I haven’t mentioned this yet, but in October I’m going to Vegas!!! I’ve never been before and am so excited! While I’m there, I’ll be seeing none other than the Backstreet Boys! So, I thought they’d be a good choice for my next In Retrospect post.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “The Backstreet Boys are still an active band. Why are you talking about them like they’re in the past?” Three reasons: One, the past was their prime. Two, my biggest BSB phase was in my childhood. And three, they’re nowhere near as popular now as they once were. Besides, I’m focusing on their first two albums, their self-titled debut and Millennium. Therefore, it’s all retrospective.
Anyway, I listened to these two albums for the first time in years recently in preparation for the concert. But do they hold up? The answer is… yes and no. It depends on the song. So, let’s take a deep dive into each album and determine once and for all whether BSB truly hold up or not.
This album is fun, hilarious, and uncomfortable all at the same time. It’s got absolute bops like “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “As Long As You Love Me,” and “All I Have to Give.” These songs are either jams or totally heartwarming. If they don’t sing all of these songs in Vegas, I’ll riot.
And then there’s “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” and “If You Want It to Be Good Girl (Get Yourself a Bad Boy).” “We’ve Got It Goin’ On” is unfortunately forever tainted by my childhood parody about having to pee (“We’ve been waiting so long/ “Just can’t hold it in no more”/ “Need to find a bathroom”/ “It’s time for me to let it go.”). I will never be able to separate them in my mind now. Besides that, well, it’s just an average song. It’s whatever.
As for “Want It to Be Good”… I don’t know who told BSB they could successfully pull off the bad boy act, but they were mistaken. And those high notes on the bridge? They had me screaming! That said, it’s still a bop. It’s just not a believable bop.
“Hey Mr. DJ (Keep Playin’ This Song)” is one of the most uncomfortable songs I’ve ever heard. It’s also one of their most underrated. There’s just something about BSB being “sexy” that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe they’re just too intertwined with my childhood. Either way, it’s the song I’m most divided on.
And it’s not a BSB post without mentioning their other most iconic song from this record, “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart).” It’s a cute song. Not quite as timeless as one might think, but cute nonetheless.
So, does BSB’s self-titled debut album hold up? The answer is… yes, in a nostalgic sort of way. It’s not particularly deep or original, but it’s fun. And really, isn’t that all you want from a boy band?
Okay, I must confess… this album is pop perfection. The production is great and the songs are absolute bops (even when they don’t quite make sense). These hombres kill it in every way. This album also delves deeper than their debut did, focusing a little more on heart than sexiness. Due to this, it’s no wonder this album is the one that propelled them from stardom to superstardom.
“Larger Than Life” is an absolute banger. Despite my childhood parody of the chorus (“All you people, can’t you see?”/ Are you blind?”/ “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.”/ “Every time we’re down, you can make us up”/ “And that makes you larger than a wedgie”), this song still goes hard. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s one of their best.
Other longtime favorites include the bombastic “It’s Gotta Be You,” the heavy “Don’t Want You Back,” and the soaring “The One.” The power ballads are timeless, from the introspective “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” to the borderline nonsensical “I Want It That Way.” No matter what the style, this album knows how to tug at your heartstrings.
Overall, this album is as pristine as the white suits the boys wear on the album cover. No, it’s not perfect. But it’s still hands down one of the best albums ever released by a boy band. And yes, it absolutely holds up.
At the beginning of this post, I posited that the Backstreet Boys’ early work both does and doesn’t hold up. I’d like to revise that statement. It absolutely holds up. Sure, some of it is a little dated or silly, but most of it is just pure, unadulterated fun. I have talked myself into being even more hype than I already was that I’ll be seeing them (in General Admission, no less— thanks Aunt Pat and Uncle Joe!). Backstreet Boys hype will never truly die. And neither will they.