December 01, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST

Backstreet Boys sites

Armed with a fresh image, a spunky new album (Black & Blue), and a powerful desire to cream ‘N Sync’s sales record (2.4 million copies of their album No Strings Attached sold in its opening week), the Backstreet Boys are back. So what can be said of the teen dreams’ online action? Check out these sites, both official and off-the-beaten-path, for the lowdown.

The Boys’ official site not only allowed the band to debut their new hangin’-tough look (freshly mussed hair, leather, smirks), it teased fans with an early look at their latest album before it debuted in stores. Fans can download the video for insta-hit ”Shape of My Heart” and sample audio clips from all of their albums. Naturally, the official site is shamelessly self-promotional (Infiltrate TRL with votes! Order all the CDs! Become a member of BSB’s Online Street Team!) and as ultra-produced as any of the group’s singles. There are a few shruggish attempts to keep it real herethough a video of five goofily dressed boys monkeying around a golf course isn’t exactly revealing.

Former Marvel Comics maestro Stan Lee has teamed up with the boy band to help them take over the world. Sort of. Together, they’ve created the playful Backstreet Project, which reminds fans that boys will always be, well, little boys. There’s a series of webisodes that position the guys as positivity-preaching, buffed-up superheroes (Kevin Richardson, Power Lord!). You’ll also find a carnival of matchmaking, trivia, and puzzle games. But the real genius comes when you get to create your own Backstreet Boys strip using Lee’s comic composer, where you can piece together your own storyand decide if the Boys are up to saving the day.

Had enough of the real deal? Backstreet’s Back is an earnest Canadian BSB tribute band that covers such tunes as ”Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and ”Get Down (You’re the One for Me),” both downloadable here. They not only belt out the numbers, they also mimic the band’s pretty-boy styles and facial hair, circa Millennium. So why, pray tell, are they doing this? According to their online FAQs, Backstreet’s Back seek to enliven ”places where the real BSBs wouldn’t go, such as small villages where you must be flown in because there are no roads….”

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