Let’s face it: No one listening to teen pop on purpose in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s was listening too closely to the lyrics. It’s a good thing, too, because between songwriters who weren’t native English speakers, the tyranny of rhyme and meter, and the finite nature of words that rhyme with “girl” and “baby,” it would take a room full of history’s greatest philosophers to figure out what the hell they’re trying to say.

“I Want It That Way”

(Jive Records/YouTube)

“You are my fire, the one desire/Believe when I say, I want it that way/But we are two worlds apart, can't reach to your heart/When you say that I want it that way”

The Backstreet Boys never tell us exactly what way they want it or what way they don’t … want … you to want it. No explanation makes sense from both perspectives. 

“As Long As You Love Me”

(Jive Records/YouTube)

“Doesn’t really matter if you’re on the run”

The Boys spend much of the song dismissing a lot of things in your background which could be totally harmless -- who you are, where you’re from, what you did, etc. -- but this is pretty clear. The Backstreet Boys have hooked up with a fugitive, and that should matter to them a lot.

“Oops! I Did It Again”

(Jive Records/YouTube)

“You see my problem is this/I'm dreaming away/Wishing that heroes, they truly exist”

How can playing with your heart and getting lost in the game be a side effect of daydreaming? Is she doing all this while she’s daydreaming? Is this just a woman with a severe dissociative disorder?

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