As a result of discovering The Essential Backstreet Boys on Spotify, I’ve been on a huge Backstreet Boys kick this month. Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s taken me until the last day of the month to write about one of their songs. But here we are at the end of November and not only have I managed to blog about 30 songs, but I’ve written something every day. And the last song I’m gonna write about is “I Want It That Way.”
I still remember this song premiering on radio – so fanatical was the build-up and hype for it. I was only moderately interested, having liked the singles from Backstreet Boys, but not much else. But all that changed when I heard the song. It managed to be a teeny-bopper boy band song while simultaneously leveling up from their previous album. I really loved it. They sounded good and the song appealed to my love of melodramatic songs. I think what I love about Backstreet Boys is that, while they are a boy band, they also can actually sing. They harmonize and sing a cappella. Milli Vanilli they are decidedly not. And, perhaps most importantly to me, they also know their way around a pop hook. “I Want It That Way” went on to be the most successful boy band single EVER and even today, it sounds pretty good.
All these years later, the group is still recording new material. To call them a boy band is probably accurate on a chromosomal level, but it’s been a long time since any of them were anything close to a “boy.” Nick Carter is the youngest of the group at 33, and Kevin Richardson, who always seemed a little bit awkwardly out of place, is older than me, although at 42, that’s kind of splitting hairs. Every once in a while when I was listening to this album, I wondered if it was disingenuous of the Backstreet Boys to continue recording this kind of music as many of them are in their late 30s/early 40s. Is it ridiculous for a group of grown men to be recording boy band pop at their age, even though the sound of their music has certainly altered with the times?
The answer to this question is a categorical NO. When I caught myself thinking this, I realized that a sentiment like that is no different than all the people telling “Granny Madonna” that she needs to retire. If they are getting joy out of singing and recording and performing, who the hell is anyone to tell them what to do and what not to do? Frankly, the fact that they’re still together after all these years (although Richardson did leave the group for a while and Carter put out a solo album) is pretty damn amazing. I hope that they all get along and have developed a level of intimacy with each other that being with a group of friends like that would hopefully foster over the years. It also helps that their new music isn’t half bad either.
And just so you know, you’ll never know how close this post came to being about “The Call.”