The Ultimate Question: Backstreet Boys or Nsync? (A Look Back)

Welcome back, my friends.

Boy bands. When I think of Boy bands, I think of the ones that I grew up loving. Just in case you are new to this blog, I grew up in the golden age of boy bands. I guess that explosion of this pop goodness was a reaction to the years of alternative music or as I call it ‘complaint rock.’ You could track the rise of boy bands to my generation wanting something different, and we had the money to make that change from alternative to pop. I remember hearing about a new band through my friends at school and by the weekend, I was at Sam Goody’s pleading with my mom to pick up the cassette/CD.

They say that music can bring you back. I fully agree on that. Whenever I happen to hear ‘The Sign’ by Ace of Base, I am brought back to the Jersey Shore and Martell’s getting a hot dog with parents. I hear Nirvana, and I am brought back to a time where my family was going out to dinner. My parents were big Nirvana fans back in the day. I have unyielding memories attached to that band (that is another look-back entry).

Either way, music brings you back. Being a part of the boy band craze brings me back to very fun moments in my life. Lots of calling radio stations, pining over guys who I never had a chance with and memorizing every song they ever made. It was a fun time to be a fan.

I’m going to look at the two boy bands that had a profound effect on my childhood. Are they any good? Let’s find out shall we?

Backstreet Boys

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The Backstreet Boys were the first boy band to grab my attention as a kid. It was the first major album I bought with my birthday money. It was the first time I begged my grandma to buy their live concert on Pay Per View. Their music will always have a place in my history.

In case you do not know, Backstreet Boys started in Orlando Florida in 1993. They hit international stardom in 1996 and never looked back. The album that made me a fan was their debut titled Backstreet Boys.  I wore that CD out and had to buy a new one. So, it has to be good…right?

Looking Back

I listened to this open with an open mind. To start out, the singles on the album will always work for me. They are fun and easy to sing along with. I am convinced that the song, ‘Everyone (Backstreets Back)’ could have been released today and still a hit. It is easy to dance to, remix and the video for the song was inventive. The only problem is, what are you back from Backstreet Boys? This is your “first” album. Anyway, it still works for me. I also still know all the words by heart.

As for the songs that were not singles. They are in line with the hits. The same type of beat, still talking about girls or going out with friends. There is a distinct R&B feel to some of the songs. It would be laughable, but it works with their voices. I still got into the songs especially the song ‘Hey Mr. DJ” which I always skipped when I was a kid. More than likely because it was a bit on the older side and I just wanted them to hit on me directly. Like they did in “If You Want it to be Good Girl (Get Yourself a Bad Boy). I loved that song as a young teen, and now it is just slimy. I like them flirting than straight out trying to hit on the listener.

If you compare this album to their numerous other records (yes, they still record songs and tour) you can see the maturity and growth in the song choices and voices. I feel they tried too hard to be like what is popular at the time but when they find that happy middle, it is fun to listen to them again. Check out Weird World. That song has grabbed my attention.

One thing before I move on.

Why do they ask if they are sexual on Backstreets Back? I did not know how to answer that as a ten-year-old and I do not now at twenty-eight.

*NSYNC

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Now. Nsync. The boy band that stole me away from Backstreet Boys. They were younger (generally) and came across a bit more juvenile. They showed up in 1995 with bright costumes, funnier personalities and managed to get more screen time than Backstreet Boys. I had the albums, the t-shirts, the dolls, the posters, and the paraphernalia from the concerts. I had it all. Super fan is the proper word for me. I was the biggest Lance Bass fan (barking up the wrong tree on that one. Still find him adorable, though).  Justin Timberlake was a close second. Like most girls my age.

Regardless of all the hype, I only have the albums to look back on. Like with Backstreet Boys, I will be looking at their debut album Nsync (see…there is that theme again).

Looking Back

Just listening to the hits, I still love them. Could they still work if they were released today? No. Not at all. Unlike the Backstreet Boys the songs sound dated now. Especially (God Must of Spent) A Little Time on You. Corny as all hell. If I remember correctly, the video was corny too. Right up there with This I Promise You. I Want You Back and Tearn’ Up My Heart still hold up for me because I have strong memories attached. Mostly me being happy with my friends. Singing our little hearts out. I cherish those memories.

As for the other songs? They seem to follow the same formula as the Backstreet Boys debut album. Nsync had more pop on their album than R&B, but it’s there. Also, it was light in content. They were not completely hitting on the listener. They presented themselves consistently as sympathetic boys down the street. I won’t lie; I had a harder time listening to this album when it wasn’t a hit single.

Since they broke up after three albums looking forward and seeing if they got any better is tougher. I have to say that the content doesn’t change. Still those sweet boys but now fame is upsetting them (I’m saying this mockingly of course).  The songs are still catchy, and the group still sounds strong, but nothing changes in the next two albums. In fact, I’m going to have to hand in my superfan card, I didn’t like their last album Celebrity. I felt like they were complaining too much and trying too hard to be something they weren’t.

This debut album more than likely would not have gotten my attention if it came out now. It is boring. I will say this, though. I think Nsync were stronger singers than the Backstreet Boys. Their acapella are still amazing to hear.

Recently Jive released their unreleased material, and there is a lot on there worth checking out. I recommend That Girl (Will Never Be Mine) and Sailing. 

Something I Noticed as an Adult

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It is fun to look back at these groups. Analyze them. Wonder if they would resonate with you as an adult. Learning both bands were being managed by the same guy. The songs were being written by the same person (Max Martin. Look him up. Without him we wouldn’t have a childhood). They are similar in every way. Who stands the test of time? Both I guess. They are a fun memory. Current teenagers might not like them my generation is still around, and we still like to look back.

Something did bother me, though.

The Backstreet Boys are still touring and making new music. They have more accolades than most. Nsync is over. It has been over since their third album. They have lots of success but not the levels that Backstreet Boys do. Why do people remember Nsync fondly while Backstreet Boys are mentioned in passing?

My idea? Marketing. I remember seeing more Nsync merchandise than Backstreet Boys. I also remember how they marketed their personalities. Yes, both followed the formula, but I remember feeling like the Backstreet Boys were not as accessible as Nsync was. Nsync was bright and colorful and had more of a media following. I remember Backstreet Boys were quieter (give or take Nick Carter).  They wanted to talk about the music rather than just play up the crowd. Not saying either strategy was wrong it lead me to believe that Nsync was for the young end of the teenagers and Backstreet was meant for the older teenager.

Either way, looking back on my childhood has given me some insight into how marketing and my bias played a big part in what I loved. Now, I can see that whole era of my life with a clearer head. I have to say, both are still great. They severed a purpose and did an excellent job serving that purpose. I think Backstreet Boys deserve more credit for managing to stick together and evolving into a more mature group of singers. Check out their new stuff on Spotify. It is pretty good.

Nsync will always have a spot in my heart, but I feel like almost everyone (Justin Timberlake is not in this group) has faltered. The members found niches to fall into but never managed to mature into a different image. They all still have the talent they just do not seem to use them the right way.

It is amazing to think that the album that made me dump The Backstreet Boys as my ‘true love’ was not that good. Looking back did not ruin my childhood but helped me understand that a lot was at play in what I listened to growing up.

Did you participate in the boy band wars? Got some good war stories? Share them below.

Until next time, the randomness has ended. Bouns! I added a creepy clip from TRL. Enjoy.

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2gether: I thought Korn was going to be here. This sucks!

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Welcome back to fake band month here on Amanda’s Pop Culture Randomness! As I wrote yesterday next on my tour fake bands was MTV made 2gether.  The plan was to talk about the television show but the show was hard to find. The episodes I did find did not hold up as well as the movie or the music videos. So, change of plans.

I will be looking at the movie and their two biggest music videos. Three pieces of media that really held up for me.

Without further ado, here is a review of 2gether and the music they rode in and out on!

2GETHER (The Movie)

Best Lines

“I made a commitment to you guys, and keeping a commitment is good manners. It’s called the Axel Rose Rule”– Jerry

“I can’t be perfect every time out. I’m not Ozzy Osbourne!” – Doug

“This one time I fit five dollars up my butt and, not to brag or nothing, but I bet I could fit way more up there. Way more. Easy!” – Chad

“Well you gotta embrace your worthlessness. You know, just think about all the greatest loser throughout history: UPN, the metric system, Kevin Cosner…” – Doug

“Mickey Parke has one ho and one ho only, and that’s Mickey Parke!” – Mickey

All of Whoa’s biggest hit aka Rub One Out

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Best Moments

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Why I liked it

This is what started it all. As I wrote in yesterday’s blog post the movie is a nice tongue and cheek view on boy bands and the record companies who produced them.  The cast worked so well together. I bought that these five guys were a band and I cared about what happened to them. It also introduced the idea into my head, at the tender age of thirteen, that I was being used to some degree by the music industry. It is worth the watch and a great look at time in history when MTV still played music or actually cared about music and not Ridiculousness. (hint…the movie is on YouTube. Watch it while you can).

The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Is Getting Back Your Stuff)

Best Lyrics

“Hey Doug. You plus me equals jail time!”

“You took my heart now I have to take the bus”

“You walked out of my life with my CD collection”

“You got my sweaters, my hat, I can’t find my cat”

“I’d call you up girl but you took my phone!”

Best Moments

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Why I liked it

The video was a tongue and cheek look at the second single. The band starts with their love song and then goes into the break up song (like the formula dictates). This break up song was about a kleptomaniac but it still fits the formula.  It even has a rap breakdown that was starting to get popular then.

I loved this song and video because it literally dressed the band up as used car salesman. They are literally telling us they are selling us crap and we were going to eat it up. Really love that.  I also love the video poking fun at TRL’s video dedications and the people who do them. The idea of dedicating a video like this to anyone is pretty funny especially when the ‘nerd’ wants to know where the band korn is at that moment. It has a great beat and I find myself singing it to myself at random moments. That is the mark of a well-written beat and song.

U + Me = Us (Calculus)

Best Lyrics

“When it comes to cosines I know a thing or two”

“Girl, algebra, trigonometry can never equal up to what you do to me”

            “Well I’ve never been good at history and I don’t give a crap about Robert E. Lee”

Best Moments

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Why I Liked It

The video was meant to “introduce the band” to the world. It does contain a lot of the movie and winks at the movie but also elements of the most popular boy band videos at the time. It includes matching choreography, matching outfits and screaming girls behind a barricade. It even came with a little dance that I can do for you right now if you want (no? ok. That’s cool).  The song is catchy and funny and I have a sinking suspicion this was offered to other boy bands before it landed in the movie making fun of boy bands. I’m a sucker for songs that randomly talks about Robert E. Lee and how they don’t give a crap about him.

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This fake band was fun, silly and knew they were making fun of a boy bands. That might be why I’m ok with the band coming back to the small screen. My idea? Have it be about a retirement home for former boy banders or boy bands in therapy. I feel like that type of show would be a goldmine for the boy banders that are still wandering around lost after their fame has ended. Seriously…Chris Kirkpatrick…this is your time to shine.

Either way, 2gether will always have a place in my heart for showing up and making me smile for two years while screaming for NSYNC.

Let the fake band love continue! Next week? We will be discussing a small band that Casey Kasem could not even ignore. I hope they are still…Friends Forever.

            See you next week! Hope you enjoyed the 2gether fun!

The Boy Band Wars: We are in this 2gether!

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Welcome back to my favorite fake television band month! Not at all a mouthful at all! Anyway, what band is up next?

There is a formula. 2gether will solve this formula (calculus)

Back the late 90s-early 2000s there was a craze going around. Every country in the world was sending their best boy bands to compete in the competition called the teenage girl heart. The stadium where this battle occurred? MTV and TRL. Carson Daly has really come far. He is literally a host for a music show now. Yeah.

Anyway, yes. Back in the day, MTV was not full of New Yorkers in New Jersey or teens with kids. It had music and other music related programing. Man, those where the days. While that epic battle raged on in the real world there was a special band raising to the surface.

Nigel Dick, a famous music video director, with the help of MTV brought on a new band that would keep up with its real world counterparts. The spoof movie 2gether followed the rise of a fictional boy band that followed the formula that the real world used itself. The film followed heartthrob Jerry (Evan Farmer), rebel Mickey (Alex Solowitz), cute one QT (Michael Cuccione), shy one Chad (Noah Bastian) and the older brother type Doug (Kevin Farley) as they tried to dethrone the current boy band Whoa. They also had to battle Stuff Records and learn to trust their manager Bob Buss.

The movie premiered February 21, 2000 on MTV to success. The band released two albums that actually charted and they opened for Britney Spears. The Spinal Tap sarcasm hit the right spot and audiences wanted to see more. The band got their own television show following their lives after the movie. The band had charting hits from the movie and television show with U+ Me = Us (calculus), The Hardest Part of Breaking Up (Getting Back your Stuff) and Say it(Don’t Spray It).

The television show was cut short when member QT aka Michael Cuccione passed away ending the show and the bands run on MTV.

Recently, 2012 recently, the cast announced they pitched a reunion show to MTV. They wanted to play on my generations nostalgia for our youth and create a “Where are they Now” show. Nothing has come from that announcement but I would watch as long as they are tongue in cheek about what happened to the music industry since the boy band wars. Would it fit in today’s MTV though? That is the biggest question of all.

Why Do You Like This Crap Amanda?

Remembering this band brings me back to my obsession with boy bands. In the year 2000, I was about thirteen years old. I was in the trenches of the boy band war. If you need to know, I started a Backstreet Boys fan and switched to NSYNC soon after. I blame Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass for that transition. I went where the cuter boys were. I was very simple-minded back then.

I remember watching this film and falling hard for it. I was their target audience and I ate it up to the point where I bought both albums the band made. I may have missed the sarcasm of the whole project but that I why I still love this band today. I watched the movie recently and it still holds up as a period piece. It is a wink at how the record company used the guys as much as the girls to sell their products. It is a good look at marketing in the 2000s.  It holds up for me.

I will not lie either. I still listen to the songs because they are funny and catchy. Compared to what is on the radio right now I would rather listen to 2gether. Also…kids…GET OFF MY LAWN! (Get it? I’m old.).

Stay tuned because tomorrow I look at their best moments from the movie and television series that made me truly fall for them. Until then, the random fake band love has ended for the day. Hope you enjoyed.