NY Daily News Review: 02/04/01, Uniondale, NY
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The Backstreet Boys deliver guilty pleasures right up front
By: Jim Farber
No one could accuse the Backstreet Boys of forgetting their fans. For the opening number of their stirringly silly new tour, which glitzed its way through the Meadowlands Saturday and razzle-dazzles Nassau Coliseum tonight, the Boys sang “Everybody,” (he means “Everyone” but he’s just dumb lol) the chorus of which endlessly declares, “This one goes out to you.”
They followed that with “Larger Than Life,” in which the Boys credit their very lives to the screaming millions. In addition, they featured countless shots of adoring fans projected onto giant video screens, and shouted things into the pitch-dark arena like, “I’m so glad to see so many familiar faces out there.”
Yes, fans, the Backstreet Boys do it all for you – even if that slogan was cooked up by the burger company rival to the one that sponsors this tour. Regardless, their show was the perfect equivalent to the entire fast food industry. Both offer products that are oily, cheesy, most likely bad for you and utterly irresistible.
For every corny element of the Boys’ production – and there were plenty – the fivesome offered an expertly crafted piece of pop. In terms of material, the Boys remain the Cadillac of the teen set. Over their four albums, they’ve amassed so much strong material that, for this tour, they could omit one of their best songs (“Quit Playing Games With My Heart”) and place no filler in its stead.
Clearly, the guys know their strength. While the competition (‘N Sync, Britney) have lately gone for the more stridently upbeat material, the Boys’ specialty remains ballads with a backbeat.
Three quarters of their 21-song show, which runs an hour and 40 minutes, centered on mid-paced material with killer choruses. This included “Show Me The Meaning Of Being Lonely,” “Shape Of My Heart,” “More Than That” and the impeccable “I Want It That Way” (even if the lyrics are more indecipherable than the Dead Sea Scrolls).
Like all teen acts, their faster numbers show the unfortunate influence of Michael Jackson’s fake-sounding ‘80s rock tracks, circa “Bad.” Small wonder that songs like “Shining Star” and “Get Another Boyfriend” sounded so forced.
But at least the Boys’ voices have improved- especially A.J.’s, which circumvents the others’ squeakiness to ass grit. They’re writing well too. Two of the night’s best songs, “Time” and “The Answer To Our Lives,” are their own.
On the other hand, their choreography constantly shuns sensuality for bumbling athleticism. Their costumes are so tacky, they’d probably get rejected by Siegfried and Roy. And their theatrics prove that while you can take the Boys out of the theme parks, you can’t do the reverse.
Then again, at least these Boys come by their bad taste honestly. And while they may revel in cliches, they helped create them. Perhaps the best way to view them, then, is as the modern equivalent of the middle-of-the-road ‘70s acts like Bread and The Carpenters. In the end, there’s as much to admire as to lampoon.
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