Neil Strauss takes on the rise and relative fall of the Backstreet Boys in the NY Times:
- THE Backstreet Boys have sold more than 65 million albums around the world, a number that few pop acts have surpassed. In their prime, in the 90’s, they were a pop juggernaut, breathing new life into MTV, the record business, children’s radio, teen magazines and teenage purchasing power.
But along the way, they were surpassed by a very similar band with the same management, songwriting and production team: ‘N Sync. As ‘N Sync’s star rose, the Backstreet Boys seemed to disappear. Music industry observers have offered scattered reasons: the Backstreet Boys lost their young audience when they tried to fashion a darker, more adult look; they alienated love-smitten fans when two group members married; they damaged their image when they admitted that the band member A. J. McLean had checked into rehab for alcohol abuse and depression.
But there is more to the story. Or more precisely, the Backstreet Boys’ ups and downs are part of a larger story, one about the music industry today. It’s about five young men put to work as pop puppets who develop minds and ideas of their own, then find out what can happen to long-term ambitions in a consolidating industry in which quarterly profits are crucial, professional relationships are not what they seem and pop groups are treated like disposable products.
This is unprecendented! Nothing like this has ever happened before: sounds like the Monkees.