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Album review: Backstreet Boys' 'This Is Us'

Backstreetboys The best song on Backstreet Boys' new album "This Is Us" is also by far the weirdest and creepiest. "PDA," an ode to the pleasure of public groping, splits the difference between the exhibitionist euphoria of Usher's "Love in  This Club" and Andy Samberg's "Saturday Night Live" skit about the travails of overly, um, sensitive men, the title of which cannot be reprinted in a family newspaper.

Coming from a band better known for its blow-out Max Martin ballads, it should be an embarrassing bit of lechery -- apparently even the grocery store is an acceptable forum for feelin' on a target's booty. But it's just absurd and un-self-aware enough to enter the pop vocabulary, which unfortunately can't be said for much else on "This Is Us," a competent but very late-adopted pop-trance slurry.

Though the Boys were one of the biggest pop acts of the '90s, they largely hand the reins off to their producers here, who include Lady GaGa’s hit-maker RedOne, Jim Jonsin and OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder.

Cuts like "Bye Bye Love" and "Straight Through My Heart" have au courant hotel-lounge decadence to them, and "She's a Dream" benefits from the light melodic touch of guest T-Pain. But when the boys extol a lady's virtues because "she don't even know I'm a celebrity," the lyric rings of self-fulfilling prophecy.

--August Brown


Backstreet Boys
"This Is Us"
(Jive)
Two stars
 
Comments () | Archives (51)

I disagreed but tolerated when reviewers said ‘Never Gone’ and ‘Unbreakable’ were forgettable and snoozy releases. But this is where I draw the line when people say ‘This Is Us’ is another mediocre album by The Backstreet Boys. IT IS NOT!

This album is a balance of all genres that The Backstreet Boys are known for. It is a multitude of sounds that is fresh and current. They have the pop R&B sounds like ‘This Is Us’ and ‘If I Knew Then’ of which, are both commendable songs. Reviewers say it is generic and falls back on the same old beat. I’m beginning to doubt whether these reviewers have given the entire song a chance before pressing the skip button. ‘This Is Us’ uses the guitar and piano as its focal melody while ‘If I Knew Then’ drives on deep and heavy beats with AJ killing the verses!

I was shocked when people also have a problem with miniscule aspects such as repetitive chorus. Did they totally dismiss the lines before that!? (I could be the one/Give you all my love/Forget what he has done to you/I'm here now/Open up to me/Love will set you free/If ever you believe it/Please believe in me.) You want to talk about repetitive chorus being a mistake, but why when Jay Sean repeats the word ‘down’ in his song titled ‘Down’ (surprise surprise!!) and Cobra Starship repeats ‘good girls go bad’ in their song titled “ Good Girls Go Bad” (AGAIN, surprise surprise!!), listeners and reviewers embrace it with open arms! And it is not dependent on how catchy or nice the song is because ‘This Is Us’ is also one hell of a composition!

The lyrics to ‘This Is Us’ (above) and ‘If I Knew Then’ ( But there ain't no handbook/ You're on your own/Got no instructions/ When it comes to love/ Cuz once you do something/ Can't be undone/ Wish I could take back/ Letting you go) are perfectly put together with every line flawlessly fitting and apt! How could the gems of this album not be given credit!?

Then there’s another issue about the boys being men and talking booty. Is that the crime of the century? And mind you, the one and only song that mentions about this is ‘PDA’ and only hints of it in ‘Masquerade’. And reviewers (naysayers, the more appropriate term) seem to judge the whole album with the song ‘PDA’. What about the other treasures in this album? They conveniently dismiss the rest because they found one evidence that they can base their ridicule on! So much for objective journalism!

Yes they are older but they are not old! They can still dance their butt off I assure you! You want to talk about old, you look at Madonna, at her age (51) she’s more than qualified to become a grandmother but have you seen her latest video, ‘Celebration’? Trying to make it provocative with her non-stop banging! Adding onto that, with lyrics like ‘not recognizing you with your clothes on, what are you waiting for’, we can see how far she has come since ‘like a virgin, touch for the very first time’!

And I cannot even begin to comprehend why people find a few lines of innuendos in PDA unsettling when they have been enjoying the more excessive suggestions in songs like ‘Hotel Room Service’ by Pitbull. Basically you are comparing ‘you’re the fingers to my instruments’ (BSB) with ‘i'm the plumber tonight/let me check your pipes/oh, you're the healthy type/well, and here goes some egg whites/now gimme that sweet, that nasty gooshy stuff’ (Pitbull). Enlighten me! Please!!

I hope these reviewers realize that they are continually contradicting themselves whenever they try to snub out The Backstreet Boys. When they release Never Gone and Unbreakable, reviewers said their mature sound lackluster, showing how the boys have very little to offer. Then when the boys got back to their roots, with uptempo songs, you then say they are too old to pull off such music! So the only sensible conclusion that I can come to is that no matter what genre of songs the boys release, reviewers (in an attempt to show their wit) will constantly feature the songs that they can make the best mockery out of it. Save your derision for the other artists out there who are non-praise worthy!

It’s really disheartening to know that so many radio stations are not even giving their first single, ‘Straight Through My Heart’ a chance. How can such a great hit not be in their rotation? There are so mountains of pitiable music out there getting all the unwarranted attention. And all because people are not allowing the boys to evolve as artists and constantly labeling them with the other forgettable boybands whom we all know, have vanished. They are the last band standing because they were the best and still is the best at what they do! The Backstreet Boys have proven their longevity with their killer vocals, singing in perfect harmonies and dance moves you wished you could pull off.

So enough with the negativity and start appreciating real talent!

Come on!!! The Backstreet Boys's new album "This Is Us" is totally awesome! Not even a single song from the album can be skipped! Each and every song soooo damn awesome! Don't know what you are talking about! Their voices sound so awesome when they sing in a chorus which makes the songs all the more awesom'er'! I think you should listen to the album again and edit this post!
And oh! "she don't even know I'm a celebrity," ! Watch it writer guy! They are the biggest pop band ever in the industry, which makes them HUGE celebrity!

Raven just said all I wanted to say. Stop judging them on their so called 'boyband' label and recognize their talent.

I disAGREE....100 %. This is the new fresh sound that will make them big again. This is true hiphop, with a dance, european vibe that is big now. The backstreets boys will always suprise us, and why do i have a feeling this artcicle is not neutral. 5 STARS !!!!

THIS IS THE BEST ALBUM EVER. BSB ARE BACK!!!

The album is great i like every song. who ever wrote this is just stupid and dont know what real music is. also go Raven great post..

agree 100% with Raven. why all the negativity? I really expected a better review from this blog. The boys have really put in a lot of effort into this album. The music is really good and PDA when compared to some songs others sing is a lot better. To really appreciate an album you have to listen to it 2-3 times. Really, insted of mocking there each and every song, try to appericate them.

I can't understand why this article mentions songs that weren't even supposed to be showcased songs from the album - PDA? She's a dream? (hint: There's a reason why they are strategically placed at the very end of the album!). I thought PDA was the worst song on the album but the fact that this article mentions it as "the best song" in the very first paragraph is a great concern. I can only therefore conclude that the reviewer August Brown has bad taste.

Personally, I don't think the songs mentioned are reflective of the material on the album. There are far better more notable songs on the album. What happened to "reviewing" the all songs on the album?...just a thought.

Overall, I found the album well-rounded. No amazing standout number one hits unfortunately, but a very enjoyable decent album with almost every song deserving to be a single. Well worth buying.

Just couldn't take all the mockery on The Backstreet Boys here! How could the writer make fun "THE BACKSTREET BOYS" like this!

I agree with Raven '2'00%!!! An awesome comment!!! Please replace the current post with Raven's comment!

Each song in the album is completely awesome! From dance schemes songs like "Straight Through My Heart" to heart touching songs like "Undone", "This Is Us" has all the kinds of songs that you can expect from a top pop band or any solo artist!

And who says that "Never Gone" and "Unbreakable" were not good albums! Even after 4 years since the release of "Never Gone" and 2 years since the release of "Unbreakable", I didn't get bored of a single song from either of the albums!

It feels as if writers like you have got something negative with The Backstreet Boys in person! Please consider editing this post and please do it as soon as possible!

I learned a long time ago not to take any critic's opinion into account when it comes to the backstreet boys. No matter how you feel about these men, one cannot deny their talent. PERIOD. Times have changed, the music industry, what people want to hear, and so forth...this is not 1999 anymore people...The BSB are evolving creatively while trying to maintain artistic integrity. Their new sound isn't a dramatic departure from before, its simply more current..it's the type of sound that sells nowadays, except people aren't willing to give them a chance. Raven said it best in her previous post.
Oh well, i'll just go against the grain and enjoy QUALITY music on my lonesome....

I second Raven's post.

I am sure that it is more worthwhile if the critic gives a consistent and justified criticism instead of raving and shooting down almost all the songs in This Is Us. It is very likely that the above review by LA times bears partiality because the music is produced by THE Backstreet Boys.

I love most of the songs from the album. Sure, it is different from Unbreakable and Never Gone but these boys still have their personal touch and have not succumb to the evils or lose themselves in the music industry.

If not the boys, atleast give their music/work a chance and listen. And this is when you look at the quality of the music instead of who the singer is/are. This is then called being objective.

Well... wonder why some are just looking for reasons, no matter how idiotic to pull down the boys... THIS IS US is an awesome album... songs like This is us, Straight through my heart, Bye Bye Love are the best of the album while others are not too far behind. If you're a true music aficionado, you are certain to like this latest offering by one of the best bands in history... THE BACKSTREET BOYS!!!

i totally 100% disagree with this article. and you other guys have said it the best but im gonna say it again......BACKSTREETS BACK!!! and you know what? the people who wrote this article obviously dont know good quality music when they hear it. for one thing, i cant believe the fact that they brought up that the song "PDA" was 'inappropriate' when there are a whole bunch of songs out there on the radio that talk about sex AND booty and whatnot. i dont know but ive heard more inappropriate things that have been said on songs by other people than i have on a whole bsb cd. well i just wanted to bring that point up and say this album is AWESOME and nobody has the right to try to put it to shame!

To think that after all the naysayers (as dear Raven calls reviewers) panned down the last two albums of these guys, that they would be sympathetic enough to accept this one... even if it's 3 stars out of five... but I guess it's the same darn thing with those involved in music, especially as USA is concerned. Thank God for Europe, Asia, South America... and to some extent, the only North American country, Canada.

Let's not forget where these 'boys' had their start. It was Europe, not America... and yet, they are Americans. They owe their success to the international market and fanbase, and they know that. So what if the American market took notice after a year or two of their success, it doesn't surprise me at all. It's just the way it is. You'd rather promote music that is literally senseless, and ditch the good ones for the sake of the fact that Backstreet Boys are a boyband that you feel should have been disbanded long ago along with their contemporaries. Bull feathers, I say!

Raven, I feel like I'm falling for you. Your review was spot on (By the way, the song by Jay Sean, "Down" which is more repetitive than "This Is Us" has hit no. 1 on the Hot 100. And he's not even American, or is it because he had Lil Wayne on the record?) and I respect you alot for such objectivity.

It may be me, for the fact that I'm musically versatile or because I've been a fan of the group since 1996 when they came out (and not 1997 as in America), but I like this album... alot. Yes, I have a few critical things to say about it, but who wouldn't for any artist? I had a tough time with "Never Gone" and "Unbreakable", but I learnt how to appreciate the sounds of both with an objective hearing. the same can't be said of "This Is Us" of which I find all songs to be unquestionably welldone with a slight exception of "PDA", which to me is, as the LA Times reviewer pointed out, the oddest and weirdest song coming from them. Don't get me wrong... it's not bad. It's merely funny coming from them.

Kudos to the last surviving boyband of the 90s. They deserve the fanbase they still have and deserve all the success. We must not forget this, they are one of the biggest selling boy bands in music history (more than 100 million records, and besides The Jackson)and that most of America's top hits are produced by European based producers... What? You think I'm lying? RedOne, Max Martin, Stargate, to mention a few.

As for the fans, enjoy what you have. It's a pity that songs like "Trouble" and "Hologram" didn't make the cut (after all, we were the cause of it. We leaked them and judged them pretty badly. That's why we have the next best thing with this tracklist for the album. Don't believe me? Check "This Is Us" on wikipedia), but I thank God that I've found myself musically with this album (since the passing away of my most favorite artist, Michael Jackson). Take care and KTBSPA!

I think they are awesome.

My favorite song: Straight Through My Heart (soilder down)

well i should say that i completly against this review, i dont want to say the repeated sentences like "i loved it" or "its the best of all time" but i get to a point to say that your review is not fair at all...4stars from Allmusic and rank B by EW with positive and appreciating review s on This is us shows that this album is something more than what you said...i can feel the soul of bsb on all of the songs,shatterd was just prefect and Pda was a new hit...i believe that backstreet boys are so experienced and professional that we cant write such an unfair reviews on their Albums.

I em going crasy the backstreet boys have a new CD I cant stop thinking the CD I love the backstreet boys so much I will cellmiyself if I had to for the backstreet boys

Raven took the words right out of my mouth! The fact of the matter is that it's nearly taboo to be a Backstreet Boys fan, and mainstream radio wouldn't admit this is a good album if it were Thriller! While Never Gone was, admittedly, a dud, Unbreakable was a fantastic album in my opinion, and This Is Us is comparable to Millennium -- an AMAZING album. Anyone who says otherwise is blatantly lying.

Well, Raven said it all. This album really shows that The Backstreet Boys are back! Truthfully I didn't know they had come out with an album in 2007. That is how much the critic's and the radio stations have turned off Backstreet Boys. I think that is just a damn shame. This new album is filled with songs that I could see being major hits on the radio. Honestly almost every single one has the potential to be the next hit on the radio. Unfortunately, my radio station doesn't even offer it as a song to be played. So, everyone who is a fan still really has to push this CD. It truly is 5 Star Quality! Anyone who says different, truly hasn't listened to this CD.

Been a fan 12 years now, and will never stop. KTBPA!!!

Los Angeles times review was too harsh for the boys. Not a big BSB fan but this album is good. If u listen to any of Red one production or T-pain/Ne-yo then this album is worth listening to. My friend got this album for his sister`s birthday and i did listen to it. Every single song was good apart from 'shattered'. Raven u should be a critic

Frida: I feel you Frida. People are still blinded by this boyband label that they have on the boys. The truth is that BSB have got the pipes to knock our socks off!

Nataliya: Thank you! BSB fans need to be heard!

Vinitneo: It’s really frustrating to keep reading this sort of negative reviews every single time the boys release an album. And I agree with you too, after listening to the album more than once, I’m HOOKED!

Vineetnov: I also agree with you 200%! Each song has its own distinctiveness! It’s difficult not to like all the songs. And I’m not surprised if these reviewers have something personal against the band. Just because they don’t like the boys, doesn’t mean they have the right to come up with such spiteful comments against their music!

CindyP: You are so right!! The music on This Is Us is not a complete digression to the music that BSB has been producing all this while. I feel like it’s a more evolved version to the sounds that they have been known for. The boys are being true to themselves while adapting to the current music scene. And they have done an excellent job!

Czenina: Again, people won’t stop with the labeling. Reviewers should learn a thing or two from you about being objective! They boys have worked hard to put this album together and a little appreciation would be nice.

Michael: Your review/comment went ‘straight through my heart’! I was actually looking through the Billboard Hot 100 chart when I wrote my previous post! And you are right! There are so many undeserving records that are on the charts right now!

BSB has the greatest international fans. Their albums are still selling all around the world! I believe that soon enough, one day, history will repeat itself. US will undergo a lag time before they start realizing the quality of BSB music.

Alyssa: This Is Us is a fantabulous album! It is like taboo isn’t it to be a BSB fan. People will give us ‘that look’ when we say we are a fan of BSB. But who cares right! The boys love their fans and we love them!

Sammy D: Thanks for your comment! I’m also having difficulty making my local radio stations play ‘Straight Through My Heart’. Every song has its own life and you can be easily hooked to anyone of it. We really should do our part in putting this album to the mainstream listeners! Request Request Request!

why is it that other artists are "allowed" to talk about whatever the f* they want on their songs and bands like teh BSB get criticism only when one of their songs mentions anything like booty or whatever?! people have such double standards! it's not ok!!! what's the big deal if the songs don't sound exactly like the previous albums?! critics are always talking about how "this album sounds the same to that one, renew your music " and blablabla and when they go ahead and try something different this is the response they get. I think you should have critics that value talent QUALITY over the fact that it's a so called boy band, you see artists taht i won't mention bus have absolutely no musical quality, no talent that have followers because of other things apart from their talent and critics aren't tearing them apart just because they're selling records or whatever. It just sucks that they can't look a little further than just appeareances and actually enjoy good quality musicians, b/c that's what BSB are, despite that you want to tear them apart or the music or anything, the Boys can SING contrary to what I could say about a lot of other so called musicians out there.

Totally unfair and ridiculous review!!!!

August, you should probably like Jonas Brothers, Miley, or be into High School Musical........People who have been just too little in the market and u seem to praise.

Backstreet Boys is not a pattern band, they like to change and try new things, what is wrong with that? Just because you don't like it, it doesn't mean is wrong. For example, i DO NOT like Lady Gaga, but not because of it i will talk bad stuff about it.

BSB are ICON of pop and 90's music! How can you dare to say that they are too old???? They have sold MILLIONS, and like it or not, has MILLIONS of fans.....and how many fans and records do you have???? NONE!!!!

Tell me where are Nsync, Five, 98 degrees, etc.......DEAD. BSB is the best and only "boy band" on the market, and you just want to kill it with no valid arguments?

Gimme a break with PDA!!!!!! What about Busta Rhymes, 50 cent, Lil' Kim, Britney Spears, Pitbull and MANY MAAAAAANY other people who are using SEX and EXPLICIT language to make money.......and BSB cannot say BOOTY????? This is Hypocrit!!!!!!!

Study and learn some music before putting awful comments, BSB ARE BACK TO STAY......And you???? stay behind the computer on the blackspot.

What Can I say?, Raven said everything!, it just makes me really angry when there are "reviews" like this, where they only focus in one song (I doubt they even heard the whole album), hello!, PDA is not the only song!!! (and I actually think it's awesome, in a weird way, but great!) and as Raven said, Why don't you talk about other "artists" that have all those same details like repetitive choruses or explicit lyrics, nobody judges them, they make the top lists, but when it comes to the Backstreet Boys, oh no!, you just can't let them try!!
I bought my copy of This is Us today, and I absolutely love it!, but it does make me sad that in their own country they're not being given the chance to get to people. And you know what, I think they did the right thing changing their style a little, because, in the end, they're just trying to adapt to the changes there has been in music in the last few years, if they'd stick to their sound of never gone, "reviewers" wouldn't have liked it either, they'd say BSB sounded old and stuff like that, so as you can see, you can never please everybody; BSB are just trying to please their fans and thats what matters!.

fck dis review
go n buy a original one
album rocks

 
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