Backstreet Boys Finally Reveal the Meaning of ‘I Want It That Way’

TMORE: Backstreet’s Back, and They’re Going to Have a Las Vegas Residency

At last, the Boys have revealed what that song was all about. First off, it’s no secret that the writer of the song, Max Martin, is Swedish, and didn’t have a complete understanding of English when he wrote the song. (The same goes for Britney Spears‘ “… Baby One More Time”—he thought “hit” meant “call”!) But as it turns out, they were totally aware of its weird incongruent nature—which left everyone wondering, “Huh? You want what what way?”—and decided as a group to leave it, uh, that way.

“It’s funny, we actually were OK with the lyrics when we heard it first,” Carter told The Huffington Post. “And then the president of Jive records at that time—I mean, he’s a genius—but he and some of the A&R people wanted to change the lyrics.”

“To make the song make more sense,” Richardson added.

2016 Miss USA Red Carpet at T-Mobile Arena Las Vegas Featuring: Backstreet Boys Where: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States When: 05 Jun 2016 Credit: DJDM/


“We hired some really well known producers at the time to redo the song,” Carter went on. “So, there was another version of the song out there and then we listened to it back. Then, we as a group voted on it and said, ‘No.’”

The original song just sounded better, and the crew “had enough power at that time,” Carter explained, to veto Jive. They were all about “the original version” and “it turned out to work out in the end,” Carter said, in that it went on to play on every radio station from here to kingdom come.

“I don’t think that it would have ended up the way that it did had we gone with the proper version,” McLean said. “I guess you could say, you know, the one that made sense.”

They’re def glad they kept it the way they did. “The newer version or the second version that we did that was more of a literal context didn’t … it was the rhyming scheme that didn’t feel right,” Richardson said. “Sometimes you just got to go with what feels right.” Words we can all live by, brought to you by the Backstreet Boys, who are staging their comeback as we speak.

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