Backstreet Boys Nostalgia

When I was maybe 16, beyond following up with artists I was already invested in, I resolved to stick more with singer-songwriters or artists that wrote their own music. Opposed to the pre-packaged pop.
For the most part, I have kept that promise to myself 😛 the only other exception was artists that were a part of “American Idol”- most of which didn’t co-write their albums.

Considering the state of The Voice and the fact it really hasn’t put out a legit superstar (at least Cassadee Pope’s solo career has been doing amazing- just because she’s not a household name like Kelly Clarkson doesn’t mean that she’s a failure. and over 500,000 Twitter followers can’t be wrong)…
it’s kinda surprising that I’m still watching. But what can I say, it’s guilty pleasure and I’m just a sucker for singing competitions.
Although I have yet to figure out just why I hadn’t watched “Dancing with the Stars” all that much this season when Nick Carter is on.

I mean, my 12-13 year old self would roll her proverbial eyes at me over this.

The Backstreet Boys were the first group I really got into, although there would be others further down the road where I was more avid and crazy. I enjoyed them and *NSYNC a lot (thanks to the fact Max Martin wrote music for both of them- them & Britney Spears are the reasons why I deem him to be the musical genius that he is- nobody can write a hit like Max Martin can).

I managed to catch Nick and Sharna doing their dance to “Backstreet’s Back” and I heard some of Nick talking about how being the group saved him. How he grew up in a super dysfunctional family (all the issues with Aaron Carter make a lot of sense now… we were closer in age, but I always preferred Nick to Aaron). How most of his friends are either gone or in jail.
I think I heard that Nick had issues with addiction that he ultimately came back from. AJ was the one who had the most issues with drugs, but as far as I can tell, everything’s well with all the guys these days.
But I never realized how much Backstreet Boys meant to Nick. I know their first album got me into pop music and they gave me a lot of happiness- but considering how they really didn’t write their own music, I didn’t think it had THAT much impact. It makes you think…

So “Backstreet’s Back” was a major nostalgia trip and I figured I’d be listening to their music again… I didn’t get around to that until today, some 4-5 days later.
I was just trying to find the right time and what better time than while I’m gaming.

I figure it’s just the brand of mix CD’s- not all of the CD’s hold and skips happen. And it’s pretty frustrating when I’m trying to keep pace with my gaming.
I never had an issue with my Backstreet Boys mix, but sure enough, by the time I got to the third album, I couldn’t get past the one minute mark.
The end result: I brought out Black & Blue and their greatest hits [their version that included duds like “All I have to give”] for the first time in YEARS. And technically, I just got the greatest hits album for the final track, “Drowning”… when I got around to listening to it, I didn’t really remember it at all.

Every now and then, I do hear “I want it that way” and “as long as you love me” on the radio at work 😛 but several of the songs are so nostalgic to me that it’s hard to forget the words even if I wanted to.

We’ve got it goin’ on
Quit playin’ games
as long as you love me
I’d go anywhere for you
Get Down (The One For Me)

Most of this is nostalgia… oh those days when I’d hear a song on the radio and not know for several seconds whether I was listening to “Quit playin’ games” or “as long as you love me”… of course after years, I was able to tell the difference between the two, but back then, they might as well be a couple Rick Astley songs (“Never gonna give you up” and “Together Forever” had a lot of melodic similarities simply because they had the same songwriters).
Even though “As long as you love me” can potentially have a terrible message (kinda like “Every Breath You Take” being construed as a stalker song), it’s always been one of my personal favorites.

It’s odd that I love the vocals on the opening track of the album when I always preferred the higher voices from Nick and Brian… but there was just something about “We’ve got it goin’ on”- the production of it- I’ve always loved it and whenever I picked it up, it’s like a time machine.

“I’d go anywhere for you” was the first song I cried over because it had certain musical nuances that I just thought were so beautiful. One day I listened to it twice- once without the lyrics and front of me and once with them- I still cried. I realize now that is super cheesy and predictable. But the vocal range on that grand finale… wow.

“Get Down” to me is straight up pop… it is absolutely irresistible the way the lyrics are put together.

The odd thing about some boyband music… a lot is said, but the lyrics often don’t mean anything 😛 but it doesn’t make them any easier to get out of your head

Larger than Life
I Need You Tonight
It’s gotta be you
Don’t want you back
Don’t wanna lose you now
The One

For years, I bought music and never really listened to albums. I just listened to the singles I heard on the radio- the songs I bought them for in the first place. But on a whim, I decided to listen to this entire album and I found more to like than simply those few songs.
A few of them I put on my first mix CD (last I checked, it worked perfectly and I only picked it up for the first time a few months ago) where I put a bunch of songs that were inspiring a fanfiction series I was writing.
“It’s gotta be you” is another of those irresistible grooves with the lyrics developed at just the right rhythm. It feels as if Max Martin (or whoever) constructed a plug that fits perfectly into the outlet that is my brain. The craziest part about it is that the song is short. I think it’s 2 minutes 58 seconds. Goes by so fast, but it’s among the most fun 2min58sec I know of. (according to Wikipedia, I’m off by one second- yeah, I’m chock full of useless trivia, lol)
“I need you tonight” was something I fell in love with later on and when I put the mix together, I knew I had to have it. It’s a solo number with such a beautiful vocal- and it’s Nick’s… all this time, I thought it was Kevin Richardson (maybe because his name appeared as a co-writing credit on this albums somewhere). But yeah… sing that to me and I’d swoon in seconds.
“Don’t want you back” I fell in love with the same time as “It’s gotta be you”… and for the same reasons.
“Larger than Life” is a single I’d heard a million times and got sick of, but I had a resurgence late in putting this mix together and decided to put it in.

Just a few years ago, I had a similar experience with “Show me the feeling of being lonely”- it’s interesting with the Spanish guitar thrown in. But it might also the part of my brain that’s just wired to love boyband music. I can’t explain it.
And no matter how many times I hear it, I’ll love “I want it that way”- despite the fact I don’t think it really means anything. What way do you want it? And who wants it this way? Him or Her? Or is it very simple and I’m just making too much of it?

“Don’t wanna lose you now” is such a great ballad.
And “The One”… omg, the perfect pop song. The way the lyrics are written to make it catchy, but also with an additional bridge that reinforces the message. It’s easily one of my favorite BSB songs to hit the radio- if not my favorite.

overall, Millennium is a great album… until I get to track 9- the final 4 songs, I really am not a fan of. [maybe because Max Martin didn’t write any of them and he co-wrote the first 8]

Black & Blue:
The Call
Shape of my heart
The Answer to Our Life
Not For Me

it was really tough today getting through “The Call”- the skips started happening in the later half and it was hard to stay invested when the music stops working for 30 seconds and there’s no way of knowing how long it’ll keep going until it stops again.
But going into it, it is kinda complex… it seems to be about a guy cheating on his girlfriend. The music pulls me in so much that I’m almost compelled to not listen to the lyrics and figure out what they mean. Maybe because I’m afraid they’ll ruin the song for me. But I don’t think I’d ever overanalyzed any boyband lyrics… ever.

“Shape of my heart” is a real nostalgia trip because I remember where I was the first time I heard it.
Their website premiered a teaser for the song and they had a cute little video to go with it. I must have played it dozens of times before the album came out. But it is beautiful. I love Nick’s voice on it especially. I don’t really know who sings what, but because Nick had one of the higher voices, I remembered most of where his solos are.

“Boyfriend” I think was a song one of my friends pointed out to me and said was really good.
I didn’t go into it too much, but it’s easy to figure out it’s about a girl being with the wrong guy and they want to talk her out of being with him.

“Answer to my life” hit Radio Disney at some point as a single, but it has great atmosphere that reminds me of being on a skating rink… which I hadn’t been on since high school gym class. Roller blading.

“Everyone” I don’t know why I have inclination towards… certain nuances in it freak me out a bit and I really can’t explain why. at one point, I considered using it for my fanfiction, but the story in question never materialized.

“Not to me” has the rhythmic thing that I love in several of their songs. The way the lyrics come out a certain way, they just stick in my head.

and Drowning… the first few note sounded like they were ripped from “All or Nothing” by O-Town. Whatever happened to them? And why did I never become a fan of theirs? Especially since I was all into boybands during the time they had a TV series where the group was put together.
listening to it again after all these years, it doesn’t feel as strong as a song as I remember. but I still love that final note where whoever it is drops to a certain octave.
I’d always been a sucker for a song that ends on the perfect note and this is one of many examples of that.

Overall, I feel like the Backstreet Boys are more soulful than NSYNC- who had a lot of dance music.
With the first album, the image I get is that they’re from the backstreets- meaning that I don’t see them as jocks or preppy guys. but they still have that heartthrob thing going on and sensitivity breaks through.

Then in Millennium, their act gets cleaned up and there’s more dance music, but there’s a lot of heart to certain songs that I really respond to.

Then with Black & Blue… well, I haven’t heard the album as much as the other two to really know what vibe I get from it. But I do know that it is structurally stronger than NSYNC’s third album “Celebrity”- where the songwriting was weak and it really didn’t go anywhere or go on to mean anything. In other words, it was like they were over being a group and Justin was raring to go get that solo career he has now.

Maybe one day I’ll listen through all these albums again to see if I changed my mind about any of the songs. And maybe I’ll go through the lyrics and really figure out what they mean- if anything.

All I do know is that they were great with these albums. Then they moved away from Pop and went more soulful on “Never Gone” and that’s where we parted ways.
It’s almost like when I stop watching a show because they changed the cast- even though the same guys were all there, but the songwriting changed. Max Martin appears 3 times- I like each of the songs by pure coincidence.
Reading about it on Wikipedia, apparently the critics hated it too because they ventured from their “traditional pop style” and went towards more adult contemporary… and for once I agree with them. The shift was just too radical for me.
But I’ll always love them for those years of nostalgia that they did give me.

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