Backstreet boys

Why We’re All Still Crying at the Backstreet Boys

It’s been about 15 years since I cried for the Backstreet Boys, but Monday morning I was glued to my computer screen again, sobbing. In homage to social distancing, AJ, Brian, Kevin, Nick, and howie– whose names are stamped into my brain in exactly that order thanks to the rap verse in “The Call (The Neptunes Remix)” – collaborated to record “I Want It That Way” from their respective homes for the iHeart Living Room concert of Fox for America. The video was released on Sunday and that night it started going around Twitterexploding into a cultural phenomenon in its own right and occasion for a cathartic group cry:

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I know this because I sent the video to a group chat of my closest friends with the message “Can someone explain why I’m crying so hard about this.” One replied, “It made me cry too,” and another said she watched it with her mum last night and cried, “We remembered how it It was my first gig and the way I uttered my first swear word at that gig. .” One said it gave him “goosebumps”. (It should be noted that we’re all in our late 20s and early 30s, the ideal age range for true Backstreet nostalgia.) No one had a ready-made explanation for why the thing hit so hard. It’s not exactly a musical masterpiece – my group chat noted suspected use of Auto-Tune, and a friend said attempted high notes made them “chuckle”. So I tossed around a few theories: “Are these Kevin’s grandsons? Brian’s pajama pants? Pure nostalgia for a less complicated time?

The answer, I think, lies exactly in or I started crying: Somewhere around the 48 second mark, after Brian and Nick have sung their explanatory verses, when the chorus arrives and the screen splits into five segments to show the five band members standing together, apart. In my mind, they love and miss each other, just like my friends and I love and miss each other. Judging by the documentary Backstreet Boys Show them (what you are capable of, which I devoured when it came out in 2015, that may or may not be the case. But the fact is that I felt it’s the comfortable familiarity between people who have spent countless hours together, who at one time were family. The comfortable familiarity my friends and I feel for each other when we’re in the same physical place, something that, due to the coronavirus outbreak currently sweeping the country, we haven’t done in ages. weeks.

To be clear, it’s a good thing: we socially distance ourselves as responsible adults, we’re all young and relatively healthy, we all have life situations that, for now, keep us in place . The desire for companionship comes with a layer of privilege. (The Backstreet Boys, who filmed in their rec rooms and home theaters and in front of their swimming pools and little grand pianos, know that better than anyone.) But seeing them together, singing a song of simpler times that consists literally trying and failing to be close to someone, kind of brought me to a weird new breaking point that I didn’t know I had. ‘NSync could never.

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