When Chris Mann appeared on “The Voice” in 2012, the season two finalist brought Christina Aguilera to tears with his performance of Josh Groban’s “Raise Me Up.”
“I got known for doing this very sort of serious genre, which was a blessing for sure,” Mann, a classically trained opera singer, told TODAY Parents. “However, there was a part of me that always felt a disconnect because my personality isn’t serious.”
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Stuck at home with tons of time on his hands, Mann started making quarantine parody music videos on his phone. Mann’s first song “My Corona,” which he shared online in March, racked up more than 20 million views in four days.
Then came viral hits “Hello (from the Inside) and “Daycare Closed,” set to the melody of Adele’s “Hello” and Little Nas X’s “Old Town Road, respectively.
Mann knew he was onto something big. AJ McLean of The Backstreet Boys couldn’t agree more.
“I started following him on YouTube and he kept getting funnier and funnier,” McLean, 42, told TODAY Parents. “I was like, “I need to reach out to this guy, because we’ve got to do something together."
Earlier this month, Mann released “I’m Friends with AJ/ 6 Feet Back (Alright)," a medley of "I Want it That Way" and "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)."
In the hilarious video, Mann and McLean sing the story of how they became pals in quarantine. It ends with an overly-clingy Mann obsessed with becoming the 6th Backstreet Boy member and McLean needing some space.
"When I read the final lyrics I was dying," McLean revealed. "I was like, 'This is genius.'"
All the footage was shot by Mann and McLean's wives at their California homes. Guest stars include McLean's daughters Ava, 7, and Lyric, 3, and Mann's 2-year-old son, Hugo.
McLean and Mann bonded immediately over parenthood.
During their first phone call, before they discussed anything creative, McLean opened up to Mann about potty training woes.
“It was a full dad-bro conversation," McLean recalled. “I told him what was going on with me and he was like, ‘Here’s what I’m dealing with.’ And I remember thinking to myself, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna get along just fine.”
For Mann, this has been a dream come true.
“It’s really cool and bizarre to be working with someone I idolized when I was growing up in Wichita, Kansas,” Mann told TODAY Parents. “I really do appreciate being able to say, ‘I’m friends with AJ.’”