On a cooler-than-usual summer evening in Los Angeles, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, A.J. McClean and Kevin Richardson -- aka the Backstreet Boys -- got back to what made them famous: singing and dancing in front of hoards of screaming (mostly female) pop music fans.
The free concert closed out The Grove's 2013 Summer Concert Series, a month-long promotion that included performances by Sara Evans and Capital Cities in previous weeks. The Boys' 35-minute set attracted 17,500 fans.
The performance comes just one day after the release of the band's latest studio album, "In A World Like This" -- they released two additional albums without Kevin Richardson -- and continues their 20th anniversary celebration, which includes receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an upcoming documentary film and a world tour that kicks off Friday, August 2 in Chicago.
With more than 130-million album sales worldwide, the Backstreet Boys know they are the best-selling boy band of all time, but they also know this one-time golden statistic has, to a degree, lost its sheen amid the music's industry's new measures of success: ticket sales, sponsorships, downloads, clicks, tweets and Likes. By this standard, the Boys are not quite back.
With ages ranging from 33 (Carter) to 41 (Richardson), any one of the Backstreet Boys could have been Justin Bieber's much older brother, if not his father -- and it's not missed on the guys just how big a difference one generation can make.
In a candid and revealing turn, the men of the Backstreet Boys offer their take on music in the age of YouTube, react to the "haters" and explain why starting their careers in schools, malls and pet stores was just right for them.
CNN: Describe your new album in a word.
Brian Littrell: Growth.
Howie Dorough: Timeless.
A.J. McLean: Truth.
Nick Carter: Comfortable.
Kevin Richardson: Inspired.
CNN: You have a lot of fans -- and a lot of haters out there. What do you say to those that question your cool factor, relevance and place in the music industry?
Carter: We never thought we were cool.
Richardson: We never claimed to be cool.
McLean: We never said that.
Carter: We're just guys that love music.
Richardson: We love music. We do what we love and have fun and enjoy it, and put out positive vibes and energy. Yeah man, just create!
Carter: We worked hard to get where we are now. We busted our asses. It's been 20 years, you know? The grassroots approach starting overseas. Starting in Germany when America didn't want to have any association with us.
Littrell: There was no Internet, you know? You couldn't just toss your music up in the air and let it stick somewhere.