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Five Things We Learned About Country’s Newest Act, AJ McLean

Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean is stepping out on his own for a solo country career. To kick it off, here's five things you might not know.

Written by Lauren Laffer
Five Things We Learned About Country’s Newest Act, AJ McLean
AJ McLean; Photo courtesy of Crowd Surf

After spending the last 25 years in one of the biggest boy bands in the world, AJ McLean is stepping out into his own lane and launching a solo country project. He’s already shared some of his new tunes with fans (“Back Porch Bottle Service,” “Night Visions”), and is ready to release the rest of his music in April 2019.

On Thursday, Dec. 6, the singer spent time in Nashville at the NASH-FM studios to play a small showcase for a few select fans. Sounds Like Nashville was lucky enough to be a part of the crowd and hear a little bit of what McLean has in the works. After sharing several songs with the room, including the moving “Boy And A Man,” the Backstreet Boys member encouraged everyone to ask questions. The Q&A time allowed everyone to get to know the singer and learn what his hopes are for the organic new project he’s been working on. While some questions focused on the music, others gave an inside peek into who McLean is as a person (and just so you know, he’s super endearing).

Here are some of the most interesting tidbits we learned about McLean…

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Here’s to you and your #CryPrettyChallenge @carrieunderwood Fantastic album! Killin’ it! #CryPretty

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He’s A Music Fan

AJ is a self-proclaimed lover of music and his love knows no genre bounds. “I’m a fan of music and music lovers. I grew up listening to a plethora of music. My mom was my true musical inspiration, anything from CCR to Three Dog Night to Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, then all of a sudden, shifted into like, the urban world: the O’Jays, the Chi-Lites, the Temptations and then I started going into my own world [with] Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, Prince,” he said.

His Dream Country Tourmate

Dan + Shay have had an incredible 2018 and much like fans, artists have taken notice. When asked about his dream country tour lineup, McLean was quick to answer that he’d love to join forces with Dan Smyers and Shay Mooney for an epic trek across the country. “I’ll tell you right now who I would like, to me, is kind of a dream mashup to go on, would be Dan + Shay. They’re huge fans of us, we’re huge fans of them. I actually did a show, it was in Iowa, right? We’re in Iowa. They were the headliner, I introduced them and they were just so ecstatic. And I’m like, we gotta do something together. And now listening to their record, I think, our sound is really kind of sonically the same. It’s got pop aspect but then it has the country aspect. When I heard ‘Tequila,’ that’s what my brain told me the rest of the album would sound like. And it doesn’t.”

He’s a Friends Fiend

McLean is only a recent fan of the ’90s hit show Friends (he found it in the last five years!), but he knows the show inside and out. His favorite episodes, you ask? The trifle and Brad Pitt episodes are at the top of his list. “The funny little thing about the trifle episode, little funny fact for you, an ff if you will. In the DVD version and the TV show version which are different, the DVD versions are like, I think, almost four or five minutes longer. But if you all go home and you YouTube that particular episode, when Monica and Ross’s parents are grilling them about you know, ‘no, you weren’t supposed to put beef in the trifle,’ and it cuts to Ross’s dad, the whole right side of the frame, you can see cables, pieces of tape, you can see behind the actual set. How they missed that is beyond me but I saw it and found it.”

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Movie and cuddle time with Ava while baby sister takes a nap! #lovemygirls

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The Swear Jar

Yes, even McLean has a swear jar at home. His six-year-old daughter has set something up for their household and make sure to collect on any bad words spoken. While the jar goes for any adults in the house, the BSB’er feels singled out as he has to pay much more than the rest of them. “Unfortunately, mommy, daddy and my brother-in-law, we’re just like a bunch of sailors on leave at our house, and it’s just, you know, I’m sorry. Now my six year old reprimands daddy if he says a bad word. She actually has a swear jar,” he said. “For some reason, Daddy has to pay more. It’s twenty five cents for everyone else in the house, but I gotta pay like a dollar fifty and I’m like, ‘what are you doing?’ She’s too smart. She’s too smart.”

He Has A Massive Man Crush on Ryan Reynolds

Among the questions asked by fans was one that came completely out of left field. If he was a chair, what kind of chair would he be? And who would he want to sit on him? The question took McLean a moment to answer (and compose himself) but he answered that the politically correct response would be his wife. But besides her? “I would say Ryan Reynolds. Yeah. Yeah. If you don’t have a man crush on Ryan Reynolds as a man, then, something is wrong with you. He is just amazing. Yeah, absolutely. That should have been my first answer,” he said with a laugh.