My Top 10 Favorite Backstreet Boys Songs

Monday, June 20, 2011

Inspired by my friend Abby's post (which was in turn inspired by my NKOTB post) and a little guilt, I thought it'd be fun to go back in time and figure out which of the Backstreet Boys' songs are my favorites. I don't think I've really thought about it since 1999, when the "Millennium" album was released. Here's a little back story: I've been a fan of the group since they made it big in the United States in 1997. I really tried to resist them at first, and I succeeded for a couple of months until Christmas Day 1997, when they made an appearance on ABC's "Very Merry Christmas Parade" and they performed "Christmas Time". Nick Carter looked and sounded good, and I was sold.

I remember immediately after the special ended, I hopped onto my parents' computer (dial-up connection and all) and did a Yahoo! (no Google yet!) search of the Backstreet Boys. I stumbled across a brightly-colored and terribly basic fan site and clicked through the bios, trying to identify Nick. I think I thought his name was A.J. at first, then Howie and Kevin ... I think Nick was my fourth guess before finally getting it right.

So I'm in my 14th year of being a Backstreet Boys fan and we've all had our ups and downs ... my musical tastes have changed, which has definitely influenced my list. A lot of the songs I've chosen wouldn't have made it on this list prior to their "break" between 2001 and 2005. To be honest, putting together this list was something akin to time travel ... going back in time with what you already know and trying to pretend you don't. So difficult.

1. "Welcome To My Heart" (2005)
I think this is a B-side/unreleased track off their album "Never Gone" from 2005. Aside from the fact that the song didn't exist prior to 2001, I never would've chosen this song then (this song has Howie on lead). I was too busy lusting after Nick to really appreciate anything that didn't feature his voice. Fortunately, I found this song later and it's definitely my favorite now. I love the acoustic guitar, the harmonies, the simplicity of the song.

2. "Back To Your Heart" (1999)
Not that different from "Welcome To My Heart". This song was written by Kevin Richardson (now-defunct member of the Backstreet Boys) and is what I considered their first dip into something a little more mature. I like this song, again, because it's simple.

After this, I applied numbers randomly to the songs ... I really can't make enough sense of my feelings for these songs to put them in any methodical order, so it's pretty random.

3. "All I Have To Give" (1998 in the U.S.)
This may be the only U.S. single of theirs that made my top 10. I love this song in spite of the grammatical errors ("does his friends", "does his gifts", etc). The first bars of the song (that acoustic guitar!) send a tingle up my spine. I love the guitar on this, and at one point I learned how to play this on the piano. Great song.

4. "Treat Me Right" (2007)
This is a really fun (though the message isn't all that fun) dance song, and a bit of a surprise to me. Up until the "Unbreakable" album, most of the Backstreet Boys' music had been ballady, leaning towards Adult Contemporary. I can't not dance when I hear this song.

5. "Roll With It" (1996)
I fell in love with this song at the height of my obsession with Nick Carter. I loved his voice on this, how easily his voice rolled between lines and lyrics, and I liked the positive message.

6. "That's What She Said" / "Like A Child" (1997)
I kind of pair these two together in my mind anyway. These are songs I listened to a million times as a young teenager and never really thought too much about until I was older, and the lyrics mean so much more to me noq. Both are beautiful songs; "That's What She Said" is all Brian's and more raw while "Like A Child" is a little more "produced", but features great vocals from both Brian and A.J. Watching these old videos of Brian singing makes me a little sad about how his voice has deteriorated. He really had such a pretty voice and was so talented.

(Everyone looks ridiculous in this video, except Brian and Kevin, and they didn't even have a good excuse. It was 1998! And Nick was 18 ... that hairstyle is UNACCEPTABLE.)

7. "I Need You Tonight" / "Heaven In Your Eyes" (1999)
So this was a cover that they tweaked and changed the name of. I don't think I can say that this is still one of my favorite Backstreet Boys songs, but in all of my teenage lust, I adored this Nick Carter solo. And this 1998 performance below still blows me away. This is probably my second favorite BSB performance of all time, after Backstreet Over Broadway in 2000.

8. "I Promise You (With Everything I Am)" (2000)
I LOVED this song when "Black and Blue" was released. I wanted this to be the first song played at my wedding. I thought Nick was uber romantic in it and ate up all his lines. And I ran down an entire section (from nosebleeds to not-so-nosebleedy) with camera in hand at Nassau Coliseum at my first Backstreet Boys concert (Black and Blue Tour) when this song started. Too bad they cut out my favorite part in the concert version of the song, and too bad I got yelled at by security. Ah, to be young and stupid again.

9. "Get Down" (1998 in the U.S.)
There isn't much to say about this song. It's a typical thinly-veiled pop song about sex. But I really liked it when I was 13, and I still think it's fun. I like the breakdowns between the harder dance beats. I heard that the Backstreet Boys are adding it to their setlist on the NKOTBSB tour and I am really jealous, because I have never heard them perform this live and would love to see a hoard of 30-something-year-old men sing and dance to this. Oh yes, I would.

10. "Crawling Back To You" (2005)
Technically this was a U.S. single as well, but I think I heard it all of once on the radio before it disappeared. And no music video was made, so it couldn't have been a real single. I love this song. It's your typical pop ballad, but something about it draws me to it like a magnet. I feel that the emotions and their voices are particularly intense in this song. The "Never Gone" album was the last of the Backstreet Boys albums where I felt I was a devoted fan. I saw two concerts during the Never Gone tour in the summer of 2005 ... one at Radio City Music Hall which I got free record label seats to (perks of being an entertainment industry intern-slave) and another one later that week at Jones Beach I'd already bought tickets to. I had a feeling, at that Jones Beach concert, that it would be the last time I'd see the Boys. I was sort of right -- Kevin Richardson left the group not long afterwards and the Boys wouldn't come around to the New York metropolitan area for another 5 years. That was a good summer.

And now I have a million honorable mentions.

Some Backstreet Boys classics I wish I could have been able to include:

- Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart) (1997 in the U.S.)
"Quit Playin' Games" has a very special place in my heart. It was the first major hit in the U.S. and I adore the video. Well. The first half, before it randomly starts raining and A.J. and Howie decide to start dancing suggestively in the rain, half-naked. Because we know that's only acceptable when you are legitimately being rained on while performing in a heavy twill military coat (coughJordanKnightFenwayParkcough).

- "Tell Me That I'm Dreaming" (1994?)
This was a B-side to one of their first singles. In the summer of 1998, I begged my father to take me downtown to J&R to pick up their uber-expensive single pack, all imported from Europe, so I could listen to all the B-sides and bonus interviews. Nick sounds 11 in this song ... he's probably actually 13 or 14. But I love this song and it'll always remind me of that summer.

- "Christmas Time" (1997)
Now here is the song -- the very performance, in fact -- that got me hooked to the Backstreet Boys. Maybe it was the Christmas spirit. The Boys teased the fans for years about releasing a Christmas album, but never did. I'm still waiting.

- "Shape Of My Heart" (2000)
This was the first single off of their much-anticipated follow-up to "Millennium". I have to say that I think "Black and Blue" was my favorite Backstreet Boys album, though I probably spent an equal amount of time listening to "Black and Blue" and "Millennium". I didn't care too much for "Shape Of My Heart" initially; it's pretty reminiscent in message and melody to "I Want It That Way" (at least to me), but after their Backstreet Over Broadway performance (magical!) in November 2000, I was sold on the song. Last summer, when they finally came back around to New York City on their "This Is Us" tour, this song made the greatest impact on me -- Hammerstein Ballroom was a chorus of girls singing along to the Boys. This also happens to be the song on the NKOTBSB tour during which the Boys make their way through the crowd.

Like I said earlier, I kind of dropped off as a fan after 2005's "Never Gone". I bought copies of the 2 albums that followed, but I don't know all the lyrics and I've probably listened to each a maximum of 10 times, so I can't really say any of the songs -- no matter how great -- are my favorites. But there are some songs I do enjoy a lot off of these albums:

- "You Can Let Go" (2007)

- "Undone" (2010)

LOVE the electric guitar at the beginning and the understated beat.

- "Something That I Already Know" (2007)

So, from the Backstreet Boys' 7 studio albums, one greatest hits album and dozens of (if not over a hundred) unreleased tracks and B-sides, I have managed to choose 18 songs.

One for each year they've been together :)?

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