20 Years of The Backstreet Boys ‘Millennium’: The Album That Changed Everything

20 years ago, hundreds of people gathered in Times Square to catch a glimpse of the Backstreet Boys through the windows of MTV studios.

20 years ago, millions all over the world ran to their local record store at midnight to purchase an album that we would play on repeat until many of us had to buy another copy.

20 years ago, so many of us became Backstreet Boys fans and even those who wouldn’t proclaim themselves as “fans”, definitely sang (and still sing) along to “I Want It That Way”.

20 year ago, an album entitled Millennium changed a lot of lives – the Backstreet Boys included.

The release of Millennium was unlike any other event for Backstreet Boys in the U.S. up until that point. It confirmed that they had finally achieved the success that they had always deserved in their home country and breaking the record that week for most albums sold EVER was only the beginning.

But it was more than just numbers.

Millennium is a collection of songs that has something for everyone – then and now. Our moms loved it, our dads bopped along to it, and “It’s Gotta Be You” was a song that we all definitely scream-sang along with our friends then and maybe last week. You couldn’t listen to the radio without hearing “Larger Than Life”, “I Want It That Way”, or “Show Me The Meaning”. You couldn’t watch MTV without mention of the Backstreet Boys. The Nick girls couldn’t get enough of “I Need You Tonight”, the Brian girls couldn’t stop telling their moms about how he wrote “The Perfect Fan”, and the Kevin girls all wanted a boyfriend as sweet as he was to write “Back To Your Heart”.

As we’ve grown, we’ve come to appreciate songs like “No One Else Comes Close” and “Spanish Eyes” more and more. It’s literally an album that has grown with us without changing it all.

But it’s also more than just a collection of songs too.

Millennium has defined an era and for many of us, a period of our lives. The music of the Backstreet Boys’ U.S. sophomore album inevitably takes us back to a time and place. For some, it was a simpler time. For others, it was a time of transition. Wherever it takes you back to, we are eternally grateful for the memories.

Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ and Nick — thank you once again for being the Backstreet Boys, for working so hard to become as successful as you have, for sticking it out, and for giving us Millennium. Thank you for all the memories that have followed. Thank you for forever wanting to thank US in a different way (C’mon).

To everyone that worked on and had a hand in the Millennium album being the timeless success that it is, thanks for making our worlds a little better with your talents.

20 years from now, we’re sure that no one will still be able to say “tell me why” without us quoting “I Want It That Way” and if that isn’t success, what is?

We also asked fans to share their Millennium album release memories!

“I was 14 years old when Millennium came out. I was already obsessed with BSB because of hearing them on Radio Disney in 1997. I had their posters all over my locker and folders. I remember being super pumped for the album. My parents got it for me the day it released at K-Mart! I went home and listened to it straight through. My parents bought me a disc man and I played that cd every single night before bed for the next year until Black & Blue was released.

Millennium made me feel happy. It got me through some angsty teen years. It was the perfect mix of slow ballads and up tempo songs. I remember watching the Disney channel concert and taping it. I watched the VHS everyday. I voted on TRL everyday. It was one of those magical times you still got excited for something, before technology took over…leading to album leaks and streaming services.” – Crystal G.

“I listened to Millennium on repeat so many times that I couldn’t concentrate on my junior year finals at all, just my brain was too full of sweet BSB harmonies. But my favorite thing was my bestie, Rachel, buying 10 copies of Millennium to help our Boys get the highest record sales numbers.” – Bryn

“This album made my childhood amazing. I used to listen to it every day.” – Kristi Singer

“I begged my mom to let me ditch school that day, to go to Walmart to get the album.” – Terrie Giguere

“Not really a release memory but still a Millennium memory. Millennium came out when I was young. I was only 8. I remember listening to it all the time when my grandma bought me the tape. We’d listen to it together. I lost my grandma later that year in September. I dedicated The Perfect Fan to her and think about her every time I hear the song.” – Kaylee Eslaquit

“I remember that day I has actually skipped school to go get the album. I had told my mom the night before I was going to spend the night at a friends house and go to school with her in the morning. Well I lied and went to the store so I could buy the album. Till this day my mom has no clue.” – Lillian

“I was so happy when it came it I saved my money and begged my mom for a little while to take me to get it when it came out I got it within a few days of it coming out I listened to it so much that I memorized every word and track listing I only had to hear a few words and or notes to tell u which song and where it was on the CD.” – Megan Flatt

“Ten days before the release I would write “x days until MILLENNIUM” on the chalkboard at school. On the day of the release, after school I hopped on the bus and went right to the mall to check out if there were any albums left at the music store. Luckily my mom worked at the mall and bought me a copy earlier that day. I got my CD from her, walked home (we lived in a small city, it didn’t take long to walk from one end of town to the other) and played that album nonstop until I knew all the words to all the songs.” – Jennifer Gelowitz

“I was about 6/7 yrs old and I stayed home from school cause I was sick. I was laying down in bed when my dad handed me the Backstreet Boys Millennium album and I loved it. I was so happy because I knew when I wasn’t feeling good the boys will always make me feel better.” – Mercedes Hay

“In all honesty, I didn’t buy the album when it was first released. In fact, I wasn’t even really a fan the day it was released. After incessantly hearing IWITW on the music system at my work I finally bought the album in late summer of 1999. However, I still thought of BSB as being for young people, which I wasn’t, so I hid it under my other things in my Target cart so no one would see that I was buying it.  I credit Millennium for making me the huge BSB fan I still am today.” – Debbie

“I remember having my mother pick me and my best friends up to take us to the mall after school to purchase the album. I made sure to have my portable CD player in my backpack so that I could listen to it right away. I had already obsessed over the track list and couldn’t wait to hear the songs come to life by my five favorite boys! Then I cried when I heard Howie and how he was so heavily featured on Spanish Eyes. My favorite then (and now) is Howie D and I love hearing his solos. My friends and I sat in the food court of the mall listening to it over and over and discussing everything we felt about it. Of course I was wearing my BSB T-shirt too! It is a favorite memory of mine and I am still best friends with one of those girls and we still love BSB!” – KellyAnn

“I had given my parents money to buy the CD for me since I was going to be at school that day. I was worried about it selling out before I had a copy. I came home at the end of the day and my mom gave me back my money and told me there hadn’t been any at the store. I went back outside to put my bike away, angry that our stupid town didn’t have the CD and that I was going to be the only fan without it. Once my bike was put away I went back in and announced I was getting a brownie from the pantry to cheer myself up. I opened the pantry door and there staring me in the face was the Millennium CD next to the box of brownies. I grabbed both and came out of the kitchen smiling. My sister ran down the stairs and asked if I had found it yet -she had found her cassette at lunch, but wasn’t allowed to play it until I had found mine. Once she was told yes she raced back up to her room to play it and I disappeared to my room to play my CD. 20yrs later and I am the only diehard fan left standing in the family (though my dad still sings along to IWITW and a few other songs). My sister outgrew them and my mom got tired of hearing them. But I will always KTBSPA.” – Lenore Crowder

“I was watching MTV and our local music channel, because I want to join the contest ( poster and the album). And I waited for Friday to go to a local music store to buy the album after school. I was really excited to get the album with my friends and we listened to it altogether. I told them be careful of the album lyrics (by the way, I bought cassette tape). The one is my favourite song from that album. Until now it makes me cry just listening to it and it’s also the song for my Best Friend, I helped her forget her problems and be happy again after she got broken hearted and lost. Perfect Fan is my favourite song especially for my mother who is also a Backstreet boys fan. This album changed my life and the rest of their album, but this is my favourite of all their albums. Can’t wait to celebrate another 20 years and another 26 years of music.” – Jemalyn de Sena

“Millennium is when I truly fell in love with the Backstreet Boys! I listened to this album nonstop, knew all of the lyrics and the order of the songs backwards and forwards. I recorded their Millennium TV special on a VHS tape, which I’m pretty sure I still have, and I’m surprised that tape didn’t get worn out!” – Mollie

“Ah, the Millennium release. I remember it well! I was seventeen, a junior in high school, in Rome, Italy. I had first and second period free that morning because my history teacher wasn’t there, so that allowed me the freedom of arriving at school later than 8 a.m., so when I left the house at 6:30 like every morning, it was specifically to go to one of the record stores in downtown Rome.

There was only one other girl there with me outside the store, which was weird. I couldn’t understand why nobody else was there. I mean, it was Millennium. We’d been waiting for that album for what felt like forever… and the store didn’t have it. We waited for two hours for the store to open, only to be told that the delivery was late. The guy at the counter helpfully called around to other stores in the area, and found one that had the album, so this girl and I raced to get it.

And finally… finally, I had it in my hands. I immediately put it in my DiscMan, not caring in the slightest that I was going to be late for class, and started listening to it, in a daze.

I got to school twenty minutes late and didn’t even get punished for it, because it was my first tardy ever. That, and everyone thought I’d been stuck in traffic. I guess I’d have gotten a week’s worth of detentions had they found out that I’d been waiting around a record store for an album! To this day, my family doesn’t know that I did that.” – Vanessa Court-Payen

“Millenium is the album that made me literally fell in love with the Backstreet Boys.
I remember May 14th, I was getting ready for school, the first notes of IWITW played on TV and 💥 : love at the first sight (well hearing). This album and song will always be special to my heart.” – Aurelie

“Millennium holds special memories for me as I had a partner at the time of the release that had just passed away after being sick for just over a year. So when “Show Me the Meaning (of being lonely)” came on I felt like finally there was a song that understood my pain. My grief felt unbearable but I felt, through that song, that my boys were with me, understood me, and helped me to eventually get through the darkness.
I’ve been a fan since the very beginning and will continue to be so, I can’t thank these 5 men enough for the joy, the strength and the music that they bring to my life, and I’m even prouder to say that my kids now keep the Backstreet Pride Alive Too!” – Joanne

“First off I want to say that I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since the iconic Millennium album dropped, time flies by so fast (especially when you’re having fun)

Anyways growing up I didn’t have that much money so I never got to see BSB in concert, but at 7 years old I can remember waiting in line with my mom to purchase Millennium and let me just say that album and the music vids that came from it changed my life forever, I didn’t think so much epicness could exist!

The boys had taken their vocals, dance moves and style/swag to a whole new level (no artist or group has topped it since imo) and it inspired me alot, and no album has made me feel so many indescribable emotions since.” – Kyanna

“I have so many memories of them but this one was special because this is the first time I was able to meet the boys altogether and I was able to see them on tour. I was anticipating the sale of the tickets for this show. So my sister and I camped outside our local mall so we could get tickets. It was so much fun meeting other fans and just getting to experience this. Kids now don’t know what it’s like to share the love of your fave group like this. But anyway we camped out for our tickets and of course they weren’t all that great because these tickets went fast but the experience was worth it. We were so excited. That week we learned that they were giving away tickets and meet and greets on our radio station. I stayed on the phone for two hours and I finally won my tickets. My sister and I used the tickets I won and my aunt and brother used the ones I bought This was so amazing. There was a very overly excited fan at the m & g so the boys were kept at a distance. Kevin did not like this. He was getting upset because he said we waited all that time to see them and we couldn’t even shake hands. It was very sweet of him. This made me love them even more. They are always gracious and loving to there fans. They treat you like they haven’t seen you in forever and like they remember you from the last time. I can’t even express how much I love them and they have impacted my life. I will forever be a backstreet boy fan.” – Amber Casterline

“I did rush out and buy 3 CDs. I needed one for each: Home, Work and Car. I didn’t want to forget it somewhere and not have it with me at all times. I remember skipping to The Perfect Fan and just crying… I already knew Brian wrote the song, so it meant so much more to me.

May 18th…changed my life. It made me happy. When I had to sit down and plan a my wedding, I realized May 18, 2002 was a Saturday. YES!!! I was married 5/18/2002. When asked why I chose the date I am proud to say… Millenium came out on May 18th.” – Steph Cloutier

“Mine is not a memory release memory but about a year or so after it was released the single show me the meaning of being of being lonely came out and my grandpa from portugal and past away and that song helped me cope with his loss and not being able to say good bye to him one last time. To this day whenever I here that song I think about my grandpa and all the good memories with him. Since then I’ve lost my two grandmas.” – Jennifer Werner

“That was the year my stepsister was born. Backstreet Boys is my favorite band of all time. Being in a wheelchair, I’ve struggled a lot and their music has helped me smile from all the struggle.” – Tiffany

“When “Millenniun” was released, I was 16 years old, I was in love for the first time and was already a big fan of BSB. Once I was at home and the phone rang, when I answered it the boy I was passionate about singing “I want it that way” on the other side of the line. It was the biggest surprise and emotion, he loved me too !! Our dating began there and lasted for beautiful 6 years. This is the most beautiful and unforgettable memory that “Millenniun” has brought me and I’m very grateful to have experienced it. Thank you BSB for being part of my life!” – Vanessa Alcântara

“This album is what led me to BSB! I kept hearing (I want it that way) this song on the radio. I was like ‘Who is this? I love this song!” The same weekend i went to the mall and purchased the cd. Came home and (Coming home to Orlando) was on the Disney channel. I saw Nick for the first time and melted into the floor. Haha! Stayed up all night long trying to win tickets to see them in Charlotte NC. Id fall asleep with the phone in my hand and wake up every 5mins. LOL Never won the tickets. Went to VA TECH in Blacksburg VA and waited til 10am to purchase the tickets. I was so excited the smile on my face stayed there for a solid week lol! I am so proud of “my boys!” Backstreet Boys have brought me great friends, happiness, and helped me deal with a broken heart in past relationships. We grew older together. I love their wives, their families, but their music has been amazing! The 5 part harmony Omgah gives me chills! And it all began with the Millennium album.” – Tracy Nuckols

“My most vivid memory about Millennium was actually pre-release (probably because I was so excited when it arrived everything became a huge blur!). It was hearing the little sneak peaks on the CD that came with the “A Night Out with the Backstreet Boys” VHS (!). I can still hear Howie’s voice saying “hold up, wait up – we have a little sneak peak of the new album for you” right at the end of the last track of the CD followed by a short clip of I Need You Tonight, The One and Show me the Meaning – all I can say is never before has one track been played so much just to hear the last 2 mins over and over again.” – Priya Raja

“I grew up literally in the middle of nowhere in Eastern Oregon. The only store we had that sold CDs only got shipments on Fridays. With albums being released on Tuesdays this was a nightmare for a fan girl in the 90s and 00s. The next closest town that sold CDs on the day they were released was 2.5 hours away, but growing up in such a small town the chances were pretty high that someone you knew would be visiting the town to do some shopping or for doctor’s appointments. Knowing I could not wait until Friday to hear the album, I called people in my town who I thought may be going out of town and actually offered to pay their gas money with my allowance just to get me the CD once I found someone going. So I ended up with the CD on Wednesday, which was still better than Friday!!!!” – Tara


Be sure to celebrate Millennium’s 20th anniversary with these items, interviews and by using the hashtag #Millennium20 on social media!

Download + Stream the Backstreet Boys “reimagined” version of “I Want It That Way”

Limited Edition Millennium Merch Bundles (ONLY AVAILABLE THROUGH 5/18)

WATCH: The Backstreet Boys Have Created “Pop Up” Videos For Their Millennium Singles

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