Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Backstreet Boys

  • Backstreet Boys [Jive, 1997] A-
  • Backstreet's Back [Jive, 1997] Choice Cuts
  • Millennium [Jive, 1999] **
  • Black and Blue [Jive, 2000] Dud
  • Never Gone [Jive, 2005] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Backstreet Boys [Jive, 1997]
I'm not claiming I would have gotten the message without a 13-year-old I know broadcasting it from her boombox. But keynoted by two guaranteed pop classics, one dance and one heart, this is genius teensploitation. I give half credit to songwriter-svengali Max Martin, who's put in time with Ace of Base. But as someone who still suspects Abba were androids, I award the other half to the Boys, without whose sincere if not soulful simulations of soul and sincerity Martin's slow ones would be as sickening as any other promise that's made to be broken. Together the team manufactures a juicy sexual fantasy for virgins who get nervous when performers grab their dicks and think it's gross when teenage ignoramuses copy the move. They deserve one. After all, it is gross. A-

Backstreet's Back [Jive, 1997]
"That's the Way I Like It" Choice Cuts

Millennium [Jive, 1999]
softening it a little up for their younger demographic, sexing it up a little for their own peace of mind ("I Want It That Way," "Larger Than Life") **

Black and Blue [Jive, 2000] Dud

Never Gone [Jive, 2005]
Lest you doubted it, this is grotesque, and not just because stardom ruined Nick Carter like so many young people before him. It's more that nobody loves a man group. Blue-balled yearning becomes AJ-said-you-swallowed whining, which wasn't the formal challenge their Swedish Svengalis signed on for. Maybe they could learn their instruments and call themselves a man band, which rhymes. An album of Four Lads covers is also a thought. C

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