I’m not one to boast, but the truth is I’m starting to be known around Sputnik for my cojones
. Whenever there’s a crappy band review, I’m usually the guy behind it. The Spice Girls, NKOTB…the next logical step seemed to be to review a Backstreet Boys album.
Yet when I checked the site…LO AND BEHOLD!!! Somebody’s beat me to the punch! There was already a BSB review. But upon further inspection, I was somewhat relieved…it was a review for Never Gone
, which meant there were actually no reviews for Backstreet’s boyband
phase. My reputation was intact.
In all seriousness, though, this was an album I had lying around the house and decided to review. And I was surprised, to say the least.
First of all, let’s look back ten years or so to the year 1995. The first batch of boybands was dead or dying: Take That were a year away from their separation, NKOTB had lost much of their previous success and the boyband scene seemed to be coming to a slow but certain halt. Then it all suddenly took a turn. All because five boys came on the scene and, in less than a year, revitalized it to the extent that, by 1996’s end, the market was once again thriving with boybands. The main culprit of this situation was a single called Quit Playing Games With My Heart
. I remember when I first saw this video on TV, and I remember hating it from the get-go, even though, at 10, I was part of the market niche for that album. I would later be seduced by the Boys’ next single, the awfully infectious Backstreet’s Back
, but that’s a whole other story…
So, the Boys achieved success and in 1997 they released the inevitable follow-up, aptly entitled Backstreet’s Back
. This, if possible, was even more
of a runaway success than its predecessor, mostly due to its infectious collection of bubblegum-pop tracks and to the band member’s appealing, clean-cut image.
Then came time for the band to grow. Their own fanbase had grown, and some of those 10 year olds were now 13, so why not give them a slightly more refined version of the same ol’, same ol’? Hence Millenium
. Extensively hyped as the band’s «maturity» album, Millenium
is in fact a logical progression of what the Boys had done on their two previous albums. Presenting an image of renewal, with the band members clad in the mandatory angelic-white suits, the album contained twelve more pop concoctions, even though most of them weren’t quite as bubblegummy as the band’s usual fare. Of course, while this helped establish the band as a more «respectable» pop outfit, it had one huge disadvantage: it created more filler than ever before. In fact, I daresay the most effective tracks here are the old-fashioned bubblegum tracks.
The album starts off with four obvious standouts: Larger Than Life
and It’s Gotta Be You
are helplessly catchy, bouncy pop tracks, while I Want It That Way
and Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely
are more introspective, «heartfelt» ballads. In fact, of all four, only the last mentioned one is mildly irritating; all three of the others are good. Yes, good
. G-O-O-D. I suppose nobody expected me to say this, but I actually like this album
. It’s perfectly crafted, it has some clear winners, and, while there’s a tad too much filler, the result is in fact vastly satisfying.
In fact, perhaps the clearest indication of this album’s quality is a little family anecdote. Both me and my 14-year-old sister loathe teen-pop material, as a rule. Yet every time my sister «plays concert» - every time
– Larger Than Life
is included in her setlist. As for me…well, in between AC/DC and Children Of Bodom, I sometimes blast It’s Gotta Be You
in my stereo at full volume and bop around to it. Sure, it’s trashy, it’s cheesy and it possesses no musical quality whatsoever; but hey – it’s hella catchy!
Unfortunately, the album as a whole fails to live up to its beginning, as the filler tracks progressively take over as the album plays on. There are some clearly above-average moments – Don’t Want You Back
, The Perfect Fan
– but most of the second half of the album is pure, drab, uninspired filler. Tracks like Spanish Eyes
– an horrendous cliché both lyrically and musically – and The One
don’t ever captivate us or capture our attention in the way that those first four tracks did. Furthermore, there’s a sequence that becomes involuntarily hilarious because of the contradiction in the song titles – first Don’t Want You Back
and then Don’t Want To Lose You Now
:) Plus, some of the messages seem a little false because they were written by old Swedish men – The Perfect Fan
, dedicated to the boys’ mums, being the perfect example.
Still I’m not going to thrash this album like I did with the Spice Girls. Simply because it’s better than the Spice Girls’. Although there’s a lot of filler, that ends up not mattering in the long run, and what we are left with is a wholly satisfying dance-pop album that should please fans of the genre. And YES- it’s good
Larger Than Life
It’s Gotta Be You
Don’t Want You Back
The Perfect Fan