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The Weird World of Backstreet Boys fans (pre USA fame)
December 22, 2007 11:12 AM   Subscribe

While the Spice Girls are currently inflicting their 4th division nightclub appearance act on their poor fans I was rather surprised to see a tiny little ad in the newspaper announcing a UK tour by the Backstreet Boys. While on the surface it seems that this reflects the popularity of one over the other, I can't help thinking that this is pretty much the way they want it (hee!) having observed how completely insane their fans used to be.

In 1997 I tolerated BSB because a) my 11 year old sister loved them and b) they were ok singers I guess and had a few catchy songs. However they were nowhere near as entertaining as the online BSB fan community. (Remember when Rolling Stone were forced to put them on the cover, pants down, after thousands of fans voted online? Leading of course to a saturation of pop artist covers.) The big daddy was, of course, Backstreet.net which had daily news updates, sightings by fans (bordering on stalking) and an unbelievable list of fansite links. A large number of these were BSB humour sites, which rapidly multiplied thanks to We Like Girls, the original and best written by the mysterious Cheryl. Far from being a squealing shrine to everything BSB, Cheryl had some pretty fan-unfriendly, offensive (and sometimes funny) comments on how much she hated HowieD, why Nick was Gay, how they treated their fans, NSYNC being a carbon copy of BSB, and a pretty insightful prediction of AJ's forthcoming addiction.

Her website spawned tons of imitators (all long gone now) but the other end of the spectrum produced the Mature Fan Club. A place where older (think 25-70) fans congregated and began their mission to support the positive image of BSB across the world. Yeah. Their website today is just a small forum now, but at one time they were huge, ruffling the feathers of the 'kewler' older fans at Livedaily. The stuffy, uptight Mature Fan Club didn't think much of the Livedaily lowbrow topics of discussion, such as Kevin's rather blatant booty obsession.

But of course the fun and games had to end, and it pretty much came down to their double-edged popularity in the US. Foreign fans were pissed off that they weren't visiting them anymore, US fans were pissed off at foreign fans for whining, and the sheer number of online fans made it impossible for any member of BSB to even sneeze unnoticed. If you ever caught that short MTV special on their 100hour world trip you'd have seen a pop group in meltdown. Shortly afterwards the official site announced the cancellation of several tour dates due to Nick injuring his arm, but they didn't stand a chance against the legions of online fans who quickly spread the word that AJ was in Arizona for rehab. Literally hours later they went on MTV to confess all, leading a chorus of "See?! I told you so!!" by older sisters to their younger siblings (ahem). While they never actually broke up, they did lose Kevin and faded into the background with the usual solo albums and occasional appearances. Funny that they seem to be dismissed as a flash in the pan now, while the likes of Take That are somehow being allowed back on TV again. But you know, when my sister (now 21) and I started singing I Want It That Way at karaoke a few weeks ago, the WHOLE damn pub joined in.

(NB Quite a few links above are from archive.org and may not work all the time.)
posted by gatchaman (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
When I was about 9 or 10 years old, there was a bully that lived by my friend. I don't remember many details of what he did, but I do have a rather vivid memory of him spitting in my face. We got back at him, though. Oh you better fucking believe we did.

His name? Wendell.
posted by item at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Unicorn on the cob is gonna kick your ass. Just sayin'...
posted by miss lynnster at 11:19 AM on December 22, 2007


In 1997 I tolerated BSB...

Tolerated? From your extensive knowledge, I'd say a verb other than "tolerated" is probably warranted.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on December 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ha!
posted by item at 11:20 AM on December 22, 2007


Also... please condense this post into an easily-scannable one paragraph essay. It's due on my desk first thing Monday morning and will count for 70% of your grade for the semester. Thanks.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:25 AM on December 22, 2007


Well, jeez.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on December 22, 2007


The Spice Girls survived Baghdad? Goddamnit!
posted by loquacious at 11:50 AM on December 22, 2007


Oh boy.
posted by puke & cry at 11:52 AM on December 22, 2007


Also... Why are you torturing us with this post about such inane crap?
posted by loquacious at 11:53 AM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


"...please condense this post into an easily-scannable one paragraph essay..."

The deuce you say!

A week or so ago a friend talked me into going out to see this local punk band play live. Now, I wasn't a punk groupie in the heyday of it, but I've studied under George Gimarc's brilliant historical recollections. I remember his fantastic but now mostly forgotten radio show "The Rock N Roll Alternative" which introduced me to The Clash, Siouxsie & the Banshees, The Talking Heads, and Elvis Costello way back in the early 80s. I had discovered aural nirvana. ...This was before Nirvana.

I came late to the party, but I know a thing or two about what makes good punk and what makes bad punk, and what made punk punk - how it evolved. These guys I saw the other night? Bad. Beyond bad. They had all the trappings and none of the angst. They knew a few chords and attempted to emulate the style of everything from the Sex Pistols to the Ramones, but it was hollow and stale as the smoke in the room... and loud. Just cuz an amplifier can go to eleven doesn't mean it should.

It was painful watching and listening to these guys. They were honestly trying with everything they had. They just ...it was fake. They weren't really punks. They were just pretending to be punks cuz they liked the music. They were trying helplessly to capture the essence of what made the music they loved in their youth. They wanted to be that music and the best they could do was imitate, like a myna bird trying to regurgitate the Gettysburg Address. My heart went out to them because you could tell their hearts were into the effort. I could understand what they were trying to do, but they were accosting my senses. They were ringing the bell but the tone was soured. They didn't have whatever magic Iggy Pop channelled almost forty years ago. No amount of beer was going to make them any better.

Yet I can sincerely say I enjoyed that performance the other night more than I could ever enjoy Backstreet Boys. The worst punk band in the world is better on their worst day, than any 'boy band' at the pinnacle of its success. I will never understand why anyone EVER paid lip service to the 'popular music' of the 1990s.

I can only attribute it to proof that evil is a real and substantial entity, and it spends way too many resources on keeping 'Top 40' alive. Anyone who supports the memory of The Backstreet Boys - you're 'evil-doers'. Congratulations.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2007 [7 favorites]


This really seems suited for your own blog.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:55 AM on December 22, 2007


I 2nd loquacious. Please find another forum for lengthy esoteric essays on drivel.
posted by argybarg at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2007


Tolerated? From your extensive knowledge, I'd say a verb other than "tolerated" is probably warranted.

At one point I even knew the friggin pug names.

Why am I torturing you all? Because it's Christmas of course.
posted by gatchaman at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2007


You guys are crazy. This is like a Christmas present from Jesus. I'm going to go get drunk now.
posted by brain cloud at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why am I torturing you all? Because it's Christmas of course.

But baby, all I want for Christmas is you.
posted by katillathehun at 12:02 PM on December 22, 2007


I would like to make it clear to everyone concerned that item is referring to another Wendell. As much as I have tried to pin down the name of the Web, I am not the only one. Also, I have never, never, never spit in anyone's face. When I was that age, I was the favored victim of bullies myself; bullies named Clay, Steve and Mario (many years before Mario the heroic plumber). I never exacted my own revenge on any of them, but some of them suffered truly awful karmic payback, including one who broke his back playing football and became a quadriplegic. After that, I have tried to avoid wishing ill on my enemies. But still, if I ever meet item at a MeFi meetup, spit will be spat.

Now, what does this have to do with the Best of the Web?
posted by wendell at 12:03 PM on December 22, 2007




Fourth Division? The Spice Girls are Derby County.

They were big in 96-97-98, dropped off the face of the earth shortly after that, then staged a comeback to the Premiership, only to immediately sink the bottom of the drop zone, where they will sit until May when they be returned to the remainder bin that is the League.
posted by dw at 12:05 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why am I torturing you all? Because it's Christmas of course.

Sorry, but that's my family's job.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:07 PM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


In 1997 I tolerated BDSM because a) my 21 year old girlfriend loved it and b) it was okay sex I guess with a few exciting positions. However it were nowhere near as entertaining as the online BDSM community.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:08 PM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


The problem with being a pop group who relies in a large part on being pretty and young is that people age, and if you're reliant on being "boys" or "girls" to sell yourself--well, you have an expiration date.

Some "artists" accept this, others don't. Some fans accept this, others (and I'm thinking of a friend who still obsesses over Duran Duran) can't let it go.
posted by maxwelton at 12:16 PM on December 22, 2007


What...what the hell...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:20 PM on December 22, 2007


Backstreet Boys? What's next, a New Kids On The Block reunion tour?
posted by pax digita at 12:35 PM on December 22, 2007


So, I was online in '97 and I didn't know any of this crap was going on. So I found it kind of interesting.
posted by delmoi at 12:43 PM on December 22, 2007


4th division nightclub appearance act

Hey, nice handbag.
posted by cillit bang at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fourth Division? The Spice Girls are Derby County.

They were big in 96-97-98, dropped off the face of the earth shortly after that, then staged a comeback to the Premiership, only to immediately sink the bottom of the drop zone, where they will sit until May when they be returned to the remainder bin that is the League.


Can someone translate this into American English please? Does this mean Spice Girls good or Spice Girls bad?
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:54 PM on December 22, 2007


BSB were a group of children put together by a well-known pedophile. Spice Girls were a group of barely talented but legal women who knew exactly what they were getting into, and did it for the money and the fame. There is a difference.

And their show was not a crappy nightclub act; it was amazing. I was there. It was arena-worthy entertainment just shy of perhaps Madonna, for my money. The UK tabloids are notoriously negative, and often put false information in their stories.

BSB were pretty talented for what they were, and I actually liked "Backstreet's Back" (hate to admit that!) but I never got into boybands. I couldn't salivate over their costumes or fantasize about being a member, for one...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2007


Hmmm, see what happened today was I found a whole mess of links on an old pc I was picking apart, and spent an afternoon hooting with laughter with my mate at the sheer bizarreness of these BSB fan sites. I thought other people would also get a cheap laugh at how seriously a lot of fans took a mediocre boyband, and how they actually ended up destroying them. But nope. I got it wrong. Got the mood wrong. Sorry babes. (btw I'm actually a girlie, even though I'm a Gatchaman).
posted by gatchaman at 1:06 PM on December 22, 2007


The Spice Girls are now hot mamas with a little more fat and, as a result, nice big tits. That is all.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:09 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


What we need now is a cross between 'American Bandstand' and 'Soul Train' without the BET,
MTV, VH1 video bullsh*t.
posted by doctorschlock at 1:20 PM on December 22, 2007


did somebody say gatchaman? Also: Ace no Thema
posted by panamax at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Foolish me.

There I was, thinkin' that Metafilter was not Tiger Beat.

'Cause it's easy to see how that onfusion could arise.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2007


they were ok singers I guess

They have Auto-Tune to thank for that.
posted by baphomet at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2007


This is the thread to mention just how weird it is to me, when I think back to 2000, that Justin Timberlake is now one of the most widely respected musicians out there. Also, thinking back a decade, who would've thought that Damon Albarn would become one of the most successful hip hop artists in the world.
posted by Kattullus at 2:23 PM on December 22, 2007


that Justin Timberlake is now one of the most widely respected musicians out there

Where? Where?! Wherever the hell "there" is, I sure am glad I ain't there.
posted by afx237vi at 2:33 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


N'Sync will be back and "...I defy anyone to not shake their butt to it."
posted by Octoparrot at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2007


Can someone translate this into American English please? Does this mean Spice Girls good or Spice Girls bad?

I don't think it's really a value judgment, either way, more of an observation: they were popular/successful for a while, then disappeared from the charts, and now they've come back, but still aren't going to be successful for more than a brief period before disappearing again. (Like Derby County, who were a good team a little while ago, got relegated, won promotion last season but are heading for an all-time record low performance in the Premiership this season).
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:04 PM on December 22, 2007


gatchaman; I think it's great that you're documenting your past enthusiasm for the BSB and pissing off the indie rock fanatics. Insufferable self-important fools that they are.
posted by jouke at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fourth Division? The Spice Girls are Derby County.


Hmmm....by which logic, Oasis (ironically) are Manchester United; adored by millions of empty headed morons for no explicable reason, and loathed by the rest, they remain a benchmark of success in the UK, while Americans can't quite work out what the fuss is about.
posted by Infinite Jest at 3:11 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


BSB were a group of children put together by a well-known pedophile.

Ephebophile. There's a difference, and it's important. Pedophiles rape prepubescent children who are incapable of forming consent. Ephebophiles go after adolescents who may or may not be able to form consent. (Don't get me wrong; the guy has pretty clearly abused his position to extort sexual favours from impressionable and occasionally desperate youths. That is vile and disgusting, but many of the boys involved were nominally grown up (to a point! to a point!) and made a conscious decision, albeit coerced. A prepubescent child is simply not able to form consent. Nor, indeed, is a prepubescent child often capable of saying no to an adult who is telling them to do something. Errr.. the point I'm trying to make is: let's be a little more exact with what words we use.)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


...they remain a benchmark of success in the UK, while Americans can't quite work out what the fuss is about.

He remains a benchmark of success in the UK, while Americans can't quite work out what the fuss is about.
posted by ericb at 3:19 PM on December 22, 2007


Hmmm....by which logic, Oasis (ironically) are Manchester United; adored by millions of empty headed morons for no explicable reason, and loathed by the rest, they remain a benchmark of success in the UK, while Americans can't quite work out what the fuss is about.

(Shoulda hit preview)

I'm sick of people slagging on Oasis. They are very very very good for what they are: middle of the road pseudo-rock that everyone can sing along to. Not every band can be the Rolling Stones; not everyone gets to be a CEO. The midlevels are important, too. Just recognize acts like Oasis, and the Spice Girls, and for that matter Britney Spears, for what they are: entertainment, not serious art.

Example: CSI vs., say, Law & Order. The former is laughably bad as serious drama, but it's really quite good as entertainment that lets you unplug for a bit. Define things within their context.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


BSB were a group of children put together by a well-known pedophile.

Ephebophile.


Ah yes, lest we forget Lou Pearlman ("Mad About the Boys").
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2007


dirtynumbangelboy, Lou Perleman preyed on young men who were in his care, under his tutelege, and dependent on him financially either as employees or potential clients. He encouraged a hell of a lot of boys and their parents to put complete trust in him as the supposed "papa bear" looking out for the kids' interests. His pattern of abuse of that powerful role renders moot any quaint notion of minors who "may or may not be able to form consent". They were no more (and a good deal lesss) capable of meaningful consent than any other employee whose boss conditions their continuing employment on sexual favors.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2007


His pattern of abuse of that powerful role renders moot any quaint notion of minors who "may or may not be able to form consent".

Yes, which is why I said:

"Don't get me wrong; the guy has pretty clearly abused his position to extort sexual favours from impressionable and occasionally desperate youths. That is vile and disgusting, but many of the boys involved were nominally grown up (to a point! to a point!) and made a conscious decision, albeit coerced."

I'm not saying that what he did wasn't wrong, just that there is a difference between raping children who cannot consent, and coercing adolescents who may or may not be able to. Further, I'd like to add that the very fact of his abuse of power really pushes that towards the 'not be able to' side of the equation, inasmuch as their whole futures were being dangled (ahem) in front of them.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:03 PM on December 22, 2007


Oh, and?

It's not a quaint notion. When I was 14, I was certainly able to consent to all the sex I was having. Many of my peers were probably not able to, but some were. Thus 'may or may not', which is entirely dependent on the person in question and the context of the situation.

That being said, it's probably a decent general rule to say that the wider the age and power gap, the less likely it is that the younger person in question is able to form truly meaningful consent.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:11 PM on December 22, 2007


Oops, should have been more clear... that should have said "perceived power gap", whether there is much power differential or no.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:19 PM on December 22, 2007


I'm sick of people slagging on Oasis. They are very very very good for what they are: middle of the road pseudo-rock that everyone can sing along to.

Yeah, I actually kinda like Oasis (got 3 or 4 albums, seen 'em live). And I support Man Utd. Just a silly riff on the Derby County analogy (and I mainly used it because Oasis are absolutely fanatical Man City supporters, so would hate being compared to United).
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:34 PM on December 22, 2007


*Puts on his scarf, breathes in deeply and yells ARRR-SON-ELLLLLLLL!! Like an idiot for the next 90 minutes*
posted by Faux Real at 5:31 PM on December 22, 2007


*finishes yelling, begins to miss the ‘03 ‘04 seasons again*
posted by Faux Real at 7:03 PM on December 22, 2007


Faux Real, that was a fantastic pair of comments.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:10 PM on December 22, 2007


The BSB are a lame, manufactured pop act, but probably the most talented and most tolerable of their ilk. I admit to enjoying a couple songs off the Millenium album (and shame on me for remembering the name of the album). "I Want It That Way" is undeniably catchy and relatively sticky in the memory.
posted by autodidact at 7:30 PM on December 22, 2007


Well this has gone swimmingly.

I have come to believe, in my old age, that the hatred of "trivial" pop music "fluff" is partially a form of misogyny, i.e. girls like it, so it can't be serious. I have no problems with the Spice Girls whatsoever, and don't quite see why they are held to be so despicable. They did brilliantly well what they set out to do.

The BSB fan stuff-- anybody who thinks that this isn't an important part of the online world might want to examine their assumptions about what is and isn't significant. Female driven fandom, with all its slash fiction, obssessiveness, and generation of huge social networks, is at least as important, in terms of the history of online culture, as, for example, WOW. It's under the radar a great deal-- or at least when it comes up it's treated with derision, which is kind of the same thing, and I always wonder why. Why is getting to Level 60 on WOW (or whatever it is) considered to be some kind of achievement, but writing a hundred thousand words of fanfiction for the entertainment and amusement of an online audience is an icky waste of time?
posted by jokeefe at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Probably, jokeefe, because (nine times out of ten) those hundred thousand words of fanfic are atrocious writing, whereas getting to L60 represents an actual achievement, within its context.

I know that comes across as boyzone, but I hope you know me well enough by now to know that it's not meant that way.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:55 PM on December 22, 2007


I know what you mean, DNAB. However, that opens a whole new question about what, in this context, constitutes atrocious writing, since some fanfic is very good indeed as writing, and some is just very good at entertaining its target audience. And with all due respect, calling L60 an "actual achievement"-- I appreciate that is might be, within its context, but then so must be, then, the fanfic novel, within its own context. And one could argue that that fanfic, whether or not it's any "good", arguably demonstrates greater and more genuine intellectual and creative effort.
posted by jokeefe at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2007


jokeefe, sure.. but that opens the can of worms of 'is quote-unquote genuine intellectual/creative effort more worthwhile than any other sort?' (I'm not being a smartass, and I hope you know that I respect you to the ends of the earth)

I guess what I'm saying is that 99% of fanfic is awful from a purely technical standpoint--atrocious writing, lack of characterization, piss-poor plots, etc. More to the point.. create your own bloody characters, don't steal someone else's (unless asked/invited, of course).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:25 PM on December 22, 2007


Well, no argument from here on the "awful from a technical standpoint", believe me. I've read some stuff that was so bad that.... well, you know. This has been a bit de-railey, but I'm still wondering about the "trivialization" of some forms of pop music, particularly in this case the Spice Girls (who, it should be noted, wrote their own material), which just has echoes to me of similarly discounted and dismissed forms of music such as disco, where there are obvious racial/homophobic things going on, as well.

(And shucks, ends of the earth not necessary in the least.)
posted by jokeefe at 9:38 PM on December 22, 2007


but I'm still wondering about the "trivialization" of some forms of pop music, particularly in this case the Spice Girls

Now that, you and I are totally in agreement on,
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:37 PM on December 22, 2007


My balls are ferry herry.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 11:30 PM on December 22, 2007


He remains a benchmark of success in the UK, while Americans can't quite work out what the fuss is about.

No, no, no. Oasis is Man U, because most Americans know who they are -- they're that successful band/soccer team -- but not much more than that.

Robbie Williams is Arsenal. Most Americans look at you blankly when you say Arsenal.

I have no idea which artist can be compared with Reading. Tear through the Championship in 2006, have a great first half of 2007, can't win on the road in the latter half... Amy Winehouse?
posted by dw at 7:34 AM on December 23, 2007


I have no idea which artist can be compared with Reading. Tear through the Championship in 2006, have a great first half of 2007, can't win on the road in the latter half... Amy Winehouse?

Pete Doherty
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:00 AM on December 23, 2007


(I'm sure this will come out sarcastic, because I've got that Gen-X problem where everything I say sounds a little bit sarcastic, but I don't mean it that way.)

These band/soccer comparisons are great--I'm going to leave this thread with a better understanding of England, football/soccer teams and pop music from ten years ago.
posted by box at 8:21 AM on December 23, 2007


WHERE'S KEV?!?!?!?!?!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:04 AM on December 23, 2007


JoKeefe: "Why is getting to Level 60 on WOW (or whatever it is) considered to be some kind of achievement, but writing a hundred thousand words of fanfiction for the entertainment and amusement of an online audience is an icky waste of time?"

I have written my fair share of both X-Files fanfic and Buffy fanfic. I also got my favorite toon up to fifty in City of Heroes. I've never played World of Warcraft. CoH has always been more appealing to me then WoW. I'd still be in there if I had the time and money to devote to it.

I don't understand what this has to do with the Backstreet Boys, but I'd be more than happy to watch this thread drift from talk about lame 90s pop music to really cool MMORPGs. !!!
posted by ZachsMind at 10:15 AM on December 23, 2007


I have come to believe, in my old age, that the hatred of "trivial" pop music "fluff" is partially a form of misogyny, i.e. girls like it, so it can't be serious.

You're saying I dislike the Backstreet Boys' music because I hate women? Seriously? Couldn't it just be because I hate their music?
posted by middleclasstool at 8:29 PM on December 23, 2007


I actually was under the assumption that the music itself rather than hatred of it is the misogynistic part. The message behind the music is largely uber-emotional and intellectually bankrupt tales of faux romance. In the bubblegum pop genre, the story revolves around a stereotypes of chivalrous males and stereotypes of vacuous beauty obsessed women. There's never any controversy and it comes across as antagonistic to challenging ideas which is how nice young women are supposed to think and behave.
posted by kigpig at 8:52 PM on December 23, 2007


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