You may think you imagined it, but Nick Carter does steal a Nirvana riff to open the otherwise-straightforward teen pop ballad “Help Me,” which introduces his solo debut, Now or Never.
It seems that, unleashed from the boy band confines of the Backstreet Boys, the singer has rock muscles he’s eager to flex, though we’re not talking anything worthy of Ozzfest: Now seems to derive its inspiration from such pop-metal boys as Def Leppard and Bryan Adams.
The latter is a very obvious role model for such melodic, emotive rock ballads as “Do I Have to Cry for You,” and there’s no denying the-“Animal”-like raunch of the lusty mid-tempo arena rocker, “Girls in the USA.”
The acoustic-backed, bittersweet closer, “Who Needs the World,” however, is pure B’ Boys lullaby pop, but without the harmonies, though Carter has such a sweet, strong voice, they’re hardly missed. Though he has a hand in songwriting here, Carter chose to work closely with producer Max Martin (BSB, Britney Spears). He keeps his subject matter light, sticking to the things a worldly 22-year-old success story might bother about; namely, girls (“Miss America”) and having a good time (“Is It Saturday Yet”).
Barnes & Noble
With the popularity of boy bands waning once again (think New Kids on the Block) and his younger brother Aaron’s career soaring, Nick Carter — the youngest and arguably the most marketable member of the Backstreet Boys — has taken flight and gone solo.
In BSB, Carter’s more timid vocals were often overshadowed by Brian Littrell’s earnest, country-tinged crooning and A. J. McClean’s flamboyant vocals. But on his urgently titled, rockin’ debut, Now or Never, Carter sounds surprisingly convincing as a frontman.
With a carefree pop-rock sound, Carter charms fans throughout the 12-track disc, most notably on the guitar-driven lead single “Help Me,” the Bryan Adams-reminiscent ballad “Do I Have to Cry for You,” and the Bon Joviesque “Miss America.” On the latter track, Carter cleverly serenades his dream girl with smooth lyrics such as, “In the land of the free/Make a prisoner of me/Close my eyes and you’re all that I see.” Only time will tell, but like his ‘N Sync counterpart, Justin Timberlake — who also released his first solo disc, Justified, in late 2002 — Carter’s boy bandless future looks bright. After all, it’s Now or Never. Tracy E. Hopkins
You can take the boy out of the boy band, but if he’s as aggressively passive a presence as Carter, you’ll be climbing uphill from there. The Backstreet refugee cowrote many of these songs, some of them catchy in a generic, innocuous way. But none reveals more personality than Carter’s colorless voice; instead, the singer emerges as a kind of wholesomely macho cypher. He’s Bryan Adams-like balladeer on the sappy “Do I Have to cry for you”, a Jon Bon Jovi-esque crooner on “Heart Without A Home (I’ll be yours)” and a leering frat boy on the witless “Girls In The USA”. The Lyrics are as excruciatingly banal and dopey as the song titles suggest. Surely no one expected Carter to turn into Elvis Costello overnight, but it’s hard to listen to the refrain “Take it off, take it off / Let’s get it on, get it on” on a full stomach.
If anything will drive a nail into the Backstreet Boys’ coffin, it’s this surprisingly impressive solo album from Nick Carter. The first of the Fab Five to break out on his own, Carter reveals a rocker’s heart that’s lurked under his high-gloss pop exterior. While he rasps and struts through his 12-song debut, we’re not talking headbanging mayhem here. Carter excels in the brand of guitar rock that put Bon Jovi and Bryan Adams on the map. The elder Carter conjures the militaristic flamboyance of Queen on “Girls In The USA,” or the teasing coyness of “Raspberry Beret”-era Prince on “My Confession.” The anthemic “Is It Saturday Yet” is another highlight. Despite a seven-year tenure singing other people’s songs as a member of America’s favorite boy band, Carter proves himself an able tunesmith, penning five of the tracks on the disc, and plays some fine guitar. –Jaan Uhelszki
Compared with the style-shifting Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, Nick Carter is a classicist. None of their lofty ambitions for him — on Now or Never, Carter brings new meaning to the phrase ”kicking it old-school” by keeping the boy-band sound alive, albeit with heavier guitars and a wholesale embrace of hair-metal choruses. Carter just wants simple sugar-pop kicks, and he gets them in the creamy ”My Confession” and ”Help Me.” It’s fluff and he knows it, and he scores points for lack of pretension.
Alas, he’s docked for ”Girls in the USA,” a grating Def Leppard-meets-dancehall mess in which Carter brags about how he has ”a little thing in the Denver hills/A real fine mama with a sex appeal.” (And that’s just one city.) And like Timberlake and Aguilera, Carter seems compelled to sit down next to a piano and ooze the most generic melody he’s handed. Still, Carter’s determined to have fun even as his world crumbles around him — which, in some twisted way, proves that at least one teen-pop veteran remains in synch with our times.
NICK CARTER has melted the hearts of countless ladies as the youngest member of pop supergroup BACKSTREET BOYS. Now, he’s on his way to a bright solo career with his debut album Now Or Never!
When describing the experience of creating a solo album, Nick sounds as excited as a kid going off to college. He exclaims, “It’s a release of energy — all sorts of energy that I’ve held inside for God knows how long. Now, I get the freedom to do everything that I, myself want to do.”
The album has a more rock-oriented sound than the tunes he performed with the Backstreet Boys. He told our ET correspondent, “I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, because I’ve always been very passionate about rock music.”
Things start heating up when the first single, “Help Me” kicks in. Nick’s voice comes in as a breathy whisper, then builds in intensity until he lets it all out in the melodic chorus. You can hear his band crankin’ behind him through the whole song!
“My Confession” is a snappy number that gets pretty intimate. Nick told ET that the song is about “being at the point where I wanted to confess everything to a girl.” A thick barrage of heavily distorted guitars kick off the rockin’ tune, “I Stand For You.” This song has a singalong chorus that may remind some of the more mature music fans out there of pop-metal supergroup DEF LEPPARD.
Nick pumps out several slow and sweet love ballads including, “Do I Have To Cry For You,” “Heart Without A Home,” and “Who Needs The World.” And he turns the volume all the way up to 11 on “Girls In The USA,” a heavy tune reminiscent of KISS’ stadium rock.
So what’s on Nick’s mind these days? He told ET, “I want to kick butt with what I’m doing, and have fun.” He adds, “That’s my whole motto in life now: If I can’t have fun doin’ it, I ain’t gonna do it!”
When asked if his solo career signals the end of the Backstreet Boys, he responds, “No, this isn’t the end of the Backstreet Boys. I feel this is going to make me a better person, a better entertainer. I feel that when I go back to the Backstreet Boys I’ll have more to offer.”
And then there’s the ever-looming question about him and pop-queen BRITNEY SPEARS. He insists, “I’m not dating Britney. I mean, she’s a cool girl and all, but I’m not dating her. I’m single. I like being single. I like being able to do my thing.”
He sure is doin’ his thing, and he’s doin’ it well! Be sure to check out his solo debut, Now Or Never, which hits stores October 29!
On Carter’s solo debut, the baby Backstreeter shows that at 22 he’s not a boy, not yet a man. On the cheesy pop-rocker “Is It Saturday Yet?” (one of five songs he cowrote), he plays to the Nickelodeon crowd with an eighth-grade mentality better befitting his 14-year-old brother, Aaron Carter. Later, on the silly, suggestive “Miss America,” he vainly attempts to put some stubble on his smooth-cheeked delivery as he sings, “Take it off, take it off/ Let’s get it on, get it on.” Marvin Gaye he’s not. Even worse, though, is when Carter attempts to rock out on cuts such as “Girls in the USA” that make him seem like, at best, a junior Jon Bon Jovi. He’s better off sticking to bouncy guitar pop and love ballads like “Who Needs the World” that take him back to Backstreet. Bottom Line: Subpar solo
New York Post
Backstreeter Nick Carter takes a chance with his first solo record, “Now or Never,” combining old-fashioned boy-band catchiness with elements of rock.
It’s a formula that doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s excellent.
On this album Carter chooses not to rock the Backstreet boat very hard, leaning heavily on the boy-band side of the mix.
But he finally lets loose with “Girls in the USA” which has guitar crunch, power drumming and vocals that seem more influenced by Kid Rock than the kiddie ballads of Carter’s past.
His ballads are still pretty poopy, but the rock material which peppers the effort – like “I Just Wanna Take You Home” and “Help Me” – makes you take note.
Had Carter taken a giant step into the realm of rock this would have been a better album, but it still stands as an interesting record by an artist in transition – who hopefully won’t regress when he hooks up with his bandmates.