Larger than Life (song)

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"Larger than Life"
Larger than Life BSB single cover.jpg
Single by Backstreet Boys
from the album Millennium
B-side"If You Knew What I Knew"
ReleasedSeptember 3, 1999
  • Kristian Lundin
  • Max Martin
  • Rami
Backstreet Boys singles chronology
"I Want It That Way"
"Larger than Life"
"Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely"
Music video
"Larger than Life" on YouTube

"Larger than Life" is a song by American boy band Backstreet Boys, released on September 3, 1999 as the second single from their third studio album, Millennium. It was written by band member Brian Littrell with Max Martin and Kristian Lundin, who also produced the song along with Rami Yacoub. The song is a "thank you" for their fans' encouragement and devotion. Music critics praised its memorable melody, singalong lyrics and the band's vocal performance. It was also on Blender's list of the 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born.[3]

Commercially, the song became a top-ten hit in over 14 countries. It was a number one hit in Hungary. In the United States, it peaked at number 25. Its music video, directed by Joseph Kahn, holds a Guinness World Record for the 14th most expensive music video with estimated production costs of over $2,100,000 USD. It also broke the record for longest running #1 on MTV's Total Request Live.

Background and release[edit]

"Larger than Life" was originally written and composed sometime in 1998 by group member Brian Littrell. When the group traveled to Sweden in early November 1998 to record at Cheiron Studios, alterations and additions were later made to the lyrics by the producers Max Martin and Kristian Lundin. "Larger than Life" was initially registered and copyrighted in December 1998 as an unfinished demo, not being released on Millennium preview snippets.[4]

Prior to February 1999, in order to traditionally follow up the template of releasing upbeat numbers as lead singles (i.e. "We've Got It Goin' On", "Everybody"), "Larger than Life" was intended as the first single from the upcoming album. However, the decision changed upon hearing the completed version of "I Want It That Way" in a meeting with Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson in February 1999.[4] Thus, plans were canceled and "Larger than Life" was later released as the second single.[5]

Composition and lyrics[edit]

"Larger than Life" was written by band member Brian Littrell, with additional lyrics by Max Martin and Kristian Lundin. Lundin also produced the song,[6] while Martin and Rami Yacoub produced its "Video Mix" version.[7] Lyrically, the song is a howler[further explanation needed] casting fans as the superhuman force in the exchange between listener and star.[8] The song opens with a boisterous talkbox and A. J. McLean’s maniacal "yeah", setting an exhilarated tone. Brian Littrell starts singing, "I may run and hide/When you're screamin’ my name alright/But let me tell ya now there are prices to fame alright."[9] In the chorus, they sing about how having legions of fans has changed their lives, "All you people can't ya see can't ya see/How your love's affecting our reality/Every time we're down/You can make it right/And that makes you larger than life."[9]



Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic, during his review for Millennium, picked the song as a highlight from the album,[10] while in its review for The Hits: Chapter One, he wrote that "it may be more tied to its era, but "Larger than Life" is infectious pop nonetheless."[11] Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly wrote that, "Luckily, with a group like the Backstreet Boys, the more cheese appeal, the better."[8]

Emily Exton of VH1 listed the song at number 16 on The 20 Best Backstreet Boys Songs list, writing: "Such an introspective look at 'the prices of fame' surely deserves a second chapter dedicated to the social media era. Now that we’re older, can Nick please reveal the 'other' way he wishes he could thank us?."[12] Danielle Sweeney of The Celebrity Cafe listed the song at number 5 on the Top 10 Backstreet Boys Songs list, writing that, "This song was BSB’s dedication to all their loyal (and admittedly crazy) fans. Also, it contained the lyric, 'Looking at the crowd and I see your body sway, c'mon / Wishin' I could thank you in a different way, c’mon' which gave fans everywhere the tiniest glimmer of hope."[13]


After the biggest chart success of "I Want It That Way", "Larger than Life" had a difficult mission on the charts; however, the song proved to be a success in most countries it charted. In Australia, the song was a success, debuting at number 3, becoming their highest debut on the ARIA Charts, until "Incomplete" surpassed it, debuting at number-one in 2005.[14] In its second week, the song fell to number 7, until it reached number 3, its peak position, again, in its third week.[14] It was certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association, for selling over 70,000 copies.[15] In Finland, "Larger than Life" was Backstreet Boys' highest-charting single, debuting and peaking at number 2, being higher than lead-single "I Want It That Way". In the United Kingdom, the song became the band's eighth consecutive top-five single, peaking at number 5, on October 30, 1999.[16]

However, the song proved to be less successful in some countries. In New Zealand, the song missed the top-ten, peaking at number 11,[17] while in Austria, the song peaked at number 15, becoming their first single to miss the top-ten in the country.[18] In France, the song only managed to reach number 58, becoming their lowest-charting single there.[19] In the United States, the song missed the top-twenty, only peaking at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart,[20] becoming their least successful single since "I'll Never Break Your Heart" (1998). However, the song proved to be more successful on the Top 40 Mainstream chart, peaking at number six.[20] It was also more successful in Canada, where it reached number 5.[20]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Larger than Life" was a big-budget production directed by Joseph Kahn from August 12–14, 1999[21] in Orlando, Florida, who also directed the band's "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" video in June 1997. It takes place in a futuristic space setting and includes elaborate special effects and animation, as well as a break-down with a dance number. The video opens with a long pass of a spaceship over the top of the camera as a number of the band's past singles cycle through as if on a radio dial. A robot, whose face is portrayed by Antonio Fargas, who played the driver in the "Everybody" video, awakens the band members from their sleep in pods on the ship. Each of the band members is subsequently featured in their own separate vignettes (Nick is with the robots, Kevin is the space fighter, Howie is with the dancers, Brian is fighting with a virus, and A.J. retrieving boxes of information), while being shown together on a large stage doing a dance routine with backing dancers. A breakdown was added to the remix version of the song before the final choruses for the extended dance sequence which continues to the end of the song. The vignettes are intercut with the dance sequence following the breakdown.

The video holds a Guinness World Record for the 14th most expensive music video with estimated production costs of over $2,100,000 USD. John Hamilton of Idolator listed the video at number 3 on their 10 Best Music Videos from the ‘TRL’ Era, writing that, "Showing that they hadn’t lost the funk after all those slow-to-mid-tempo jams, the BSBs busted out this uplifting tribute to their fans, which served as the second single off 1999′s Millennium. Predictably, they scored another TRL chart-topper and sparked an international panty-melting situation."[22]

Track listing[edit]


MAX version[edit]

Barairo no Hibi"
MAX baraironohibi.jpg
Single by MAX
from the album Emotional History
ReleasedSeptember 6, 2000
FormatCD single
LabelAvex Trax
Songwriter(s)Yuko Ebine, Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, Brian Litrell
Producer(s)Max Matsuura
MAX singles chronology
Barairo no Hibi
"Always Love"

"Barairo no Hibi" (バラ色の日々) is a Japanese language cover of "Larger than Life" by Japanese girl group, MAX. The song is their 18th single and fourth from their album, Emotional History (2001). It features an additional writing credit from Yuko Ebine who wrote completely new lyrics for the song. Upon release it peaked at #11[55] breaking MAX's string of consecutive top 10 singles beginning with "Seventies" in 1996.

First press copies of the single came with a bonus track: "Barairo no Hibi (Bless Beat Mix)".

Track listing[edit]

# Title Songwriters Time
1. "Barairo no Hibi" Yuko Ebine, Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, Brian Litrell 3:54
2. "Wired" Akira 4:49
3. "Barairo no Hibi" (Instrumental) Martin, Lundin, Litrell 3:53
4. "Wired" (Instrumental) Akira 4:47

Chart performance[edit]

Oricon Weekly Singles Chart
Peak First week Total Chart run
11[55] 45,630[56] 74,920 5[55]


  • Executive producer: Johnny Taira
  • Produced by Max Matsuura
  • Co-produced by Junichi "Randy" Tsuchiya
  • Chief director: Vanity Maekawa
  • Director: Toshio Fujiwara
  • Assistant director: Kenichiro Kimura
  • Mixed and recorded by Shinichi Usui
  • Recorded by Yasushi Shiota
  • Mastered by Yuka Koizumi
  • Promotion: Takashi Kasuga, Yukio Takemura, Akira Kobayashi, Seiji Fukugawa

Art direction and design[edit]

  • Art direction and design: Katsuhito Tadokoro
  • Photography: Sunao Ohmori
  • Stylist: Akarumi Someya
  • Hair & make-up: Maki Tawa
  • Creative coordinator: Hayato Mori


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External links[edit]