Backstreet Boys Take Success 'Into the Millennium'
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Date: Oct 23, 2099
BY DAN NAILEN
Love them or hate them, there is no denying the Backstreet Boys are the biggest musical act in the world at the end of the millennium.
Bigger than Ricky Martin and the whole Latino music explosion. Bigger than Korn, Limp Bizkit and the rest of the rap-metal pack. Bigger than Springsteen, Streisand, the Stones. The five Boys are a marketing juggernaut, racking up album sales and sold-out tour dates in numbers that make long-established acts look like they are struggling in comparison.
Who would have thought at the beginning of the 1990s -- when grunge ruled and alternative seemed like the great, new commercial music horizon -- that five college-age boys performing synchronized dance routines and harmonizing through a steady diet of love songs would be all the rage at decade's end? Certainly not New Kids on the Block, Color Me Badd, Boyz II Men, or any of the other boy bands who previously enjoyed a smidgen of Backstreetlike success.
Backstreet Boys managed to hit on some undefinable formula at just the right time, and the numbers involved in their success are staggering. Their 1997, self-titled, U.S. debut album has sold more than 28 million copies worldwide, garnering gold and platinum awards in 45 countries, and remains in the top 20 of Billboard's album-sales chart more than two years after its release. The follow-up, "Millennium," was released at the end of May, sold more copies in its first week than any album in history, and has already sold more than 12 million copies.
Not too shabby for a group forced to concentrate on foreign markets when it began performing in Orlando, Fla., in 1993. The Boys -- AJ McLean, Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter -- toured Europe, Canada and the Far East constantly through the mid-1990s, building a massive international following before anyone in America had heard of them. By the time their "debut" hit U.S. record stores, Backstreet Boys were seasoned touring and promotion veterans, something that helped them finally break into the American market.
Since arriving on America's radar, the group has enjoyed as much success as it does overseas, if not more. Backstreet Boys' videos make daily appearances on MTV's "Total Request Live," the boys posed for a "Got Milk?" ad, their concerts sell out in minutes rather than days and they helped create an entire cottage industry of Backstreetlike boy bands: 'N Sync, 98 degrees and C Note, among others.
Tickets for the Backstreet Boys' entire 39-city fall tour went on sale simultaneously on Aug. 14, selling out every venue that day. In some cities, second shows were added, and Salt Lake City grabbed one of the coveted two-night stands.
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