Look at what can happen if you end up at the same restaurant as Drake.
Two weeks ago, Backstreet Boys were in Toronto for a pair of shows on their DNA World Tour — currently making its way around North America — when Kevin Richardson happened to cross paths with the hometown superstar thanks to a fortuitous restaurant recommendation.
“He’s like, ‘What are you doing here?’” Richardson tells the Billboard Pop Shop Podcast (listen to the full interview below) of being connected by the restaurant staff after they’d met at the American Music Awards and bonded over Kentucky basketball years prior. “I’m like, ‘We got two shows.’ He was like, ‘I would love to come to one of ’em … and I would love to introduce ‘I Want It That Way.’’ I’m like, ‘OK, sure.’ He’s like, ‘Actually no — I would like to perform it.’ I’m like, ‘Wow.’ I said, ‘I’m sure the fellas would have no problem with that.’ So lo and behold, that’s what he did.”
Drake ended up coming out for “I Want It That Way” at one of the two concerts (sorry to the other Toronto show) and making headlines across Canada and the world. You have to hear the full story of Richardson’s run-in — including how he now has a lot of “cred” with his two kids — on the podcast below.
We caught up with Richardson to talk all about Backstreet’s very first Christmas album, A Very Backstreet Christmas, coming out this October, and we also chatted about the 25th anniversary this month of BSB’s very first top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” Next month also marks 25 years since the release of the boy band’s self-titled U.S. debut album, which began a still-unbroken string of 10 consecutive top 10 albums on the Billboard 200.
Find some more choice quotes from the podcast interview below, and listen to the full episode above.
Why now for a Backstreet Christmas album?
“We had always talked about doing a full-length Christmas album, because we all love Christmas music, but just the way our tour cycles work and album cycles work — like by the time we finish a tour and then talk about the next album and then get in the studio and work on that and then promote that and then build and create a tour, rehearse that and then tour that and then, OK, we take some time off and then we start that whole thing over again. We just never had the time to get it done. So quarantine and COVID was a perfect opportunity to have some downtime and make some decisions and, you know, all of us go through our favorite Christmas songs of all time and kind of narrow down the songs that we wanted to cover and then write some originals, and we got it done finally.”
What has their first post-COVID tour been like?
“The energy has been incredible. It’s been incredible every night we’re onstage. I’m just — sometimes you get emotional, you know, thinking about it because there was a point in time that I didn’t know if this was gonna happen again. And so it just feels really good. The crowds, the energy, they’re just so happy to be together, you know? Sharing positive vibes and love and music and having a good time. That’s awesome, escaping for a little bit.”
What does Kevin remember about “Quit Playing Games” going top 10?
“I remember my mom was visiting me in Orlando, Florida, and we had gone shopping and to dinner and it came on the radio and we were in a parking lot and we were getting back in our car and I started the car. It was on the radio. We opened the doors and we got out and danced in a parking lot. That’s an amazing memory for me. And I’m getting a little emotional about it because my mom just passed in January. 22nd of January. So yeah, that’s a special moment that I’ll never forget.”
How Kevin feels about still going strong, 25 years later:
“When we finally broke and had success, then it was like, ‘OK, it’s time for our second album.’ We would be in interviews and everybody would ask, ‘Are you worried about the sophomore slump?’ … And we were just like, ‘You know what? We would just love to have a long career.’ And so that’s what we’ve tried to manifest, and we just keep grinding and keep trying to create music that we love and enjoy what we’re doing. And here we are — who would’ve thought.”
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s executive digital director, West Coast, Katie Atkinson and Billboard’s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous edition of the show on .)