Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way (dir. Wayne Isham)
July 27, 1999
• Filming a music video at an airport sounds interesting, but it’s not. Unless you want to capture the minutia of air travel- and no one wants to see rock stars checking luggage- there are only 2 actions that normally occur at airports: walking long distances and sitting around waiting. For proof, watch U2’s 2001 video for Beautiful Day (dir. Jonas Akerlund). The hook of the video is a performance on a runway, but there’s an awkward stretch where Bono struggles to find anything interesting to do in an airport. He whimsically walks through revolving doors, rides escalators, and meanders through security. At one point he just lays down on a baggage claim carousel and eats an apple, as if to say, “Ok, I give up.”
• I Want It That Way’s best sequences embraces the only aspect of airports that work in a music video’s favor: massive architecture. It gets plenty of mileage from simple shots of the band walking in slow motion from a low angle, which shows off the sharp lines and reflective surfaces of the International Terminal at LAX and makes the band look like they’re crashing a John Woo film.
• Whenever I do a video for a new band, the label stresses extra hard about making sure the band has a cohesive “look.” This is why labels love the idea of monochromatic color coordination. It tells viewers, you aren’t just watching 5 random guys, you’re watching a tight-knit unit, a perfectly-oiled machine, a branded musical experience that’s synched up like 5 guys drifting in a giant Pacific Rim robot. Backstreet Boys opt for all white, which probably sounded slick in theory, but unfortunately looks a little cultish. Let’s just say that if they walked up to you in an actual airport, you’d pretend to be on the phone to avoid a conversation about their end times literature.
• To make matters worse, when you combine the outfits with late-90s transition effects and choreographed arm gestures, you arrive at what looks like the intro to a televangelist fund raiser. “Name it and claim it,” this Backstreet Boy seems to be saying before he heals a paraplegic.
• Around 2:30, the band performs in front of a private jet, surrounded by hysterical, sobbing fans. It’s one of the defining images of the TRL era, which became synonymous with hysterical, sobbing fans. It’s kind of quaint that these girls came armed with signs and flowers, since today anything less than a sea of camera phones would read as obviously inauthentic.
• LA Weekly published a funny post a few years ago about I Want It That Way's maddeningly nonsensical lyrics. It's a great read if you're interested in how pop songs get made. It could also explain why the video's concept is so arbitrary. The song is romantic on the surface, but if the lyrics don't mean anything, then a romantic storyline becomes a challenge to film. The video settles for an innocuous concept that casts the group’s fans as the “You” of the song and leaves it open to an infinite number of interpretations. The song remains an enigma and the fans feel flattered. Everybody wins.
• Since California is going through a scary drought right now, it’s worth noting that the group’s performance in front of their private jet includes a massive wet-down that stretches the entire length of the runway. That mean that a truck dumped gallons upon gallons of water, probably multiple times that day, just so a few lights from the distant air traffic control tower would reflect between Nick Carter’s oversized khakis.
10) Smash Mouth “All Star”
09) Orgy “Stitches”
08) Blink 182 “What’s My Age Again?”
07) Eminem / Dr. Dre “Guilty Conscience”
06) Joey McIntyre “I Love You Came To Late”
05) Christina Aguilera “Genie in a Bottle”
04) 98 Degrees “I Do (Cherish You)”
03) Britney Spears “Sometimes”
02) Limp Bizkit “Nookie”
01) Backstreet Boys “I Want It That Way”
satan is hot as fuck tho did u ever read the bible he was supposed to be super beautiful like DAMN boy
sell my soul more like sell my virginity
that would be AWFUL i’d have nothing to do down there
40,209 notes and there isn’t a supernatural gif
let’s keep it that way
wait for it
There it is