Things are great now in Backstreet land. It’s amazing.
But it’s easy to forget back when it wasn’t. I think it’s good to remember so we can appreciate everything we have now. Mainly cause sometimes we can get a bit spoiled. I say this with love. Reflecting back on the not so great parts of fandom can really put things in perspective. It reminds us of how far they’ve come. Hell, it reminds us of how far we’ve come.
In retrospect, the Black and Blue era was likely their darkest time. I mean, it makes sense. The Boys have said for years now that they rushed into this album too fast. They were barely off of their Millennium tour. Funny but it didn’t seem fast then, did it? But it was, especially by our current standards. But Jive wanted what they wanted, so back in the studio they went. The title itself should’ve given us a clue. They were joking in interviews about how they felt “black and blue”. They were fighting then. But many of us, including me, were teenagers who didn’t sense trouble back in the group. AJ for example, was deep into his addictions and again, the signs were there. We just didn’t see them. In fact during the shoot for The Call he’d been high on coke all night. This was the tour that got cancelled and then rescheduled because he had to go to rehab. It wasn’t till this era was in full swing that anyone knew something was wrong. And only then, because they went on TV and told us the truth.
When I think about NSYNC, and how they broke up, I think about how lucky I am to be a Backstreet Boys fan. I’m a fan of the group that survived everything. Literally everything. NSYNC, I’m sure they’re nice guys. I mean they have nice fans. So this isn’t a dig or anything. But they couldn’t survive as a unit the way our Boys could. And if there was ever a time that was going to split up the group, this was it. I mean, it was this era that eventually spurred a hiatus. Sure, they came back to promote Chapter One with Drowning. But that era was pretty short lived. They basically did their duties for the label and bounced. I know when they postponed the tour, I was terrified that they wouldn’t come back. That this would be it.
I honestly believe the reason why the same footage was reused in so many specials at that time is because there was too much they couldn’t use. This is pure theory, but it makes sense to me. They’ve admitted years later how they were constantly fighting and feeling burnt out.
Yet, despite these troubles, despite the rushing, despite how they were overworked and over-saturated, this time gave us some epic moments. Like Diary.
It gave us the gem that is Get Another Boyfriend, which thank God they’ve added back into their tour sets.
Personally speaking, I’ve always felt Black and Blue was a solid album. I know they weren’t happy with it at the time, and that they still feel the same looking back at it. And I totally get it. In a lot of ways the Boys, especially Kevin are perfectionists. I’ve always loved that they care about the music they create so much. Their passion for that is what keeps me a fan so many years later. But the album has so many songs we consider classics now.
This wasn’t a pretty time for them. I fully admit that. And I wonder if the chaos they had to go through is what helped them stay together in the end. I mean, we have no way of knowing. But usually when everything hits the fan – it tends to make you band together like nothing else. Cause usually you can’t survive alone. I mean, this was the time when Kevin actually saved AJ’s life, changed it. Sometimes it’s weird to think about, when you’re listening to the album. That this whole time they might not have been happy making it. But I’m okay with that because I wouldn’t change anything. If I did, they might have faced the same fate as NSYNC. Sometimes you have to hit the bottom, before you can rise back up.
So whenever this album pops up in my shuffle, I’ll sit back and enjoy the music.