1. “As Long As You Love Me” by the Backstreet Boys
Even 11-year-old me could sense the disturbing and unhealthy implications lurking beneath the Backstreet Boys’ second single, “As Long As You Love Me” or as I like to call it, ‘Anthem for Stockholm Syndrome sufferers the world over.’ The lyrics, “I don’t care who you are/ Where you’re from/ What you did/ As long as you love me,” are sweet in a “I’m not going to hold your past against you” kind of way, but desperate and needy and oblivious in a “You ax-murdered your entire family? Well… I’m not ‘pro-ax-murder’ or anything, but I mean, I guess that’s cool. As long as you love me…” kind of way.
2. “All Or Nothing” by O-Town
Remember “The Hook” by Blues Traveler? If you’re not familiar, it’s essentially ~5 minutes of John Popper being condescending — but damn it sounds good! Popper sings, “It doesn’t matter what I say/ So long as I sing with inflection/ That makes you feel that I’ll convey/ Some inner truth of vast reflection.” In other words, “I could sing about bolo ties right now and you guys won’t know the difference, if I make it sound pretty.” I love that song. That song speaks truth. That song is self-aware. You know what song is the opposite of that song? “All Or Nothing” by O-Town. That song tricked us into believing it was about romance, when really it’s the battle cry of an entitled, friend-zoned clinger. “You know I’d fight for you/ But how could I fight someone who isn’t even there/ I’ve had the rest of you/ Now I want the best of you/ I don’t care if that’s not fair” …dude. She doesn’t like you. Move on and give up your unearned monopoly on 8th grade dances so that future generations might understand what a healthy relationship is.
3. “Space Cowboy” by ‘N Sync
I love ‘N Sync, even now, which makes this all the more painful — WTF was going on with “Space Cowboy”? I can’t think of a single song that more shamelessly panders to Y2K hysteria. There was no chance this song was going to age well. And as if that weren’t bad enough, they had to drag Left Eye into it? Got Left Eye rappin’ about sonic booms and ‘millennium sounds’? Please GTFO with that noise and stick to singing about Skype sex and unrequited love or whatever.
4. “Can’t Have You” by LFO
Whoever was in charge of the ‘Lyte Funky Ones’ when they decided to cover “If I Can’t Have You” is all the wrong things in the universe. We have one of the most famous disco bands (Bee Gees) writing one of the best disco songs (“If I Can’t Have You”) and handing it over to one of the best disco voices (Yvonne Elliman) for use in the best disco movie (Saturday Night Fever) and what does LFO do? They sample the chorus and cheapen the verses with half-assed rap lyrics. These are actual words from their version of the song: “Haha but yo if I can’t have you then I don’t want/ Anybody that’s my word so (no no) check it out.” Um, what? LFO needs to apologize to disco and the 70s in general. Seriously guys, summer girls don’t appreciate this sh-t!
5. “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys
It’s been over a decade and I’m still not clear on what’s going on with “I Want It That Way.” The lyrics are aimed toward… an ex? The fans? The video leads me to believe that it’s directed toward the fans. So BSB begs the fans for validation by asking if [BSB] is [the fans’] fire, the one desire, which… I mean obviously, they are. You’re BSB, you idiots. Then BSB admits they know it’s too late (for what exactly, I’m not sure), but that it’s okay, because they want it that way. They want it to be too late. This is borderline histrionic but also? It plain makes no sense. This is exactly the kind of song John Popper was referring to in “The Hook.” I will retract my statements if one person can explain what the hell the purpose of this song is, other than to take advantage of an audience who doesn’t know any better.
6. “Liquid Dreams” by O-Town
Oh-ho-hooo if only this song lived to see internet-wave feminism! I mean, everything about “Liquid Dreams” is atrocious. A woman who’s a mix of Destiny’s Child, J-Lo, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Cindy Crawford, Tyra Banks, Salma Hayek etc. is bound to be an aesthetic mess, for one thing. That’s just a rule, it’s like when two ugly people have a gorgeous child. I don’t even want to imagine what kind of personality would result from this Type-A-List Frankensteining. This song is gross and basically exists solely to illustrate a made-up woman who gives O-Town wet dreams. Your target market was 13-year-old girls, did someone forget to mention that?
7. “The Hardest Thing” by 98 Degrees
I just kind of hate whoever wrote this song. At first it’s like, okay… he’s a good guy… he has someone new and he loves her and she deserves the best, good… good… but then he’s all “I know that we’ll meet again” and then “Maybe another time, another day” and finally, “I don’t want to live a lie/ what can I do.” Um, stop insinuating that you really, really love your ex-girlfriend and that the two of you will be together again someday, when you’re done loving your current girlfriend? How about you try that. Dick.