‘Any vehicle that conveys great songs and the ability to perform them, whether it’s ‘N Sync or the Backstreet Boys or One Direction, is all good – Tommy Mottola
It’s been a good few months since I indulged in my favourite pastime (if you don’t include drinking wine) and this is a post I’ve been meaning to write up since Meagan and I had the initial discussion in Vegas back in March.
We were sitting in our hotel room dissecting the amazing Backstreet Boys live show we’d just seen and discussing the setlist, every song we talked about would be followed by a comment by me along the lines of ‘hmm yeah that wasn’t the strongest on that album’ or ‘I never was overly keen on that one’ which sparked Meagan to say in exasperation ‘so which of their songs do you actually like?’
She had a good point. It’s not that I don’t like their singles, of course I do, I am just of the belief that they never release the best songs. Perhaps it’s just that their biggest hits have been so overplayed that I’m a little bit over them, or perhaps it’s that they always seemed to take the safe choice and release the most marketable tunes. Whatever it is, I stand by my opinion that, single wise, they’ve very often sold themselves short.
So let’s have a look back on what they actually released compared to what they could have released instead, and see how different it all could have been:
Album: Backstreet Boys
Single: We’ve Got it Goin’ On:
Could have been: I Wanna Be With You
Hit or miss: Hit – as far as a debut single goes, it couldn’t have been anything other than this, it was after all, the song that started the long dark road back into the boyband ether I fell into in 1995 (and still haven’t really clawed my way out yet!) so I have to give them this one. I do love I Wanna Be With You though…
Single: I’ll Never Break Your Heart
Could have been: Anything else as far as I’m concerned
Hit or Miss: Massive miss for me. I’ve never EVER liked this song mainly because too much cheese gives me migraines and it’s been my toilet break song at every live show since. A better ballad from that album would have been Darlin’ at a push. But if I never hear this song again for the rest of my life I wouldn’t shed any tears (I did love all the knitwear in the original video though however – cosy!)
Single: Get Down
Could have been: Let’s Have a Party
Hit or Miss: Hit – I’m on the fence with this one and it’s only just scraping through as a hit to be honest. It was similar enough to We’ve Got it Goin On to keep the uptempo fans (like me) happy and Let’s Have a Party was equally as cheesy to be fair so would have been a close call. Quite a forgettable single in the grand scheme of things, in fact I’m sure it scored 0 on Pointless once, which says a lot.
Single: Quit Playing Games
Could have been: I Wanna Be With You
Hit or Miss: Hit – Seems I really wanted them to release I Wanna Be With You but understand why it never really made the cut. QPG definitely falls into the overplayed category for me however when I first got their debut album it was the one song that I could hum along to the soonest, so an obviously choice as a single. Plus every 14 years fan was thankful for the music video.
Single: Anywhere for You
Could have been: Just to Be Close To You
Hit or Miss: Miss – they never even bothered to release it in US which speaks volumes. It always felt like a pity release because they didn’t have anything new so I was surprised to see it brought back for their Vegas residency. Even Nick and Brian looked embarrassed singing it. Just to Be Close To You was a way classier song and all their acapella awesomeness could have been brought to the masses.
Album: Backstreet’s Back
Single: Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)
Could have been: That’s The Way I Like It
Hit or Miss: Hit – While That’s The Way I Like It is one of, if not my ALL TIME FAVOURITE BSB SONG EVER I can’t deny them their signature song can I? On a recent night out they played Everybody twice (in different bars) it’s what the people want and a world without drunk people trying to do the dance routine isn’t one I want to live in.
Single: As Long As You Love Me
Could have been: That’s The Way I Like It
Hit or Miss – Miss – after releasing Everybody I thought releasing ALAYLM was a safe choice and yes the chair routine was impressive, and I can’t confirm nor deny whether I sprained my ankle trying to recreate it in my living room when I was 15. I think releasing That’s The Way I Like it would have surprised people, and kept the uptempo momentum of Everybody going.
Single: All I Have to Give
Could have been: Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Hit or Miss – Miss – All I Have To Give isn’t a bad song, it’s a just a bit meh, and as well as being a grammatical nightmare (‘does his gifts come from the heart?’ – well does they?! No they doesn’t) it’s too similar to ALAYLM and two mid tempo singles in a row is just lazy. Set Adrift… is in no way a fan favourite, and I understand they didn’t want to release a cover version however apart from the name and the hook it’s almost a totally different song to the original. Set Adrift is just super summery and relaxed – and I love it. But no one ever listens to me…
Single: I Want It That Way
Could have been: Don’t Wanna Lose You Now
Hit or Miss: Hit – I actually think Don’t Wanna Lose You Now is a better song however (even my dad agrees – it’s his favourite BSB song ever) IWITW is probably joint signature song along with Everybody so I can’t take that out of the running. It was the final song played at my wedding and all our friends and family danced and sang along before we all collapsed in a heap so it holds a special place in my heart. However that said it does also fall into the ‘over it’ category sometimes and I love Don’t Wanna Lose You Now so much I would hate to ever be over that too.
Single: Larger than Life
Could have been: It’s Gotta Be You
Hit or Miss: Hit – Larger than Life has also been one of the strongest singles of their for me, even my metal loving mate Janine loves the guitar solo bit in it. A very strong pop song which no one can deny. I do love It’s Gotta be You as well, but don’t think it would have worked as well as a single.
Single: Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely
Could have been: Back To Your Heart
Hit or Miss: Miss – much like All I Have To Give, it’s not a bad song, it’s just a bit ‘boyband by numbers’ and a bit meh, plus the lyrics make little to no sense whatsoever. Back To Your Heart is a much MUCH better ballad form Millennium – the lyrics are constructed in coherent sentences and everything!
Single: The One
Could have been: Don’t Want You Back
Hit or Miss: Miss – another lazy single for the sake of being a single that they threw out because they were too busy on tour. Don’t Want You Back is an amazing song and would have been bloody brilliant and a single. But maybe this is why I don’t work in A&R. The story goes that there was a phone in poll on TRL for fans to vote between The One and Don’t Want You Back as next single, and Nick called in voicing his preference as The One, which swayed the vote. You just needed to see his hair at that time to know that boy’s taste has always been slightly idiotic.
Album: Black and Blue
Single: Shape of My Heart
Could have been: The Answer to Our Life
Hit or miss: Miss – Meagan will kill me for this as Shape of My Heart is her all time fave however it’s just predictable to me and smacks of I Want it That Way version 2. I surprised The Answer to Our Life was never a single regardless of what else was released, to me it’s their signature but just way more upbeat and catchy and would have produced a fun music video.
Single: The Call
Could have been: Shining Star
Hit or Miss: Hit – finally! They start releasing something a little more edgy! I love The Call, and particularly love the Neptunes remix which was also released along with the single. Shining Star would have served the same purpose; provided a much needed urban/r’n’b element to their back catalogue but in my humble opinion it’s not a very good song at all and would have been panned by the critics as them trying too hard (and they’d have been right).
Single: More Than That
Could have been: Yes I Will
Hit or Miss: Neutral – I’m completely torn with this one as if depends on what the rules are. If we’re swapping out like for like and More Than That needs to be replaced with another ballad then it’s absolutely the right choice as Black & Blue is too cheesy ballad heavy for my liking. However if it can be swapped out for anything then Get Another Boyfriend, Everyone or Not for Me are all brilliant songs which would have made brilliant singles.
Album: Never Gone
Could have been: Safest Place to Hide
Hit or Miss: Hit – I’ve always been a lover of the uptempo songs over the ballads however Incomplete is the exception that proves the rule because it’s probably my second favourite all time BSB song. Never Gone is an underrated album in my opinion actually, it’s moved away from the cheese of Black & Blue and although there are lots of ballads, they have a more acoustic, classy feel. AJ’s voice sounds particularly brilliant on this too.
Single: Just Want You To Know
Could have been: My Beautiful Woman
Hit or Miss: Miss – don’t get me wrong it’s a strong song and the music video is hilarious however while they were making a small change in musical direction with this album, releasing Just Want You To Know felt like a step backwords. My Beautiful Woman is a brilliant song and would have made a brilliant uptempo single to follow Incomplete.
Single: I Still…
Could have been: Climbing The Walls
Hit or Miss: Miss – this was never released in the UK so it kind of passed me by as a single but there’s a music video for it so it makes the cut! It’s a good song and a strong one off the album but I heavily prefer Climbing the Walls over this and always wished they would release it when I first heard the album. It was really cool to hear them singing with real instruments for a change and whilst I would miss their dance routine laden videos, it was a reminder how strong their voices really are.
Could have been: Something That I Already Know
Hit or Miss: Miss – I was surprised they were so comfortable releasing a song called Inconsolable, only 3 songs after releasing a song called Incomplete and I’d be lying If I said that’s where the similarities ended as well. It’s not a bad song by any means but again feels like boyband by numbers and Something That I Already Know has an edgier pop-rock feel and is brilliant for wailing along to in the car. So I hear.
Single: Helpless When She Smiles
Could have been: Trouble Is
Hit or Miss: Miss – CHEESY LYRIC ALERT *She opens up just like a rose to me when she’s close to me* please! There are so many good uptempo songs on this album; Everything But Mine, Panic or Treat Me Right would have all made strong singles rather than releasing yet another ballad. Even Trouble Is – also a ballad – had a country twist to it which would feel like a break from the old routine.
Album: This is Us
Single: Straight Through My Heart
Could have been: Bye Bye Love
Hit or Miss: Hit – clearly on the Redone band wagon that was all around in 2009 (not that that’s a bad thing) this Gaga induced song is strong and and underrated favourite of mine. I LOVE Brian’s voice at during the first verse and although it loses it a bit in chorus where it all goes a bit teenpop, it’s no weaker than anything One Direction or JLS were releasing at the same time. Dare I say they seemed to be having more fun without Kevin….?
Could have been: This is Us
Hit or Miss: Hit – massive MASSIVE hit! I adore this song so much and it should have done way better commercially than it did. As mentioned above I think they suffered a bit from the influx of younger, more current bands and they lost their place in the charts a little bit however had this song (and in fact whole album) been released by someone else, it would have been huge which is a huge shame. I would have loved to have seen more singles released off this album; Undone, Shattered and If I Knew Then are all great songs.
Album: In A World Like This
Single: In A World Like This
Could have been: Feels Like Home
Hit or Miss: Miss – I get the sentiment, it’s crazy times we live in these days and sometimes all we need to know is that we’ll always have our favourite 5 boys (now Kevin’s returned) singing to us on top of a mountain about how it’s all going to be ok. I just think it’s a medicore song. I really like Feels Like Home, it’s a little on the cheesy side, but that’s never stopped these lads before. And they probably could have been more adventurous with the video too.
Single: Show ‘Em What You’re Made of
Could have been: Try
Hit or Miss: Hit – feels like classic BSB when they were at the top of their game. It ties in with the movie documentary that was released at the same time and was a slow burner of a a song for me but I absolutely love it now and always find myself listening to it for a little pick me up when I feel I need a lyrical kick up the bum. Plus the music video is um, very tastefully and artistically done (absolutely not full of gratuitous shirtless shots).
So actually when I sit down and think about it, it’s a pretty even split with out of 24 songs 11 are a hit, 12 are a miss and one I’m on the fence about however I think when a band are releasing singles they should release their best stuff all the time, there should only be one or two misses tops. That’s just my opinion though and you can’t please all the people all the time.
I mean, I’m sure there are fans out there who will swear I’ll Never Break Your Heart is the best song ever written and recorded. I mean they’d be wrong, but I’m sure they’re out there!