Geekdom is all about loving what you love and not caring what anyone else thinks. Simon’s right – as soon as you stop caring about what’s ‘cool’ and start being concerned with the music, books, movies, whatever that speaks to you, who cares if it’s deemed worthy of our attention?
Hence this new series. These are things that make The Midnight Writer HAPPY, that shape who we are, which help make our world just that little bit better, regardless of their form.
Welcome to the Guilt-FREE Pleasures.
With the possible exception of house/techno, I can’t think of any genre of music that offers nothing to me as a listener. True, my biggest loves fit into grunge rock (Pearl Jam), industrial (Lustmord), avant-garde (Kate Bush, Antony & the Johnsons) and ambient/instrumental (Olafur Arnalds) but pop music has played an important role throughout my entire life.
As a teenager in the 1980’s, I was a Durannie, spending my time swooning over ‘Save a Prayer‘ or ‘Union of the Snake‘ in between deciding who I loved most between Simon Le Bon and John Taylor (Simon). ABC, The Wonderstuff later gave way to goth bands The Mission and The Fields of the Nephilim.
In 1995, a new boyband came to prominence in the US with their singles ‘We’ve Got It Going On‘ and ‘Get Down‘. I was in my early twenties and still mourning the death the year previously of Kurt Cobain. I took little notice of this new band, called Backstreet Boys.
That was until they brought out their fourth single. An emotional, beautiful crafted song, ‘Quit Playing Games with My Heart’ played (ha!) its master card by highlighting the band’s greatest asset – Kentucky-born Brian Littrell. (The rain-drenched, shirt-free video probably didn’t hurt things either). Littrell has always been the band’s best vocalist, a natural singer and here, showcased with a terrific song, the 20-year old pushed Backstreet beyond a slew of ordinary sounding boybands and into the public consciousness. It’s always staggered me that the boyband breakout star wasn’t Littrell but the far-less-talented vocally, Justin Timberlake. The reason for this was probably Timberlake’s high-profile relationship with Britney Spears rather than his singing ability. T’was ever thus though but Littrell will remain, in my opinion, the best vocalist in a boyband – of all time. Yep, feel free to argue but listen to him sing live and then come back to me.
Before this turns into a love letter to Littrell however, the other four members have equally made Backstreet a lasting success. Kevin Richardson (Littrell’s cousin), Howie Dorough, Nick Carter and A.J. McLean round out a band who, unlike some of their rivals, are still performing to sell-out audiences and this year are celebrating their twentieth anniversary. Yes, Nick and A.J. – both excellent singers in their own right – have had struggles with alcohol and drugs but the fact that Backstreet have endured is testament to their ability to grow with their aging fan base and still come out with beautiful songs, and give live performances that speak to their true musical ability. Backstreet’s not Back, they’ve never been away. Je t’aime, Backstreet.
Here below is The Midnight Writer’s Backstreet Boys Top 10 (and a couple of extra goodies)
7. Unmistakable (2007, Unbreakable)
6. Shattered (2009, This is Us)
I Want It That Way (1999, Millenium)
Come on, what else could beat this? It’s a perfect piece of pop – written and crafted perfectly by Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson – even hardcore rock fans can’t resist this gem – the very NSFW Steel Panther even covered it. Nominated for three Grammy awards, including Song and Record of the Year (losing to Rob Thomas & Santana’s ‘Smooth’), it’s rightly regarded as their masterpiece and as one of the defining pop moments of the 1990’s,