It's a well-known fact that the Backstreet Boys hit "I Want It That Way" makes no sense, and now, 17 years after it was released, the boy band is finally explaining ... sort of. It's long been known that Max Martin, who wrote the song, is Swedish and didn't understand English all that well. (He's also responsible for Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time," a title that came about because he thought "hit" meant "call.") But the Huffington Post recently asked the band why, exactly, the song was released with such bizarre lyrics as "Am I your fire? Your one desire? Yes I know it's too late, but I want it that way." And the Boys had an illuminating response.
"Well it’s funny, we actually were OK with the lyrics when we heard it first," Nick Carter says, but officials at the label wanted to change the lyrics "to make the song make more sense," says Kevin Richardson. The band actually hired producers to redo the song, but when they listened to the new version, they decided to go with the original—even though AJ McLean now acknowledges the new version was "the one that made sense" in terms of lyrics. But, says Richardson, "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." All three members agree that the song probably wouldn't have been as big of a hit had they gone with the second version, and they say fans have told them the song makes perfect sense to them because, as Richardson notes, "everyone interprets lyrics differently and every song moves people differently."