Monday, April 12, 1999

Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way” released

I Want It That Way

Backstreet Boys

Writer(s): Andreas Carlsson, Max Martin (see lyrics here)

Released: April 12, 1999

First Charted: April 16, 1999

Peak: 6 US, 13 BA, 12 GR, 13 RR, 110 AC, 11 A40, 11 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU, 19 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 1. UK, 7.81 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, -- video, 1182.89 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The boy band Backstreet Boys formed in Orlando, Florida in 1993. Their self-titled 1996 debut album sold ten million copies worldwide. In 1997, their sophomore effort moved five million copies in Europe alone. That same year, a compilation of tracks from the two albums sold eleven million copies in the United States. It all set them up for their greatest blockbuster – the 1999 Millennium album. It gave the group their first chart-topping album in the U.S. and moved a whopping 25 million copies worldwide.

The lead single from the album was “I Want It That Way.” The mid-tempo pop ballad topped the charts in more than 25 countries and became the group’s signature song. It was nominated for three Grammys, including Record and Song of the Year.

The song “tells of a romantic relationship strained by matters of emotional or physical distance.” WK While it generally received acclaim for its catchiness, there were questions about its lyrics. Ben Westhoff of LA Weekly said it “makes zero sense” WK and wondered what the word “that” in the title even means. WK PopDust’s Andrew Unterberger said the phrase “’I want it that way’ is simply devoid of inherent meaning.” WK

Still, Unterberger acknowledged that “it’s still stirring, beautiful in its own weird way, and undeniably unforgettable.” WK’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine called it “an infectious song” WK and Entertainment Weekly’s Jim Farber said it was “the bubblegum ballad of the year.” WK Band member Kevin Richardson agreed that “ultimately the song really doesn’t make much sense” WK but said Max Martin, one of the song’s co-writers, had limited knowledge of English at the time. WK

The other songwriter, Andreas Carlsson, dubbed Martin “the Backstreet Boy’s sixth member.” SF The language barrier didn’t keep Martin – who previously sang in a metal band SF – from becoming one of the most successful songwriters in history. He previously wrote the #1 hit “Baby One More Time” for Britney Spears. He went on to write or co-write twenty-five Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers for Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, the Weeknd, and others. Only Paul McCartney and John Lennon hd more #1 songs and songwriters.


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First posted 7/25/2023.

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