So, Now Or Never turns twenty this week. It’s weird to think about. And I know it’s definitely Nick’s most rebellious period. His way of acting out, his teenage rebellion only a few years late. He’s even said this himself. Striking out against the family he knew. Really this album is a reflection of that.
In this album I feel like Nick is exposed. It’s a Nick in his rawest of forms at that time. He’s unpolished, unrefined. Unchoreographed. Just him and the little band he formed, singing his heart out. We saw it all, the bad and the good. Nothing was really hidden from us when you really think about it. And we could recognize that it wasn’t always the best time for him.
But it was who he was. All sides of him. Not just the cultivated image of the boybander we’d grown used to over the years by that point. That’s what was so great. He was human. It was Nick, showing just how he’s trying to discover who he is. Outside of Backstreet, as an adult, as a creator, as an artist, all of it. He’s him testing things out, looking for that sense of self.
Isn’t that basically the entire premise of Help Me?
Striking out and fighting to figure it out all on your own?
This album wasn’t perfect and it was never intended to be, yet it has gems that have passed the test of time, like I Got You – forever the fan favorite of the album. Quite possibly out of all of Nick’s songs. It’s a body of work that doesn’t take itself too seriously and never tried to. This was Nick trying out other musical influences he looked up to in his life and trying those styles on for size. Again, completely unpolished. This was an album of growth.
When I think about this album, I think of myself at sixteen. Finding myself playing this album on repeat because I felt misunderstood, angry at feeling that way, confused on how it’s all going to work out. And I think it’s why so many of us think of this album so fondly. Because we did figure it out in a way, that there isn’t some magical right way to do things. But that we did find a sense of self, and so did Nick. So we smile at our teenage dirtbag eras our ways of coping.
That’s the spirit of Now Or Never.
The fact this album isn’t perfect is what captures the spirit of it so well. It’s Nick just trying things out, trying to grow. Trying to be who he was, the good and the bad without a single fuck given about who liked it. And I know that he personally sees this album as a failure. But I’ll die on the hill that it wasn’t one.
It was never a failure.
This album’s chart positions (top 20 on the hot 100 isn’t anything to sneeze at), and the amount of copies it sold (it went gold) weren’t what was important here. It accomplished what it needed to, giving Nick the outside and the space to sort out who he could be as an artist. This album walked so future albums could run – with the group and without.
Later each of the Boys needed their own solo creative outlet, Nick just happened to do it first. Think about how hard that had to be. But he’s not one to shy away from doing something new, no matter how it turns out.
So happy 20th Now Or Never. Thank you for being so imperfectly perfect.