Backstreet Boys’ 10 Best Music Videos From The ‘TRL’ Era
Some things just go so well together that they become forever linked in the public consciousness — you know, like chocolate and peanut butter, or Justin Beiber and drop-crotch pants. One classic match that’s a favorite of ours —and that pop music is all the better for — is the mutually magnificent pairing of boy bands and pop music countdown shows. In other words: the Backstreet Boys and Total Request Live!
Yes, the rise of the boy band would likely never have happened without MTV’s long-running afternoon countdown show (it aired from September 1998 to November 2008 — so remember, the MTV VMA-winning “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” pre-dated the series by only a few months), a phenomenon the Backstreet Boys, along with *NSYNC, helped to cement in the annals of popular culture. With Backstreet celebrating their 20th anniversary this year (WHAT?) and ready to release their new album In A World Like This on July 30th, we’ve got them on our minds again. Not to mention, this fall marks the 15th anniversary of TRL’s debut and the fifth anniversary of its final adieu. In honor of both, we salute the 10 greatest Backstreet Boys videos of the TRL era: clips which just happen to have attained #1 status on the show’s fan-based countdown, thankyouverymuch.
So let’s all imagine ourselves as we were a decade back in time, seated on a bleacher in front of Carson Daly whilst a scrolling ticker displays the words “I LOVE A.J.!” across our hearts, and remember these peak moments of Nick, Brian, Kevin, Howie and, of course that untameable rascal, A.J.
10. “The One” The Backstreet Boys gave their screeching hordes of fans the opportunity to choose Millenium’s fourth single in 2000, so the video itself is an appropriate tribute to those who made them TRL gods. This cinema verite collage of backstage footage is given a running scream-entary throughout, for added realism.
9. “More Than That” A return to dramatic-ballad form, we can’t help seeing even more clues of the imminent BSB hiatus in this 2001 clip: the rolling sunset footage, the arid desert landscape, A.J. wearing more turquoise jewelry than a retired housewife from Scarsdale. Sad stuff.
8. “The Call” This “in the club” cheatin’ jam from 2000’s Black & Blue proved to be as big a hit as Backstreet’s slow ones, spending three months at the top of the TRL chart and even spawning a Neptunes remix. The video is a fun little action-adventure, but we keep waiting for Madonna and Britney to show up at the same club and medley “Me Against the Music.”
7. “All I Have to Give” In true TRL fashion, this mid-tempo number bounced in and out of pole position for months in early 1998, and was eventually unseated by rivals *NSYNC and, later, Korn. Despite the video’s high-gloss production (those gauzy close-ups), the BSBs make us feel as if they’re singing directly to us, right in our homes. Or maybe we’re delusional? In any case, Nick’s hair is looking it’s most Carol Channing-esque in this one, and we love Howie’s Mariah screech at the end.
6. “Drowning” Was a song title ever more appropriate than this? Simultaneous with management changes and creative differences among the boys, along came Eminem and a slew of new upstarts to unseat the original TRL kings. Despite this new addition to 2001’s The Hits: Chapter One being their last single to top that particular countdown, later comeback singles would keep the Boys afloat well past the venerable chart show’s demise.
5. “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” This melancholy number off 1999’s Millennium took the Boys to another level, showing they could convincingly express feelings beyond the typical love ballad. The video features an appropriate amount of moping, shadowy streets, and vintage film projectors, but also serves as a sincere tribute to fallen producer Denniz Pop, who died in August of the previous year. Denniz wasn’t only a mentor to the BSBs, but also to Max Martin, who has worked consistently with the band from the very beginning.
4. “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” The very first TRL chart topper, this summer 1998 ballad played tug-of-war for the peak position with *NSYNC’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart” for 21 long weeks until the tie was finally broken by the next Backstreet smash. The tender “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” was seemingly taken straight from the Boys II Men playbook, and provides multiple opportunities for hormonal teen screams. (Nick’s floppy hair! Howie’s guitar! A.J.’s bad boy everything!)
3. “Larger Than Life” 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.
2. “Shape of My Heart” In hindsight, the blue tint of this clip foreshadows what we’d all be feeling soon: despair at the Backstreet Boys’ eventual three-year hiatus from the pop scene. Despite the looming sadness, this video for lead Black & Blue single “Shape Of My Heart” is all playful shenanigans as the Boys and their pals rehearse for a show. We’d also like to point out that the Backstreet Boys were reaching peak hotness here.
1. “I Want It That Way” Let’s just say, 1999 was the year of “I Want It That Way.” Even a new face on the scene, Britney Spears, couldn’t break the spell Backstreet had on the Total Request Live audience. Millions of callers can’t be wrong: this is one for the American Standards songbook.