As much as we want to hate on someone covering a Backstreet Boys song, it’s tough when the singer is Charli XCX. The British goth-pop singer’s not embarrassed to admit she’s obsessed with the biggest of all boy bands. In fact, she loves them so much she even tackled their 1999 monster hit, “I Want It That Way,” for the first time at a show in Chicago yesterday (May 21).
With help from a keyboard and a drum machine, Charli made the song all her own giving it the same synth-pop feel of her recently released full-length debut, True Romance. She slowed things down and took a darker approach to the love song, making lines like “But we are two worlds apart/Can’t reach to your heart” sound much more desperate and heartbroken than BSB ever did.
But the writer of Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” who described herself to Radio.com as “Wednesday Addams meets Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice meets Baby Spice,” kept things fun. She whispered lines of the chorus, handled the five-part harmony all on her own, and even threw in a little giggle before launching into Nick Carter’s epic solo. She then ended her rendition with a very sincere shout-out, “Big up to the Backstreet Boys.”
She did warn us in “I Love It” that she’s a “’90s b****.” Check out Charli’s version of “I Want It That Way” below.