January 23, 2019

Backstreet Boys – DNA – RCA

FourScore
By Kristi Kates | Dec. 8, 2018

They’re not quite boys any more, but the Backstreet … er, men … are keeping a tight hold on the harmony vocals and danceable rhythms that brought them worldwide acclaim. Their latest set is poised to generate a resurgence of interest in the group once it hits outlets in a few weeks, from its initial buzzy single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” to the sharp, studio-polished attack of “Chances,” as co-written by power songwriters Ryan Tedder and Shawn Mendes. This collection is probably best for die-hard fans, but it might draw in a few new pop listeners too. ** ½

Hanson – String Theory – 3CG
Two discs, a plethora of pop hits … and an orchestra? You read that correctly; with the help of David Campbell (Beck’s dad, and also an Academy Award winning composer), the Hanson bros take a look back over the course of their career via new symphonic arrangements of their radio-friendly tunes. Might sound corny, considering the source, but these brothers are actually deft pop songwriters whose hooks you can’t fault — even if you’re not a fan of the cheesy production the original tracks were saddled with. Songs like “I Was Born” and even “Mmm Bop” take on new heft. *** 

N’Sync – The Essential N’Sync – Jive/Legacy
You can’t really mention the Backstreet Boys without thinking of their pop music timeline compatriots, N’Sync, the band that spawned one Justin Timberlake and set up a friendly rivalry between the two biggest boy bands of their era. This remastered collection, originally released in 1995, revives so many of the N’Sync hits beloved by both American Idol watchers and karaoke singers. You’ll get everything from “Bye Bye Bye” and “I Want You Back” to “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” and your pop collection will be all the better for it. ***

Boyzone – Thank You and Good Night – Rhino/WEA
Sometimes referred to as the “Irish Take That,” Boyzone, now a quartet, takes a more chill approach to the genre of boy band music, leaning on the likes of John Shanks and Gary Barlow for some of the co-writing. Opener “Normal Boy” starts the set off rough with a somewhat disjointed arrangement, but from that point forward, the collection takes an upward aim via tunes like the compelling “Love,” the arena-ready “Symphony of Hearts” (with massive string sections), and the heartfelt “Dream,” which perfectly features Boyzone’s well-balanced vocals. ** ½

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