Millennium – Backstreet Boys – 1999
Claimed Sales: 24m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: CD
To say that the follow up to Backstreet’s Back was highly anticipated is a massive understatement and nearly 2 years after the various versions of that album took over the world Millennium was released. It sold 1.134 million copies in its debut week, breaking the biggest first week sales record in the process and marked a return to an era where worldwide pop album releases were possible. Everything here is bigger and better, Larger Than Life even, which opens Millennium as the Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) sequel the world needed. The production is more polished, the vocals are as tight as the choreography and Backstreet Boys finally sound as big as their fandom at the time. Lead single I Want It That Way does exactly this, a singalong anthem that doesn’t rely on massive vocals, but uses what these boys have to the best it can. It’s a true Max Martin classic and when the production/writing is in the hands of the Swedish king of pop the album works perfectly. It’s Gotta Be You and I Want You Back are huge pop bangers that would surely have been destined for a dance break on the Arena Tour, while Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely and The One are midtempo, but danceable jams that could have easily ended up on one of the Britney albums instead. In fact, the opening 8 tracks here compliment …Baby One More Time nicely, which was released just 4 months before this. It’s great, possibly even stronger than Britney’s debut, until the final 4 tracks. Back to Your Heart is a harmless ballad written by the bands own Kevin Richardson that manages to feature both some of the best and some of the worst vocals on the album. Both Spanish Eyes and No One Else Comes Close are massively forgettable, but its the final track that all but destroys what could have been a great pop album for me. A gospel choir, soaring strings, painfully heartfelt vocals and a chorus of ‘Cause Mom you always were the perfect fan’ make it by far the worst song the band have ever recorded. It’s the unflinching 100% serious delivery on The Perfect Fan that does it for me and all but ruins the brilliant pop records that it follows. Millennium fits the bill when it comes to a worldwide boyband, with songs so good that they have far outlasted the groups that Backstreet Boys inspired in the decade that followed. It’s just a shame that they had to finish on a melodramatic ballad for their moms.
Will I listen again?: Yes
Best Track: It’s a toss up between any of the Max Martin produced tracks here, but after hearing it for what surely must have been the first time I have to go with The One for its easy joyous hook.