The Boys are back in town!

news: The Boys are back in town!

FORMED IN Florida during the mid-90s, the Backstreet Boys were, in many ways, a contradictory band. Comprised entirely of white, middleclass Americans, the vocal quintet sang a hybrid of ballads, hip-hop, R&B and dance-club pop that originally found its greatest success in Canada and Europe.

Cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell began singing as children, performing in local church choirs as well as at festivals. Howie Dorough and AJ McLean, natives of Orlando, met each other as well as New Yorker Nick Carter through auditions for local commercials, theatre and television. At one audition, the three discovered they shared a love for classic soul and could harmonise together.

Shortly after the trio formed, Richardson moved to Orlando, where he became a tour guide at Disney World, and at night he concentrated on becoming a professional musician. Eventually, he met Dorough, Carter and McLean through a coworker, and the four decided to form a group; then Littrell was invited to join to make the band a quintet.

They began their career as Backstreet Boys by breaking Europe rather than their domestic US market. Their 1995 debut single, We’ve Got It Goin’ On, became a substantial hit in Germany and the rest of mainland Europe. The band was named Best Newcomers of 1995 at the Smash Hits Awards thanks to the single and, in June 1996, Get Down (You’re The One For Me) reached number 14.

The group’s self-titled debut album was initially only made available in Europe, as was the 1997 follow-up, Backstreet’s Back – another album of teenage orientated love songs and ballads. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) became a huge hit single and was instrumental in the group’s breakthrough in the US, reaching number four in June 1998. Further hits followed, Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) and As Long As You Love Me, before their self-titled US debut, compiling tracks from the European album, went on to become the third bestselling record of 1998.

The group topped the UK singles chart in May 1999 with the single I Want It That Way, which also proved to be a popular US top 10 radio hit. Millennium was a predictable success, topping the US albums chart at the start of June 1999, selling two million copies in just over three weeks. Despite the fact that no singles were officially released from the album in the US, I Want It That Way, Larger Than Life, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely and The One all hit the charts based on airplay alone. Their popularity showed no sign of waning over the following year, with a string of hit singles, culminating in Black & Blue, which topped the US charts in November 2000.

After seven years of nonstop touring and recording, the band agreed it was time for a break. Brian Littrell became a father and Kevin Richardson tried his hand at Broadway, taking a starring role in the musical Chicago. Meanwhile, Nick Carter released his solo album, Now or Never, in 2002 and Howie Dorough did charity work for the Dorough Lupus Foundation, in honour of the sister he had lost to the disease. AJ McLean made headlines with his stint in rehab and he had barely rejoined the group when tragedy struck – a close associate of the band died on one of the highjacked planes on 9/11.

In 2004, the band rejoined and began work on a new album, Never Gone. Their first single in almost five years, Incomplete, was released in June 2005.

With gold and platinum album sales in 45 countries, these five singers have found a worldwide audience, who literally scream for their blend of catchy hooks and danceable beats. But we bet you didn’t know that AJ is a skilled puppeteer, Nick is a licensed scuba diver and was an extra in the movie Edward Scissorhands, Brian has a fear of heights and has had his two Chihuahuas stolen, Howie talks in his sleep and the band has never won a Grammy, though they’ve been nominated seven times.

You can catch the Boys at Pavilhão Atlântico, Parque das Nações, in Lisbon on November 11 at 8pm. See our What’s On pages for ticket information.