released “Unbreakable”, their first album without Kevin. As with all preceding albums, this one debuted in the top 10. Although there are some great tracks on this record, the boys don’t tend to perform anything from this album in their sets. This was the first time the boys worked with fellow Boybander JC Chasez of *N’Sync fame, who went on to work with AJ on some of his solo work in later years.
2008: The Backstreet Boys spent most of this year on tour promoting the Unbreakable album. It was their first time touring without Kevin and no doubt, the boys had an interest in reinventing themselves to some degree. They played many of their previous hits, but put a spin on a lot of the familiar things like the choreography, changing it up a bit. This was a slightly more intimate tour than they had done previously, and also saw the beginning of the meet and greets that we have all come to know and love.
2009: The boys produced their 7th album, “This is Us”, released in the Fall of 2009. The album debuted at number 9 on the charts and had the boys working with commercial artists like Pitbull and T-Pain. Although this album is one of the lesser known records from their catalogue, the boys agree that “Undone”, written and produced by Ryan Tedder, is one of their best works to date.
2010: In the winter of 2010, Backstreet Boys hit the high seas on their first ever cruise. This sold out cruise took the boys along for a boat ride with hordes of fans, and started a tradition that many in the fandom crave. The games, concerts, theme nights, and general time with the boys are unparalleled.
2011: The world got a little better when the Backstreet Boys joined forces with New Kids on the Block to create the pop boyband NKOTBSB. Following a performance at the AMAs and then Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve the year before, the supergroup went into the studio and recorded a few tracks together. They released these tracks along with some of the New Kids and BSB’s greatest hits on a compilation record that came out in May of 2011. The group promoted this album with a worldwide tour, with Kevin joining for a surprise appearance during their LA concert. Kevin’s return, even for just the one performance, fueled rumors that he was rejoining the group.
2012: This might be the biggest and most wonderful of all the memorable moments…Kevin Richardson officially returns to the Backstreet Boys, and the Dark Ages are over. Kevin’s return brings new fire to the group as they head back into the studio to record their first album with all 5 beautiful voices since Never Gone in 2005. With Kevin back, all is right with the world!
2013: Just in time for the Backstreet Boys 20th anniversary, they received their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In April, 2013, the boys participated in an emotional ceremony where their star was revealed in front of a crowd of fans, family members, and colleagues who had worked with them. Speeches from a fan, Max Martin a long-time BSB producer and songwriter, and the boys themselves capped off the event.
2014: This year has a lot of personal memories for me. Although I met Kevin, Nick, and Howie for the first time in 2013, I got to go for the real experience, doing VIP meet and Greet, After Parties, the Cruise in October, and the Nick and Knight show where I got to actually chat with each of the guys for the first time. The boys were touring for In a World Like This and I found myself at multiple shows. The fangirl fantasies of years past, meeting, talking to, and hugging the guys finally came true!
2015: In January of 2015, the Backstreet Boys released their long awaited documentary “Show ‘em What You’re Made of”. This film provided an intimate look inside the dynamic of the group and their bonds with each other. The boys shared stories about the early days and the formation of the group, trials and tribulations they’d experienced since, and the highs and lows of being a popstar. It was a raw, candid look into the boys’ lives which hit hard for many fans.
2016: This was the year of the cross-over. The Backstreet Boys joined forces with hugely popular Florida Georgia Line and created “God, Your Mama, and Me”, a country track that was released as a single from FGL’s forthcoming album. This collaboration, sparked initially by FGL’s love of BSB and their performance of Backstreet’s Back in their own show, brought the boys into a new light. The boys performed with FGL at the Academy of Country Music Awards,
2017: The Backstreet Boys debuted their Las Vegas Residency on March 1, 2017. This residency became the fastest selling Las Vegas residency in history, selling out the first run immediately and prompting the venue to open additional seating. Although only 9 shows were planned originally, with the popularity of the residency, they boys stayed on for 80 shows and ended their residency in April of 2019. They also filmed a CMT Crossover episode with FGL, and won a CMT award for the best musical moment for their performance of Everybody at the ACMs (the next year). Who would’ve guessed the Backstreet Boys would earn a Country Music Award before a Grammy?
2018: This year saw the return of new music after a few years. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart was released in May of 2018 and ultimately led to the groups 9th Grammy nomination, and first since the Black and Blue days when they were nominated for best Pop Duo/Group performance for Shape of My Heart. This release and the subsequent nomination proved that Backstreet was indeed back, and affirmed what Nick often says that as long as there’ll be music, they’ll be coming back again.
2019: In January of 2019, the fans were blessed with the Backstreet Boys 10th studio album DNA. This album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard charts, making it the Backstreet Boys 10th consecutive studio album to debut in the top 10, something very few artists have achieved. This places them amongst some of the most successful artists in the industry.
2020: We know that 2020 was a funky year. Much of the year was spent in quarantine around the world, which led to massive down time. Despite this, the Backstreet Boys still managed to release a mega collaboration, “Matches”, a duet with Britney Spears. This song did not get the praise that it deserved, but the 90’s kids got a mix of nostalgia and new sense of fire. Something that did get a lot more praise in 2020 was the boys’ performance on the iHeart Radio at-home concert. This was a COVID-19 relief charity event and the Backstreet Boys joined one another from 5 different homes across 4 different states, coming together through the magic of technology to sing a gorgeous rendition of I Want It That Way. They sounded and looked fantastic, and the public actually took notice. Despite the distance, the boys managed to bring it together to give us an amazing performance.
2021: We have entered into the present and the land of “Who Knows”. Restrictions due to COVID-19 are still in places in some locations and at least part of the BSB DNA World Tour has already been postponed to 2022. As we await news of the rest of the shows, we can be sure that the boys have something up their sleeves. We’ve been hearing about this Christmas Album for years now. A new song from a soundtrack to a movie out later this year. Possibly some solo material from a few of the guys. What will actually materialize is yet to be known, but we know we are all waiting and excited for whatever they will be putting out.