I love talking about music.
About the process, about the songs, the melodies, everything. One of the more fascinating things in BSB history would to me, be what is known to some fans as the Dirty Little Secrets era. The reason it’s called that, is because there was a rumored song they recorded between 2002 and the beginning of 2003 that was supposed to be released on an album that never came to be. I think that song caught the most curiosity and that’s why that’s the one fans went with. It was also around the time I really started connecting to fans online through message boards, specifically LiveDaily for those of you who remember that place. And this era while it never existed, was never quite forgotten either.
For some of the OG fans, you’ll also remember DLS – the fansite that was named after this era. I actually originally posted on their message boards more first before I discovered LD. Now, I’ve been wanting to put this post together for quite some time but this is a lengthy one and meant I needed to do some digging and sometimes, life can get in the way, you know? But now I’m here with the articles and such I bookmarked months ago, writing like the giant nerd I am, with my brain buzzing with ideas, mental notes, and thoughts about other projects that I want to do after I get moved and settled. This is going to be one of those lengthy posts because if I’m being honest, the way I always try to be? There’s a lot of ground to cover here.
Let’s set the scene.
The year? 2002. AJ is fresh out of his very first trip to rehab. The group just released Chapter One as they were forced to by Jive Records. Kevin had even said in interviews he wasn’t happy about it. Because it signaled to people the group was over when they clearly weren’t even close, as evidenced by the fact ten years after their Greatest Hits album we’re still here and they’re still making music. They were also pretty fresh off of Black and Blue which they later said didn’t satisfy them creatively. They’re tired. But they were also, in fact back in the studio trying to make their next record.
Here’s where it got dicey.
Remember, the year is 2002, so you can guess what Nick was doing. Yeah. He was approached to do his solo album. Now I don’t blame Nick for this and other fans shouldn’t either. You have to remember he was young, rebellious and given a dream option. He probably had no idea he couldn’t do both the solo project and the group album. The label absolutely manipulated him if you look at the interviews that came out later.
This made things pretty hairy when the group wanted to leave their management team at the time, The Firm, while Nick wanted to stay. On top of this, they all ended up in a lawsuit against Jive thanks to the fact they made it practically impossible for the group to release an album. They were contractually obligated to meet with BSB and yet they didn’t, focusing on Nick’s solo record instead. Making it hard for Nick to even work with the group on the album.
But that said, Nick was part of the lawsuit too. So he probably wasn’t happy at the way the label was using him at the time. Nick was never stupid. That’s a hill I’ll die on. The label played with their careers, all for their Nick versus Justin game. Don’t get me started on it. This post is going to be long enough, okay? Suffice to say, they basically screwed over BSB and all their potential and creative ideas, just so they could play up a solo boybander war.
Anyway, because Nick couldn’t exactly record with them, most would assume the album got put on hold right? Nope. They were still recording, and creating. Just…without him for awhile. I remember when it seemed impossible for there to be a Backstreet Boys without all five members. Before Kevin took his break of course. And my heart broke when he did. I can’t imagine how a teenaged me would’ve reacted to a BSB without Nick Carter. But that was a possibility once upon a time. Just look at this except from an article from the New York Times in 2002.
Currently, Mr. Carter is choosing among 35 songs he has recorded for his album. The rest of the band is recording demos without him, using a number of producers, including Babyface, Jermaine Dupri and Glen Ballard. The more rock-oriented material made with Mr. Ballard, who produced Alanis Morissette’s albums, shows an evolving, maturing direction.
Mr. Azoff said that he had signed on to help the band members with their commitment to a long-term career. Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but Mr. Azoff is unconcerned with the current debate over tensions between the band and Mr. Carter. ”Whether Nick is in the band or not, it doesn’t frighten me,” Mr. Azoff said. ”The Eagles changed members three times, and it didn’t hurt their career.”
The biggest problem in their attempt to get this album off the ground was the fact we had two completely different projects, five members, a lot of tension, and record label executives all battling for what they wanted. No one knew what was going to come out first, Nick’s solo album or the group one? In various interviews due to all the rumors about rising tensions, Nick had to say repeatedly that he wasn’t leaving and that he could work on both albums. Still, fans worried this was the end.
It was a blessing that the worst case scenario didn’t happen.
Backstreet stayed a quintet for a few more years before the Kevin-less eras. Instead, because Nick was doing his solo project, going on tour, and all that entails? They took the short hiatus that led to the beginnings of the media always saying that “former Backstreet Boy” garbage that haunts fans to this day. In retrospect that probably was for the best. It gave them the space they needed not to pull an NSYNC and break up for good. They later came together on Oprah for AJ, and well, that put them back on track.
Take a minute though and just look at that list of people they were working with! Those are some solid names right there, though something I missed back then was them looking at a “rock-oriented” direction back then. Hmm. Maybe Never Gone wasn’t so out of nowhere after all. And when I say the list of people they worked with was pretty diverse back then, I mean…it’s really across the board.
So much wasted potential.
CDNow.com reports that Nikki Sixx, who wrote most of the Motley Crue stuff, told them at the Gene Simmons Tongue launch party at Barfly in Hollywood Tuesday that he has written a song, ‘Let’s Get It Together,’ for possible inclusion on the next Backstreet Boys album.
There were some songs from those sessions that did end up eventually seeing the light of day. Part of Happy was played on the radio by AJ and that clip exists online, along with AJ singing another potential cut called Why You Keep On Calling Me?. Poster Girl was said to have been from 2002, along with songs like Moving On and supposedly a few of the leaked Never Gone b-sides like Song For The Unloved. Though I’m not a hundred percent sure on the latter, it feels pretty likely given what bits and pieces that have talked about over the years. Daanyaal, one of our fellow TDS members, and a knowledgable male fan actually had the chance to ask them about this album during the In A World Like This tour and I love Kevin’s answer.
In fact if a Backstreet Boy reads this, I’d kill to really ask you about this era.
And feel free to correct me on anything I have wrong in here.
Apparently Jive yet again…meddled.
Can I just say I hate record labels? I mean seriously! When I think about all the potential this album had? We saw some of the scrapped songs that came from the Never Gone sessions. Not to mention what the articles used to say to describe Dirty Little Secrets. A song that never ended up leaking but was memorable enough by name to become the unofficial name for this lost era.
It is now basically confirmed that “Dirty Little Secrets” is one of
the singles on the next album and that BSB will be doing a duet with Shakira. Barry Weiss of Jive Records had the following to say:
“When A.J. sent me the demo disc, it has two tracks on it, I was
expecting two new songs. I popped it in and track one was him
explaining what the song meant to him, and then when track two came
on, I instantly double checked the package to make sure he didn’t
give me the wrong disc.
It’s not a typical Backstreet song. It’s techno, dance, R&B- Anything
but ‘Pop’. I’ve talked with each of the Boys and they are aiming at a
new style of music. We are looking at putting together a 20 track
release, maybe more. They all want to work with different people, so
probably look for five guest appearances or maybe even more. Right now we have locked Shakira. No song has been picked…but that should definitely be hot. She is the latin Britney, only hardcore. Totally
huge in the Spanish speaking market. We are also tossing around the idea of Maybe Missy Elliot…Lil’ Kim.”
Someone do us all a solid, and leak Dirty Little Secrets the song for us.
I’m still curious about it so many years later.
I understand that Jive doesn’t exist anymore, but I’d love to have punched whatever idiots that squashed this from happening in the face. Many, many times. There were so many things that could’ve been, that will never be now thanks to changing times and morons all about the dollar signs. One thing I do wish would happen is that the Boys would either open the vault or re-record these songs so that we could hear them. Maybe something for their 30th anniversary? That gives them a solid year and a half to make this a reality.
I know some fans like to say our Boys don’t stretch themselves creatively but that’s a load of shit. I think they have and they would have even more but were held back. This era is the perfect example. Hell, even before this they were trying according to this except from Kevin’s 2002 interview. Can you imagine a “boyband” doing this?
So tell me one of your ideas they wouldn’t use.
RICHARDSON: You know, we’ve thrown all kinds of ideas around. We thought about having an album that was about different styles and flavors of pop. Like almost a compilation, but it would be all us doing the music and a picture of like a lollipop on the front with the words, :”Suck on this.”
I would have loved to see that.
I’m a big believer in that many things happen for a reason and they happen way they should. One thing we all have to remind ourselves is the fact that there was a lot of stress during this time on the Boys. There was infighting and plenty of unhappiness. I do think the break they took was the best thing for him. What if this album happened, but it burned them out even faster and caused them to break up? It’s hard to say, it’s hard to know. But I do think that had everything not gone down the path it had, we may not still have a Backstreet Boys today.
Talk about heartbreaking.
I think the biggest lesson we can take from this lost era…besides the fact record labels absolutely suck ass? It’s that you never know what’s happening behind the scenes of things. You can’t assume you know everything that’s going down. There’s usually a lot more going on that goes into why things went down the way they did.
The other lesson…well it’s that we need to band together and convince the Boys to release the vault of songs!
(What can I say? I dare to dream.)
7 thoughts on “The Backstreet Album That Never Was…Dirty Little Secrets”
I hate that they were pretty much forced to do a rock pop sound on Never Gone. But with all the politics surrounding “cultural apporitation” It might have been for the best. We would never had the funny I Just Want You to Know video.
Wow! I didn’t have great internet access back in the day, so I missed a lot of this! Thank you for putting this together, I know writing something like this takes a ton of digging!
Thank you! And yeah you’re not wrong lol
Where do you find this info. I am going to do a response post about their relationship with Jive and their ultimate ruin Noone not even the label wanted them to evolve.
I had to do some digging. Some of it was based on info I got from LiveDaily back in the day, others were from now defunct forums or old articles I deleted the bookmarks for after I wrote this
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I see. I didn’t have the internet back then. It will educated conjecture then.
Yes thanks for the work. I was looking for possible non Wikipedia sources. But I don’t think much was said on the label politics.