The Backstreet Boys Are Proof That 1999 is Back, Alright!

"Don't Go Breaking My Heart" is the group's first single in five years.

All these reboots and reunions and revamps—it's a parade of nostalgia, and just as I don't think I can handle anymore, the news drops: The Boys are back in town. And by The Boys, I mean the Backstreet ones. And by town, I mean in your compact disc player. For those unsure what that means, imagine a machine that holds a small vinyl record, only shiny and unironic.

The Backstreet Boys have returned with new music, which will serve as the lead single off a new unnamed album. The single, "Don't Go Breaking My Heart," is a real journey. The gang is still together, working on light dance moves, advanced layering, and some very particular hand choreography. The whole thing feels anachronistic, kind of like when you order a chicken nugget Happy Meal as an adult. Want to feel nostalgic? Of course you do.

It's a weird video, right? But the song is a bop. I didn't want to dance, but when the beat drops (I'm using this term very loosely) at the minute mark, you'd a sociopath if you didn't work those shoulders a little bit. Yes, they've had a Vegas residency. Yes, their mean age is 42.2 years old. Yes, A.J. McLean is still wearing some god-awful hats. But in these trying times riddled with yelling and divisive discourse, when was the last time you heard lyrics as self-aware as these?

I've got mixed emotions 
Did I finally find me a river that could lead me out to the ocean?


Whoa, watch out Kendrick. Somebody's coming to snatch your Pulitzer.

Maybe it's not groundbreaking work, but for every DAMN. out there, a little throwback isn't hurting anyone. Christina Aguilera is putting out music. Ricky Martin is acting in prestige television. What we're looking at is a late 20th-century music renaissance, and for it, we should be grateful—1999 was a great year for music. Honestly, the Backstreet Boys were the garbage people of music that year, and they were still great. Lauryn Hill won Album of the Year for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Dixie Chicks and Santana came out with new music that year, Kid Rock generally stayed in Michigan. Everything was going our way.

But back to the Boys. Just look at that single artwork. You have Nick, Brian, Glasses A.J, that jacket one, and Jesus Christ. They don't look a day older than they did in 1999 bad, and they don't even have to buy a new wardrobe because '90s fashion is back in style. I asked the style desk, so it's a fact. All of that is to say: If Backstreet wants to come back, then I say by all means—alright.

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Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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