"I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys remains a staple of the childhood of many 90s babies, and the song remains in the pop culture conciousness more than a decade after its release. One thing that has bothered a number of people about the track, however, is its lyrics. Namely that they don't really make any sense. More than one article has been written trying to decipher the true meaning of the song, but most people have come up empty handed. So what is the true meaning behind the song?
A new HuffPost interview with the Backstreet Boys reveals that even they aren't really sure. “Well it’s funny, we actually were OK with the lyrics when we heard it first,” said Nick Carter. "And then the president of JIVE records at that time ― I mean he’s a genius ― but he and some of the A&R people wanted to change the lyrics.” Kevin Richardson added that this effort was to "make the song make more sense."
After bringing in a whole new crew to retool the song, the band recorded an alternate version of it with lyrics that were more decipherable, but they weren't feeling it. "There was another version of the song out there and then we listened to it back. Then, we as a group voted on it and said, 'No,'" explained Carter.
Why would they choose the nonsensical version of the track over one that was more relatable? “I think the newer version or the second version that we did that was more of a literal context didn’t … it was the rhyming scheme that didn’t feel right. Yeah, it just didn’t feel as good, so sometimes you just got to go with what feels right," said Richardson. “I talk with fans that the song makes perfect sense to them, because everyone interprets lyrics differently and every song moves people differently."
Despite this odd, the band isn't sweating their decision. After all, it did go on to be a gigantic smash hit. “I don’t think that it would have ended up the way that it did had we gone with the proper version. I guess you could say, you know, the one that made sense," said A.J. McLean.
You can check out their whole HuffPost interview here.