Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of (Film Review)

In the lead up to their twentieth year anniversary all five Backstreet Boys came together to record an album, and tour on their terms. Between 1995-2002 Backstreet Boys were a tour de force breaking records and becoming one of the biggest boy bands of all time. If you were alive in the Western world during that period you probably can sing at least one of their tunes- whether you want to or not- they were ubiquitous teen heartthrobs.

When the group formed by the notorious Lou Pearlman, the five Backstreet Boys ranged in age from 14-21. This documentary chronicles their rise to fame, the notorious lawsuit with their swindling manager and how they see their lives.

With an important anniversary Nick Carter called all his band members with a request to write and record and original album, which began their 2013 release In a World Like This. The band best known for their suave dance movies and catchy pop tunes, struggles throughout the film to come to terms with being men in a boy band. They hope to write hits that sound true to their older tracks but with stronger musical accompaniments and more mature themes. Without a record contract, the band feels freedom to create their first album without the confines of a studio agenda, but feels pressure of self funded costs. What makes this process particularly interesting to watch is the passionate drive to create music that is better than the sound of a boy band.

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Despite working together for two decades the members feel that in order to better understand one another they must make homage visits to their hometowns. This may have been an incredibly healing and insightful process for the band, but with five visits to go through, it begins to feel like a gimmick. No visit is particularly revelatory except to show that each member is willing to cry in front of old dance teachers.

This is not director Stephen Kijak’s first documentary film, but it did feel as if it were. It seemed the band was happy to share lots about their roots, but not about the inner struggles of the band, drug addictions, etc. Backstreet Boys never officially broke up, but Kevin Richardson left the band in the early two thousands and they have never been the same. This film was very much a rebranding and reunion of the Backstreet Boys. Unfortunately, many of the juicier parts of their legacy were omitted or not fully explored. Its confusing to watch at times, for example the film mentions N’Sync once, the bands first and major competitor which was also manufactured by Pearlman.

Each in their own way the members of the band discuss how their boy band image was not representative of who they were, but at a young age the money, women and power proved too tempting to question and ultimately they all love to sing. This film shows a stripped down version of the Backstreet Boys vocal range so that incase anyone forgot they really do have incredible harmony.  Check out their single Madeleine, on Youtube it’s a new sound for them. You heard it hear, Backstreet’s Back, alright!

Backstreet Boys: Show ’em What You’re Made Of is in cinemas nationwide on 26 February followed by a special performance by the band broadcast live by satellite  http://www.backstreetboys.com/international

*Editor note – the original post erroniously inserted Nick “Cannon” into the band as opposed to Nick Carter. We thank Stephen Kijak for pointing this fact out in the comment below.