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Unbreakable (Backstreet Boys album)

Unbreakable is the Backstreet Boys' sixth studio album, fifth in the United States. It was released on October 24, 2007 in Japan[1] and October 30 in the United States by Jive Records. This is the first Backstreet Boys album after Kevin Richardson's departure in 2006 to pursue other interests.

Unlike previous Backstreet Boys albums, this album features no collaborations with longtime producers and friends Max Martin and Kristian Lundinwho had worked on the group's previous albums.


 [hide*1 Background


[1]It was the group's first album without member Kevin Richardson.

In July 2007, it was announced that the Backstreet Boys would release a new album on October 30, 2007,[2] their first album of new material in two years. Rumored titles of the album included End to Beginning,[3] Picking Up the Pieces, and Motivation before Brian Littrell and A.J. McLean confirmed on August 13, 2007 that the title of the album would be Unbreakable. Producers include Dan Muckala, who produced the band's 2005 hit single "Incomplete", andRob Wells.[2] It is the first Backstreet Boys album that former member Kevin Richardson is not involved in, as he had left the group in June the previous year.[4]

In an interview with INROCK magazineBrian Littrell said the album would include various music styles, combining their earlier late-1990s sound with their more recent guitar-driven pop rock sound. Members of the Backstreet Boys themselves co-wrote five tracks on this album along with longtime song writer Jeremy Carpenter from Kentucky, including "Intro".[5] AJ McLean revealed to MTV News at the Moto 8 Party in Hollywood that "The boys and I are finishing up the new record, coming out at the top of the year." "We're about three-quarters of the way through. We just got new mixes, we're just kind of going through the top eight [songs] we have right now, and getting the mix [done] properly. But everyone's really stoked about it. The songs are great, man."[6]

On October 2, 2007, the tracks, "Unmistakable" and "Something That I Already Know" were released on Promosquad and RateTheMusic. The next day, a Japanese radio station leaked the intro of the album, along with the track, "Everything But Mine".[7]

Music and composition[edit]Edit

[2]JC Chasez contributed to the song "Treat Me Right" and was praised by the critics.

The Backstreet Boys fully abandoned the Max Martin sound of many of their early hits and, instead, worked with different producers to sound like an adult vocal group.[8] Dan Muckala, producer and co-songwriter of the group's hit single "Incomplete" from their last album Never Gone, is the producer of the bulk of the material. However, other producers like Emanuel KiriakouJohn Shanks and Billy Mann worked on the album too.[8] Fellow boy band veteran JC Chasez of*NSYNC takes the Backstreet Boys into upbeat pop territory familiar to both groups with his production and songwriting skills.[8]

The sound leans to adult contemporary and contemporary pop music and features interwoven choral harmonies, piano, strings, and use of guitar and drums.[8]

The closing track of the album, "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon", is broken into two different parts. The first part leads off the album, and is a one minute a cappella version of the chorus, listed as "Intro" on the record.[9] The second track "Everything But Mine" is a synth heavy dance track produced by Dan Muckala.[9]It strays from typical BSB territory with its electro inspired offbeat riff.[10] The third song and lead single "Inconsolable" was produced by Emanuel Kiriakou and written by Emmanuel, Lindy Robbins and Jess Cates.[9] It features the trademark emotional boy band romantic lyrics[10] with very heartfelt vocals.[11] "Something That I Already Know" was described as "a classic Backstreet Boys pop-rock ballad." The song is co-written by Kara DioGuardi and David Hodges[9] and it also features "slick power-ballad choruses."[12] "Helpless When She Smiles" was produced by John Shanks and is another pop ballad.[9] It is a more visionary offering with an intriguing piano melody that provides some edge.[10] The sixth track "Any Other Way" traffics in clips of funk guitar comparable to Maroon 5.[13] It is a funk rocker with a minor-key tune.[12]

"One in a Million", which conjures memories of the stuttering eight-note beats of "Larger Than Life",[14] has elements of hip-hop and reggae.[9] The eighth track "Panic" add rock elements to the group's sound[8] and is another more adventurous outing; beginning with a dubby drum & bass rhythm.[10] "You Can Let Go" was described as a "dreamy" ballad,[15] while "Trouble Is" was deemed as "another big ballad with a mildly rootsy groove, that could actually do well on country radio, where melodrama rules.[12] The eleventh track "Treat Me Right" was deemed as "the standout track" on the album, which is generated via a co-writing/production credit from one-time rival JC Chasez, ex-member of *NSYNC.[13] It is an electropop song, and utilises the group's vocal interplay to admirable effect.[13] "Love Will Keep You Up All Night" was classified as a "montage of almost every love-song ever written and with a chorus reminiscent of Aerosmith’s "I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing’.[10] "Unmistakable" was considered "one of the stronger tracks on the album." The song features very strong vocal arrangements and instrumentation.[9] The second part of "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon" closes out the album, and is about three and half minutes in length. Commencing with only a piano, the song then adds a live drum beat and orchestral instruments, followed by an electric guitar solo and atmospheric harmonies.[14] All four members co-wrote the song and hailed it as the best song in the album.[9]


Critical reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (56/100)[16]
Review scores
Source Rating [8]
AllMusic [14] (positive)[15]
The A.V. Club C-[17]
BBC Music (favorable)[10] [13]
Entertainment Weekly B-[18]
Rolling Stone [12]
Virgin Media [11]
Yahoo! Voices (8/10)[9]

Unbreakable received generally mixed reviews from most music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 56, based on 8 reviews.[16] Bill Lamb from gave the album 4 out of 5 stars, praising "the incomparably lush harmonies and instantly pleasing melodies" and calling the songs "radio friendly."[8] Lamb also wrote that the band "have settled into a comfortable place as an adult vocal group" and named the album "a pure pop pleasure."[8] Tammy LaGorce from Amazon.comwrote that the album "boasts Super Glue-strength harmonies and an overall tightness of sound" and that "the music is more thoughtful and mature than ever."[15] The Reviewer from Yahoo! Voices wrote that "the boys are back with an undeniably strong album and the songs on the album fit the group incredibly."[9] Simon Vozick-Levinson wrote for Entertainment Weekly that "They come close to recreating the sheer euphoria of their biggest pre-2YK smashes on many of the up-temp dance-pop numbers that follow."[18] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic gave the album 3 out of 5 stars, writing that "the basic sound of the album is good, but the problem is that few of the songs stick. Here, the Backstreet Boys don't have any songs that will lift them out of the adult contemporary world -- but the audience who has turned from teens to adults with them will likely enjoy its easy sound, as there is nothing bad here. There's just nothing great, either."[14] Gemma Padley of BBC Music wrote that the album "is a valiant effort at reinvention and an at times gutsier record."[10]

On the other hand, the album also received mixed reviews. Matt O'Leary from Virgin Media wrote that "While there is nothing to match their crowning glory – karaoke classic I Want It That Way – this is a largely inoffensive collection of pop hits. It’s bound to be huge."[11] Lauren Murphy wrote that " Unbreakable is far from the perfect pop album - in fact, it's rather boring for the most part - but it does confirm that Backstreet Boys aren't quite ready for the scrap heap just yet."[13] Christina Hoard from Rolling Stone gave the album 2 out of 5 stars, commenting that "Unbreakable makes small nods to adult pop, peppering the processed music with tasteful piano and light guitar riffs and keeping bright, danceable grooves to a minimum. But the material stinks worse than ever."[12]

Commercial performance[edit]Edit

In the United States, the album debuted at number seven, selling about 81,000 copies in its first week.[19] However, the sales quickly fell. By the second week, the album fell to No. 10 with 45,000 copies sold. It fell to No. 52 in its third week with 20,000 copies sold. It fell to No. 78 in its fourth week with 5,000 copies sold making the total sales of 151,000 copies in the US. To date, the album has sold 200,000 copies in the US.[20]

In Japan, the album sold 102,043 copies in its first week and went to No. 1 on the Oricon weekly charts. It maintained its No. 1 position for a second week beating all of the domestic Japanese competition, a remarkable feat for a foreign band. In Japan, it has sold, 400,000 copies.[20] Worldwide, the album has sold 1,500,000 million copies.[20]


"Inconsolable" was the first single from the album. The single hit the U.S. radio outlets on August 27, 2007. It was premiered by Jive at Z-100 - New York's Hit Music Station on August 6. It was written and produced by Emanuel Kiriakou, and co-written by SibeRya, Lindy Robbins and Jess Cates.

"Helpless When She Smiles" was the second single from Unbreakable. It received airplay on WKSS in Hartford, CT. According to rumors, the band had expressed discontent with the record label's decision to choose "Helpless When She Smiles" as the second single, feeling that it sounded too much like their previous singles, but Jive Records declined this. The video of "Helpless When She Smiles" was filmed on November 13, 2007 at the Joshua Tree National ParkCA. The video premiered on Yahoo! Music on Wednesday December 12, 2007.

Unbreakable Tour[edit]Edit

Main article: Unbreakable Tour

The group embarked on tour on February 16, 2008 in Japan, and finished on March 13, 2009 in Mexico. The tour consists of 131 shows in Asia, Australia, North America, East Europe, West Europe, and South America. The group also had shows planned in South Africa, but the shows were canceled following the death of Howie Dorough's father.

Track listing[edit]Edit

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Intro"   Brian LittrellA.J. McLeanHowie DoroughNick Carter, Dan Muckala Muckala 0:58
2. "Everything But Mine"   Jess Cates, Muckala, Lindy Robbins Muckala 4:06
3. "Inconsolable"   Cates, Emanuel Kiriakou, Robbins, SibeRya Kiriakou 3:37
4. "Something That I Already Know"   Zukhan Bey, Kara DioGuardiDavid HodgesMitch Allan Allan, DioGuardi, Hodges 3:29
5. "Helpless When She Smiles"   Brett JamesChris LindseyAimee MayoTroy Verges John Shanks 4:05
6. "Any Other Way"   Cates, Muckala, Robbins Muckala 3:23
7. "One in a Million"   Littrell, McLean, Dorough, Carter, Cates, Muckala, Robbins Muckala 3:32
8. "Panic"   Littrell, McLean, Dorough, Carter, Billy Mann, Muckala Muckala 2:54
9. "You Can Let Go"   Cates, Muckala, Robbins Muckala 3:32
10. "Trouble Is"   D. Mescall, Martin Sutton, P. Sheyne Shanks 3:33
11. "Treat Me Right"   McLean, JC ChasezT. Feemster Neff-U & Chasez 4:10
12. "Love Will Keep You Up All Night"   Dave Schuler, Mann, Brian Paturalski, Larry Gold Mann 4:14
13. "Unmistakable"   Adam Anders, Nikki Hassman, Muckala Muckala, Anders 3:48
14. "Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon"   Littrell, McLean, Dorough, Carter, Mann, Muckala Muckala 3:21


Chart Country Peak position Certification Sales

Based on Certifications

Australian ARIA Albums Chart Australia 25[21]
Austrian Albums Chart Austria 21[21]
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders) Belgium 47[21]
Belgian Albums Chart (Walonia) Belgium 37[21]
Canadian Albums Chart Canada 2[22] Gold[23] 50,000+
Danish Albums Chart Denmark 36[21]
French Albums Chart France 127[21]
Finnish Top 40 Albums Finland 27[21]
German Albums Chart Germany 4[24]
Irish Albums Chart Ireland 26[25]
Federation of the Italian Music Industry Italy 15[21]
Japan Oricon Album Chart Japan 1[26] Platinum[27] 250,000+
Dutch Albums Chart The Netherlands 10[21]
Mexican Albums Chart Mexico 23[21]
Portugal Albums Top 30 Portugal 18[21]
Russian Albums Chart Russia Gold[28] 10,000+
Spain Albums Top 100 Spain 7[21]
Swedish Top 60 Sweden 28[21]
Swiss Albums Chart Switzerland 6[21]
UK Albums Chart United Kingdom 21[29]
Billboard 200 United States 7[30]

Release history[edit]Edit

Region Date
Japan October 24, 2007
Belgium October 26, 2007
Australia October 27, 2007
New Zealand
Region Date
Czech Republic October 29, 2007
United Kingdom
Canada October 30, 2007
United States
Israel October 31, 2007
Region Date
China November 2, 2007
Hong Kong
Russia November 5, 2007
Brazil November 10, 2007
Indonesia November 16, 2007
India November 22, 2007

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