Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the Backstreet Boys since Kevin left the group, but in seeing a lot of New Kids on the Block people scratching their heads, I decided I knew enough to help. I’m interested in promoting “communication between adjoining nations” as Laurie from Little Women put it. (Leave it to me to use a nineteenth century literature reference to illustrate my point!)
In general, Backstreet Boys music is more poppy than New Kids, in my opinion. They tends to use more “real” instruments that gives them a bit more of a pop/rock sound as opposed to the R&B base to New Kids music. While they are basically the same type of music, I would wager that you would be more likely to hear Backstreet on a movie soundtrack and New Kids in a club. I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other though. It’s really just a matter of your moods and tastes at any given time. I’m told that Backstreet has more edgy music that the record label hasn’t put on any albums though. As for their voices, it is safe to say that even if you aren’t a fan yet, each guy in Backstreet has a strong ability to lead vocally. All of them sing, whereas Jordan, Joe and Donnie tend to monopolize all of the New Kids solo parts. Both groups have a vocal dynamic that work for them. My advice is to not compare one group against the other, but appreciate the talent that both have to offer in their own respects. Just as we expect Backstreet fans to learn and respect New Kids music, we should return the favor.
So now let’s meet each Backstreet Boy.
AJ McLean – 32 years old
I would describe AJ (Alexander James) as Backstreet’s equivalent to Donnie Wahlberg. As far as the “boy band formula” goes, AJ was and is pegged as the bad boy. He’s a native of Florida and I believe he has some Latino blood in him but I might be remembering that wrong. He has a taste for little dogs. I remember reading a magazine once that mentioned him having a new little puppy called Jack Daniels and he had the puppy in a play pen made for human babies. Vocally, AJ has a raspy voice but carries long notes quite well. He plays several instruments including the acoustic guitar, the saxophone, the bass guitar and the piano. He also has some theater background. For a short time, he did a solo stint as his alter-ego, British rocker, Johnny No Name. AJ has had a long battle with drugs and alcohol. He went to rehab years ago after an intervention that was led by Kevin Richardson (we’ll meet him soon). I believe he has a fiance right now but I’m not certain about that.
Brian Littrell – 35 years old
I would describe Brian as being the most like our Jordan with being more about the music and being somewhat standoffish or shy off stage. Brian is a native of Kentucky like his cousin, Kevin Richardson. He began singing in the church choir just like our own New Kids, Jon and Jordan. As a born again Christian since childhood, Brian has had a lot of solo success in the Christian music market aside from his Backstreet run. He has had a bit of scandal though because he served as a grand marshal in a gay pride parade with his bandmates, which caused several Christian stores to remove his products and stop playing his music. In my eyes, Brian is a true man of God for loving everyone. The thing I remember most about him back in the day is his heart defect. There was a hole in his heart and he had open heart surgery in the 90s. He’s very strong, vocally speaking. He sings lead a lot and he plays the acoustic guitar and the keyboards. He is married to Leighanne Wallace of Atlanta and they have a son together.
Nick Carter – 30 years old
I struggle to compare Nick with anyone in New Kids because he is… well… Nick. I suppose his mouth and attitude can be compared to our Joe and he is also a loud, sometimes nasally singer like Joe. He has a loud, crazy family that was once the subject of a reality show. He also dated Paris Hilton but we won’t hold that against him. Nick is considered “the cute one” as far as the boy band formula goes, like Jordan is stereotypically considered our cute one. Nick brings the younger more hip-hop flavor to Backstreet but he released a solo album a few years ago that I considered more pop/rock. Like AJ, Nick has struggled with drugs and alcohol. He plays the drums, bass guitar and guitar. He has also done a little bit of acting.
Howie Dorough – 37 years old
We call him Howie D or just D. Howie is the flirt, the “Latin lover”, etc. I think I would describe him as somewhat like Danny but he has some of Jon’s pickiness and some of Donnie’s charisma too. Howie is a native of Florida and he’s half-Puerto Rican and half-Irish American. He speaks fluent Spanish. Personally, I think Howie is the weakest vocally in the group, but he’s still a great singer. His start was in theater and he’s an all-around entertainer, meaning he’s a singer, dancer, songwriter and an actor. The thing I remember about him was when we met, he was sipping on hot tea with lemon. That’s his thing. He drinks a lot of hot tea to protect his vocal cords or something to that effect. I can’t remember the exact reason.
Kevin Richardson – 39 years old
While Kevin is no longer in the Backstreet Boys, I still included him in this guide because you will certainly hear talk about the glory days when the five of them were together. Kevin is universally known as the equivalent of Jon in New Kids, although they are very different men straight up and down. Kevin has done a lot of acting and modeling since he left the Backstreet Boys. He was a Versace model with Ashton Kutcher and he had several different runs in the musical Chicago among other Broadway work. He’s also a composer and very gifted on the piano. He’s Brian’s maternal first cousin and he has a wife and son. Vocally, he’s smooth and a bit on the R&B side, sort of like the way Jon sings (if you’re lucky enough to catch him singing). The thing I remember about Kevin is how tall he is (I think he’s over 6 feet) and he smelled like Mexican food when we met. I adore him. Jon was my first love and Kevin was my rebound guy.
Now that you know the basics about the Backstreet Boys, learn some of their music. Follow these links.