Carlsson says the group made a video for the song, but with Jive Records head, Clive Calder, and others still doubtful about the lyrics, the label got “cold feet” and flew megaproducer Mutt Lange from Switzerland to Sweden to rewrite the lyrics. Lange sat down with Carlsson and Martin to pen a new version. Replacing lines like, “I never wanna hear you say,” with “I love it when I hear you say,” the version has since been played and known to the Backstreet Army as “No Goodbyes.”
“The record label felt that the song was a little bit confusing and didn’t make much sense so they asked Max to go back and rewrite some of the lyrics with Mutt Lange,” McLean recalled at Monday’s Q&A to launch the group’s immersive upcoming Backstreet Boys: The Experience exhibit at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum. “It actually did make more sense, but it just didn’t have that that original feeling"
“We outvoted it, we didn’t like it and we kept the original,” Kevin Richardson added.
With the band firmly set on the original lyrics, Martin worked with Kristian Lundin for weeks to produce the track, which topped the charts in Canada, New Zealand and Germany. While the song was a No. 1 airplay hit in the U.S., it wasn’t available to buy as a commercial single during the height of its popularity, and only peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100, despite being one of the era’s most unavoidable smashes.
Gary Baker, a songwriter who was also working on Millennium and penned the ballads “Back to Your Heart” and “No One Else Comes Close”, recalls being wowed as Richardson played him the catchy pop song for the first time.
“Kevin came to write with me, and we were riding around in my car and he played me the song and said, ‘This is going to be our first single off the new record. What do you think?’” Baker says. “I said, ‘I don’t understand the lyrics, but I love this song!’ It was unbelievable. To this day, it’s one of the top pop songs ever recorded in history.”
Although the hit quickly became a permanent part of pop culture, unwavering curiosity behind the song’s meaning means the Backstreet Boys still get questioned about what exactly they wanted “that way” -- and which “way” they actually meant. "It means whatever each individual's interpretation is, is what it means," AJ McLean said during a 2018 interview with Entertainment Tonight. “It's one of those songs that doesn't have to mean anything. It just works!”