It takes some special talent to be named among the biggest stars known to mankind. Any aspiring singer would give everything to have their name alongside the likes of Elvis Presley, Madonna, Michael Jackson, among other legends. Here we have five young boys who had no clue just how huge their fame would get when they formed a band called the Backstreet Boys way back in 1993.
While the Backstreet Boys may not have the same legendary persona as the big names they are among, what warrants their place in the list has to do with album sales in excess of 130 million! The boys have tasted their fair share of success and continue releasing new music to this day.
However, as is the case with all famous singers, these boys have also suffered problems. Some have been common knowledge owing to their popularity back in the day, while others aren’t quite as well known. As their popularity has diminished to some extent, their secrets have also been diminished from the memories of the public.
The most notorious members, who end up on the wrong side of the law, seem to be Nick Carter and A.J. Mclean, but all five of the boys have secrets that can be termed no less than heartbreaking. It’s important to remember, though, that mistakes are made from all kinds of people, and one should not be quick to judge no matter how dark some of the doings of the Backstreet Boys might be.
25 An Entirely False Rivalry
At the break of this century, it seemed the battle between the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC would be endless. Fans of either band were such that they would purchase multiple copies of the same album aiming to beat album sales records in favor of their favorite group!
Although we never saw the two bands ever locking horns with one another on screen, we also never saw any buddy moments between the two, leading most to buy the notion that there was, in fact, some heated rivalry brewing. However, now that all of us have grown and matured, the details behind this have been shared with the public. As it turns out, there never was any actual rivalry going on. A.J. Mclean admitted the two sides never held anything other than respect for one another, and the ‘Rivalry’ was exaggerated to boost the bands’ popularity.
24 The Carter Brothers' Estrangement
Perhaps more so than Nick, his brother Aaron had tasted greater success owing to his enormous fanbase when the boy had barely been a teenager. Aaron had a number of smash hits and got the rub from being the brother of Nick who belonged to the hottest band on the planet at the time.
At one point both brothers had been part of the reality show House of Carters, that depicted the Carter family and the goings on in their lives. All seemed to be well between the siblings until recent times. Aaron has been suffering from dependency issues for years and recently underwent a stint in a rehabilitation facility. In response, the older Carter voiced support for his brother on Twitter only to be rebuffed by Aaron, who accused his sibling of offering sympathy only for the benefit of his image rather than being genuine.
23 The Worst Kind Of Influence
In the early 2000s, the name the tabloids loved the most was Paris Hilton. The socialite brought the entire name of her family to shame with her crude antics, and the tabloids loved it. Hilton would always be found out partying and indulging in corrupted practices.
Unfortunately for Nick Carter, he was with the wrong girl.
Carter and Hilton were an item for a while, which proved to be a terrible influence on Nick as he partook in numerous indulgences with substances and his dependency reached its peak. Nick credits this to be a dark time in his life and openly blames Hilton for it. In his 2013 autobiography, the singer claims she fed his worst impulses and encouraged him to live the party lifestyle harder.
22 Lou Pearlman Almost Ruined Them
The struggles the boys had with their manager Lou Pearlman are still shrouded in mystery. The cracks in their relationship became apparent earlier on when the group first started tasting worldwide success. At the time the internet had not been set in mainstream media and people had to rely on tabloids for any dish on this scoop. A whole lot of uncertainty surrounded the clashes the boys had with Pearlman but nothing was confirmed.
That is until Pearlman himself was apprehended by the authorities. He was running one of the largest Ponzi schemes known. Pearlman would siphon off money made through his boy-band ventures, leaving very little for the boys themselves, and capitalized on the initial awful deals he coerced them to sign. Even after the nature of the Ponzi scheme has been identified, Pearlman is believed to have caused more personal harm to the band members.
21 Brain Littrell's Voice Problems
Those who remain loyal fans will no doubt have taken notice of the change in Brain Littrell’s voice. Long touted as possessing the most angelic of voices within the group, Littrell’s recent performances reflect a certain crack when hitting the high notes.
This has made him switch to a different style of singing when having to hit higher.
In the Backstreet Boys’ documentary film Show ‘Em What You’re Made of, Littrell’s struggles are detailed, and the band’s difficulty with coping with this problem is also shown. Littrell is perhaps the member who takes solo responsibilities the most among the group so this was a real problem. It has been revealed Littrell suffers from vocal tension dysphonia, something that tightens the muscles around his neck. In order to improve his condition, he regularly seeks medical attention.
20 Mommy Music
Even back in the nineties, the group catered mainly to the female demographic. After all, a group of five eligible men does have its appeal, but not one likely to be shared with other males.
As the years have gone by the young girls who flocked to every show and concert have become mothers themselves. And now when one views the sea of women at a Backstreet Boys concert they notice a slew of females in their late twenties and thirties. This was even humorously mentioned during a rap battle between the Backstreet Boys and Charlie Puth where the latter took a shot at the group claiming it was only moms who were their fans.
19 A.J. Mclean's Problems
A.J. Mclean was promoted as the ‘bad boy’ of the group. It wasn’t hard to see why either. The young man defined the term ‘cool’ as far as anyone else in the group was considered. Early in life, the Backstreet Boy had procured several tattoos that meant to represent his struggles in life.
Exactly what struggles he faced were once cast in obscurity, but not for long.
In the late nineties, Mclean’s problems with indulging in substances were clear within the group, and he faced difficulties in containing it. By the early 2000’s, when the boys were at the peak of their success, Mclean had no option but to take an indefinite leave of absence and check in to rehab for his troubles. This ultimately sparked the group’s hiatus from the public until their reunion on Oprah.
18 The Passing Of Leslie Carter
It seems tragedy and the Carter family go hand in hand. The brothers already have had their fair share of personal struggles, and to add to this misery was the sudden demise of their sister Leslie, who passed away at the very young age of 25 due to the shared family trait of substance intake. What was even more tragic was the fact that older brother Nick did not even attend the funeral.
The reason for this absence was Nick’s ongoing feud with his parents. It is awful to miss one’s own sibling’s funeral but It would seem circumstances were much too dire for Nick to make a presence, who claimed his family accused him to be responsible in some manner. Nick did confess the news of his sister’s passing was the most horrific he had ever heard.
17 Double Meanings Galore
Those who keep a keen ear out for the lyrics behind the band’s songs will realize just how surprisingly adult they are. While the band didn’t venture into mature content until they themselves had aged considerably, their earlier offerings were filled double entendres.
Songs such as Get Down, while being catchy and having a clean music video, in fact have quite strange interpretations.
The song The Call is completely about a person who is in the process of getting caught by his significant other after being unfaithful to her. If we’re talking about deeper meanings, look no further than Larger than Life, whose lyrics "your love is affecting our reality" have been interpreted by many as the boys admitting the struggles of fame due in part of their demanding fans.
16 Kevin Richardson's Sudden Departure
Unlike other boy bands, the Backstreet Boys have stood the test of time. As of writing, they have been together for 25 years. However, that would only be looking at the picture from the outside as the group was, for a time, a quartet. From 2006 to 2012, the band had to contend without its oldest member, Kevin Richardson, who announced his sudden departure. During that time the boys did regroup, however, and released two albums Unbreakable and This Is Us.
It is perceived by many that the meaning behind the Unbreakable album was the boys relaying the message that the group as a core would not be shattered. Initially, they were pressured into auditioning for a fifth member, but wisely the boys shot that idea down.
15 The Solo Attempt
During the band’s rise, Nick Carter was the most touted member seeing as the boy was the youngest and had the largest female following. By the time the band completed Black & Blue, they had begun working on the next planned album but were blindsided by Nick, who confessed aspirations of releasing solo material. What brought the most ire to the rest of the band, though, was Nick’s decision to remain with the production company the boys had just parted with, The Firm.
Things got heated to such an extent that the rest of the group began recording material for their album without Carter.
He was expected to join in later on. Carter would release his album Now or Never and was able to maintain his friendly relations with the group, but it was around this time the Backstreet Boys went on an extended hiatus.
14 The Nonsensical Lyrics
The first song that pops into most peoples’ heads when Backstreet Boys are mentioned is their biggest hit I Want It That Way. The song punctuated the success of the album Millennium, released in 1999, and was responsible for the band hitting their peak. However, a dubious fact related to this song is that the lyrics don’t make a lick of sense.
I Want It That Way’s music more than makes up for its lyrical shortcomings, though, and for the most part, the nonsensical lyrics were overlooked. Eventually, though, it became too notorious to be ignored and band member Kevin Richardson even admitted the song made no sense. According to the lyrics, a person admits their endless love for a girl, only for the chorus to detail that this love is not worth it. There’s also the matter that the video has nothing to do with the song.
13 A Sad End For A Dear Friend
The Backstreet Boys’ success has come not only due to its core members, but from all those who have played a part in bringing the group’s performances to life. The Boys are close with all their crew and did not leave out former member Daniel John Lee at the time of his passing.
One might wonder why this particular person impacted the group so much.
You might be surprised to know that Daniel met his end in the doomed flight that crashed in the tragedy of 9/11. It was already a very trying time for the group, who were hit with A.J. Mclean’s personal struggles that had sparked their hiatus. Now with the very public passing of one of their comrades, the sad reality of life hit them hard.
12 A Hole In His Heart
Brian Littrell has had his fair share of health problems. Even before the internet had even taken its baby steps the Backstreet Boys fame was such that news of the band’s struggles would spread like wildfire. One of the most well known earlier troubles faced by the band’s members was Littrell battling a heart condition.
Brian suffered from a hole in his heart since he was born and had been rushed to the hospital numerous times as a toddler. In 1998, he underwent corrective open heart surgery, that fortunately proved to be fruitful. Brian eventually started a foundation that assists children with similar defects. Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of features Brian without his shirt with the intention of displaying the scar he still has from the surgery.
11 A Habit That's Hard To Quit
A.J. Mclean’s substance problems have been well documented, but he was also addicted to a habit that affects many in the general population. Mclean was a known smoker and would indulge in the habit to his liking. However, as it turned out even this vice of his had its ill effects.
Mclean admitted the reason he had given up his smoking habit was due to it ruining his voice.
Smoking does affect the throat. Many smokers suffer from sore throats, being in the music business meant that A.J. needed to take some extra precautions, and added ‘No Smoking’ to his already full list of habits to break. Ultimately, it has borne fruit for Mclean as he has maintained his natural voice and continues to fight against his impulses.
10 Bringing The Band(s) Together
While this fact may not be dark in the context of the real world, it is when considered in-universe of the film Dead 7. It was a fantasy come alive for fans of the boy band generation. Nick Carter managed to procure his Backstreet Boys mates Howie Dorough and A.J. Mclean, along with band members from *NSYNC, 98 Degrees, All-4-One and O-Town, for the zombie horror film.
It seemed the B-movie was a parody meant for cheap thrills. But Carter revealed he himself had penned the film’s story and was actively involved in the production process. The movie featured a surprisingly serious performance by its cast, none of whom were professional actors. It aired on SyFy to a good viewership response.
9 The Loss Of A Sister
Howie D. is the band’s quietest member. He even has the least lead vocals in the band’s songs but is widely accepted as the nicest one Backstreet Boy. Howie is also the source of some diversity in an otherwise Caucasian-centric group. However, he seems content with simply being part of the band contributing in that capacity.
What’s lost in this process is the heartbreaking less-known fact of the Backstreet Boy’s sister’s passing.
Caroline Dorough-Cochran contracted lupus in 1998, which lead to her untimely demise. In honor of his sister, Howie established the Dorough Lupus Foundation to bring awareness to the disease and help those who can’t financially support themselves with the treatment. It also donates money for research. This is another fact the humanitarian Howie doesn’t flaunt about in public.
8 The Loss Continues
Kevin Richardson is a family man through and through and the big brother for all the members of the group. The reason for this role is the fact that the Backstreet Boy has tasted his share of tragedy. This is in the form of his father’s loss to the battle with cancer.
Kevin’s father was his mentor figure and it was due to his encouragement that Kevin pursued his life’s desires. Unfortunately, at the age of 19, he received a call from his mother. She informed him of his father’s health taking a turn for the worse. He then passed away two months later. Richardson has been vocal about the depression he underwent due to this life event. The song Incomplete was dedicated to his father’s memory.
7 The Battle Against The Record Company
It appears as far as money is concerned, the Backstreet Boys have never received what is rightfully due to them. In 2002, the boys cut ties to their record company Zomba Recording, parent of Jive Records, for a disclosed amount of $75 million. The many charges laid against the corporation included intentional interference, breach of contract, trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The boys also accused Zomba of withholding advances ranging in the millions that they never received.
These advances were to have been distributed as part of a deal of delivering the albums for Zomba in quick time. While the boys held their end of the bargain, Zomba didn’t. Zomba would instead play dirty and ignore the album Black & Blue, seeking to coerce Nick Carter to produce solo material.
6 Diminishing Popularity
The Backstreet Boys were among the kings of the music industry during their heyday. While the group never managed to win any Grammy awards, they were nominated multiple times owing to their immense popularity. However, nowadays the age of boy bands has taken quite a tumble.
With the exception of One Direction, the boy band craze has faded. Bands such as 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block, and the Backstreet Boys themselves are termed as nostalgia acts. The boys have confessed to this decline in popularity and the frustrations that come with it. In an interview, Brian Littrell admitted the confusion that surrounded the group when their peak fell after 2002. He asked, "What do you do when you’re a grown man in a boy band?"
5 The Uncomfortable Truth
Guys don’t have it good for them when the issue of objectification is brought up. It’s the women whose voices are generally heard. Men are more often than not expected to feel good about being ogled by people.
The Backstreet Boys were exposed to this objectification back when they first started out.
At the time of filming Quit Playing Games With My Heart, the boys were all either in their late teens or early twenties. Their main appeal was the fact that they were extremely pleasurable to look at. In order to capitalize on this, the song featured the boys twirling around in the rain with their chests exposed. They haven’t been quiet about how uncomfortable it was to film this sequence. However, the ploy worked out, and an entire generation of female fans was captured.
4 Album Sales Have Taken A Tumble
The Backstreet Boys is the first name at the tip of the tongues of everyone when the words boy band are mentioned. But there’s no denying that in this new age they do not possess the raw strength that was once a given.
Back in their heyday, Millennium broke album sales records. It cemented the no. 1 spot at the US Billboard 200. To date, the album is one of the highest sold records of all time. It sold as many as 30 million copies! And yet, recent sales have been a shadow of this success. The most recent album In A World Like This opened at no. 5 at the Billboard 200. Since its release in 2013, it's only managed worldwide sales of 800,000 copies. In fact, the last no.1 album for the boys remains 2000's Black & Blue.
3 Nick's Tussle With The Law
The list of problems for Nick Carter keeps getting extended as the years go by. While the rest of the boys have, in general, kept their demons in the past, the youngest member remains the most erratic. In January 2016, 36-year-old Nick was arrested in Florida when he was denied access to a bar. You’d wonder why Nick wasn’t allowed to visit this establishment, as he would be within his rights.
Well, the reason would be because Carter had arrived and was already gone.
This meant his good sense had already been left back home even before he was able to set foot in the establishment. The charge placed on Nick was battery after Carter clocked the bouncer with a punch. Upon being restrained, he was taken to the authorities.
2 As The Years Go By
Nobody ever stays young. Father time will catch up and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Even young hunks like the Backstreet Boys get older. The boys were extremely young upon their formation back in 1993. Oldest member Kevin was only 22, while youngest Nick was a mere 13. As of writing it is only Nick who has not hit the age of 40 yet.
Part of the appeal of boy bands is their youthful energy. But when a band has members all in their middle ages, popularity does begin to wane. Credit to the boys for maintaining its loyal fan base. But as the years go by, one will notice the average age of their concert goers will be bound to increase. They simply aren't the same as they used to be.
1 The Ultimate Accusation
In the aftermath of the Weinstein scandal, it’s hard to find many male celebrities who haven’t been accused by some woman from their distant past to have taken advantage of them. This wave of accusations has now been passed over to the music industry as well.
Nick Carter has been accused by former girlfriend Melissa Schuman of being inappropriate.
Nick claims he is completely innocent of any guilty act toward Schuman, stating their relations were taken to be consensual. It remains to be seen what the true details of their exchange were. People on the internet barely believe in the term innocent until proven guilty. Many have already taken Schuman’s claims as the truth. However, only time will tell what the real matter is.