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If your beauty routine now consists of eye cream when all you used to need was Lip Smackers, then there's a chance you had a crush on Nick Carter. Just Google "Who is the most popular Backstreet Boy?" and the search definitively determines it is the youngest of the five-man band that choreographed danced its way into the hearts of tweens and teens in the '90s. (Sincere apologies to Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson. We don't make the algorithm.)
Perhaps you were even convinced Carter was crooning the group's earworm love songs – "As Long as You Love Me," "Quit Playing Games" and "I'll Never Break Your Heart" – directly to you. And that his affection would result in a trip to the altar, where he, with his blond locks parted in the center, in front of you, in a sparkly Limited Too dress, would proclaim, "I don't care who you are (who you are), where you're from (where you're from), what you did," he'd cherish you for as long as you both shall live.
In reality, a sad, sad reality (at least "Sadness is beautiful"), only one actually got to marry Carter (Lauren Kitt in 2014). But the artist, now 42, is giving fans a taste of his life as a husband and dad with his new single, "Easy," out now.
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"I'd been just doing normal, everyday husband and fatherhood duties at home and got inspired to write a song that was about my life," the father of three (Odin, 5, Saoirse, 2, and Pearl, 1 in April) tells USA TODAY.
"It’s 7:30 in the morning/I smell eggs over easy/in those pajamas that you like girl/Lil mama knows how to please me," he sings in the song featuring country artist Jimmie Allen. "I hear the kids waking up screaming, 'Mom and Daddy, where you at?' Downstairs/Give her a kiss on the cheek as she winks, said, 'I'll see you later on.' 'Hell yeah.'”
Carter, who released the first of three solo albums in 2002, says "Easy" lyrics were "almost too literal for one of my managers. He's like, 'I just don't know if I could get past the cooking eggs in the morning lyric,'" remembers the singer. "And I said, 'Well, it's true. It's what I've been doing.'"
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Allen, whom Carter describes as "one of the sweetest people I've ever met, one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met," penned the second verse about "feening for more time" with his girl.
Carter is hesitant to describe "Easy" simply as a country song, reasoning, "It has elements of country in it, but it also has elements of R&B." He's a fan of genre-mixing songs like "God, Your Mama, and Me," the 2016 Florida Georgia Line tune featuring the Backstreet Boys. Carter and his bandmates will resume a pandemic-pushed world tour, beginning June 4 in Chula Vista, California, and wrapping March 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand.
Carter reveals what he attributes the Backstreet Boys' decadeslong success to, what (little) his kids know of his career, and why an attempted return to his center-part hairstyle ended in "nothin' but a heartache."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Question: What do you attribute the longevity of Backstreet Boys to?
Nick Carter: It's the love of music, the love for each other. Every single one of us in this group, we are a family. We see the same goal and dream and that is to just be entertainers, and honestly, it's the love of our fans. We have the best fans in the world.
In my late teens, I'd go and try to play basketball on the basketball court with friends, and there'd be kids mocking you and singing your songs like, "Backstreet's back," "I want it that way." I just attribute it to the most incredible fans in the world, who are resilient, who don't care about what anybody else out there says, and love what they love. At that time, I remember it was like, "Oh, this pop, boy band music." Sometimes it was like you were an outsider. We recognize that our fans are the most incredible people in the world.
Q: What do your kids think of your music? Have they been introduced to it yet?
Carter: My daughter Saoirse, who's 2, she literally is the one who sings all the time. Her and I will start trading off. I'll say something – "Twinkle, twinkle little star," and she's like, "How I wonder what you are." My son, who's 5, it was funny. This morning, right when I was getting him ready for school, he's like, "Who are the Backstreet Boys?" They don't know, to answer the question. I would rather them know their dad for just being their dad versus being Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys.
Q: That is going to be a moment when they realize their dad is a Backstreet Boy and what that means.
Carter: I'm not going to be able to hide it from them forever, that's for sure. When I start touring with the boys, coming up really soon, I want them to see it. I just know my daughter (Saoirse) is just going to be jealous. She's probably gonna be sitting there in the audience with Mommy and her brother, and she's going to be like, "Get down now!"
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Q: What is the weirdest piece of Backstreet Boy memorabilia you have? Is there something that you've just kept?
Carter: This is probably one of my most precious pieces of the things that we have. This is a comic book that was written by myself and Stan Lee. We both wrote this together (for) the Black & Blue Tour. I stayed really great friends with Stan Lee for many years, and then I saw him at a Comic-Con, and I asked him to sign (copies). So I have about six of these, and so there's only six signed by the Backstreet Boys and Stan Lee in the entire world. So, this is pretty important to me.
Q: The center part has made a big comeback. Will you ever return to your signature style?
Carter: I really did try one time. This was a couple years back, and it just doesn't fall the same way that it used to. The hair is not as silky and thin as it was. Things change. I got ankles that hurt, torn ligaments from dancing. But the energy that you get every single time you get on that stage – I feel it's very similar to an athlete. Two hours of a show. If Tom Brady could do it at 44, Backstreet Boys could still do it at 42. I think we'll be fine.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter drops new song, 'Easy,' with Jimmie Allen