Strange as it may seem, it's looking like one of next year's hottest tours is going to be The Backstreet Boys with The New Kids On The Block — or NKOTBSB as they've now dubbed themselves. At the end of their dual set at the end of their show-closing set at the American Music Awards, it was clear that the pairing makes perfect sense: The New Kids have over-toured these past two years, while The Backstreet Boys fortunes have been steadily dwindling since the great teen pop bubble burst of 2001. Add the two groups together, however, and you have one compelling tour.
As The New Kids/Backstreet Boys transitioned "Step By Step" into "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" you could practically hear the minds racing of everybody in N'Sync not named Justin Timberlake. "Hey, wait a minute," JC, Lance, Chris and Joey must have thought all at once. "People are screaming for this stuff again? I'm sure Justin won't go for it, but The Backstreet Boys no longer have Kevin and nobody seems to care." The comparison of Justin Timberlake to Kevin Richardson is obviously rather overstated, but a four-man N'Sync line-up would sell tickets — particularly if they were paired with the right opening act.
98 Degrees have been contemplating a reunion recently, but very few people are clamoring to hear those guys sing "Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)" again. Who else is left? Sadly, Rich Cronin's recent death rules out L.F.O. O-Town? Too bush league. Maybe they need to reach back to an older generation, like the Backstreet Boys did. Tiffany and Debbie Gibson? Somehow N'Sync minus Justin plus Debbie and Tiffany doesn't seem like a winning formula. Boyz II Men? They would work perfectly, but it's rumored that they might open up the NKOTBSB tour.
For once, The Backstreet Boys have complete out-maneuvered N'Sync. So maybe N'Sync should look overseas for inspiration. Take That were the N'Sync of England, and their frontman Robbie Williams became every bit as massive as Justin Timberlake when he went solo. In 2005 Take That reformed without him, and shocked many people when they were still able to sell out stadiums. Meanwhile, Robbie Williams saw his own career nosedive. Earlier this year he actually came back to Take That with his tail between his legs, a move absolutely unimaginable just a few years back.
Maybe a Justin-free N'Sync should cut a new album and hit the road to prove just how much people are wiling to pay to relive the magical summer of 2000. Timberlake's career isn't in danger of nose-diving, but maybe when he sees how easily his former groups starts raking in money he'll be down for a handful of shows. After all, Mike Nesmith eventually (if briefly) rejoined The Monkees in the 1990's — and as the heir to the Liquid Paper fortune he had no financial incentive to do it. He just wanted to have fun. All that said, it'll probably be a long time before the world sees Justin Timberlake sing "Tearing Up My Heart" again.
The NKOTBSB tour also raises some interesting questions for Christina Aguilera. Her Bionic album tanked hard and nobody believed her ridiculous excuses for canceling her Bionic tour. Spears/Aguilera would be an incredible double bill, but we're probably at least a good decade away from seeing something like that though.
Who knows what nostalgia tours might follow that? Justin Bieber with the Jonas Brothers? Katy Perry with Lady Gaga and special guest Ke$ha? The mind reels.
To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here
MUSIC 9 Classic Devo Videos
OLYMPICS 18 Epic Opening Ceremonies