It was the battle of the boy bands in Las Vegas over the weekend.
Three of the world’s biggest male pop groups collided on stage in Sin City during a performance showcasing some of their greatest hits on Saturday.
AJ McLean of the Backstreet Boys and Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC were in the middle of a musical showdown at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino’s International Theater when Jeff Timmons of 98 Degrees crashed the performance.
The musicians came together for the Victoria’s Voice Foundation’s “An Evening to Save Lives: Music for Life” fundraiser, hosted by Timmons.
The foundation was started by Westgate Resorts president and Queen of Versailles star, David Siegel, and his wife, Jackie Siegel, after their 18-year-old daughter, Victoria, died of a drug overdose in 2015. The organization works to fight the opioid epidemic by helping reduce drug experimentation, addiction and overdoses among youth, particularly amid an increase in fatal overdoses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before they hit the stage, Timmons, Kirkpatrick and McLean sat down with ET Canada, sharing how as parents, Victoria’s passing and the Siegels’ subsequent work hits close to home.
“We’re all fathers, so we’re all very protective,” said McLean, dad to daughters Ava, 8, and Lyric, 4. “And, something like this is very close to the chest for me, being in recovery and battling my own demons, so to be here to spread awareness and be supportive is what matters most.”
McLean, 43, has been open about his sobriety struggles, freely discussing the topic on his podcast, Pretty Messed Up. Having marked 18 months sober, he admitted being back in the party town of Las Vegas, where the Backstreet Boys wrapped a two-year Larger Than Life residency in 2019, has been testing.
“It was a bit stressful yesterday, being back [and] with things reopening,” he said. “I haven’t been around as many people in a tight space in a year-and-a-half, so I was a little anxious, but knowing that I’ve got a great support group back home [helps.] I just got off a nice sober boys’ trip over the past week, so I’ve been able to build a good foundation [while] not being on the road or here in Las Vegas.”
As for how the pop stars will teach their kids about drugs, temptations and addiction, Kirkpatrick noted the value of resources like the Siegels’ book, Victoria’s Voice: Our Daughter’s Dying Wish to Share Her Diary.
“You can give them tools to research and find out for themselves, because it’s already hard enough with kids,” said Kirkpatrick, who has a 3-year-old son, Nash, with wife Karly. “Thinking back to when I was young and the things I wanted to try and do – you don’t want to be that parent that tells your kid, ‘No,’ all the time because then they’re just going to want to do it. You’ve got to say, ‘I’m gonna let you make your decisions, but these are the repercussions.’”
Kirkpatrick, 49, and Timmons, 48, commended Victoria’s Voice for bringing awareness to how the opioid crisis is impacting youth.
“They have this program called the Victory Clubs and incentivize kids to not only become educated, but educate other people,” Timmons said about the program, which rewards drug-free youth with perks like school parking spaces or movie tickets. “The opioid epidemic continues to grow. There isn’t a demographic that it doesn’t affect, so it’s a universal problem.”
After Soul of Motown, who have a residency at Westgate Las Vegas, opened the concert with hits like “My Girl”, Jackie Siegel shared how Victoria was a huge fan of the artists playing the fundraiser, which took place on the eve of the sixth anniversary of her passing. “She grew up with all the performers. That was her era and I know she’s loving it.”
“There’s been some very iconic performers at the Westgate International Theater,” Jackie also said. “Elvis Presley and many others. But nothing has been as iconic and important as tonight’s Music for Life because tonight, we’re going to save lives.”
Singer-songwriter Victoria Dennis performed “Perfect Storm,” a powerful track she wrote after reading Victoria’s diary entries, before The Voice season 12 winner, Chris Blue, got the audience on their feet with his new single “Moon.”
DJ Lux kept fans dancing with a party-pumping set, which continued with McLean performing the Backstreet Boys’ “The Call”. Kirkpatrick then joined McLean on-stage, noting what the two have in common. “We both had five people in our band, we both were known as the guy with the hair – mine was on my head, yours was on your face – and we both had Johnny Wright as a manager,” Kirkpatrick said.
“My band was known for dancing – you’re known for Dancing with the Stars,” he added, before singing *NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart”.
“That was a great song, but I got one that’s better,” McLean responded, before launching into “I Want It That Way.”
Kirkpatrick reacted with “Bye Bye Bye”, before McLean hit back with “Larger Than Life”.
At that point, Timmons crashed the sing-off, saying, “You guys weren’t the only boy bands during that time!”
“We were the only ones that mattered,” Kirkpatrick fired back.
Undeterred, Timmons performed a remix of 98 Degrees’ late ’90s hit “The Hardest Thing”, before leaving McLean and Kirkpatrick to their song battle.
Instead, McLean declared past rivalries over and announced he and Kirkpatrick have a new single “Air” with their side band ATCK (All the Cool Kids). The group includes McLean, Kirkpatrick, DJ Lux and drummer Ryan Stevenson.
After debuting the track, McLean performed his new solo single “Love Song Love” for the first time live. “There’s been a lot of negative energy around the world lately,” he said, introducing the song, from his forthcoming EP. “We need more love. We need more acceptance. We need more tolerance. We need more compassion. Real love conquers all. Love wins.”
He closed the show with “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” before guests hit an afterparty at the hotel’s extravagant penthouse floor, where late Presley stayed during his residency days.
Fans who couldn’t make it to Las Vegas for the fundraiser may soon get another chance to catch at least one of the show’s headliners performing in town again. “Any of you guys happen to catch the Larger Than Life Las Vegas residency?” McLean teased. “A little birdie told me that Backstreet Boys might be coming back to Vegas sooner than you think!”