It’s been nearly a decade since the Backstreet Boys and *Nsync ruled the charts, but all of those who thought the era of boy bands was dead and gone are about to stand corrected. Nickelodeon is bringing synchronized dancing, catchy melodies and precision harmonies back in the form of Big Time Rush.
BTR follows in the same vein of “Hannah Montana,” in which an artist-based television show extends into CDs and touring deals. Kendall Schmidt, Logan Henderson, Carlos Pena and James Maslow were the lucky four teen heartthrobs cast to play the group of Minnesotan hockey-playing best friends given the record deal of a lifetime — to become the world’s next big boy band, Big Time Rush. In addition to acting in the show, the boys pull the double duty of recording and performing as the band around the country.
The debut album from BTR, which was released Oct. 11, features 11 pop songs previously featured on the show, as well as tracks that will be integrated into upcoming episodes of the show’s second season. “Big Time Rush” had the most viewed premiere in Nickelodeon history.
“I think when [Scott Fellows, show creator] wrote the script he really specific personalities in mind and waited until he found four people that fit those parts,” Schmidt tells Billboard.com on Oct. 11, the same day the band appeared on the “Today Show.”
The multi-platform premise of the show was an intention from the start. It became clear to Nickelodeon after the first few demos that Big Time Rush would be more than just a small screen venture. “From the beginning it was always important that we could find people that could act and sing,” says Henderson. “After the first few songs that we cut, it was that moment where they thought, ‘I think we should go big on this.'”
Although the boys play exaggerated versions of their own personalities — the leader, the geeky one, the funny one and the conceited one — they put their true selves into the music as much as they can.
“Pop music makes the world go round,” Henderson jokes, “but we’re all super well-rounded. I listen to a whole lot of stuff growing up — from old jazz to Billie Holiday to Radiohead. [We want] to create an original sound but still keep what our true roots are.”
The songs are mostly pre-written for the band and designed to fit into the plotline of the show, but they get input. The members wrote the bass-heavy club anthem “Oh Yeah” with hit producer Kevin Rudolf.
“All the producers we work with have been extremely cool,” says Schmidt. “I don’t think we’ve come across anyone that hasn’t let us have our input. We’ll throw a harmony or something in there, and they’ll love it so they put it in there.”
Now that the album is released, the boys will continue on a nationwide promotion tour (when not filming the show), stopping in malls across the country through October. There’s also possible plans to take BTR overseas, spreading ultra-contagious pop music and the message of a boy band revival abroad.
“The possibilities are limitless,” declares Henderson, “This is what we’re passionate about and want to do. We want to go worldwide.”