Chrissy Teigen Called Out the Backstreet Boys — & They Responded

Social media has given us a lot — including, thank goodness, clarification on some of the most confusing lyrics of all time. The inimitable Chrissy Teigen worked her Twitter prowess over the weekend to get to the bottom of one from “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. Here’s what went down.

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First, Teigen asked an age-old question: What the heck is that last lyric of “I Want It That Way” supposed to mean exactly?

The last three lines of the Backstreet Boys’ first single off their 1999 smash hit, Millennium, go like this: “I never wanna hear you say / I want it that way / ‘Cause I want it that way”; Teigen is understandably, confused.

She tweeted, “He doesn’t wanna hear it because he is the one that wants it that way? He wants to be the one to say it? Also what is ‘it’?”


One of Teigen’s Twitter followers replied, “I think we know what it is, huh? Huh?!? The real question is what’s the way they each want it?”


Teigen quote-tweeted that reply, adding, “It seems they both want it the same way but are fighting over who gets to say they want it that way,” which… honestly, that seems like a pretty solid interpretation. BSB doesn’t want the subject of the song to state their wants, because they want to do it instead. Or maybe that’s not it at all?

Thankfully, the Backstreet Boys saw Teigen’s tweet and decided to clarify — 19 years after the song was released.


“Don’t wanna hear you say that you want heartaches and mistakes…” the official BSB account tweeted, “or to be 2 worlds apart. We don’t want you to want ‘it’ that way – that’s the way we want it… for you to not want it that way.”

So, they don’t want the subject of the song to want heartache. OK, that seems fair. It’s pretty hard to follow that line of thinking, but that may be because one of the song’s cowriters, Max Martin, is a Swedish songwriter whose first language isn’t English. As proof that sometimes things get lost in translation, Slate put together a list of other tracks he cowrote in which certain lyrics they suspect are his don’t quite work — but we won’t hold it against him!


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At any rate, we’re grateful that Teigen is asking the tough questions, and we’re glad this didn’t become another Missy Elliott situation.

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