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Date: Nov 10, 2099
Source: The Detroit News
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What is it about these guys that turns normal girls into pudding? Next! asks diehard fans what’s behind the hype

By Emily Walker

Next! Correspondent

Their faces are seen everywhere. From magazine covers to TV screens to the bedroom walls of teen-age girls. Their voices are heard constantly on radios and CDs. Their boy-next-door looks have caused them to be the objects of many girls’ daydreams. They’re the ones who revived the boy-band movement: They’re sexy, they’re stylish, they’re infamous, they’re the Backstreet Boys!

So why is it that millions of once-normal girls turn into screaming, crying lunatics whenever they hear a BSB song on the radio? What exactly is the appeal of the fab five? I asked two die-hard fans and two girls who would rather die than be fans of the Backstreet Boys, their opinions on the group that has taken the nation by storm.

If someone called Jenni Bellis, a sophomore at Plymouth Canton High School, obsessed, she’d answer simply, “I know.” Jenni doesn’t deny her obsession with the studly singers. When asked what makes her a true fan, she says, “I have over 4,000 pictures of them, I waited in line for hours for tickets, I buy all their albums, even the ones that aren’t on sale in the U.S. I tried to win tickets for six straight hours, I have every magazine with them in it, I tape them every time they’re on TV, and even when all the other boy bands were coming out, I stuck by them.”

Which leads to another issue: Is it disloyal to call yourself a BSB fan if you also listen to N’Sync? Do you think it’s wrong for a BSB fan to also be an N’Sync fan?

“It’s not wrong, ’cuz I like N’Sync too,” Jenni says. “But BSB started it all — if BSB hadn’t started it, then N’Sync wouldn’t be around.”

Jenni’s best friend, Dominique Duong, also a sophomore at Canton, plastered every inch of her bedroom walls with pics of the Backstreet Boys. She knows exactly what she likes about her favorite group. “Everything! They’re really good singers and performers, and it helps that they’re hot!”

Some might argue that the BSB fame is based almost entirely on their image. Let’s face it, if the BSB were unattractive and balding, would they still top the charts? Carrie Alhquist, a sophomore at Plymouth Salem High School, doesn’t think so. “They are only liked for their looks. I think that people should like bands for their ability rather than their image.”

While Sprite may claim that “image is nothing,” the Backstreet Boys have proved that image does matter. They often sport matching outfits or appear in videos minus their shirts. They always seem to have every hair in place and to be wearing their brightest grins.

But the question is, are the Backstreet Boys all style and no substance? While different people have different answers to this question, most people seem to agree that the Backstreet Boys are likely to stick around for a while.

Andrea Carpinelli, a Salem sophomore, doesn’t particularly like the BSB, but says, “I think that the Backstreet Boys will last longer than most boy bands, but most music does have an expiration date.”

Whether the Backstreet Boys will expire soon may be unclear, but one thing is for sure: They’ve set records and climbed to the top of the music industry, and that, as their millions of fans would tell you, is what makes them “larger than life.”

And the winners are...

Two lucky Next! readers got to see the Backstreet Boys because they were winners of our ticket giveaway.

Joleen Tawfik, 13, of Warren even wrote a cheer to her beloved band: “We’re No. 1, not 2 or 3 or 4. We’re the best of all the singing groups, with Al, Kevin, Nick and Howie, Brian, too. Go BSB! Go BSB!” Joleen attends Fuhrmann Middle School.

Joining Joleen and her guest was Allie Lyttle, 13, of the Ingham County town of Gregory. “You’re my last hope!” she scrawled on her entry. Allie attends St. Mary’s School.

Winners were selected in a random drawing. Thanks to the more than 500 of you who either wrote, faxed or e-mailed for tickets. Look in next week’s Next! for full-color pix of the BSB concert!

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