I Want It That Way
|"I Want It That Way"|
|Single by Backstreet Boys|
|from the album Millennium|
|B-side||"My Heart Stays With You", "I'll Be There For You"|
|Released||April 12, 1999|
|Writer(s)||Max Martin, Andreas Carlsson|
|Producer||Max Martin, Kristian Lundin|
|Backstreet Boys singles chronology|
"I Want It That Way" is a hit song by the Backstreet Boys, and their first single from their 1999 album, Millennium. It was written by Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson along with other producers. The song was highly played on the radio and the video, directed by Wayne Isham, was well played on television. It was later released on the Backstreet Boys' greatest hits album, The Hits: Chapter One, in 2001. It is considered one of their signature songs.
The song is still routinely played on both radio and video and the single has been highly critically acclaimed, winning and being nominated for various awards including, three Grammy nominations, MTV awards and Billboard Awards, as well as many others. It is often included in hit compilation albums. It reached number 1 in over 25 countries, making it the most successful song from a vocal group and boy band.
- 1 Writing and inspiration
- 2 History
- 3 Popular success
- 4 Music video
- 5 Track listing
- 6 Credits and personnel
- 7 Awards and nominations
- 8 Parodies, covers and in popular culture
- 9 Censorship
- 10 Charts
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Writing and inspiration
In an interview with HitQuarters, Carlsson described the genesis of the song: "‘I Want It That Way’ was a play with words.
When Max came up with the original idea for the song, it already had the line 'you are my fire, the one desire'. We tried a million different variations on the second verse, and finally we had to go back to what was sounding so great, 'you are my fire, the one desire'. And then we changed it to 'am I your fire, your one desire', which made absolutely no sense in combination with the chorus - but everybody loved it!"
The guitar intro and first verse of the song
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The acoustic-guitar arpeggio riff, which forms the song's intro and reiterates throughout the verses, was written at the very end of the recording sessions and was, according to Carlsson, inspired by "Nothing Else Matters" by Metallica. The song is written in the key of F# minor and their vocals span from E4 to B5.
"I Want It That Way" was written in October 1998, by frequent collaborators Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson. When the members of the Backstreet Boys came to Stockholm in November 1998 for a two week recording engagement, they were eventually presented the demo, which at the time only consisted of the main chorus. Upon leaving Sweden on November 16, vocals for the song had been completed in two days.
This was originally not intended to be the first single, as "Larger Than Life" held that position because it was completed before I Want It That Way. This was due to the album up until early 1999 planning to be titled "Larger Than Life" and follow the similar formula of their previous studio album "Backstreet's Back" having an upbeat lead single that included the album's title in its own titling. This was changed due to hearing the final version of the "I Want It That Way" and the group's desire to move in a more mature direction, by utilizing a mid-tempo track as the lead single. Zomba Recording executives had to be convinced to approve of the song as the first single, due to them citing that the group could "alienate fans" with a mid-tempo song that had vague lyrical meaning.
In the end, press information in the form of snippets were authorized for release to radio stations in March 1999, to precede the song's release to radio in April. An alternate version of lyrics were written and recorded by the band in January 1999. This version was included in some early demo presses of the album. In this alternate version, the song has the opposite message ("I love it when I hear you say, I want it that way"). Some of the lyrics are common among both versions, and other lines are changed but end on the same rhyming words ("My heart is on fire/Such a strong desire"). The alternative lyrics were written by Martin and Carlsson in collaboration with Mutt Lange.
The alternate version was leaked on the internet via Napster and other methods in the early 2000s, and was also played infrequently on some radio stations. According to then-member of the Boys' backing band, Tommy Smith, the album version is the "original version"; the alternate version was recorded because the chorus of the album version did not make sense.
The single broke the record for most radio station adds in its first week with 165. It reached the number one spot on the Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks charts, where it stayed for ten non consecutive weeks. On the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart, it set a record for most weeks at number one. The single, however, failed to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking and then stalling out at number six for eight non-consecutive weeks. The song hit big in the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number one. "I Want It That Way" made chart history in the Netherlands being the first single ever to debut at number one in the Top 40, without being in the "Tip Parade" first.
The song also entered the charts at number one in Italy, Spain, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway and New Zealand. In 2007, it was ranked number ten  in the MTV/Rolling Stone list of the "100 Greatest Pop Songs Of All Time" in 2000. It was ranked number sixteen on Blender Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born list and number sixty-one on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs Of The Past 25 Years in June 2003. It was ranked number one in MTV's Top 99 Of 99 special.
The song was also the 15th biggest selling boyband single of the 1990s in the UK selling 423,300 copies. The video itself ranked as number three on the top 10 list of the most iconic videos of all time at the TRL finale. The song was also nominated for three Grammys in 2000 for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Duo or Group Performance; it lost all three to Santana's "Smooth."
The music video is set mainly at Los Angeles International Airport on April 1, 1999 (date filmed), and features prominent special effects scene transitions between shots. Notably, a high-speed zoom effect which makes it appear that the foreground subject has not changed to a new shot while the background has, fades in and out of white, and shifting between different film speeds during shots. Another special effects sequence using greenscreen, in which the band, dressed in white, would perform a dance sequence while being manipulated over the backdrop of an airport lobby was mostly cut from the video, as it was felt that a dance sequence did not fit with the song, though elements of the dance remain in the second chorus, as do non-dance elements that sequence. As the band prepares to board their plane, they are greeted by a crowd of screaming fans bearing signs and flowers.
The Tom Bradley International Terminal is featured when the band sings the chorus. The video reached #35 on "Muchmusic's 100 Best Videos." The song's music video has been parodied by Blink-182 in their music video for the song "All The Small Things".
- "I Want It That Way" (Radio Version) - 3:34
- "My Heart Stays With You" - 3:37
- "I'll Be There For You" - 4:43
- I Want It That Way (Album Version)
- I Want It That Way (David Morales Club Version)
- I Want It That Way (The Wunder Dub)
- I Want It That Way (Jazzy Jim Vocal Mix)
- "I Want It That Way" (Radio Version) - 3:34
- "Don't Wanna Lose You Now" - 3:55
- "Back To Your Heart" - 4:21
- "No One Else Comes Close" - 3:43
Credits and personnel
"I Want It That Way"
- Produced By Max Martin & Kristian Lundin
- Recorded at Cheiron Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
- Mixed By Max Martin & Kristian Lundin at Cheiron Studios, Stockholm, Sweden
- Guitar: Esbjörn Öhrwall
- Bass: Tomas Lindberg
"My Heart Stays With You"
- (Full Force)
- Produced & Arranged By Full Force
- Recorded By Full Force, Melanie Jones & Tim Donovan At Battery Studios & Po' House Studios, NY
- Mixed By Chris Trevett & Full Force At Battery Studios, NYC
"I'll Be There For You
- (Gary Baker, Timmy Allen, Wayne Perry)
- Produced By Larry "Rock" Campbell & Timmy Allen
- Recorded By Adam Barber, Chris Trevett & Tim Donovan At Battery Studios, NYC & Parc Studios, Orlando, FL
- Assistant Recording Engineers: Daniel Wierup & Sharon Kearney
- Mixed By Nigel Green At Battery Studios, NYC
- Instruments: Larry "Rock" Campbell
- Assistant Mix Engineer: Daniel Wierup
- String Arrangement: Jimmy Biondolillo & Timmy Allen
- Conductor: Jimmy Biondolillo
- Additional Background Vocals: Sekou Aiken
Awards and nominations
MTV Video Music Awards
|1999||"I Want It That Way"||Video of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Pop Video||Nominated|
|Best Group Video||Nominated|
MTV Europe Music Awards
|1999||"I Want It That Way"||Best Song||Nominated|
|2000||"I Want It That Way"||Record of the Year||Nominated|
|Song of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal||Nominated|
MuchMusic Video Awards
|1999||"I Want It That Way"||Peoples Choice Favorite International Group||Won|
Parodies, covers and in popular culture
- Ryan Adams performed the song live several times starting in 1999, albeit with a satirical slant. He played acoustic guitar on his cover version and routinely touted the quality of the song. However, he frequently attributed the tune to 'N Sync or claimed ignorance as to which boy band performed the original.
- Howard Stern had a parody on his show called "The Gay Way", which was sung by his band The Losers.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic made a hugely popular parody called "eBay" on his 2003 album Poodle Hat. The song peaked at #115 on the Billboard charts.
- A parody called "Which Backstreet Boy is Gay" became an Internet phenomenon and also became misattributed to "Weird Al" Yankovic. It was actually performed by the morning crew at Portland, Oregon radio station KKRZ-FM, known locally as Z100.
- I Want A Fat Babe is a ShockWave video featuring the Backstreet Boys (referred to in the parody as the SnackTreat Boys) discovering and praising an obese woman in song and dance.
- I Want It That Way is a humorous video of two Beijing college students lip-synching and imitating the style of the Backstreet Boys.
- The above mentioned lip-synching students are parodied in the first episode of the first season of TV series Heroes. Two young men can be seen miming to the song in a scene featuring Hiro Nakamura and Ando Masahashi in a bar.
- Blink-182 sent the video up in the video for their song "All the Small Things".
- Mr. Meaty characters Josh and Parker lip-synched this song in a commercial on Nickelodeon.
- ApologetiX wrote a parody called "I Want in That Place" on their 2000 "Spoofernatural" album.
- Bob Saget sings his version Danny Tanner Was Not Gay in his stand-up routine.
- The Oh Boyz sing a parody called "I Want in My Way" on Kim Possible.
- Sanjaya Malakar, Phil Stacey, and Chris Sligh performed the song as a comical performance on American Idol Season 6 Tour.
- Josh Farro, Zac Farro, and Jeremy Davis of Paramore sang this song with a Japanese representative while on tour in Japan for their album All We Know Is Falling.
- Cricketers Brett Lee, Shane Watson, and Kumar Sangakkara sang this song during the inaugural DLF Indian Premier League tournament.
- Main characters, Shawn and Gus from USA Network's Psych, played by James Roday and Dulé Hill respectively, sing a rendition of the song while trying to block Juliet (Maggie Lawson) from the spotlight during the end credits of the episode "Forget Me Not."
- Christian comedian Tim Hawkins parodied the song as "I Work at Subway".
- Posted in October 2009, a popular YouTube video titled "A Day at the Office" showed five young office workers recording themselves on laptop webcams doing a lip dub performance of "I Want it That Way."
- Selena Gomez & the Scene cover the song on their House of Blue Tour.
- British boyband JLS performed this song and Everybody (Backstreet's Back), along with two N Sync songs in a medley on their tour to support second album Outta This World.
- Teenage boyband, Connected, sang cover version of "I Want it That Way" on the popular British Talent TV show Britain's Got Talent in auditions for judges on May 1, 2010. YouTube video titled "Connected – Britain's Got Talent 2010 – Auditions 3"
- Several of the Dancemania series albums have featured eurodance remixes of the song, including CJ Crew's uptempo remix recorded for the 2001 compilation Dancemania SPEED 6.
- Psychedelic rock band Vanilla Fudge covered it on their album The Return.
- Limbeck covered the song on The Skiball Champs EP.
- In 2010, Steel Panther covered the song on a few live shows and released the single as a download in the UK, supposedly as a result of a bet.
- An animated version of the music video was shown on the beginning of the Arthur television special, Arthur: It's Only Rock 'n' Roll. The five members were also featured as guest stars.
- In the comedic piece Murder in the Knife Room by Jonathan Rand, the character "Boy Band Reject" claims to be the writer of the song, him being "the sixth Backstreet Boy."
- Brazilian comedian Rafinha Bastos parodied the band as "Backstreet Farmers", sing this single.
- In 2013 British-Irish boyband The Wanted parodied the video for their new single "Walks Like Rihanna" music video.
- In 2013 the Glee Cast covered the song on the episode "Feud" as a mashup with 'N Sync's "Bye Bye Bye".
- In 2013 Charli XCX performed a cover live at the Borderline Music in Chicago. The singer-songwriter also performed a version of the song in August of 2013 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series.
- In 2013 One Direction performed a cover live at a Stockholm, Sweden concert.
On August 19, 2011, China's Ministry of Culture released a list of 100 songs including the then 12-year-old "I Want it That Way" that were required to be removed from the Internet. This purge came about because the Ministry claimed that these songs had been released without first being subjected to a mandatory screening process conducted by Ministry officials as per official government policy. Media sites were given until the 15th of September to delete the named songs or face unspecified penalties. The Chinese government claims that such measures are necessary for national security purposes.
"We're Going to Ibiza" by Vengaboys
|Dutch Top 40 number-one single
May 29, 1999 to 5 June 1999 (1 week)
"Best Friend" by Toy-Box
"...Baby One More Time" by Britney Spears
|Eurochart Hot 100 number one single
22 May 1999 (7 weeks)
"My Love Is Your Love" by Whitney Houston
"Swear It Again" by Westlife
|UK Singles chart number-one single
May 9, 1999 - May 16, 1999 (1 week)
"You Needed Me" by Boyzone
"Look at Me" by Geri Halliwell
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart number-one single
6 June 1999 (2 weeks)
"Livin' la Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin
"You'll Be in My Heart" by Phil Collins
|Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
July 31, 1999 (first run)
August 28, 1999 (second run)
October 2–9, 1999 (third run)
November 6 - December 11, 1999 (fourth run)
"You'll Be in My Heart " by Phil Collins
"That's the Way It Is" by Celine Dion
by Mr. Oizo
|German Singles Chart
14 May 1999 (2 weeks)
Mambo No. 5
by Lou Bega
by Tupac Shakur
|Norwegian Singles Chart
Week 18 1999 (2 weeks)
Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom
"...Baby One More Time"
by Britney Spears
|Austrian Singles Chart
16 May (2 weeks)
by Mr Oizo
"...Baby One More Time"
by Britney Spears
|Swiss Singles Chart
16 May (3 weeks)
Mambo No. 5
by Lou Bega
- "Interview With Andreas Carlsson", HitQuarters, 27 July 2009.
- Backstreet Boys. "Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way Sheet Music (Digital Download)". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- BSB Band FAQ #9, archived at archive.org. Archive is circa 2001; FAQ is circa 1999. Retrieved April 11, 2009.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 26.
- Chart Stats - Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way
- 100 Greatest Songs of the '90s
- "42nd Annual Grammy Awards - 2000". Rock On The Net. 2000-02-23. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- "Images for Backstreet Boys - I Want It That Way". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Interview: Steel Panther". Nick Pollard. 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-01-04.
- [dead link]
- "Brokebackstreet Farmers - I want it that way". YouTube. 2011-12-30. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- "Charli XCX covers Backstreet Boys". Retrieved 15 August 2013.
- "Lady Gaga and Katy Perry: banned in China for 'being vulgar'".
- "Top Singles - Volume 69, No. 9, June 21, 1999". RPM. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
- "Hits of the World: Denmark (IFPI/Nielsen Marketing Research) 06/07/99". Billboard (Nielsen Business Media) 111 (25): 53. 19 June 1999. ISSN 0006-2510.
- 1999 Australian Singles Chart  (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
- 1999 Austrian Singles Chart Austriancharts.at (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
- 1999 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
- 1999 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart Ultratop.be (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
- "Top Singles - Volume 70, No. 8, December 13, 1999". RPM. Retrieved 2010-11-03.
- 1999 German Singles Chart  . Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- 1999 Italian Singles Chart. Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved on 2011-06-29.
- 1999 Swiss Singles Chart Hitparade.ch (Retrieved April 20, 2010)
- "Billboard Top 100 - 1999". Retrieved 2010-08-28.