Teen pop is an easily hated upon genre and I do have to admit that a good majority of it really isn’t great. However, there is something magical about 90’s pop and the Backstreet Boys easily stick out as some of the best, simply because they seemed so down to earth and larger than life (pun intended) at the exact same time. They were great singers, they were great dancers and performers, they had above average talent and yet, they came across as very normal people. With that being said, ironically enough I do want to take a moment to discuss one of their most outgoing and imaginative music videos in their videography. “Everybody (Backstreets Back)” was released as a single in mid 1997 and is featured on their American debut album, won an MTV VMA award, nominated the group for a Grammy award, and peaked at number four on the Billbaord Hot 100 chart. The video itself was directed by Joseph Kahn, who is known for other iconic videos for other major pop stars (the list is ridiculously long, check out his Wikipedia page). This duo was meant to be remembered and OH MAN is this a video I will never forget.
The video was inspired by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and successfully manages to incorporate aspects of it without being a complete rip off. The idea for this one starts off with the boys’ tour bus breaking down and them having to stay at this spooky hotel for the night. We can clearly see that something is off; the rooms are creepy, lightning is striking nonstop outside, and the boys are finding what appear to be dead animals in the beds. But before we even get a second thought about that, the music for the song comes in and we’re introduced to alternate versions of the Backstreet Boys. They’re all dressed up a different monster: Nick is a mummy, Brian a werewolf, Kevin a two faced Monster, A.J. as The Phantom of The Opera and Howie as Dracula. We first see each individually in their own little themed spaces until everyone comes together for a dance scene in the foyer of this hotel. Their costumes are old renaissance style dresses and outfits, and the dancing is definitely reminiscent of the choreography for “Thriller” at times. At the end of the video, it’s morning and the boys all meet up to leave and one by one they all start talking about how they had a bad dream. At this point, the concept comes full circle and we finally understand what happened from the very beginning.
What’s interesting and what I especially enjoy about this video is how they managed take inspirations (like the obvious one from “Thriller”) and completely make it their own, with their own creative touches thrown in there such as the dance scene or each members’ makeup and costume. It feels like a mini movie and besides just being entertaining in terms of being interesting to watch, they really stepped outside the box to do what other groups haven’t been doing. They didn’t just include a dance break, they included a theme, costumes and a storyline. They gave us so much more to wonder about than just a dance routine. One other thing I’ve always thought about this video, especially seeing it now, is how much better it would have been if it was produced in this modern day, yet how amazing and revolutionary it was at the time. Music videos were how you got noticed back then, and that’s obviously not the case anymore since artists don’t try nearly this hard to make a decent video anymore. But the amount of effort that went into producing this one is incredible and I can’t even begin to imagine all the hours spent on makeup, choreography, costumes, editing, production and everything in between. With the technology we have today, this amazing video would have been exponentially improved in terms of effects and that idea really makes me wonder what a remake would look like. On top of all of that, I think another very important reason why this is such an outstanding piece of work is that I don’t think many people expected something like this from a boy band. They were definitely underestimated by many and overdelivered when it came this this video, and that is incredible in itself.