With glossy productions and crush-worthy looks, the Florida quintet Backstreet Boys set a template for fresh-scrubbed pop idols in the late 1990s and early 2000s — one that would be followed by the likes of N’ Sync and 98 Degrees and updated more than a decade later by One Direction and Mindless Behavior.
The group was the first to emerge from the stable of Florida music producer Lou Pearlman. After responding to a newspaper ad, the members (A.J. McLean, Howie Dorough, Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell) signed with Pearlman and quickly began recording with pop producer Max Martin. The group found early success in Europe and released its debut album in 1996 but didn't become superstars in the U.S. until 1999’s "Millennium."
That album included smash singles "I Want It That Way" and "Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely," which became staples on MTV’s "Total Request Live" and led to a legion of other boy band acts in their wake (including frequent chart rivals N’ Sync, the formative act for Justin Timberlake). The group quickly became one of the most popular acts in American music.
The band released "Black & Blue" in 2000, but after that tour cycle, trouble brewed. McLean admitted to drug and alcohol problems on "Oprah," the 2005 album "Never Gone" was largely panned, and Richardson left the group in 2006.
In 2011, however, a dual tour with fellow boy-band alums New Kids on the Block returned them to national prominence, and Richardson rejoined the group. A new album is planned for 2013 on the occasion of the group’s 20th anniversary of performing together.