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Retro heartthrobs turn back our clocks

By Courtney Devores
Correspondent

Is it hot in here? It is June, but it’s the unusual number of former heartthrobs (teen and otherwise) converging on Charlotte next week that’s raising temperatures.

Whether you came of age in the ’80s, ’90s or early 2000s, there’s probably someone coming to town whose poster was tacked to your (or your sister’s) bedroom wall.

Two of MTV’s hottest early hit-makers play outside of Charlotte. Two reality TV vets hit town. And the be-all/end-all of boy bands – New Kids on the Block – headlines “The Package Tour” with 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men.

Here’s how they rate.

Reality Romeos

Ryan Cabrera

Where and when: 8 p.m. Tuesday at Evening Muse, 3227 N. Davidson St.

Age: 30.

High: His hair! Kidding. (Sort of.) But seriously: Cabrera scored two Top 10 hits (“True” and “On the Way Down”) in 2004 and 2005.

Low: “The Hills,” anyone?

Current temperature: Room temperature. The heavily tattooed Texan was recently inked with the likeness of Ryan Gosling (hot and silly) and reunited with his old girlfriend – Elvis’ granddaughter, actress Riley Keough, in 2012. But his music career is overshadowed by his celebrity.

Jason Castro

Where and when: With Cabrera.

Age: 26.

High: Singing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” as fourth runner-up on “American Idol” in 2008, which helped push Jeff Buckley’s version of the song up iTunes’ charts.

Low: Like Cabrera, he appeared on an old girlfriend’s MTV reality series (“Cheyenne”) in 2006, when he dated Cheyenne Kimball.

Current temperature: Cooling. As a married dad of a toddler, Castro retains a devoted fan base but has cooled in the heartthrob department. As a Christian contemporary artist, Castro is living fairly controversy-free.

Boy Banders

NKOTB

Where and when: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Time Warner Cable Arena, 333 E. Trade St.

Ages: Joey McIntyre, 40; Donnie Wahlberg, 43; Jordan Knight, 43; Jonathan Knight, 44; and Danny Wood, 44.

High: Its 1988 album “Hangin’ Tough” ignited a Beatles-like frenzy that reached worldwide proportions.

Low: Although considered a more mature effort, 1994’s “Face the Music” was a commercial failure.

Current temperature: Still smokin’. At press time, balcony seats were available, but the only way to get closer to the action is to buy a single ticket and sit alone. It helps that a few members branched out and kept the group in the news even during its hiatus. Wahlberg has a successful film and TV career (“Saw,” “Blue Bloods”). A classic crooner, McIntyre performed on Broadway and in musicals, was a finalist on “Dancing With the Stars,” and completed the 2013 Boston Marathon minutes before the explosion. Jonathan Knight, the quieter of the two brothers in the group, revealed he’s gay in 2011.

98 Degrees

Where and when: With NKOTB and Boyz II Men.

Ages: Nich Lachey 39; Drew Lachey, 36; Jeff Timmons, 40; and Justin Jeffre, 39.

Highs: The singles “Thank God I Found You” (with Mariah Carey and Joe), “Because of You,” “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)” and “The Hardest Thing.”

Low: It’s failed to crack the charts since 2000.

Current temperature: Set to simmer. Drew Lachey was quickly cut from the all-star season of “Dancing With the Stars” in 2012, suggesting his star has fallen. But Nick Lachey may be forever hot because of the way he presented himself opposite (ex-wife) Jessica Simpson on MTV reality series “Newlyweds.” When it came time for divorce, he refused to accept Simpson’s money.

Boyz II Men

Where and when: With NKOTB and 98 Degrees.

Ages: Nathan Morris, 41; Wanya Morris, 39; and Shawn Stockman, 40.

Highs: In the ’90s, Boyz II Men released “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” “End of the Road,” “I’ll Make Love to You” and “One Sweet Day” (with Mariah Carey), which were some of the longest-running No. 1 singles in R&B history.

Lows: The second decade of its career was a relative bust, and Michael McCary – the fourth piece of the harmony puzzle – left the group in 2003.

Current temperature: Eternal flame. Boyz II Men transcended boy bandom early on with music that was taken seriously (it won four Grammys). Its music scores weddings and proms to this day.

(I Want My) MTV Hunks

Billy Idol

Where and when: June 21 at Harrah’s Cherokee Resort Event Center in Cherokee.

Age: 57.

High: The former Generation X frontman was the poster boy for MTV in the ’80s, with his popularity peaking in 1990 when “Cradle of Love” rocked its way up the charts.

Lows: A 1990 motorcycle accident; ill-advised dreadlocks and techno beats on 1993’s “Cyperpunk”; and a 1994 overdose.

Current temperature: A respectable sizzle. He stops in N.C. after a set at Bonnaroo. Recent reviews praise his live energy and singing.

Rick Springfield

Where and when: June 21 at Old Town Amphitheater in Rock Hill.

Age: 63.

Highs: In 1981, “Jessie’s Girl” hit big just as he began making “house calls” as Dr. Noah Drake on ABC’s “General Hospital.” He won a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and scored 14 Top-40 hits.

Lows: An 11-year dormancy marked by depression; arrests on charges of spousal abuse in 2000 (the charges were dropped) and DUI in 2011.

Current temperature: Adequate smoke. His Rock Hill concert sold out well in advance.

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