Copious Notes

Backstreet Boys celebrate 20th anniversary of first VMA with forward-looking performance

AJ McLean, from left, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys speak at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in New York.
AJ McLean, from left, Brian Littrell, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys speak at the MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018, in New York. Invision/AP

The performance was billed as a 20th anniversary event, but the Backstreet Boys weren’t looking back with their 2018 VMA pre-show appearance.

The vocal quintet, which includes Kentuckians Brian Littrell and Kevin Richardson, received its first MTV Video Music Award in 1998 for best group video for the signature hit, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).“

But anyone who thought Backstreet would go on a nostalgia trip during its performance on Monday night’s VMA pre-show knew that was not the case as Nick Carter sang, “I got mixed emotions.” The group used the show to highlight its latest single, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” in a highly choreographed performance for what looked like a tiny, tiny space.

The song is from Backstreet Boys’ forthcoming ninth studio album, which is expected in October. The group is in the midst of its Las Vegas residency, “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life,” which continues through April.

Early in the show, Backstreet took the VMA main stage to present award for Song of the Year, singing snippets of each nominee before presenting the award to Post Malone for “Rockstar,” featuring 21 Savage. In somthing of a nod to being two decades along, Backstreet’s A.J. McLean started the presentation saying Camila Cabello’s “Havana” was his daughter’s favorite song.

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