Chris Willman
September 17, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

For all its surprising cross-demographic appeal, not everybody has succumbed to the tidal wave of teen pop sweeping America.

”I feel like the 5-year-olds have spoken — and let ’em, if they want Britney, or Barney, or whatever,” says Third Eye Blind’s Stephan Jenkins.

”I guess we were a contributing factor, and I feel a little bit guilty for starting the whole thing,” confesses Spice Girl Melanie C., campaigning for clemency before her more mature solo album comes out this fall.

”I feel like it’s a conspiracy, like someone’s playing a joke on us,” says Fieldy, the bassist for Korn, grumpily speaking for many a mystified rocker. ”I don’t get this era of music right now. I watch it all with a frown.”

Maybe Fieldy should take up his beef with his band’s managers, who also happen to shepherd — you guessed it — the five Millennium-meisters who are the unquestioned rage of the nation. As the record industry unleashes its flood of new releases into the lucrative fall market, even optimistic label execs would have to concede it’s the Backstreet Boys’ world, and the rest of the pop and rock community just shrieks, screams, cries, and quivers in it.

Teen pop’s quintessential poster boys just passed the seven-times-platinum mark with Millennium, beating any sophomore skepticism to prove that at minimum, they’re a two-megahit wonder. But while they’re selling CDs as fast as they can press ’em — at a rate of 200,000 plus a week — they’re selling zero concert tickets right now. As in zilch. In an unprecedented move that couldn’t have been any craftier if it’d been choreographed by Fosse, the Backstreet Boys put the dates for all 39 cities on their upcoming 11-week American arena tour on sale Aug. 14, grossing a reported $30 million in the hour or so it took every last ticket to get snatched.

The world’s biggest simultaneous sellout — great publicity coup, right? ”We had, unfortunately, a lot of disappointed fans. That actually wasn’t a good thing,” says Strauss Zelnick, chief of BMG Entertainment, home of the Boys and other teen pop titans. ”You can’t believe the letters I got.”

Death threats from ticketless grade-schoolers aside, it’s all good for the Backstreeters. And any malcontents hoping teen pop will disappear as quickly as it arrived are going to have to wish a lot more hardbodies than just Nick, AJ, Howie, Brian, and Kevin into the cornfield. Boy band ‘N Sync also hit the 7 million mark with their debut, with no signs that their fall follow-up, No Strings Attached, shouldn’t do the same. The did-she-or-didn’t-she chatter about Britney Spears hasn’t slowed her down on her way to 6 million albums and counting. Spears’ fellow ex-Mouseketeer Christina Aguilera recently knocked the Boys out of first place on the album chart with her debut. And the newly released album from LFO (purveyors of the simpering hit ”Summer Girls” and its shameless shout-out to Abercrombie & Fitch) should ensure the youth brigade won’t lack for a fresh-faced reinforcement.

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