In A World Like This…(They Had Us.)

When the anniversary of In A World Like This hit in July it took me by surprise.

This era doesn’t feel that long ago, does it?

Grab a drink, and get comfortable. This post grew to be a longer one than I originally expected. It’s why it took a minute to get it down, which…my apologies for that. At the same time when I write on here I really do try to put my all into it, so I’d rather go through “dry spells” rather than force something out for clicks. I believe in writing for myself first, and everything else will follow. Hopefully that translates into the blogs themselves. As always, thank you for sticking with me.

With this album there’s a lot to really dive into especially in how it helped determine their path to where they are now.

I at one point planned to do a post looking back at the documentary but after the album anniversary hit, it occurred to me this should all go in one post. Because while the documentary touches on the past, it’s also very much about the formation of this era. This is the album that was truly indie, in what I’ve come to think of as their “indie era”. Post peak, when the world was sleeping on what was the greatness known as the Backstreet Boys. This was absolutely when only hard core fans who’d never left, who never wavered, kept up on everything that was going on. Loyalty was there and defined the fandom like nothing else.

This was also the return of Kevin, who we all missed terribly.

There was an energy with this album. They were happier than we’d seen them in years. Jive was no more. RCA hadn’t come into play yet.They were rediscovering themselves and what they could do. The Backstreet Boys were five strong once again. There was absolutely a lot they needed to figure out. Nothing was perfect. In Kevin returning I’m sure they had to readjust since they’d learned to be a foursome without him. Howie couldn’t go back to being in the background and they had to make sure Kevin was absolutely done justice as well. Not to mention as I already said, this was their first album truly “alone”. Of course they had their management and their advisors but there was no label directing them. The say was theirs and theirs alone when it came right down to it. They were spending house money, to put it in Vegas terms.

There was also the issue of how to go forward as Brian began to sort out out his vocal dysphonia, as this was the era it was truly at it’s most noticeable. It was also when we began to see progress in his improvement. This was the era when they explained to the fans the reason of what we all noticed but were too afraid to discuss. In fact it’s what birthed the very blog you’re reading, the fact so many fans were afraid to talk about it. Even after Brian did. When I think about how hard it had to have been to include this into the documentary, I realize how strong they are for being able to tell us. They didn’t have to. So thank you Boys, thank you Brian for being so open with us. It really is everything that you are.

In all this, I felt this was one of the most honest “eras” they ever gave us.

I mean, the Boys always tried to be straightforward with the fandom. Obviously they don’t tell us everything. Nor should they. But they’ve laid bare a lot of issues that other artists would’ve swept under the rug. Especially since our fandom’s heyday was in a time where social media didn’t exist, and thus was easier to hide. I mean, they didn’t have to give us that documentary. And yes it doesn’t show everything but it does showcase quite a bit. One of my favorite moments was actually this one I’m linking below. It’s even more interesting given what’s happened since then.

I think this is what helped them learn to have faith in themselves. This is what made them ready for a new label and the things they knew they couldn’t settle on ever again. They were damn proud of this record and it’s easy to see why. This was pure, a hundred percent undiluted Backstreet. Backstreet concentrate. This was what they wanted to create, what they wanted to put out there, and no one could hold them back. That’s what makes this album and this era as a whole so damn beautiful. Because they damn well showed the world what they were made of and they couldn’t be denied.


This era in many ways felt like a nineties fan-fiction. They rented a house and lived together. They did a massive recording session over in London to get their feet wet. This was an identity crisis like I did say Unbreakable was but in this one they found themselves. They even talked about how Jive influenced Never Gone (and man did I feel a little bit vindicated when I first saw that) along with other albums, and that this was their first chance away from that. I do think that sort of thing shows on the record. This was the Backstreet Boys fully showcasing who they were. They really went through all the steps. They’re the ones who found the writers and producers, they’re the ones who reached out to their old friend Tyler Shields to help create the photo-shoot for their album cover. This started with the Boys and it ended with the Boys.



Many people thought this album wouldn’t come to pass. I saw a lot of people doubt them because without a label, they’d crumble. This was absolutely a stand to a world that had once tried to move on without them. Admittedly if they were going to call it, this would’ve been the time (outside of Black and Blue) that would’ve made the most sense. This was a rebirth of Backstreet in many ways.

If this time in their careers hadn’t gone down the way it did, I don’t think the residency would’ve happened. If the residency hadn’t have happened, I don’t think the deal with RCA would’ve gone down. Without RCA and the residency, I fully believe DNA wouldn’t be flourishing the way it is currently. So crazy as it is, In A World Like This managed to turn things around for the Boys. They started getting more appearances for promotion this era than they’d ever had during This Is Us ever had, or Unbreakable for that matter. The media spouted this time as a “reunion” and a “comeback” the way they always do.



But this time? They played into it and it was a smart move. Technically it was a reunion “of sorts” in that Kevin had returned. Backstreet had never left, absolutely. You’ll hear me scream this till the day I die. That said, what sounded better in terms of click bait articles and sound bites? Yup…that old standby of Backstreet’s Back.

So let’s talk about In A World Like This, the song. Because I feel this song doesn’t get enough credit.

Without any label support this song managed to chart on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart. Which was their first song to do so since the days of Never Gone. It doesn’t sound that impressive but usually that sort of thing won’t happen without a label to propel you forward. This happened purely on the strength of the fan-base and the strength of the song. Not to mention this song is truly a gem. Max Martin gave them A-material on this album, it’s a song that’s hopeful yet seamlessly with the pop trends of 2013 without being too much. It was a Backstreet Boys song for the modern era. It showcases all five them in a way that up until that point hadn’t happened since I Want It That Way.


Now think about it from a label perspective, if they’re able to do this without ANY real support…think about the potential if they did have it? Their tour for this album lasted for two solid years and they were selling out shows throughout the country. If they had the bundle deal many artists do today with albums, back in 2013? I think more people would’ve noticed exactly what a powerhouse these Boys managed to be despite everything. I firmly believe the sales this tour got had a lot of influence on the residency’s formation. AJ was pitching the idea during the two back to back Vegas shows at Planet Hollywood in 2014, which was a full house of course. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if the nugget formed then.

The album itself is, unlike a couple of it’s predecessors not a product of it’s time. These songs hold up even in these many years later. It’s a new era and I still find this album on my playlist often enough. Which isn’t always the case. In A World Like This was made to last. It wasn’t made to just have a few hit singles or to go viral like so many songs these days (and even back then) are. This album took years, but the end result really did show why.

Just like with DNA‘s No Place, this album has Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of which was written about the Boys’ kids. Mind you, Nick at the time wasn’t married yet, nor did he have kids just yet when they wrote this song but even so the song managed to be pretty personal to all of them. In fact I would love to see them perform it today now that Nick has Odin and has another ready to make his or her appearance soon enough. This song is absolutely a dedication to their kids and is enough to get you teary eyed if you pay attention to the lyrics.

Another standout of this one is Make Believe. The music has such an otherworldly feel to it and the imagery of the lyrics themselves are enough to make you depressed for a week that they never once performed this song live. It’s simply beautiful and in many ways like no other song they’ve ever done as a group. I wish they’d talk about this track more in that it’s so unique. In contrast to that, I know I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Love Somebody. This one was written by Nick and Howie and you can absolutely tell. You can see it in the lyrics about purple jeans, and wearing jerseys from their favorite teams. Is it a little cheesy? Yes it is. But isn’t love like that sometimes? It’s a song that fills you with happiness. You listen to it and it simply makes you smile. Just like the Boys themselves.

Oh Permanent Stain. I wish you had a different title. Because it really doesn’t give great images to a song that really does make one think of the Beach Boys when you hear it. The harmony break down is absolutely on point on this one and you can tell it’s inspired by one of the greats. This one was used as a promotional single and I think it was used well in that aspect. It’s a song that maybe didn’t have the strength to be a single on it’s own, yet was solid enough to get attention for their upcoming album. Not to mention it was prime material for a capella performances – something to remind the world what Backstreet Boys built their career on.

They even had Feels Like Home which is like the sequel to Larger Than Life, a song of love and appreciation to the fans.

In the midst of everything happening, the Boys were reaching some crazy highs, like when they got their star on the walk of fame. They hit their twentieth anniversary which I’m sure many of us at one point or another thought we might not see. Now it seems like we’ll hit their thirtieth in just a few short years with even more to celebrate? It seems surreal, doesn’t it?

It did then too.

This sort of thing just didn’t happen with groups like BSB. Except, that’s the thing, isn’t it? There ARE no groups like the Backstreet Boys. They are one of a kind and this entire era really set that in stone, permanently. As a fan this was one of the most rewarding eras. The fair weathers weren’t back yet, it was just those who had been ride or die with the group yet there was so much going on. We had the new music, the cruises, the tours, Kevin’s return…this was probably the most connected the Boys had ever been with the fandom. Because they knew the fandom was what kept going strong, never wavering and never hesitating. It wasn’t cool yet to be a fan again. If you were a fan, it’s because you absolutely loved the Boys no matter what anyone else thought. The people who went to these concerts knew every song and not just the Chapter One tracks.

Yes the Boys had their arguments. Yes, it wasn’t always easy to be a fan. But it didn’t matter. In a world like this…the Boys had us. The fans had each other. That’s all we needed until the rest of the world decided to catch on. And yes, catch on they did, eventually. This was simply the start of that realization. We knew it’d happen, but until it did we were all content with how things were. The Boys had rediscovered who they were and were happier than ever because of it. It showed in everything they did.

In the end, I think Nick says it best in the clip below.

Let the world know, Backstreet is Back…

And we aren’t going anywhere!

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