Backstreet boys

Backstreet Boys Reveal Surprising *NSYNC Influence On Christmas Album

For years, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC have been branded rivals despite sharing deep friendships and launching professional collaborations. But in the ultimate reminder there’s no bad blood between the two mega pop bands, AJ McLean and Nick Carter have revealed an *NSYNC member scored the band’s upcoming holiday album, ‘A Very Backstreet Christmas”.

The band quietly released the album’s first single, a cover of Wham!’s “Last Christmas,” today (September 6), ahead of the project’s October 14 release. Their first holiday collection includes both covers and original music, and when asked about the surprising influences on the new tracks, McLean says Variety that Justin Timberlake inspired a song.

“Nick would be the first to tell you he really wanted ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling!’ to be the inspiration for a song,” McLean says, referencing Timberlake’s 2016 dance hit from the “Trolls” soundtrack. “He wanted this really happy, funky vibe.”

Carter adds, “It’s funny because there’s this whole thing about Backstreet versus *NSYNC, but we’re all about good songs and good movies and ‘Trolls’ was a movie we watched a lot with our children. Justin wrote a great song and we wanted to write a happy, uplifting song that felt the same way. Especially with the way the world is right now. It was like, ‘Let’s put positive things out there’, so we wrote ‘Happy Days’.

McLean and Carter co-wrote the new material with Kevin Richardson, Howie Dorough and Brian Littrell. The band, who are currently on their “DNA World Tour”, have also worked with musicians including Beck’s father, David Campbell, who conducted “incredible” string arrangements.

The record sees them cover classics they loved growing up, like “White Christmas” and “Winter Wonderland”, alongside new tracks, “Christmas in New York”, “Together” and “Happy Days”.

“With another one of the new songs, we wanted something that felt like old school Marvin Gaye/Otis Redding vibes,” McLean said. “We never mention Christmas in that one, so it could also be for New Years or a party or whatever.”

“This is Backstreet in its truest form,” McLean continues. “It’s very mature and the vocals are amazing. It’s the best sound we’ve made as a band in years. My wife is like, ‘It will be on repeat in our house.’ She starts playing Christmas music in July.

Carter agreed that the album contains some of the best recordings from the quintet’s 29-year history.

“The sound is so good that so many songs could be singles,” he says Variety during an interview at his recent Chords & Coffee solo event in Spokane, Washington. “It’s probably the best work we’ve done, which is funny because there’s a lot of covers and we’ve been against covers for so long, but these Christmas songs are so ingrained in our souls. It it’s been a long time since we’ve had so much quality material [to choose from] for a single person. ‘Happy Days’ could be one, but we’ll see.”

Taking inspiration from Timberlake isn’t too shocking given the various projects the members of both boy bands have embarked on in recent years. McLean and Carter teamed up with *NSYNC’s Lance Bass and Joey Fatone for a 2021 Pride Month event dubbed ‘Back-Sync’ and then McLean, Carter, Fatone and Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris headlined ‘The After Party’ in Las Vegas. JC Chasez has meanwhile written songs for McLean and the Backstreet Boys.

McLean also has an EDM side project ATCK (All the Cool Kids) with DJ Lux, which features rotating musicians including Chris Kirkpatrick of *NYSNC. The act currently opens the “DNA World Tour“, with a lineup including Aaron Space, DJ Lux and Canadian singer-songwriter Francesco Yates – best known for Robin Schulz’s 2015 collaboration “Sugar”, which recently hit 1 billion Spotify streams.

Of course, it was another musician who stole the show at one of the band’s recent gigs — Drake, who helped perform “I Want It That Way” in Toronto. A few days later, McLean teased a possible collaboration with the rapper for Variety, saying “there are conversations going on now.”

Reflecting on the moment the show stopped, Carter says it illustrated how music has no boundaries.

“It was two types of musicians, of different styles and of different generations who met, showing each other’s appreciation and proving that the boundaries of music are no longer what they used to be”, explains Carter. “We’re fans of him and he’s a fan of ours and that’s great.”

Meanwhile, aside from the “DNA World Tour” and “A Very Backstreet Christmas,” McLean is gearing up to release “Electric,” from his upcoming solo album, “Sex and Bodies.” He premiered the project’s first single, “Smoke”, on Variety, alongside a steamy video directed by longtime friend and collaborator Rene Elizondo.

Describing ‘Sex and Bodies’ as soul, funk and R&B, McLean worked with Killa B plus Edwin Honoret and Brandon Arreaga of boy band PrettyMuch on what marks his first solo album in 12 years (following 2010’s ‘Have It All’). .

“’Have It All’ was a great album, but every song sounds like a Backstreet record,” says McLean. “It’s pure pop. I was still learning who I was, being sober for the first time and trying to find my way. Now I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, look the best I’ve ever looked, and sound the best I’ve ever had.

“I’m in the right place and writing these songs was effortless,” McLean continues. “I have a great team of writers and an amazing producer. I’m over the moon and proud of this whole record.

Carter also cooks music solo, having recorded an unreleased track “Good Times” with Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s Krayzie Bone. He also plans to write more songs in the vein of Jimmie Allen’s recent collaboration, “Easy.”

The Backstreet Boys action won’t stop there. After bringing their ‘DNA World Tour’ back to the UK, Europe and South America, the group hopes the third time around will be the charm of their New Zealand and Australian tour, which was twice postponed amid of Covid-19 and will start in February.

Down Under dates will end in time for the band’s 30th anniversarye birthday in April.

“There are two potentially huge concepts being discussed that would break everyone’s brain,” says McLean, who is also expanding her nail polish line, Ava Dean Beauty. “We really want to go back to Vegas. Something else that I brought to the guys, that they love, is to make a box set for our 30ebut including our ‘red’ [debut] album, which was never released in the United States. We also have our [unreleased] acoustic record that we did with Gary Baker, which could be part of the set.

McLean also presented a 10-part documentary series, with each episode highlighting a different album and its era, while Carter would like to release a 30-song album of previously unreleased material. “There are so many things in the vault that have never been released. It would be great to have it on an album so people don’t have to search YouTube,” Carter adds.

The ideas don’t stop there. “There were also conversations about doing a stadium show for multiple nights in Orlando, which is where it all started for us,” McLean said. “It’s fair to say that on D-Day, whether it’s a TV special or a concert, there’s going to be something big!”