The Backstreet Boys are an American pop vocal group, formed in Orlando, Florida in 1993. The band originally consisted of A. J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, and Kevin Richardson. Richardson left the group in 2006 to pursue other interests, leaving the band as a four-piece, but the remaining members did not rule out a possible return of the singer. They rose to fame with their debut album, Backstreet Boys (1996). The following album, Backstreet's Back (1997) continued the group's success worldwide. They rose to superstardom with their album Millennium (1999) and its follow-up album, Black & Blue (2000). After a three-year hiatus, the band regrouped and have since released three albums: Never Gone (2005), Unbreakable (2007) and This Is Us (2009).
The Backstreet Boys have sold over 130 million records worldwide, making them the biggest selling boyband of all time. According to Billboard, they are the first group since Sade to have their first seven albums reach the top 10 on the chart.
Formation and early years (1992–1995)
Cousins Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell, both of whom came from Lexington, Kentucky, initially began singing in local church choirs and festivals while they were children. Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean were natives of Orlando, Florida, who met each other and later discovered Nick Carter through auditions who joined the two for local commercials, theater, and television. The three, realizing at one audition, that they all shared a great affection for classical soul which they were able to harmonize together, decided to form a trio. Meanwhile, Richardson moved to Orlando, where he took a job as a tour guide at Disney World and concentrated on music at nights. Eventually, he met Dorough, Carter, and McLean through a co-worker, and the four decided to form a group. Brian Littrell was later invited to join, turning the group into a quintet. In the course of all this, Lou Pearlman, in early 1992 had placed an ad in Orlando Sentinel announcing auditions to compose a boy band. A.J., who was the first to audition for Pearlman in his living room, became the group's first member. In January 1993, Pearlman held an open casting call during which hundreds of young performers danced and sang at his blimp hangar in Kissimmee, south of Orlando. Eventually, Brian Littrell, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, and Howie Dorough were selected meeting Pearlman's expectations. Pearlman decided to call the group Backstreet Boys naming it after Orlando's Backstreet flea market. The group had its very first performance at SeaWorld Orlando in May 1993.
The Backstreet Boys' sixth album Unbreakable, was officially launched on October 30, 2007. It was their first effort since Richardson's departure. While the album had received positive reviews, it did not perform as well as its predecessor, Never Gone. Unbreakable opened at #7 on The Billboard 200, selling 81,000 copies in its first week of release. Two weeks after its debut, the album dropped out of the top 100. However, it performed well in Japan, debuting at #1 on the Japanese Oricon weekly album charts and staying there for another week.
On July 25, 2007, the first single was confirmed as "Inconsolable," a piano-driven power ballad similar to Never Gone's "Incomplete." It reached #21 on the US Adult Contemporary Charts, but managed only #86 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Helpless When She Smiles" was the next single to be released from Unbreakable. It only managed to reach #52 in the US Adult Contemporary charts and in turn failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
The group went on a 45 date World tour to promote Unbreakable in Tokyo, Japan on February 16, 2008. Dates were confirmed for the tour being titled the Unbreakable Tour in Australia, Japan, Mexico, UK, Europe, Asia, Canada and The United States. They recorded a tour DVD in London's The O2 Arena which can be seen on YouTube, but has yet to be released. Richardson rejoined the rest of the band in Los Angeles at the Palladium in Hollywood on November 23, 2008 for the last North American stop of the Unbreakable Tour.
This Is Us (2009-Present)
In 2009, the group began working on a new album that was released on October 6, 2009, called This Is Us, and were confirmed to be working with Max Martin, OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder, RedOne, Ne-Yo, Brian Kennedy, Pitbull, Claude Kelly, Jim Jonsin, Eddie Galan, T-Pain, Rami Yacoub, Kristian Lundin and many others. Unlike Unbreakable, This Is Us' sound went back to their original dance-pop beats and contains a more R&B sound.
The album debuted at #9 on the Billboard 200, selling 42,000 copies in its first week of release. It peaked at #2 in Japan and was certified Platinum for shipments of 250,000 copies. On August 27, 2009, the first single, "Straight Through My Heart" was released. It failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 but managed to peak at #18 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs. The second single off the album was "Bigger" while the third single, "If I Knew Then" is due to be released. On October 30, 2009, the group went on the This Is Us World Tour, which ended in August the following year.
It was announced on the official website that Sony would be releasing a second Backstreet Boys greatest hits album on January 26, 2010. The compilation is titled Playlist: The Very Best of the Backstreet Boys and is part of a series of similar Playlist albums issued by Sony Legacy. On November 8, 2010, it was confirmed that they were planning to have a joint tour with New Kids on the Block in 2011.