The Backstreet Boys self-titled debut album turns 20 this year leaving ‘90s kids, like myself, feeling quite old. The album debuted in the United States in August 1997. Initially it hit No. 29 on the Billboard 200, but by January 1998, the album sold 2 million copies. The album’s first single “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)” peaked at No. 4 on the chart. Since then, the Backstreet Boys continued to make music and garner fame.
The Backstreet Boys might just be the most successful boyband to date. (New Kids on the Block, which was like the ‘80s version of BSB, made a resurgence with BSB. They’re a pretty close second.) They’ve managed to stay relevant the last 20 years — producing new music, touring the world, collaborating with other artists, dabbling in filmmaking, and earning a Las Vegas residency. The group endured its fair share of hard times, too. Kevin Richardson left the group for a short time, AJ McLean struggled with addiction, and Nick Carter got into some trouble, too. Still, fans of BSB continue to support the five boys-turned-men. (Count me in with this group of people.)
Here’s a look back at BSB’s 10 greatest songs over the past almost 25 years of their existence.
- Inconsolable — The song was released in 2007, as the first single off their fifth studio album; it was their first album without Kevin Richardson. I loved the song immediately when it dropped, but it didn’t feel like the same BSB without Kev.
- Incomplete — Back from their two-year hiatus, BSB dropped Incomplete in 2005 in preparation for their comeback album Never Gone. The song peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The perfect comeback power ballad, in my opinion.
- Drowning — The song was originally meant for Black and Blue, but instead was released as part of The Hits: Chapter One. The song reached No. 28 on the charts and actually did exceptionally well on MTV’s Total Request Live. (I remember this, too, because I loved this song. And I couldn’t wait for more BSB. If only eight-year-old me knew…
7 ½ The Call — I just couldn’t make up my mind on this song and the next, so here we are. The song didn’t do well on the charts, but I have fond memories of dancing to this song with my siblings.
- Shape of My Heart — This song was released as the lead single off of Black and Blue, and it debuted at No. 9 on the Hot 10. It spent 61 days at the No. 1 spot on TRL and also earned a Grammy nomination. Needless to say, this is a great song to belt out in your car or the shower.
- All I Have to Give — The sixth single off of the debut album won Video of the Year at Teen Choice in 1999. Basically, I just love this song because I always imagined Nick Carter walking 1000 miles to get to me.
- Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) — The first Backstreet Boys single ever heard in the United States!!!!!! The song reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 in May 1997 and earned BSB a platinum award.
- Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely — A depressing song, but a good song. BSB released the single in December 1999; it earned a Grammy nomination and No. 6 spot on the Hot 100.
- Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) — One of my favorite songs ever by Backstreet Boys. The debut album’s third single, which hit the No. 4 spot on the Hot 100. It’s also one of the best music videos ever — and one I watch every Halloween season.
- Larger Than Life — I remember watching this music video for the first time on TRL. Somehow, this was my first exposure to the band (although, I was only five at the time, so it makes sense). It debuted in September 1999 as Millenium’s second single. This song made me a BSB fan for life. The video broke TRL’s record for longest running No. 1.
- I Want It That Way — You can’t mention BSB without thinking of this song. You just can’t. The lead single off Millenium debuted in April 1999 bringing all of the hype for the second BSB album. It worked. The video sat atop TRL’s countdown for a duration as well.