Originally published in The Patriot-News on July 28, 2011.
Brian Littrell, member of the Backstreet Boys and heartthrob at large, is making his way to Hershey. The same man whose faced grinned from posters on bedroom walls and covers of teen magazines has joined up with his band mates and New Kids on the Block for a concert tour that makes every boy-band fan’s dream come true. Their next destination? Hersheypark Stadium Saturday.
Even if the name Backstreet Boys sounds foreign, chances are you know their music. The group shot to fame in the late 90s with hits like “Quit Playing Games With My Heart,” and “I Want It That Way.” Six of the group’s albums have been in the Billboard 200 Top 10. It has recorded numerous hit songs and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards.
When BSB’s first U.S. album debuted in 1997, Littrell’s photo made elementary students squeal. Now, 14 years later, those same kids are adults — and many have kept on screaming.
The band has done a fair bit of growing as well. Their music has changed from standard boy band pop to acoustic rock to dance and they lost a member, Kevin Richardson. Littrell has shed his nickname “B-Rock,” in favor of his first name. “I’ve kinda out grown that phase,” he says.
“I got that title growing up as a Backstreet Boy, being a young man,” he says. “That’s not really my title now. I’m a grown man, husband, father.”
He could also add to that lyricist and song writer, as many BSB fans know. Littrell co-wrote the hit “Larger than Life,” in addition to “The One” and “The Answer to Our Life,” among others.
“I hear melodies in my head and I write about what I feel,” he says. “It’s a way for me to tell the fans, tell the public, what’s going on in my head and what’s going on at that time.
His favorite song he’s written, however, cannot be found on any Backstreet Boy album. That honor goes to the title song from his 2006 solo record, “Welcome Home.”
“I wrote that song in Norway, I was on tour with the Backstreet Boys and I was really missing my family: my wife and my son,” he says. “So I laid down on my bed and I wrote a song.”
Family is important to Littrell, and closely intertwined with his music. It was on the set of the music video for “As Long As You Love Me” that he met his wife, Leighanne Wallace. Littrell still remembers the date that he set eyes on her: June 15, 1997. The song, needless to say, is one of his favorites.
Another on his top ten list is the monster hit, “I Want It That Way.” Earning three Grammy nominations and staying on the Billboard Pop chart for 26 weeks it may be the band’s most popular song. “Everybody’s favorite was ‘I Want It That Way,’” he says.
The chart topping success of the Backstreet Boys has continued into the 2000s and beyond. Since the group’s self-titled U.S. Debut album in 1997 they have made five more albums, all of which have been in the top ten of the Billboard 200.
What is the key to their success? According to Littrell, it is all about the music.
“People probably don’t want to read that as a particular answer,” he says. “But I really believe that in my heart.”
“With Backstreet Boys music we’ve found our place in a lot of people’s hearts and minds across the globe,” he says.
It has not been all smooth sailing for Littrell, who had to overcome several obstacles on his road to fame.