Backstreet Boys hope to restore fading fortunes

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Date: Oct 16, 2007
Source: Saskatoon Star Phoenix Oct. 15, 2007
Submitted By: Jennifer Gelowitz

NEW YORK (Billboard) -- AJ McLean remembers the conversation well. Kevind Richardson was having doubts about his future in the Backstreet Boys, and one night in the dressing room after a 2005 show, he told his friends in the mega-selling boy band how he was feeling.

"There's some things I need to do first, for me," McLean recalled Richardson saying.

The Group had been discussing "when we wanted to start recording again," McLean said. "Everyone was ready, but that was the first time Kevin put it out in the atmosphere that he wasn't."

The Boys needed some time to digest Richardson's news. In June 2006, he made the official statement that he was moving on to "pursue other interests." Although all were supportive of Richardson's decision, remaing Backstreet Boys McLean, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and Brian Littrell were still left one man down. But according to McLean, replacing Richardson was never an option. They turned down an offer to star in a reality show to find a new member, and opted against changing the group name to Backstreet. "This is a new band, but this is a brand, and it's the Backstreet Boys," McLean said.

Instead, the group resolved to make a new album as a quartet, and the result is Unbreakable, due Oct. 30 via Jive. It's a return to form of sorts for the band, with 13 songs of unmistakable Backstreet Boys-style group harmonies, upbeat dance numbers and hearts-on-their-sleeve midtempo ballads.

But how do the Backstreet Boys, the first, if not best, of the all-male pop groups to dominate the latter half of the '90s and early 2000s, fit in among the roster of current hitmakers? The niche the group helped pioneer is slim, if not altogether nonexistent. Can they remain relevant to a new generation of consumers as well as to one-time fans who might have moved on?

"There are definitely some challenges, just because of some people who, especially in America, may look at the band" as just a boy band, said the group's current manager, Jeff Kwatinetz. "But I think that some of (the boy band) characterizations are wrong. They're singers, performers, songwriters."

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