When the Backstreet Boys emerged onto the scene in the mid 1990s, their sudden and massive success ushered in a new wave of teen pop music, paving the way for the likes of NSYNC, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. Now, over 20 years later, their new single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is surprisingly good, and marks their first Hot 100 charting hit since 2007.
The Backstreet Boys’ first two albums were enormous. Their 1996 self-titled debut spawned such hits as “As Long As You Love Me” and “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” and went an astonishing 14 times platinum. It’s 1999 follow-up, Millennium, was even bigger, selling over 30 million copies worldwide and eventually becoming one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
But despite achieving worldwide superstar success in such a short period of time, the Backstreet Boys would just as quickly become some of the first victims of the post-teen pop wave backlash. While Justin Timberlake spun-off from NSYNC and adopted a more R&B-leaning sound, the Backstreet Boys noticeably produced zero solo careers. In fact, Backstreet is one of the few pop bands with arguably no frontman. Perhaps it is this cohesiveness that has helped the band stay together and weather the ever-fickle shifting tastes in mainstream popular music.
In 2005, as R&B reigned while pop music could not have been more out of fashion, the Backstreet Boys regrouped and released a new album titled Never Gone. The record performed respectably, selling 291,000 copies in its first week and spawning the hit “Incomplete,” but the numbers paled in comparison to their last two albums.
But instead of succumbing to the pressure of not being able to match their prior commercial success, the Backstreet Boys kept their heads down and kept working hard and making music. Since then, they’ve released three more albums, to varying degrees of success. What’s interesting is that throughout their careers, the Backstreet Boys have often been dismissed as manufactured, past-their-prime teeny boppers. But they should also be credited for their professionalism, having remained a (mostly) intact group that has continued record and consistently release content for their fan base. Simply put, they work hard.
In March 2017, the Backstreet Boys began their Larger Than Life residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. The show, scheduled to run until at least November 2018, has been a massive success, and one of the most consistently attended residencies in Vegas.
If the group was considered entirely overrated in the early 2000s, perhaps they could now be considered underdogs proving themselves worthy of another go-around. Upon its release, their new single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” was the most added song at Top 40 radio two weeks in a row. And maybe that’s how it should be, despite the age of a group or how long ago their first hit was, a good song is a good song and should get airplay.
By Rory Arnold, Contributing Writer