Backstreet Boys and Florida Georgia Line? It’s random, but it’s real

Backstreet Boys and Florida Georgia Line? It’s random, but it’s realEntertainment

The Backstreet Boys and Florida Georgia Line have a hit country song together, a tour and now a “CMT Crossroads” special. The two bands talked about the brotherhood that has developed between them and learning new dance moves. (Aug. 22) AP

Here’s one way you know that Florida Georgia Line and Backstreet Boys’ alliance is a genuine one: it seems like no sane manager or label executive would have suggested it.

Who would urge a red-hot country duo to join forces with a veteran boy band, of all acts? Meanwhile, that boy band’s team had recently been setting its sights on a residency gig in Las Vegas, not chart success in Nashville.

Instead, this out-of-nowhere partnership came directly from the two groups, after they’d forged an unexpected, real friendship. And perhaps that’s why it’s been a huge success.

This year, their collaborative single God, Your Mama, And Me went platinum, and brought Backstreet Boys back to Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for the first time in a decade.

They’ve spent their summer sharing the stage on a massive stadium tour, and they’ll do it again on TV this Wednesday with the premiere of their CMT Crossroads concert special (CMT 9 p.m. ET/CT Wednesday).

“After being in the business almost 25 years…it’s nice to have something like this,” says Backstreet’s Kevin Richardson. “This was a surprise.”

But how did it happen?

The seeds were planted in the ‘90s, when Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley were in middle school. Backstreet Boys were Kelley’s first concert, and their CD was one of Hubbard’s first musical purchases.

Last year, while on tour, they started sheepishly admitting to their audiences that they grew up listening to the boy band.

While the crowd was still laughing, the duo would launch into a fearless cover of Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). It brought the house down every night.

The Backstreet Boys quickly caught wind of this. Soon, the group’s Nick Carter was hanging out with the duo in Nashville, and they played him an early version of God, Your Mama and Me. In a matter of weeks, it turned into a collaboration.

But the bro-mance between these two acts hit a new peak last April, when they performed Everybody together at the Academy of Country Music Awards. Before the show, Hubbard and Kelley made a surprising request: they asked the Backstreet Boys to teach them their choreography, so they could all dance on stage together.

“We were scared,” says Backstreet’s Howie D. “We didn’t know if they were gonna be like, ‘Get these boys of the stage.’”

They weren’t. The moment Hubbard and Kelley fully let their guard down and busted a move, the crowd went wild – particularly Tim McGraw, whose jaw-dropped expression went viral on social media.

It was a good prelude to their summer stadium tour, where each show ends with all of them onstage with Nelly, performing “Cruise.”

“It takes every ounce of energy I have not to crowd surf every night,” says Hubard.

It’s clear this alliance has especially meant a lot to Backstreet Boys, now 25 years into their career.

“People come and go in this business, and friendships are kind of hard to hold on to,” says A.J. McLean. “But when something fits as naturally as this friendship now does, we’re gonna be family and friends for eons. It just works.”

 

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