He still wants candy — but now it’s more sophisticated! Fifteen years after pop star Aaron Carter released his last album, the now-29-year-old has reemerged from the tribulations of teen star hardships with new music — and a fresh perspective.
The Tampa, Fla., native debuted his five-song EP, LØVË, in February — his first foray back into music after his 2002 album, Another Earthquake. Here are five things we learned about the reinvented Carter at his Planet Hollywood Times Square handprint ceremony on April 24.
1. He’s learned his lessons!
Carter has made headlines for troubles with love, family and money — but now he’s put all that behind him. “I learned there’s a very valuable lesson in growing up as a young star and then being about to come out on the other side,” the artist, who started performing at age 7, tells Us.
“People lose their way, but I figured out a bit of a formula. It’s hard work, dedication, listening to people, and having an open mind and being open to learning — being humble is important,” he continued, crediting 500 performances in the off-Broadway musical The Fantasticks as his training. “When you start off so young, you lose sight of what’s reality and it becomes your normality. I lost everything and got it back. When that happened, it made me have much more appreciation for what I have now.”
2. He embraces his past!
Even though he’s had a 15-year break since his bubblegum pop hits, the Dancing With the Stars alum doesn’t shy away from his early years that made him a household name. In fact, he even reproduced a new version of “I Want Candy” for his album. “It’s got an EDM drop in it and it’s really cool,” he says. “I think I’m actually going to be the first person ever to do a cover of my cover 10 years later — and then actually produce it too!”
3. He’s in love!
After going through a tumultuous relationship, which sparked much of the heart-wrenching new music, Carter is now on cloud nine dating Madison Parker. “It’s about loving each other and showing the world — and not being afraid of that,” he told Us. “That’s something I didn’t get in my previous relationship. LØVË is all about an ex-girlfriend who didn’t love me. The rest of the album will hopefully be about the grass being greener on the other side.”
4. The Backstreet Boys are like brothers!
Even though he and brother Nick Carter have had some of their family drama play out in public — as well as on their 2006 E! reality show, House of Carters — their brotherly bond is stronger than ever now. “My brother and I have always had an up and down relationship,” he admits to Us of the Backstreet Boys singer. “We’re brothers — what do you expect? We both do the same thing too, so there’s always going to be an underlying competition.”
He also looks up to the entire boy band — who he opened up for on tour early in his career. “Kevin [Richardson] said to me, ‘You did it! You did it on your own,’” Carter tells Us of his recent reunion with BSB. “I thought that was really awesome — and all the guys are really proud of me. It’s really cool!”
5. He hasn’t talked to Hilary Duff, but is still pals with Shaq!
One of Carter’s biggest appearances was his guest role on a March 2001 episode of Disney Channel’s Lizzie McGuire with Hilary Duff. Sadly, they haven’t kept in touch (“We tried to say, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ once or something,” he says), but he has reunited with another famous friend: Shaquille O’Neal, the subject of his 2000 pop rap song, “That’s How I Beat Shaq.”
In fact, Carter challenged him to a rematch on truTV on a 2013 episode of Upload with Shaquille O’Neal. “It was hilarious!” he remembers. “You’ve got to watch it!”
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