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New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys bring their show to Houston on Saturday.
New Kids are now the elder statesmen, bubblegum forefathers who paved the way for Backstreet Boys, NSync, 98 Degrees and countless lesser acts. BSB, however, had a much longer run, buoyed by the teen-pop explosion of the mid/late-'90s that included Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.
NKOTBSB's extensive summer tour, then, is pure nostalgia fluff. The voices and moves are still mostly intact (minus BSB member Kevin Richardson, who is no longer pursuing music). New Kids, however, seem to have held up better in recent TV performances. (Sorry, BSB groupies.) Here's how they stack up against each other:
New Kids on the Block
Love at first sight: Not quite, actually. The group released its self-titled debut album in 1986, and it went nowhere. Two years later, the guys broke through with Please Don't Go Girl, featuring chirpy lead vocals from a then-teenage Joey McIntyre. It became a top 10 hit and ignited NKOTB-mania - dolls, lunchboxes, even a cartoon. The group's first album was eventually re-released and went on to sell 3 million copies.
Boy-band classic:I'll Be Loving You (Forever), Hangin' Tough and Step by Step all hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. But it's impossible to top the soulful bounce and confident vocal of You Got It (The Right Stuff).
Low point: The 1994 album Face the Music and its single Dirty Dawg were attempts at a more mature, urban sound. It didn't work because nobody was paying attention anymore.
Breakout member: Donnie Wahlberg wisely avoided any big attempts at a solo music career. Instead, he focused on acting and earned solid reviews for his work in The Sixth Sense, Band of Brothers, Blue Bloods and several of the Saw films.
Comeback: The 2008 album The Block was a nice rebound and boasted collaborations with Ne-Yo, Lady Gaga, Pussycat Dolls and New Edition. Summertime was a top 40 hit.
Squeal appeal: Impressively high, despite only three years of pop dominance. That's a lot of hysteria packed into a short amount of time.
Love at first sight: Despite all-American origins, BSB's first successes were in Europe, where they scored five hits before conquering U.S. radio with Quit Playing Games (With My Heart). Millennium, issued in 1999, sold more than 1 million copies in a single week. Altogether, BSB have sold more than 30 million albums.
Boy-band classic:I Want It That Way is still a lyrical mystery. ("I never wanna hear you say/I want it that way"?) But the midtempo groove and easy harmonies made it a pop classic.
Low point: Does anyone remember 2009's This Is Us? Because I don't, despite a top 10 debut. Seriously, where was I?
Breakout member: Nick Carter, but mostly for the wrong reasons, including struggles with drugs and alcohol, an arrest and that embarrassing E! reality show.
Comeback: NKOTBSB has put the Boys back on the pop map. So, technically, they have New Kids to thank for the resurgence.
Squeal appeal: Still high, even without Richardson. Backstreet's back, all right.