I Want You Back

Album: 'N Sync (1996)
Charted: 5 13

Songfacts®:

  • When New Kids On The Block faded away in the early '90s, it seemed like boy bands were done and buried. But then Backstreet Boys came along with "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" in 1997 to revive the genre. Their competition was 'N Sync, which like Backstreet Boys was an American act that tested the waters in Europe first, releasing "I Want You Back" as a single there in 1996. When it rose to #5 in the UK in February 1997, it was proof of concept, and in 1998 their first album was issued in America and "I Want You Back" released there as a single, climbing to #13 in May 1998. Boy bands were indeed back, but they didn't strike to the heart of pop culture until 1999 when Backstreet Boys released their Millennium album. 'N Sync answered with their second album, No Strings Attached, in 2000, the year we reached peak boy band in America.
  • This was written and produced by the Swedish team of Max Martin and Denniz Pop. Martin was also responsible for many Backstreet Boys hits of this era, including "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)," "I'll Never Break Your Heart," and "As Long As You Love Me."

    Martin's lyrics for his boy band hits were relationship-based, in this case with the guys begging a girl to reconcile.
  • 'N Sync didn't share lead vocals; as with most of their songs, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez handle the verses on this one. Timberlake became the breakout star of the group when he released his solo album, Justified, in 2002.
  • Two videos were made for this song. The first, directed by Alan Calzatti, is on a virtual set with the guys dancing in front of futuristic backgrounds as they try to get the girl back using some kind of transporter. This is the one that survives on YouTube as the official video.

    The second video, directed by Jesse Vaughan and Douglas Biro, is more organic, showing the guys larking around in a car, a pool hall, and a basketball court.

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