I didn’t hit my boy band phase until I was at the end of my sophomore year of college.
I know. I wasted SO MANY years repressing my inner fangirl.
Frankly, the years of repression explain a LOT about why I am the way I am today.
I remember hearing rumblings about The Backstreet boys and rolling my eyes over them. Like Sage, I was MUCH too cool for bubblegum pop (and I already had much on my plate damming me to be a geek, being that I was a massive X-Phile). I worked at The Gap and “As Long As You Love Me” and “All I Have to Give” were in heavy rotation on the store playlist. Over an eight-hour work shift, I would hear them at least three times. Soon, I knew all the words, despite my best efforts to ignore them. Not long after that…I was singing along. And THEN I would find myself looking FORWARD to when they would come on and doing a little dance of rejoicing when those now familiar opening chords would play.
They had gotten me.
However, I remained a closet Backstreet Boys fan for a long time. Wasn’t I, at 20 years old, too OLD to love a boy band so ardently? Wasn’t I too old to save magazine covers and article to secretly tape up in my closet? WASN’T I TOO OLD TO HAVE A FAVORITE BACKSTREET BOY?
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. NO. Never. You are NEVER too old to have a favorite Backstreet Boy.
And then the Summer of 1999 happened. And you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing the greatest boy band song (and arguably the most perfect pop song) EVER.
I’m sorry. If you don’t love (and know all the words to) “I Want It That Way” then there is a problem deep inside your soul. It IS one of the greatest pop songs ever written. The nonsensical “that way” (NO REALLY WHAT WAY DO YOU WANT IT, BOYS?). That Bridge. THAT FLAWLESS KEY CHANGE AND BRIAN’S “TELL ME WHYYYYYYY” RIFF AT THE END. It is a perfect karaoke song. It has inspired countless fan tributes, parodies, and flash mobs (this one is my most favorite). “I Want It That Way” is pure and incandescent joy and it personifies everything I love about the Backstreet Boys. You can’t listen to it without breaking into a massive grin and wanting to dance around like no one is watching you.
“I Want It That Way” always tends to be my trump card whenever I get into a debate with someone about Backstreet vs. *N SYNC. Cause no other *N SYNC song, with the possible exception of “Bye Bye Bye”, has the timeless perfection of IWITW. Can a debate be won on the merits of one song?
When it is a song as perfect as “I Want It That Way” I believe it can.
But more reasons why I pledge my eternal love to the Backstreet Boys are after the jump…
The ultimate reason I pledge my eternal love to BSB is in my description of IWITW…their music has never failed to make me incandescently happy. I have so many fond memories of listening to BSB albums. There was a road trip in college, when once Millennium was the massive hit that it was, and everyone was out of the closet about loving BSB, where the 3 cars in our caravan FOUGHT over who got to have the sole copy we had of Millennium in our car (I won, naturally, as it was MY CD and I was one of the ones driving). I have the distinct memory of a friend saying to me “Hey can we borrow Millennium?” and the entire group that was in my car laughing in his face. I remember going to Wal-Mart at midnight to get “Black and Blue” on release day, and then throwing a temper tantrum (at 21 mind you) when they didn’t have it yet AND I HAD TO WAIT UNTIL MORNING TO GET IT. I remember surprising a girlfriend with tickets to their concert in Atlanta and painting my Explorer “Backstreet or Bust” for the drive from Birmingham. And then doing the same thing for their return to Atlanta on that same tour with 2 different friends. I remember being at home, the weekend A.J. got out of rehab and realizing that their first show back was in Cincinnati. AKA driving distance from Nashville. I called a friend who lived in Louisville and said “Hey, you want to see BSB tomorrow?” And after he said yes, I drove up the next day to get him and then we drove to Cincy, where it turns out our seats, while on the second row on the side, were ON PAR with the fourth row of the floor.
I literally cried when we got to those seats. And that concert! It ranks in one of the greatest concerts I have ever seen. They were SO HAPPY to be reunited and touring again. That was the thing with BSB for me. They always seemed to be a bit tragic, from Brian’s heart condition to their issues with Lou Pearlman to AJ’s issues with substance abuse. But they always came through it stronger, and always seemed happiest when the five of them were together singing. And when I listen to their songs today, I get transported to those days when I first discovered them. And I feel happy and carefree and want to dance and squeal. Oh wait, that’s just about any normal day for me now. And I know many other people feel the same way too. (Ahem. Basically my entire twitter study group. You ladies all know who you are.)
While I secretly loved many of *N SYNC’s songs, I always viewed them as the little brother group that was perpetually screaming for attention, and therefore got it. And they WERE better dancers, I will always give them that. Ultimately, I have grown to love *N SYNC in my old age. I just happened to connect with BSB and their music way more.
BSB was my first, after all. And you never forget your first.
I know that Sage said in her post defending *N SYNC that to be a true fan, you had to love all members of the band. While I do agree with that, that doesn’t mean that there was definitely a pecking order when it came to favorites within a boy band. THAT’S WHY THERE ARE FIVE OF THEM. One for every preference. And for every girl that loooooooooved Nick or Justin, there were just as many girls that loved Brian or JC. So I will shamelessly breakdown my favorites and tell you why…
1) Kevin. Maybe it’s because I was an “older” fan at the time, or maybe it was just because he had a penchant for perpetually having his shirt unbuttoned in all those early videos. But man..tall, dark and handsome with those ridiculous green eyes. It was love at first sight. I was heartbroken when he left the group several years ago and did all the rejoicing when he rejoined the band this year. I am DYING for the new album, and will be at that reunion tour, come hell or high water. I also saw Kevin on his opening night in Chicago on Broadway. I was there on the front row and grinning the whole time. AND HE WINKED AT ME DURING CURTAIN CALL (Shut up, it was totally at me. I have witnesses.) And, like the maniac I am, I waited at the stage door, where he came straight to me, as I was not screaming at him. I gave him a rose, got a picture, and congratulated him on a job well done.
And then I screamed and cried a bit the moment I was out of his presence.
2) AJ. Probably my favorite voice out of the group. There is something about that rasp, and his voice has SO MUCH SOUL. And man…when he performs, he is PURE SEX. Yep. Yep yep yep yep.
3) Brian. How can you not love B-Rok? He’s the one you want to take home to Mom. He’s the perpetual jokester. HE DOES NOT AGE. And he writes songs about how much he loves his mom. He’s basically perfect.
4) Nick. Now all the teenagers loved Nick, but I never really got the appeal. Mainly because he seemed like (and WAS) a little boy next to Kevin. Well the video for “Shape of My Heart” changed everything. The moment where Nick throws the papers and starts dancing? Well that’s where Nick Carter all of a sudden got hot.
5) Howie. I know. Someone has to be last. And Howie seems like he is the sweetest, and I know I would totally LOSE MY SHIT if I ever met him. But his hair (both on his head and on his face) during BSB’s heyday always bothered me. But congrats on aging the best, Howie D. Well played sir.