ASADYMHF – #4 I Want It That Way – The Backstreet Boys

Despite common misconception, the quickest way to spot an idiot isn’t based on somebodies racial or political beliefs, but on their attitude towards pop music. If you’re reading this as a fan of pop music – that is to say, commercial chart music which can be found on Radio One, and think I’m about to have a go at you, do not worry. In fact, it’s the people who would have a go at you that I have an issue with.

Music, like most things in life, is an incredibly personal, subjective area which transcends religious beliefs, personal issues, and conflict. It is an arc that guides the human race together, and makes us a community rather than a lonely collection of selfish simpletons.  While I appreciate films, they’re too long to unite. Books are too divisive, and television is simply a stopgap. The beauty of music and what transcends is above most forms of media, is the timeless factor of it. Without wanting to sound like David Brent, a good song is a good song forever.

Your grandparents will still argue over whether The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were better, while your parents will still wonder whether Morrissey prefers Elton to Enya. It’s very often the case, that the music we listen to as children and teenagers shapes our musical landscape for the rest of our lives. Songs, albums, records – they are the foundations for our souls and our spirit.

This is all well and good. But some people have a problem with that.  Some people believe, that only certain types of music are acceptable, and worthy of such praise. They believe that music has some sort of quality control filter, that a song can only be construed as something worthy if certain components are met. These components often whittle down to issues as basic as ‘legitimacy’ and ‘reality’. I have to confess here, I used to be one of these people. In my mid-teens, I genuinely stopped speaking to somebody because they were a fan of a group called Anthony and the Johnson’s. To be fair, they were proper shit, but that wasn’t the point. Anthony was their own shit, and that was none of my business.

Genuinely, though, take a listen… Proper rubbish.

Anyway, these folk I am talking about tend to believe that music isn’t music unless it’s being made outside of some kind of system. If the people making music have beards, that seems to be a positive thing, and if the music is being made by a woman with a beard, then even better. This is all well and good, it would be incredibly hypocritical of me to bemoan their music choices, when the whole point of this tedious, over-long introduction is to castigate those who don’t let people listen to what they want to. Their choice of listening doesn’t anger me; it’s their attitude towards pop music.

I’m not just talking about negative opinions towards it, because that doesn’t bother me. Apart from The Bronx, I can’t stand any music that involves more shouting than singing. I find jazz boring. I would rather chop off my testicles, blend them, then try and put them back together again instead of listening to Annie Lennox ever again.  Not liking musical genres doesn’t concern me in the slightest. However, damning a genre with faint praise? You’ve got to be kidding me.

This is the ultimate example of an idiot. Let’s take a band like The Spice Girls. Listening back, they had some proper good tunes. Spice Up Your Life. Wannabee. 2 Become 1. Goodbye. Viva Forever. All bangers no doubt and most people would describe them as such. If you speak to a non-idiot and ask them their favourite Spice Girls song, they might reply with the sentence.. “Hard to pick a favourite out of so many, but I like 60s style music so I’ll go with Stop.” Another person might reply with “I really love my mum, so Mama is the choice for me.” Lovely, right? Right. You know what an idiot would reply with?

“Um… yeah. That one. The one about people wondering who they think they are… Um, yeah. Who Do You Think You Are. That’s the song. That’s a good pop song.”

“That’s a good pop song”

That is how you know how somebody is an idiot. Have you ever heard somebody talking about Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the phrase “that’s a good classical song.”? Or someone talking about Kind of Blue, one of the most widely-regarded albums of all time with the statement “Uh yeah, that Miles Davis.. Sure, sure, well it’s a good jazz album.” People don’t ironically like those styles of music, so why degrade pop music to that level?

My question is this: Why do we give respect to genres like classical and jazz, without giving proper appreciation for pop music? Why is pop music a dirty little secret that snobbish sects can poke their noses up, and occasionally give a meek thumbs up to? Why is the genre that is the most popular world-wide derided as something unsuitable for listening pleasure? The truth is, very few musicians seek out a career with the intention of having few people actually want to listen to them. You think the bands eking a living out playing crap gigs in front of forty bearded losers want to do that their whole lives? Do they fuck.

All music is pop music.

So here’s a confession. A statement right from my heart that I tried to keep hidden and locked away for a long time in my youth. A pipe-bomb, designed to wash away the feelings of unhappiness and insecurity that stemmed from it.  A call to arms to all the people who feel the same, but due to wanting to fit in with the wrong crowd they were too afraid to say it.

My name is Martin Hines. I’m 22 years old. And I fucking love pop music.

I love it. I love all of it. I love The Osmonds, The Jackson Five, I love David Essex, I love 5ive, I love A1, I love All Saints, I love One Direction, I love Blue, I love Olly Murs, I love McFly, I love Take That. They’re all great, and they all made great music.

That said, one band, to me shine above all others. One band catapulted over the barriers, as the best pop band of all time.

“All you people can’t you see, can’t you see? How your love’s affecting our reality?”

“Voices tell me I should carry on, but I am swimming in an ocean all alone”

“I don’t care who you are, where you’re from, don’t care what you do, as long as you love me”

“As long as there’ll be music we’ll be coming back again”

“I will be late don’t stay up and wait for me”

All memorable lyrics. All meaningful in their own little ways. And all parts of songs recorded and released, by The Backstreet Boys.

The Backstreet Boys were a genuine pop phenomenon in the nineties, selling millions of records to adoring fans the world over. But what set them apart from the rest of the chasing pack, was their enigmatic personalities, and their charm. Despite being a boy band, you wouldn’t say that they were a particularly pretty band, but they had a charisma that went beyond simple aesthetics and into something else completely.

Brian was the lead singer, with his mousy brown hair and smooth voice. Nick was the eye candy, the All-American blonde bombshell, while Kevin was the gruff goateed non-singer of the group. A.J was for the alternative girls and boys coming to terms with their own sexuality, with his tattoos and piercings, while the one nobody can actually remember, Howie, was born in Orlando Florida.

You want some Backstreet Boys stats? They Got the name “Backstreet Boys” from an Orlando flea market called the Backstreet Market, which proves they’re down to earth. They were the first group since  Sade to have their first seven albums debut in top 10 of the Billboard Chart, and when their record company refused to fund the superbly outlandish video to Backstreet’s Back, they funded it with their own money. For real, if it wasn’t for the generosity of the band to give a quality product to their insatiable audience, we would never have seen this!

The song I want to pick as their greatest though, is the unforgettable I Want It That Way, which reached number one in the UK hit parade in May 1999, knocking Swear It Again by Westlife off the top spot, before being replaced by You Needed Me by Boyzone a week later, capping off a remarkable three weeks in popular music.

It’s a ballad, a sweet song, and allegedly it’s signature acoustic introduction was inspired by Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, but don’t let that put you off. The lyrics? Evocative and thought-provoking of course, especially when you look at the sheer joy and lust of the slightly odd bloke singing along to it here about twenty-five seconds in…

Seriously, look at him. He bloody loves it.


I could have chosen a million Backstreet Boys songs, like I could have chosen a billion other pop classics. I could have gone for Keep On Movin’ by 5ive, Caught In The Middle by A1, Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz, or even One Step Closer by S Club Juniors, but to me, the Backstreet Boys, and especially I Want It That Way reflected the sheer poetry of the genre the best.

Basically, fuck with pop music and I’ll send Kevin from the Backstreet Boys down to destroy you. And believe me, he will.




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