Music » Livewire

Backstreet Boys

Tuesday, March 29, at the House of Blues.

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The beef between 50 Cent and Game has nothing on any Backstreet Boys vs. 'N Sync battles. Backstreet got its knickers in a twist in 1999, when J. Timberlake et al. signed to Jive -- the label the Boys were on first, what nerve! Then, after the quintet sold 1.13 million copies of its '99 disc, Millennium, in its first week of release, 'N Sync shifted twice as many first-week copies of No Strings Attached the following year. It was enough to drive a teen heartthrob to drink -- as demonstrated by bad-boy Backstreeter A.J. McLean, who drank heavily until hitting rehab in 2001. (Bandmate Nick Carter, who also indulged, was charged recently with drunk driving.)

In retrospect, however, the Backstreet Boys were romantic operators who crafted far more indelible music than 'N Sync, whose fluffier hits seem as forgettable as a drunken kegger hookup. And let's be honest: Twentysomething Death Cab for Cutie fans totally blared "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" at college parties, and they'll be screaming every word to the pop perfection of "I Want It That Way" on this small club tour in advance of Backstreet's first disc in five years.

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