“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Backstreet Boys (2018)

Here’s another “out of order” entry. I needed to sit with this song for a while to determine whether I was gonna fall out of love with it or not. As someone who has made-and published-best of lists for probably twenty years now, I know that a song or album I am immediately enraptured by can grow stale after a while. Not so with this comeback song from a group I was never that crazy about to begin with.

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” might’ve completely passed me by if not for my friend and former co-worker Chris Cruz. He was in Europe for a week or so and couldn’t escape this song. I’m pretty sure I had him on my radio show the week after he returned and he demanded I play it despite the fact that it was way off format (by virtue of being a current song, not by virtue of being by the Backstreet Boys). I played it anyway (because I’m just an agreeable motherfucker), and I haven’t stopped playing it since.

When good singers generally rely on the work of outside writers, the results can be scattershot. Think of the inconsistency of someone like Whitney’s catalog. BSB are a solid vocal group, and they were fortunate enough to have a team working specifically with them during their heyday. When those days ended, they jumped from writer/producer to writer/producer. Sometimes the results were good, usually they were boring. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” managed the trick of sounding like a late 2010s song while also sounding like a (somewhat grown up) Backstreet Boys song. It’s “I Want It That Way” teleported twenty years into the future (with lyrics that actually make sense). I didn’t think they had it in ’em!

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