Backstreet Boys

Jive / Arista Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Melanie Love


In the late 90s, there were few greater assertions of your identity than proclaiming yourself either a Backstreet Boys or an *NSYNC fan (or was that just true for pre-teen girls?). Regardless, I was proudly for the Backstreet Boys, plastering my walls with their magazine covers and playing their discs until they were scratched beyond use.

Of course, ‘playing their discs’ to a nine-year-old really meant blasting Millennium’s hit singles and conveniently skipping past the slogging ballads that make up the rest of the album. Short attention span, I guess!

Still, it’s hard to deny that the Backstreet Boys are impossibly catchy; there are still mornings I wake up with “Larger than Life” inexplicably lodged in my head, the chorus spinning all throughout the day. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Larger than Life,” Millennium’s opener, is your typical Backstreet Boys single, replete with a stadium-sized chorus, full-band harmonizing and borderline inane lyrics focused on praising their fan base. Still, “Life” is a four-minute chunk of shamelessly entertaining, if essentially disposable, pop.

Next up, “I Want It That Way” launches out with the inimitable eloquence of “You are my fire / The one desire.” Though pithiness may have never been the Backstreet Boys’ strong suit, their vocals are nevertheless solid, featuring smooth, plaintive harmonizing from all of the members rather than letting any one dominate, as was always the case with *NSYNC. With its crisp production and admittedly awesome crescendoing climax, “I Want It That Way” more than accomplishes its aim of being a radio-friendly track.

“Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” is the Boys’ all-out power ballad, cut deep with angst: “Show me the meaning of being lonely / Is this the feeling I need to walk with? / Tell me why I can’t be there where you are / There’s something missing in my heart,” they sing in smooth, swooning harmonies backed by appropriately moody instrumentation. Speaking now as an ever-mature 17-year-old, there’s really few better songs to sing along to driving home after a long day.

Unsurprisingly, once you make it past their signature tracks, it’s a step downhill slide, devolving into indistinguishable ballads and a particularly cheesy ode to the band’s mothers called ‘The Perfect Fan.’ Still, it’s really not hard to see why the Backstreet Boys sold millions of records: they’re fantastically, incomprehensibly catchy, to the point where you just have to give up and sing along to the familiar choruses.

So, while a part of me wishes my first record was something with a bit more street cred, Millennium never fails to take me back to a less complicated time when statements “You are my fire / The one desire” were able to gain nothing short of worldwide notoriety.

Rating: B+

User Rating: D


I will forever be greatful that I never got caught up in crap music du jour. My first album was "Who's Next" and I was listening to "Tarkus" by ELP when I was 8 years old.

© 2007 Melanie Love and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Jive / Arista Records, and is used for informational purposes only.