Music Features

Backstreet's Back But We Wish They Weren't

The Backstreet Boys release new song "No Place."

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Backstreet's back...again. Their upcoming album, DNA, will be their first since 2013 and fans have already gotten a taste of what's to come with first single, "No Place." The song is accompanied by a video that feels like when acquaintances force you to watch their home movies, but it does prove that the members of BSB are now Dad hot, which is like regular hot, but slightly less so.

Backstreet Boys - No Place (Official Video) www.youtube.com

The song itself is wildly mediocre and cliched to the point of almost seeming intentionally lazy, like a love song written by way of Mad Libs. It often sounds like a list of weird brags about cities the group has been to, ultimately concluding that the proverbial "you" in the song is the best place of all the places, which is...boring. Granted, the song is very listenable, at least in that you kind of forget you're listening to it at all.

But perhaps most notable is the deeply uncomfortable music video featuring each of the group's members with their families. It almost works. Much of the footage is adorable and the children are having genuine fun with their respective fathers. In one moment, AJ McLean dances ballet with his two young daughters, and it becomes difficult not to feel some stirring of warmth.

However, the weirdest thing about the video isn't Howie Durough's startlingly deep V neck, or that it feels like a mash up of allergy medicine commercials, but that it comes off as a karaoke song. All of the BSB's voices are so obviously over-produced and autotuned that their mouthing along to the lyrics often verges on comedic. In one moment Kevin Richardson and his family stand on the edge of a cliff, staring into the distance arm in arm, softly murmuring the song's lyrics. It is so cringey you almost have to look away. At another point, AJ McLean stares lovingly at his wife, serenading her as the pair sit at their kitchen table drinking coffee. She looks so uncomfortable and unsure of what to do with her hands, you feel an urge to tell her you need help with the dishes just to save her from the situation.

It all raises the question: are the Backstreet Boys trying to rebrand? Do they recognize that tight jeans and dance moves just aren't in the cards anymore, so pseudo-country ballads and family man angling will have to do? Do they wear black socks with sandals?


Brooke Ivey Johnson is a Brooklyn based writer, playwright, and human woman. To read more of her work visit her blog or follow her twitter @BrookeIJohnson.

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