Review part II: Backstreet’s actually back now, like, for reals guys

Yesterday I posted Part I of my journey through the back-catalogue of the Backstreet Boys’ discography, because I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate their return to Australia than by bingeing on their infectiousness. We looked at their first two albums and the impact they had on 90s pop music. The timewarp continues with albums three, four and five below…

Album Three: Millenium – 1999

Hahahahahahaha this album starts with Larger Than Life? YES!
Most of you youths in the crowd probably hear this song and think of cheerleaders dancing in Napoleon Dynamite, right? Well, I genuinely don’t know if I can ever picture anything but the five of them in their weird spaceship gear and AJ’s midriff. All I remember is Kevin driving what appears to be the Millenium Falcon, and these abs:

Initially I wrote that “this is by far the strongest album of the so-far discography post-Backstreet’s Back, unless you want to include the Greatest Hits record… but that’s totally cheating guys.” But that accolade stops being the case after the halfway point of Millenium. Ugh. So many shitty ballads guys, so many.

Despite this, the beloved epic key changes still soar post-bridge, every song is still about a woman either lost or found – or how great the fans are – and Howie and Kevin are still kind of background noise ( 😦 ). Thankfully, there is little to no rapping or spoken word interludes, however, Spanish Eyes is sort of like… one of the worst songs I’ve ever heard? It talks about winning first prize (which is a woman obvs because #90sSexism) and doing so is apparently super easy; all sweetheart Brian needs to do is reach out his hand.
Damn it guys. I thought we moved on from this shit.

They win hearts back with a serenade to their mothers, clearly inspired by Mama by the Spice Girls. It’s so stupidly lame, but I wanna thank you for what you’ve done, in hopes I can give back to you and be the perfect son is kind of adorable and shutup I’m not teary.

Sadly, I continue crying because of the awful, awful songs that follow. You Wrote The Book On Love is honestly, I just. Oh man how was the start of this album so great and the end so TERRIBLY BAD?

Album Four: Black & Blue – 2000

So what I’ve figured out is that BSB sure know how to start an album, because The Call, one of my all-time favourite pop songs ~*ever*~ kicks this one off. This makes me immeasurably happy, especially considering how terribly Millenium ended.

Black & Blue really cements the N*Sync kind of pop as How Things Are Done Now, with an almost overuse of those typical late 90s synthy pop sounds (I have no idea what they’re called but they’re like those BLAM! sounds? Fuck I can’t even google that can I… Someone please tell me in the comments what the technical term is! And don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. Listen to the song, think BLAM, and you’ll hear it.)

As is standard, things start to go south around the halfway point… Everyone is poptastic but lyrically woeful, and More Than That is sooooo boring. The boredom continues through ’til the end, punctuated by kind of cool, N*Sync-sounding, Not For Me.

In saying that, as well as giving me my fave song evar, this is also the first album to offer some sort of bonus material at the end – including an a cappella version of All I Have To Give, which is seriously impressive, a nightclub version Shape of My Heart, and the dirty hip hop remix of The Call (YES!) which was the version used when the single’s film clip was released. Well played lads.

By this point in my exploration of the last two decades of Backstreet, I’m a bit sick of the predictability of half an album being amazing, while the rest lulls in dullsville. I just want to take the first halves of the last three albums and make one great album. Can I do that instead? Oh, wait:

Album Five: Greatest Hits Chapter One – 2001

This is boss as fuck. It’s exactly how I feel about No Doubt’s The Singles album: everything I wanted, and something that I didn’t know I needed. Now I have to apologise, because I said I wasn’t going to do a track by track but this level of awesome needs to be unpacked.

  1. I Want It That Way
  2. Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
  3. As Long as You Love Me
  4. Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely
  5. Quit Playing Games With My Heart
  6. We’ve Got It Goin’ On
  7. All I Have To Give
  8. Larger Then Life
  9. I’ll Never Break Your Heart
  10. The Call
  11. Shape of My Heart
  12. Get Down (You’re The One For Me)
  13. Anywhere For You
  14. The One
  15. More Than That
  16. Drowning

LIKE ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS TRACKLISTING? I mean, I wouldn’t initially have thought songs like Anywhere For You or More Than That would be considered for the Greatest Hits record – hello snoozetown – but they actually fit really well within the scope of it. I am genuinely surprised at how much I like the album as a whole. Granted I do still skip We’ve Got It Goin’ On and Get Down, but only because the other 14 songs are infinitely better, and really, they couldn’t ignore the songs that catapulted them to global fame and adoration, right?

It should also be noted that the second release of the Greatest Hits album removes We’ve Got It Goin’ On, Get Down, and Anywhere For You, and is therefore ~*musical perfection*~.

I don’t even want to listen to the rest of the discography; surely it’ll just be a disappointment in comparison to this…

Part III here!


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